HERoines in Health: Australia's Efforts to Empower Women Health Leaders in Southeast Asia

HERoines in Health: Australia's Efforts to Empower Women Health Leaders in Southeast Asia

Fifteen female health leaders from Southeast Asia are currently in Australia as part of the Women in Health Leadership Program - Mekong Region. This program, funded by the Australian Government, aims to enhance leadership skills and expand networks to address gender inequality issues in the health sector.

The Fred Hollows Foundation announced that individuals from Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Thailand will benefit from knowledge exchange, leadership skill enhancement, workshops, training sessions, and networking opportunities organized by The Fred Hollows Foundation and Monash University's Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI) in February.

During this visit, the women will participate in the Advancing Women in Healthcare Leadership Program hosted at Monash University. The program, led by Mariam Mousa and Professor Helena Teede, aims to enhance their skills, motivation, and create opportunities that strengthen their leadership within their workplace health systems.

Studies by the World Health Organization and Women in Global Health emphasize the need to invest more in women in leadership roles in the health sector. Despite comprising 70% of the global health workforce, women hold only about 25% of decision-making positions with significant impact.

Professor Helena Teede highlights the barriers that impede women's participation in influencing public health policies, developing healthcare services, and promoting improved health outcomes. These barriers include insufficient financial support for women's leadership development and mentorship, occurrences of bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace, perpetuation of gender norms and stereotypes, gender-based wage inequality, and discriminatory treatment. It is crucial to address these issues to ensure gender equality in the healthcare sector.

Jennifer Gersbeck, Executive Director of Global Advocacy at the Fred Hollows Foundation, reiterates the organization's dedication to promoting gender equality in the health sector. Gersbeck emphasizes the foundation's commitment to supporting women in leadership positions in healthcare. She cites partnerships with UN Women to produce policy briefs aimed at accelerating progress towards gender equality in eye healthcare.

This program is evidence of the Australian Government's commitment to strengthening women's roles and advocating for gender equality in the health sector. It follows successful policies such as the National Women's Health Council and the Women's Economic Equality Task Force. Additionally, it demonstrates the government's willingness to share its leadership efforts.

The joint efforts of the Fred Hollows Foundation, the Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation, Women in Global Health - Australia and the Australian Government demonstrate a shared commitment to strengthening and expanding health leadership in the region in a more inclusive way.

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