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How Gender Parity Improves Global Health

Women comprise 70% of health workers around the world. And yet a new report shows that 70% of health organizations are currently headed by men, and that the women working in these organizations earn 15% less, on average, than their male counterparts.

GENEVA – Since the start of the year, we have traveled from Afghanistan and Pakistan, where health workers administering the polio vaccine are battling snowstorms to reach children who need it, to North Kivu, where officials are trying to stop one of the deadliest Ebola outbreaks in history.

Women comprise 70% of these and other health workers around the world. And yet a new report from Global Health 50/50, released on the eve of this year’s International Women’s Day, shows that men hold a disproportionate share of power in the health sector and earn a disproportionate share of pay.

Having spent part of our careers assembling a force of female health workers who reduced deaths from AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in Ethiopia by half, we know the contributions women make to public health. That is why, under Ghebreyesus’s tenure as director-general, the World Health Organization has a gender-balanced cabinet for the first time in its history. And with gender parity achieved in the institution’s senior positions at headquarters, we will be working to ensure that regional and country offices follow suit.

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