Call for more women in public health leadership roles

WHO/Jerome Flayosc

On International Women’s Day, WHO/Europe highlights the need to ensure women have a place at the centre of public health. Women make up the majority of health professionals in the WHO European Region and throughout the world, and yet, generally, this is not reflected in leadership roles within public health. For example, in the Region only 30% of ministers of health are women. Much work is still needed to address the ongoing gender divide and achieve gender equality, in the health sector and beyond.

Women leaders can help change and shape governance for health in new and effective ways. They can integrate women’s lifelong needs into health policies, and emphasize health-in-all-policies approaches and intersectoral action. More women in leadership roles can also ensure that diverse ways, spaces and opportunities exist for girls and women to be heard and lead the way.

To mark this day, WHO/Europe interviewed several of the talented, dedicated and inspiring women who drive the Organization’s work forward, at all levels and in many locations throughout the Region. They share personal stories of how they came to work in public health and what this means to them. They relate their experiences of seeing the impact of their work on the lives of people across the Region. They also call for more women to step into public health leadership roles, recognizing the invaluable contribution they can make. Follow the link below to see a full gallery of these interviews.

Engaging men and women to achieve gender equality

Inequalities based on gender can negatively impact women’s health, both in terms of exposure to risk and how health systems respond to women’s needs. As gender intersects with other social and economic determinants of health, inequalities can accumulate with multiple effects.

One of the most important actions required to close the gender gap is engaging women and girls, alongside men and boys, to transform norms and roles. This leads to more equal and better health for all.

The 53 countries of the Region have adopted a strategy on women’s health and well-being, and WHO/Europe is currently in the process of developing a strategy on the health and well-being of men. This new strategy will address the impact of gender norms and roles on health, and promote the engagement of men in achieving gender equality.