The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of global health security and the contribution made by health and care workers. The pandemic struck when the world was facing a significant shortage of health and care workers. It is estimated that an additional 18 million are needed to achieve universal health coverage (UHC), primarily in low- and middle-income countries. Tragically, COVID-19 has caused health and care worker deaths, infection, exhaustion, mental trauma and there are early reports of women leaving the profession. The pandemic is expected to increase the global shortage of health and care workers and may well increase migration of trained health workers from low-and middle-income countries.
In 2021, designated as the Year of Health and Care Workers by the World Health Assembly, the Government of France, World Health Organization and Women in Global Health partnered on the Gender Equal Health and Care Workforce Initiative (GEHCWI). This Initiative aims to increase visibility, dialogue, and commitment to action on gender equity in the health and care workforce alongside the UN Women Generation Equality Campaign to accelerate gender equality and mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Initiative aims to inspire action in the health and care sectors on safe and decent work for women, ending informal work, which is often unpaid and underpaid, equal opportunities in health and care occupations, an end to violence and harassment and equal participation of men and women in the sector in leadership and decision making. Gender equity in the health and care sector builds a strong foundation for health systems, universal health coverage (UHC) and global health security.
This event will showcase the implementation of some pledges to GEHCWI and the next steps for 2022, while celebrating the initiative and the momentum it has created.