Women deliver health. Women comprise almost 70% of health and care workers globally. Yet, women are not equally represented in decision making positions. WHO has been working with partners to redress this gap and ensure that the women who are delivering health are included at all levels of decision making and leadership.
Today, March 8th, International Women’s Day with the theme “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” – Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, and, Dr Roopa Dhatt Executive Director of Women in Global Health signed a memorandum of understanding. This MOU aims to further the shared goals and objectives of women’s economic empowerment, gender transformative change in Universal Health Coverage and the health workforce on a global level. Speaking at the event Dr Tedros remarked “this is a year to renew our focus on advancing equity, as a cornerstone of WHO’s mission to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.”
In November 2020 the World Health Assembly designated 2021 as the International Year of Health and Care Workers. 2021 also marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. As such WHO has co-launched the Gender Equal Health and Care Workforce Initiative with the government of France and Women in Global Health in February (to bring attention to and create action on gender equity in health around four themes. Firstly, to increase the proportion of women in health and care leadership. Secondly to promote equal pay for equal work and recognize unpaid care work. Thirdly, to protect women in health and care from sexual harassment and violence at work. Finally to ensure safe and decent working conditions for women health and care workers, including access to personal protective equipment and vaccines against COVID-19.
This is an important element of increased collaboration with partners we aim to unite action for Beijing+25 and the International Year of Health and Care Workers to call attention to and advocate for strengthened gender equality globally in the health and care workforce.