Women empowerment critical for sustainable growth and development – Masebo

Minister of Health, Sylvia Masebo says there is a need for systems that place young girls and women’s rights and empowerment at its heart to enhance the country’s sustainable growth and development.

Ms. Masebo observed that gender disparity especially in the health sector continues to disadvantage women participation in decision making processes as they hold little or no high level positions.

The Minister was speaking at the launch of the Women in Global Health-Zambia (WGH-Z) Chapter and its strategic plan for 2022 to 2027 whose goal is to build momentum, create an enabling environment and promote meaningful change needed for gender transformative leadership within the health sector in Zambia and beyond.

The Minister explained that women, when in leadership positions apply transformative approaches that not only build their organization but also strengthen the realisation of population health benefits.

She therefore noted that the launch is timely as the efforts to promote inclusion of more women in leadership such as those proposed under the Women in Global Health Zambia strategic plan are necessary.

Ms Masebo explained that the measures are in line with her Ministry’s commitment to promote gender mainstreaming in the planning, designing, monitoring, and evaluation of the health programmes and policies.

“The current scenario on gender inequality creates a barrier to achieving sustainable development goals and the universal health coverage, this is unacceptable and it has to change,” Ms. Masebo stated.

The Minister said the inequalities are driven by social and cultural beliefs about the role women play in society and access to conducive structures that can enhance their growth into leaders.

She cited 25 percent of women globally hold senior jobs while they hold 70 percent of the total worker forces saying the imbalance weakens health systems as a result of lack of women talent, ideas and knowledge.

WGH Country Director, Jacobs Choolwe observed the high levels of poverty emanate from the gender inequalities experienced in Zambia and across the globe.

Dr. Choolwe explained that efforts have been made to close the gender gap but women have continued to face numerous barriers that inhibit equal and effective participation in leadership roles.

She acknowledged the pivotal role in health service delivery but observed a global pattern that promotes power imbalances in existing structures. 

Dr. Choolwe disclosed the scenario has made the WGH-Zamba to create links and networks aimed at addressing issues affecting women.

She indicated that this will include empowering women, working together and finding opportunities for women especially in the health sector to take up leadership positions.

“WGH-Z’s objective is to bring together women of various backgrounds and create spaces, reminding each other that anyone can do it. Women will continue to advocate for gender equality,” Dr. Choolwe stated. 

Women in Global Health Managing Director, Magda Robalo was happy that the Zambian Chapter was launched which will enhance global efforts to fight gender disparities in the health sector.

Dr. Robalo said that through global movements, advocacy for policies centered on women participation will be achieved, an approach to achieving the main goal of the organisation.

She stressed the need for more women in decision making positions to be able to represent the needs of women and young girls particularly in the health sector.

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