The #LancetWomen theme issue on advancing women in science, medicine, and global health, presents robust evidence to confront gender bias, improve diversity and inclusivity, and drive change in global health. We were inspired by the key findings from this theme issue, including the role of intersectionality, learning from the Global South, and the importance of better diversity for better science.
Whilst we celebrated this landmark publication, we wanted to do more to ensure that women from all parts of the world could access the Lancet Women findings, reflect on their own contribution to science, medicine, or global health, and ensure their expertise and voices are heard.
So, over the last month, we have provided a platform for women in science, medicine or global health in any part of the world, to share their story. We have collected the most amazing pieces of advice and insights from the most remote parts of the Amazon of Peru to informal settle meets in Kenya. We would love to hear your story too!
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how you can be involved.
See more and access the full set of articles at: https://www.thelancet.com/lancet-women
"Be a colour in your generation"
My name is Oritseweyinmi Erikowa-Orighoye. I am from a city called Warri in Southern Nigeria. I am a Paediatrician who has interests in research and community development especially for women and children. Being the only female doctor in the family makes it a wonderful privilege to positively impact the lives of those around me and even in my community.
As a Paediatrician with a zeal to touch lives in many ways, I have and still explore how I can change the old narrative about the health and wellbeing of women and children. This is why I took the bold step to work as a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Intern and at the same time started a girls' project in my city called The Community Girl Project. I can talk about the changes I wish to see but it would be of no relevance if I did not act towards them. I decided to put my words into actions by contributing to achieving sustainable health and wellbeing for women and children through various activities and even with social media.
The skills and knowledge gained cannot stay just within me, I'd explode, so the best way is to be an instrument in passing down the knowledge to those who are in need of it especially the younger women. They need to believe that they can achieve the goals they have set for themselves.
When I think of diversity in medicine, I see women as the colours of change as they bring all their shades of intelligence, skills and experiences to achieve great things. As a woman of colour, I look at myself as part of a diverse community in medicine that brings life to the untouched areas in Africa even if that means I am just a miniature part of the whole big impact. I hope more younger African women take the bold steps and create the impact which we hope to see.
Gender equality is a significant determinant of health for all people, of all genders, the world over the world. To rectify gender inequality we must look closely at our own backyard.
Gender equality is a significant determinant of health for all people, of all genders, the world over. For example, people that don’t conform to strict male/female gender norms face discrimination, social isolation, and mental health issues arising from this. Restrictive gender norms that force women into economically and socially subservient positions provide fertile ground for violence against women. Norms that force men into traditionally masculine roles of toughness, breadwinning, and invincibility feed into potentially fatal risk taking behaviours and serious mental health issues.
Achieving gender equality is a global challenge. Science and medicine have a major role to play in this. We need research to deepen our understanding of the issues, ensuring the data we collect is rich and nuanced. We need to develop strategies to address inequality at international, national, and community levels. The healthcare workforce need to provide equitable care for all people and educate the community in practical ways that will support equality. We need to do cross-disciplinary research to ensure we understand how gender intersects with other social determinants of health such as socioeconomic status and race.
To do this well we need to look closely at our own backyard. Why are there persistent gender inequities in scientific, medical, and global health workforces? What pressures and unconscious biases cause the ‘leaky pipeline’ that squanders female talent in these sectors? How can we ensure that male researchers and doctors have equal opportunities to engage with their home and family life? The corporate world has shown us that more diverse workforces lead to greater productivity. There is evidence emerging that the gender of your healthcare provider may significantly affect how well they communicate with you, how accurately they interpret your symptoms, whether they offer you lifestyle advice, and may even affect your mortality. Imagine the meaningful change we could effect if we uncovered the drivers of these phenomena. We could use this knowledge to develop nuanced research questions and create precisely targeted, practical, effective healthcare strategies. In the corporate world, diversity is pursued to ensure that the corporate team understands their market better, leading to better advertising, more precise product targeting, ultimately translating into higher profits. In science and healthcare, we should pursue diversity in our workforce so that we understand our population better, enabling us to collect more meaningful data, communicate more effectively, understand their healthcare needs more fully, ultimately translating into the best health outcomes possible.
On February 8th, The Lancet medical journal will launch a special theme issue on women in science, medicine, and global health. For a journal of such stature to engage with these issues is heartening and inspiring. I look forward to the rich array of content and the resulting insights and new directions we will discover. In a review paper for the Lancet Women issue, Dr Geordan Shannon, I, and a team of other authors set out to review the evidence for why gender equality in science, medicine, and global health matters. We conclude that, “…we are in the position to demand more from the evidence, to innovate beyond current discourses, and to realise true gender equality for everyone, everywhere. Achieving gender equality is not simply instrumental for health and development; its impact has wide-ranging benefits and is a matter of fairness and social justice for everyone.”Bravo, #LancetWomen – I am privileged to be one of you.