She Leads Health: Gender Equity is an Inclusion of Unique Perspectives

March 7, 2024

In 2023, the  Women in Global Health Report provided a bird’s eye-view into the paradox of women’s inclusion in global health.  It reported that despite women making up close to 70% of the global health workforce and delivering health to 5 billion people globally, they hold a meager 25% of leadership roles in global health. The underrepresentation of women in leadership roles shaping health policies and decisions impedes progress by systematically excluding diverse perspectives that could drive innovation and improvement in essential health services. 

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, ‘Inspire Inclusion,’ prompts us to imagine a gender-equal world – a world where diversity flourishes.  A world in which gender representation widens the frame for both men and women to offer their individual knowledge to achieve health-seeking behavior, fostering a society free from discrimination. 

Over the last four years, the HCDExchange has become increasingly aware and, therefore,  intentional about investing in gender equality and inclusivity, working at the nexus of human-centered design and adolescent sexual health/public health. We recognize that young people, particularly girls and young women, navigate a complex world shaped by diverse socio-economic, political, and geographical factors. Central to this complexity is their underrepresentation in decision-making spaces and notable gaps in gender equity. These factors influence their perceptions of what is achievable and their role in improving health outcomes. By promoting gender inclusion, we aim to break down barriers to opportunities and instill in our young population a culture of fairness and justice towards all individuals.

The HCDExchange acknowledges significant disparities within global health, such as the unequal representation of women in health system leadership despite their predominant role in providing health services. This imbalance leads to missed opportunities for innovation, expertise, and talent utilization. Gender inequity undermines health systems and jeopardizes the well-being of those they serve. At the turn of the year, we initiated a shift to broaden our scope from human-centered design and adolescent sexual and reproductive health to include public health and intersecting fields of gender, education, and economic empowerment. 

Through our soon-to-be-launched value proposition, we want to be intentional about understanding and addressing gender inclusion, economic empowerment, and education. We hope to contribute to conversations and actions seeking to promote locally-led design in public health to sustain the goal of gender inclusion, diversity, and empowerment. 

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