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Boosting gender equity in global health – LSHTM hosting 2nd Women Leaders in Global Health Conference

Gender equity in health leadership is vital to address the diversity of issues in the global health

Health leaders from around the world are gathering at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) this week for the second annual Women Leaders in Global Health conference. Nearly 900 participants from more than 70 countries and 80 nationalities will attend the two-day event which aims to take a focused look at gender issues in global health leadership.

Globally, women occupy less than 25% of influential leadership positions despite making up 75% of the healthcare workforce. Building on the momentum of the inaugural event held at Stanford University, USA last year, the conference aims to tackle the urgent need to redress this gender imbalance by placing a variety of topics under the microscope, from gender in emergency outbreak response and political leadership, to the #MeToo movement, media and new technologies.

Gender equity in health leadership is vital to address the diversity of issues in the global health - Heidi Larson

Professor Heidi Larson, Women Leaders in Global Health Conference Steering Committee Chair, and Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at LSHTM, said: “We are honoured to be hosting this prestigious event. Gender equity in health leadership is vital to address the diversity of issues in the global health.  WLGH18 promises to be a significant milestone on the road to reaching this goal. I am incredibly grateful to the speakers, panellists and attendees, many of whom are travelling long distances, for making this an important and truly global conference.”

The opening keynote address will be delivered by Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director-General for Programmes at the World Health Organization. Other participants include Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, Dr Joanne Liu, International President of Doctors Without Borders and Xavier Prats Monné, former Director-General for Health and Food Safety at the European Commission

Dame Sally said: “The Women Leaders in Global Health Conference is a fantastic opportunity to network to learn from each other – I’m thrilled it’s come to London.”

Xavier Prats Monné said: “It’s a very humbling experience for a man to be in a conference dominated by women. The simple fact of being at a conference such as this is a lesson in itself. Beyond that, I think that it is very important for self-confidence and for confirmation of a just cause, that women get together and speak their minds – and do so loudly.”

Both established and young emerging leaders from around the world will have the chance to share a platform and turn ideas into practical steps. A key focus of the conference will be providing support for mentoring and skills building, to act as a catalyst for gender equity within the next generation of global health leaders.

From local communities and global organisations, to science and politics, representatives from across different sectors and cultures will share their stories.

Professor Larson said. “Words are one thing, action is another. We must do all we can to ensure change is implemented and to create an environment that supports positive change.”

More than 100 delegates from low-and middle income countries have received financial support to attend the conference.

The full conference programme and list of speakers is available on the WLGH18 website. The event will be livestreamed and join the conversation by following #WLGH18.

Women Leaders in Global Health 2018 is supported by partners including Wellcome, Gilead, Novartis and GSK. With special thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Full list of partners here.