Who Run the Health World? Men. Here’s Why That’s a Problem

Having less women at the top of the healthcare chain is hurting women’s health world over. 

Her Health
2 min read
Having less women at the top of the healthcare chain is hurting women’s health world over. 

Privileged, white men run the world.

In a surprise to no one, a new study confirms that powerful white men from the US and Europe make global health decisions that undervalue women’s health concerns.

This damning yet predictable evidence that a small minority of men make up to 70% of worldwide health management comes from the University College London’s Institute of Global Health 50/50 Global Health Report that reviewed 200 organisations of the healthcare sector.

Privilege & Power

Most of the global health headquarters are in the Western hemisphere, with around 85% of these organisations in the developed world.

Professor Sarah Hawkes, the co-founder of the initiative, told The Guardian, “It’s a stagnant and stagnating system.”

Much of the global health system is entrenched with colonialism and fails to keep up with the changing pace of the world.

The report found that the foundation of our global system was on preventing the spread of diseases to Europe. This also meant that only specific diseases and not structural ones were paid attention to.

Emerging issues of the 21st century like poverty, migration, food security and technology are still not wholly embraced and integrated. The healthcare of the now needs to focus on the structural causes of ill health - like social inequalities.

Low and middle-income women constitute 70% of all health workers but take up only 5% of leadership positions.

This bleeds into policy decisions that fail to account for gender in their health decisions. The report adds that even when women’s health was in focus, it was only looked at through the lens of population control or reproductive health.

Women’s issues, of course, are beyond just reproductive.

No More Gimmicks!

The report lays bare the need for more gender mainstreaming, wherein gender is incorporated into every health decision.

Professor Devi Sridhar, director of the global health governance programme based at the University of Edinburgh, says that political platitudes mean little without policy action. Many corporate offices are seeing more women joining and adjusting their policies accordingly, and healthcare needs a shift.

However, Sridhar says, “There’s hope in young women!” - and indicates the future will hopefully, be more inclusive.

(With inputs from The Guardian)

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