Nepal | March 31, 2020

Gender equality in global health a far cry

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, August 9

Seven out of 10 executive leaders and board chairpersons in organisations involved in global health are men. One in seven organisations fail to make any explicit commitment to gender equality. There is 13.5 per cent difference in median earnings of male and female employees globally.

The second Global Health 50/50 2019 Report, disseminated today at an event co-hosted by the National Women’s Commission and Centre for Research on Environment Health and Population Activities (CREHPA) revealed that there was widespread gender-based discrimination at workplaces around the world. The report exposed pay gaps, lack of policies on parental leave, sexual harassment and flexible working and a systematic absence of women in leadership roles.

The report which provided an analysis of 198 global organisations active in health sector, covering an estimated 4.5 million employees worldwide revealed that the majorities were failing to deliver on sexual harassment policies, gender pay gap reporting and gender parity in leadership positions.

The sample included organisations from 10 sectors, headquartered in 28 countries across six regions — Western Europe, Asia, Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania. The organisations in the study included United Nations bodies, bilateral and multilateral development institutions, philanthropic organisations, non-governmental organisations, faith-based organisations, public-private partnerships, private sector, academic journal and their parent companies.

The report which was based on a review of publicly available information conducted between October 2018 and February 2019 provided an in-depth look at the extent to which global organisations active in health sector took action to promote gender equality within the workplace across four dimensions: commitment, evidence informed policy content, equitable outcomes in power and pay, and gender responsive programmes.

The report revealed that only 16 organisations were explicit in the inclusion of transgender people in their commitment to gender equality. Among the governing boards, seven male board chairs were replaced by women and two female board chairs were replaced by men between 2018-2019. The research also found that one third (63/198) of organisations published their sexual harassment policies online.

Global Health 50/50 is an initiative created to advance accountability and action for gender equality in global health housed by the University College London Centre for Gender and Global Health.

A panel discussion on the challenges and progress for gender equality in Nepal was also held during the event. “State of gender equality in global health organisations shows the health sector is not exempt. There are also inequalities in health sector in Nepal. There are inequalities in public health services in Nepal. Domestic violence against women is high. We need to work on provision of breastfeeding spaces in workplaces, increasing the access to family planning among various other areas of health,” said Pushpa Chaudhary, secretary at Ministry of Health and Population.

Minister of Women, Children and Senior Citizens Tham Maya Thapa said, “The constitution has guaranteed rights for women but its implementation is a challenge. Until and unless there is a social transformation, it is difficult for a woman to enjoy her rights.”

“We are delighted to be involved in these important discussions on the challenges and progress for gender equality in Nepal. It is important to now take Nepal’s impressive progress institutionalising women’s rights and promoting women’s economic and political empowerment and ensure that these commitments on paper are translated into real change both within the workplace and in society more widely,” said Sarah Hawkes of University College of London and co-founder of GH50/50.


A version of this article appears in print on August 10, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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