Report card shows gender is missing in global health

Helen Clark is the former Prime Minister of New Zealand and former Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme.

Gender equality benefits everyone—from contributing more representative and effective organisations, to ensuring better health outcomes. Yet, even in 2018, it remains remarkably hard to achieve. The World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2017 1 estimates that it will now take 217 years to close the global workplace gender gap; indeed, the gap widened last year for the first time since the report was launched in 2006.

While women earn less than men, they do live longer in every country in the world. The gap in life expectancy is more than 11 years in some countries. It is not biologically determined that men should have shorter lives. Rather, that outcome is driven by social expectations and behaviour—in other words by gender.

Notwithstanding the undisputed role that gender has in health outcomes, however, and in breach of long-standing global commitments to gender equality in the health sector—eg, decisions at the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1979, the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, and the World Health Assembly in 2007—far too little is being done to ensure that health workplaces are free from discrimination and sexual harassment and that programmes deliver the best value for money through addressing the gendered determinants of health.

That is why I joined the Advisory Council of Global Health 50/50—a new initiative to promote advocacy and accountability for gender equality in global health and contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I believe that the inaugural report of Global Health 50/50 can help drive action for gender equality across the leading organisations that are funding, developing guidance for, and delivering health programmes around the world. Global Health 50/50 offers an accountability mechanism that has been sorely lacking.

The Global Health 50/50 Report provides an evidence-informed analysis of the gender policies of a large sample of leading global health organisations and organisations with a declared interest in global health. It is not uplifting reading. The report shows that too few organisations in global health are addressing gender equality in a meaningful way. Read more via the Lancet

Explore the report and the initiative via