Building a community of learning for women leaders in health emergencies


Women leaders face specific challenges working in health emergency response. A new Women in Leadership community of learning has been launched to help address these demands through peer learning, networking and continuous learning opportunities.

The Learning and Capacity Development Unit (LCD) created the community for WHO and Ministry of Health women leaders participating in the WHO Health Emergencies Programme’s Leadership in Emergencies courses. These flagship WHO courses are run in an online face-to-face format to support and develop the capacity of those working in and leading the response to health emergencies.

Learning communities provide space and structure to connect people, organizations and systems that are eager to share learning and work across boundaries. Women are almost 70% of the global health and social workforce and nearly 90% of the nursing and midwifery workforce, but it is estimated that they hold only 25% of senior roles. [1]. It is important for women leaders to share what they have experienced and learned while navigating their lives and careers.

The Women in Leadership community will help: facilitate the engagement of women leaders, create a sustainable network for mutual support, and provide an opportunity to advise senior management and Human Resources in emergencies about inclusivity specifically for gender by reporting identified concerns, barriers and solutions to the advancement of women working in emergencies.

A community webinar was held in July 2022 to discuss how gender stereotypes affect the workforce, including the leadership styles of women leaders, as well as how to build the capacity and systems to address the impact of these stereotypes. In the coming months, the group will meet to discuss additional challenges women face in the domain of health emergencies and participate in virtual coffees for members to get to know each other.

  1. Closing the leadership gap: gender equity and leadership in the global health and care workforce https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240025905



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