AU Hosts 2024 International Women’s Day Virtual Policy Dialogue

The African Union Commission is set to host a virtual policy dialogue on March 8, 2024, in commemoration of International Women’s Day. The high-level panel discussion, titled “Closing the Gap: How Women’s Leadership Strengthens Health Systems in Africa,” aims to address the gendered leadership gap in the healthcare sector and explore strategies for empowering women in the field. The event, hosted by the AU Commission, will feature panelists from the Ministry of Health of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD), and the Pan-African Parliament.

Historically, women have played pivotal roles in health systems, contributing as nurses, midwives, healers, and more. However, formalized medicine excluded women, leading to their exclusion from medical education and practice. Today, women constitute around 70% of health workers globally, with over 80% in nursing and midwifery roles. Despite their significant contributions, women face barriers limiting their full participation and leadership in health systems.

International Women’s Day Theme:

The 2024 International Women’s Day is celebrated under the theme “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress (#InvestInWomen).” Despite women’s essential contributions to health systems, they hold only 25% of senior leadership roles. The disparity between the 70% of women in health worker roles and the mere 30% in leadership positions highlights the need to bridge the gendered leadership gap.

AU Initiatives:

The Africa Health Strategy (2016-2030), Catalytic Framework to end AIDS, TB, and Malaria by 2030, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development emphasize strengthening leadership and empowering women. The Strategy for Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment (2018-2028) aligns with the AU Agenda 2063 to create an Africa driven by its people, especially women. The AU recognizes the crucial role of gender equality in achieving the health and development goals of the continent.

Objectives of the Meeting:

The virtual policy dialogue aims to:
1. Identify gaps and opportunities for enhancing women’s leadership in health systems in Africa.
2. Explore strategies and actions for advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) in Africa’s health sector.
3. Foster collaboration and partnership among African women leaders and other stakeholders in the health sector.

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Expected Outcomes:

The meeting seeks to generate a set of recommendations and commitments to strengthen African women’s leadership in health systems. These outcomes will be disseminated to all AU Member States to encourage widespread adoption of gender-inclusive policies and practices in the health sector.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day in 2024, the AU Commission’s virtual policy dialogue serves as a significant platform to address the gendered leadership gap in Africa’s health sector. By identifying gaps, exploring strategies, and fostering collaboration, the event aims to pave the way for a more inclusive and empowered future for women in healthcare leadership. Through collective efforts, the AU and its partners aspire to accelerate progress towards gender equality and the strengthening of health systems across the continent.

You can get more information here.

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