Need to accelerate gender transformative change in the health & care workforce: op-ed

·3-min read

New York, Jul 2 (PTI) With the COVID-19 pandemic worsening the already vulnerable position of women, a former UN General Assembly President has underlined that women who deliver health and social care deserve an equal role in decision making and called on governments and global organisations to accelerate gender transformative change in the health and care workforce.

In an op-ed, President of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly Maria Fernanda Espinosa and Women in Global Health Executive Director Dr Roopa Dhatt write that after more than a year of the pandemic, which is far from over, the women who deliver health systems are physically and mentally exhausted, many have contracted COVID-19 and many have lost their lives.

“The pandemic has worsened the already vulnerable position of women – they have been the first to lose their jobs and livelihoods, have been expected to take on ever increasing burdens of unpaid work and have faced increased intimate partner violence locked down with abusers in unsafe homes.

'And the pandemic threatens to undermine our human resources for health as the women our health depends on have simply had enough of the inequality and abuse they are subjected to at work,” the op-ed said.

Espinosa, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and of Defence of Ecuador, and Dhatt said in the op-ed that the “women who deliver our health and social care deserve a new social contract with decent working conditions and an equal role in decision making. If we look after female health workers, they will keep us safe, strengthen our health systems and they will deliver universal health coverage.

“We call on all, every government, international organisation, NGO and advocate, to join us in the Gender Equal Health and Care Workforce Initiative (GEHCWI) to accelerate gender transformative change in the health and care workforce. There is only one health system and women largely deliver it. This gender equality issue is therefore everybody’s business,” they said.

The Gender Equal Health and Care Workforce Initiative is led by the Government of France, the World Health Organisation and Women in Global Health, aimed at accelerating gender equality in the health and care workforce.

It is one of the many events at the Generation Equality Forum, a global gathering for gender equality convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France, in partnership with youth and civil society. The Forum kicked off in Mexico City in March and culminated in Paris from June 30 to July 2 2021.

The op-ed said that GEF provides another opportunity to take stock of the rights of women and girls and gender equality and to plan the way forward as thousands of advocates from around the world and across sectors will be together, both virtually and in person, to transform and accelerate the achievement of gender equality and women’s rights.

The duo said GEHCWI focuses on one of the sectors where women and girls are the majority - globally, women comprise 90 per cent of nurses – and where it is both feasible and critical to end the gender inequities that harm women but also harm our health systems.

“Women may be the majority in the sector but they are clustered into lower paid and lower status roles, underpaid or even unpaid for their work, commonly subject to harassment and mistreatment and marginalised in leadership,” they said adding that the extraordinary contribution of women health and care workers in the pandemic has not translated into an equal say in the systems they know best. PTI YAS RUP RUP RUP

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