As governments and healthcare companies across the world race to address the COVID-19 pandemic, one trend has been clear: Women are the majority on the front lines responding to the global health crisis.
Women represent 70 percent of the 43 million employed in the global healthcare workforce and 90 percent of registered nurses. IFC’s 2019 report on Women’s Leadership in Private Health Care demonstrated that despite this overwhelming presence, women continue to be underrepresented in leadership and decision-making roles in the healthcare sector. According to the 2020 Global Health 50/50 Report, under 30 percent of leadership roles in the global healthcare industry are held by women, and only 5 percent are held by women from low- and middle-income countries. The report also found that only 27 percent of health ministers worldwide are women, while World Health Organization (WHO) statistics show that just one fourth of countries have achieved gender parity in this field. Globally, there is little published data on women’s representation in health leadership. However, available evidence shows that women are underrepresented in COVID-19 task forces—comprising 20 percent of the WHO Emergency Committee, 10 percent of the US Taskforce, and 17 percent of Nigeria’s Presidential Taskforce.
To help elevate the voices, needs, and reflections of women leaders in healthcare, IFC reached out to clients and partners who are women entrepreneurs and C-suite executives at the forefront of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several have a seat at the table in local COVID-19 response committees and task forces. They shared stories of quickly adapting their operations to address the pandemic, managing work-life balance, childcare and homeschooling during quarantine orders, and their ideas for the future of healthcare after the pandemic.
Here are the lessons they learned from confronting the pandemic and their strategic vision for the future of healthcare: