IFC Partners with Health Care Companies to Strengthen Women’s Leadership Roles

The IFC Women’s Employment Program has announced the creation of the Women’s Leadership in Private Health Care Global Working Group, which aims to strengthen women’s leadership roles in the health care sector.

The working group brings together Chief Executive Officers and Human Resources managers from 17 leading health care organizations in Africa, Middle East, and South Asia to identify and address gender barriers in their field. This is an initiative under the umbrella of IFC’s Global Health Platform, which promotes private sector solutions in developing countries to respond to COVID-19 challenges.

Globally, women represent 70 percent of the 43 million workers in the health care industry, but they hold less than 30 percent of management roles. More recently, evidence shows that women are underrepresented in COVID-19 task forces.

“By supporting the Global Health Platform and the Women’s Leadership in Private Health Care Global Working Group, we want to strengthen the business case to increasing employment and leadership opportunities for women. It has been demonstrated that companies with gender-diverse leadership perform better, and this initiative provides an opportune safe space to discuss challenges and best practices to promote equal opportunities in the business during and after the pandemic,” said Aksel Jakobsen, Norway’s State Secretary of International Development in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Members of the working group have committed to implementing at least two strategies for advancing gender equality in their organizations. The commitments range from prioritizing increased female representation in management to creating mentoring programs and offering flexible working hours to employees. For example, Saudi German Hospitals and Hemen Maternal and Children’s Specialty Centre, members of the working group, are partnering with the IFC Women’s Employment Program to carry out gender workforce assessments to identify strategies to close gender gaps.

“This working group is very timely,” said Fola Laoye, the chief executive officer of Health Markets Africa, a health advisory services company based in Nigeria. “There is a pool of feminine talent out there that we need to develop as they will boost the performance and competitiveness of our health care businesses. Participating in this initiative will provide us with the tools and resources to implement this goal effectively.”

Among companies involved in the working group are AAR Healthcare Group (Kenya), Imperial Logistics Ltd. (South Africa), Zulekha Healthcare Group (United Arab Emirates), and United Family Healthcare (China). The working group’s operations are made possible through a Global Health Platform advisory program that is supported by Japan, Norway and other donors.

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