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“As a nurse or a midwife working in a low-resource setting in rural Africa, you are a part of the community. You interact with your clients at church, at school, wherever you go, and your reputation depends on very simple things. It depends on the child you save when they come to your clinic. It depends on the pregnant woman who walks out of your health care facility with a live baby—who might even be named after you, if all went well." —Stembile Mugore, SwitchPoint 2013In many countries, up to 75% of health workers are women. They serve on the front lines of care, where the conditions can be grueling, dangerous, and unhealthy; where wages are often low (especially compared to the wages of men who do similar work); and where women are all too often subject to stigma, discrimination, and gender-based violence. According to the Global Health Workforce Alliance and the World Health Organization, we need 7.9 million more health workers worldwide than exist today. And by 2035, that shortage will grow to 12.9 million.
Simply adding members to the health workforce isn’t a solution.
But simply adding members to the workforce isn’t a solution. We have to keep the ones we have. And that means making jobs that work for women.There is no doubt that clients value women in the clinic, in the community, and on the front lines of care when lives are saved. But do we who care about global health value women in the health workforce? And if we do, do we care enough to keep them?Here are a few things we need to do to show how much we value women in the health workforce:
What else can we do to make health care a field in which women across the globe can prosper? Let’s talk solutions.
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