The Transformative Power of Women in Global Health Leadership

The field of global health seeks better health outcomes for all the world’s people. To achieve this, we need more strong and effective leaders. The benefits of diversity in leadership are clear – it results in better decision making that leads to stronger economies, more productive institutions, more stable governance, and increased investments in health and education.  The best way to get there is to invest in women. Despite comprising 70% of the health workforce, women are undervalued and underrepresented in its leadership. To bring women into these roles, we need to empower and equip them and change the systems within which they work.

The Women Leaders in Global Health Initiative (WLGHI) is an early-stage effort to address these challenges. Building on the 2017 and 2018 Women Leaders in Global Health conferences and embracing efforts springing up around the globe, the initiative seeks to engage the global health community in reimagining leadership and creating transformative experiences to advance women leaders.

The content of WLGHI’s future programming is under development. In partnership with many sectors and leaders, we aim to co-create a global platform, comprised of an international executive body and regional hubs, in order to catalyze individual and systems change. Working with women and men at many levels and in a variety of organizations around the world, WLGHI will generate and reinforce change by:

·       Raising Awareness about the value and benefits of inclusive leadership, current realities faced by women, and the growing network of remarkable women working in global health around the world.

·       Empowering Leaders through a wide-ranging “learning journey” that reaches up to 5,000 mid- and senior-career women in 10 years, each of whom will participate in a fellowship of about one year. We anticipate online preparation, mentorship, sponsorship, peer support and a brief residential experience to build skills, confidence and networks. Most importantly, participants will also learn by doing, each developing a real-world practice plan to apply leadership skills to improve health outcomes and strengthen inclusive leadership in their workplace or health system. Finally, mentoring and engagement will continue beyond formal training, and fellows will be encouraged to share learnings, mentor in their home environments, and engage with future cohorts.

·       Catalyzing change by leveraging existing work, building strategic partnerships with institutions and leaders to amplify impact, convening influencers globally and regionally, and highlighting solutions and stories. By developing strong regional networks of empowered women leaders, WLGHI aims to improve health outcomes around the world.




The Path Forward

With support from a planning grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, WLGHI has a unique opportunity to reimagine leadership in global health. Led by the Center for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford University, the initiative seeks ideas and input. We invite you to learn more, join the WLGHI community, and share your thoughts.