Celebrating International Women’s Day 2021

What is International Women’s Day?
Taking place on March 8th, 2021, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, whilst marking a call to action for the acceleration of gender parity.

Women comprise an estimated 70 percent of the 43 million health care employees around the world. Despite their prevalence in the healthcare workforce, women are systematically under-represented in senior leadership roles across the global health sector. Their participation in senior and executive leadership varies by country and region and is affected by whether they are working in the private or public sector. With its established Women Executives’ Forum, celebrating IWD 2021 presents an important opportunity for the IHF to shine a light on this disparity and engage with its global community on issues around gender equality in healthcare leadership.

Gender equality is an issue for everyone
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘choose to challenge’. Individually, we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. Under this context, we asked our Members to share how they are celebrating International Women’s Day and working to challenge gender disparity in their organisations or work field. Here is a selection of ways that our Members are celebrating IWD 2021:

Women in Health and Care – Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World’
NHS Confederation, United Kingdom
On March 8th, Prerana Issar, NHS England’s Chief People Officer and Samantha Allen, Chair of the NHS Confederation’s Health & Care Women Leaders Network, will co-host a virtual celebration to mark International Women’s Day 2021.   This event is free to attend and open to women and their allies in health and care regardless of their job role, ethnicity, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation. The programme for the day is designed to fit around busy working lives, so delegates are welcome to take part in as much or little of the event as they want to. The theme for the day is #EverydayCourage in tribute to the courage being demonstrated by women in health and care during these extraordinary times. Register for the event here.

Remarkable Women in the Health Sector
Portuguese Association for Hospital Development, Portugal 

In an era of deep changes – such as COVID-19 – and with the current challenges imposed by society, women have been playing a key role in all aspects of healthcare. To mark the special occasion of International Women’s Day, the Portuguese Association for Hospital Development will highlight the words of some of the women honoured in the APDH’s publication “40 Unique Years, 40 Remarkable Women” (“40 Anos Ímpares, 40 Mulheres Notáveis”). This publication was presented at the Conference “NHS – Women’s Role” (“SNS no Feminino”) in 2019: an event that hosted Portuguese women – managers and leaders in the health sector alike – who discussed what distinguishes them and how they achieved their success. More information on this initiative can be found here

‘The Glass Ceiling: How to break it?’
University Hospitals of Geneva, Switzerland
Despite the feminization of positions in the medical field, it is more difficult for women, than men, to reach positions of responsibility and leadershipTo explore this issue, on March 8th, the Medicine, Gender & Equity Group, the Equality Commission of the Faculty of Medicine, and the University Hospitals of Geneva are organizing a Café de l’égalité entitled ‘The Glass Ceiling: How to break it?’Moderated by a prominent Swiss journalist (Romaine Jean)the debate will take place between medical students and physicians from Geneva, alongside the Director of the Equality Department, University of Geneva and a leading Professor from the Center for Gender Studies and Institute of Social Sciences, University of LausanneRegister your attendance here.

IHF’s commitment to gender equality
Female leadership networks provide an environment for women executives to share their working experiences, build professional relationships, and support one another to amplify the voice of women in the workplace. Their ultimate intention is to ensure that those who wish to undertake senior leadership roles are not limited as a result of unequal and systemic barriers. 

In 2021, the IHF Women Executives’ Forum (WEF) will enable senior female leaders in healthcare to come together through a number of special engagements, including a dedicated session at the upcoming the 44th World Hospital Congress. In addition, special podcast will be shared on March 8thin which two WEF committee members – Deborah Bowen and Sam Allen – will explore the IWD theme of #choosetochallenge and share the challenges that they faced and overcame in becoming senior leaders. Listeners will learn from these ‘lived experiences’, and takeaway new ideas to build self-confidence and foster gender equalityensuring that the healthcare sector continues to evolve with women leading, in equal numbers, and equal partnership with their male counterparts.  

In the run up to International Women’s Day 2021we will be sharing inspirational videos and quotes from our Membership to celebrate some of our women leaders and raise awareness of gender equality. Don’t forget to check out our LinkedIn and Twitter profiles to see how our Members ‘choose to challenge’! 

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