Kolkata, Mar 22: Gender inequity remains a challenge in the health workforce, with too few women making critical decisions and leading the work.
WHO, the Global Health Workforce Network, and Women in Global Health has launched a report at the Commission on the Status of Women to describe the social and economic factors that determine why few women lead in global health, and make a call for action to urgently address gender inequity. These are the 10 key points to emerge from the report.
Women make up 70 per cent of the health workforce but only 25 per cent hold senior roles. This means that in reality, women deliver global health and men lead it. These gaps in gender leadership are driven by stereotypes, discrimination, and power imbalances. Some women are further disadvantaged on the basis of their race or class.
Gender inequity in the health workforce is indicative of a wider problem in global health. Global health is predominantly led by men: 69 per cent of global health organizations are headed by men, and 80 per cent of board chairs are men. Only 20 per centof global health organizations were found to have gender parity on their boards, and only 25 per cent had gender parity at senior management level.
Often, gender norms and stereotypes of jobs can affect the roles that women occupy. Cultural labelling as either ‘men’s’ or ‘women’s’ roles prevent women from reaching leadership levels.
This stereotyping is a significant contributor to the gender pay gap. Female health workers also face a gender pay gap that is around 25 per cent higher on average in global health than in other sectors. Female health workers are clustered into lower-status and lower-paid (often unpaid) roles.
Women often face bias and discrimination, as well as sexual harassment. This can affect their careers and lead to extreme stress and a loss of morale. Many countries lack laws and social protection that are the foundation for gender equality at work – moreover, male health workers are more likely to be organized in trade unions that defend their rights than female health workers.
Gender inequity is threatening the delivery of health. An estimated 40 million new jobs will be needed by 2030 in the global health and social sector. Yet there is an estimated shortfall of 18 million health workers, primarily in low- and middle-income countries.
Leaving the gender balance to equalize on its own is not an option. Unless specific, targeted measures are taken, workplace gender equality is estimated to take 202 years. (UNI)