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Global Health 50/50 Report (2018)

Global Health 50/50 is an independent initiative created to advance accountability and action for gender equality in global health. Its Advisory Council is an informal group whose members guide the initiative and serve as its Ambassadors in their personal capacities.

‘Gender blind after all this time’: Few global health organizations promoting gender-responsive actions within their own institutions

First-ever gender-related policy and practice analysis of 140 leading health organizations spotlights inadequate and limited focus on the promotion of gender equality in programmes and the workplace LONDON, 8 March 2018​ – A new landmark report launched today on International Women’s Day reveals that only a select group of the world’s top global health organizations have placed gender equality at the centre of their operations, both programmatically and institutionally. The 2018 Global Health 50/50 Report – the first of its kind – provides an in-depth look at the extent to which the organizations analysed in the study understand, define, programme, resource, and monitor gender as a determinant of health, or as an indicator of equality within their own organization. Developed by Global Health 50/50, an independent initiative housed by the University College London Centre for Gender and Global Health, the report provides a unique assessment of seven domains that zero in on an organization’s commitment to gender equality. The development of the report was supported in part by a grant from Wellcome Trust.
The domains of the study include: public statement of commitment to gender equality; gender defined in institutional policies and consistent with global norms; programmatic policies in place to guide gender-responsive action; sex-disaggregated data collected and reported; workplace policies and practices with specific measures to promote gender equality in place; gender parity in governance bodies and senior management; and gender of the head of the organization and of the head of its governing body. The 140 organizations involved in the study are those from the United Nations system; bilateral and multilateral development institutions; philanthropic organizations and funders; civil society and nongovernmental organizations; public-private partnerships; and the private sector.

Mixed picture of gender equality progress in global health

An overarching finding of the study highlights that global health organizations have yet to fully commit to gender equality, with only one out of three stating a commitment to gender equality to benefit the health of all people. Worryingly, one-third have no stated committed to gender equality, and the remainder of the organizations are silent on specific actions related to gender and/or women and girls. The report underscores that decision-making power remains in the hands of men, although women constitute the vast majority of people working in global health, accounting for 67% of employees in the health and social sectors. Further findings include:

  • Fewer than one-third of organizations define gender in a manner that is consistent with global norms, a prerequisite for effective and equitable programming;
  • Only 40% of organizations mention gender in their programme and strategy documents;
  • Two-thirds of organizations do not disaggregate their programme data by sex;
  • 43 organizations (30%) make no reference to workplace gender equality;
  • 20% of organizations have achieved gender parity on their boards;
  • A quarter (25%) of organizations have achieved gender parity at the level of senior management;
  • 69% of organizations are headed by men; and
  • 80% of board chairs are men.

While the report points to significant discord in whether organizations are internalizing their commitment to gender equality, it equally captures actors that, at least when it comes to commitment, policy and representation, are advancing gender equality in global health. The report identifies 18 high-scoring organizations. The nine highest-scoring organizations are: BRAC; Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ); GAVI; The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria; Population Reference Bureau; Save the Children International; Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida); Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); and UNICEF.
An additional ten high-scorers identified in the report include: CARE; European Commission; Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO); FHI360; Jhpiego; the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH); Stop TB; United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); UN Women; and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Recommended actions for change

A significant feature of the Global Health 50/50 Report is the set of evidence-informed recommendations it presents across the seven domains of organizational commitment to gender equality. The recommendations were developed in consultation with GH5050’s Advisory Council Some of the recommendations in the report include:

  • Leaders in organizations need to exercise commitment to gender equality and incentivize policies and practices that respond to evidence on the impact of gender on the health, well-being and careers of women and men;
  • Organizations should put in place policies and processes to ensure a common understanding and ownership of the definition of gender, and the practices required to achieve gender equality;
  • Move beyond the tendency to conflate gender with women;
  • Embed gender markers in the review and approval process of all new programmes and initiatives;
  • Demonstrate and implement zero tolerance for sexual and gender harassment; and
  • Set time-bound targets for reaching gender parity in senior management and governing bodies.

Download report: Global Health 50/50 Report (2018)

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