Call to action for gender equality
On 24 January, the Permanent Missions of Colombia, Sweden and the United Kingdom launched a Call to action on gender equality, in the margins of the 140th Executive Board Meeting of WHO. The call was issued in cooperation with the International Gender Champions Geneva, the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and Women in Global Health. The aim is to bring to light the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions in global health, including in WHO. In addition to WHO, the call to action is directed to country delegations in the governing bodies of WHO and the incoming Director General who is to be elected at WHA in May this year, urging them to increase the number of women in leadership positions and putting an end to “manels” (all male panels). A majority of Board Members were present at the launch, and gender equality was addressed extensively during the interviews of the DG candidates the day after the event.
Call to Action for Gender Equality at the occasion of WHO’s 140th Executive Board Meeting in Geneva
We – as members of the Executive Board of the WHO – recognize the current gender leadership gap in global health and call upon the World Health Organization and its member states to take decisive steps to achieve gender equality.
Women are underrepresented in leading positions in global health; just over 25 percent of Heads of Delegations to the World Health Assembly and Ministers of Health are women. This is in stark contrast to women representing up to 75 percent of the health workforce in some countries.
We are of the firm opinion that the lack of gender equality in global health leadership is delaying progress in advancing the health of boys and girls, and men and women.
With this in mind we call on the World Health Organization to promote:
- Gender equality in leadership positions of the organisation;
- A balanced representation of male and female staff across the organization and the technical programs of the WHO;
- Active monitoring, data generation and the use of evidence-based best practices that promote gender equality in the organization;
- Equal representation of men and women in panels and events convened during the World Health Assembly and other high level international and regional global health events.
We, as Executive Board Members, will strive for:
- equal representation, including as Heads, of women and men in our delegations to the Executive Board meetings and the World Health Assembly and as well as the regional governance meetings;
- an equal representation at events that we convene during the World Health Assembly and other high level international and regional global health events.
The United Nations Secretary General has made clear commitments to gender equality in leadership across the United Nations System. In this spirit we call on the next Director General of the WHO to
- Fully commit to gender equality;
- Fill senior positions upon taking office accordingly;
- Set goals for gender equality and gender mainstreaming and report to the governing bodies regularly on progress.
This call is issued in cooperation with the International Gender Champions Geneva, the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies and Women in Global Health.
Launched by: Colombia, Sweden and the United Kingdom