It is women that the world needs to transform the provision and delivery of healthcare. It is women we need to be part of the leadership that decides what is right and just in healthcare systems in Africa. This is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. The sooner, the closer the world gets to developing sustainable and reliable health systems.
Before you dismiss me, hear me out.
There is no better time to analyse the impact of leadership by different genders than during a pandemic. We know, and data has proven, that the women who have been on the lead have done an impeccable job.
There are a couple of countries that this has been best exemplified. Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Norway and Taiwan have led the pack. This study established that the number of COVID 19 related cases and deaths were far fewer in countries led by women as compared to those that were led by men. According to the report, ” To some extent, this may be explained by the proactive and coordinated policy responses adopted by them”.
The world is experiencing a humanitarian catastrophe because of the pandemic. There is no better time to reflect on leadership than now.
Even with evidence that women leaders are good for communities and countries, there are fewer and fewer of them as you go up the ladder. Let’s have a look at some numbers now shall we?
The worlds health sector has shown, time and again, that it is hungry for women labour. It is not a surprise then that women represent 70% of the global health workforce. Where things get murky, however, is in leadership positions. Only 25% of women represent global health leadership. That is a glaring concern.
Why Women Need To Lead In Health
One of the key findings in this report, Delivered by Women Led by Men, was that gender inequality in the provision of health services contributes to a lack of priority in addressing key priority issues in the sector.
According to WHO. 69% of global health organizations are headed by men and 80% of board chairs are men. Research is on our side. The more diverse the leadership, the broader the perspectives.
The converse is true.
You don’t need to look far to see how this manifests. A report on What Women Want, done by White Ribbon, was unequivocal on the needs of women at a very basic level.
”The What Women Want campaign began with a simple idea: ask those who most use health services to tell us what they most need. Ask the clients, ask women.” When women were asked what they wanted, their responses were so basic, it should call for a collective response on exactly what is wrong with our health systems.
For health care systems in Africa and elsewhere in the world to thrive, they need gender transformative policies in place. Policies build through a gender lens will give growth dividends in the provision of healthcare.
Angela Nguku, the Executive Director for the White Ribbon Alliance Kenya opines that” Women play the triple roles and as such understand the family and societal fabric better”.
It starts from that very basic place. The home. This pandemic has shown all of us who really runs communities. Now we need to move this view to boardrooms. A just community, society is built on equitable distribution of power.
Growth and significant improvement in the health sector cannot be achieved by putting in the bare minimum. We are fond of taking time when it comes to making decisions that are transformative, sitting in boardrooms sipping coffee and baked goods. We like to make simple things very complicated. Whether this is intentional or just a learned habit, it is time to stop playing with the health of populations and make the decisions that matter.
The global leadership table is hungry for women decision-makers if transformative healthcare systems are to become a reality.
Is the space full? Create one. Have you never thought about this? Start thinking about it now. Do you need more reasons? The more diverse the leadership, the broader the perspectives. Anything else you want to hear on why you need women on the lead in healthcare? Write to us firstname.lastname@example.org