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Why the World Needs More Female Leaders in Health Care

Women make up nearly 70% of the world’s 43 million health care workers. But when it comes to taking the lead on delivering health care, women are often left behind.

Despite that fact that women all over the world perform vital roles — ranging from that of surgeon to midwife to nurse to home health aide — women hold only approximately 35% of leadership roles in the health care industry, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report.

This has to do with both gender discriminatory attitudes still deeply entrenched in many societies, as well as access to education and training opportunities.

Take Action: Call for More Female Representation Among Healthcare Leadership

In many countries, women working in the health care field have not had advanced training and even when women have the right training, their hard work is not always rewarded. Some have not had any formal training at all, and though they provide necessary care, are not recognized.

Women contribute about $3 trillion worth of work to the global health economy every year, making up about 5% of the world’s GDP, but nearly half of this work is unpaid and unrecognized. Women and girls are often relied upon to provide health care support, whether that’s informally in their communities — for example, as a midwife without formal training — or for their own families — providing childcare to young siblings or acting as a home health aide to ailing family members.

Even among health care professionals who work in formal settings, a gender pay gap persists. But if more women held leadership roles, they could have an empowering ripple effect on the health care workforce.

As leaders, women are better able to lift one another up. Women in leadership positions are more likely to recognize the potential of and hire other women. That means better health for patients, more opportunities for women in the health care industry and even stronger economies.

That’s crucial because the world’s population is rapidly growing and, unfortunately, the global health and social workforce isn’t projected to grow with it.

By 2030, millions of people won’t have access to a skilled health care worker, like a doctor, nurse, or midwife. And the burden of providing care is expected to fall unequally on women. 

Read More: How This Determined Nurse Helped Develop a Test to Save Babies’ Lives

In many places, women and girls already disproportionately carry out household, family, and community responsibilities due to cultural norms and expectations. Without more trained frontline workers and health professionals to meet the world’s growing health care needs, the demand for unpaid or informal healthcare work will likely rise and fall on the shoulders of girls and women, according to the World Health Organization.

There simply won’t be enough trained health care workers by 2030, unless 40 million new jobs are added to the health sector.

Johnson & Johnson is working to ensure that health workers around the world, especially women, have the opportunity to become leaders in their field. Through its many programs and partnerships, Johnson & Johnson hopes to strengthen the skills of 650,000 people to deliver quality health care and formally pursue careers in the field by 2020 through education.

With your support and the help of partners around the world, the next generation of skilled health workers will be powerful catalysts for a brighter future and healthier world in which everyone can get the quality care they need.

Take Action with Global Citizen and Johnson & Johnson to empower women and girls to achieve their dreams to make sure everyone has access to the health services they need.