A social media campaign asking people to nominate leading women in global health is underway with 100 women nominated so far. Sharmila Devi reports.
A list of leading women working in global health is being compiled by people around the world who are nominating their choices via Twitter as part of an effort to showcase female leadership.
A preliminary list of 100 women has been created and the list is now being expanded to 200 women, said Ilona Kickbusch, director of the Global Health Programme at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.
She came up with the idea of listing women leaders after attending too many conferences and panels at which she was the only woman speaker. No other such list existed as far as she was aware. “I started this after one of those meetings where I was listening to men all day and I thought what can I do?” she said. “I thought I must showcase women and I sent out tweets asking others to come up with names. Very quickly people were getting messages of congratulations for making it on to the list and others were saying how proud they were to be on it.”
Further nominations under the Twitter hashtag #wgh200 are being sought this month as awareness of the campaign spreads around the world, said Kickbusch. The only criteria is that the women are “working at the forefront of global health all around the world”.
She has urged male colleagues not to attend panels if there are no women speakers. But she accepts that sometimes this is not practical.
Highlighting the contribution of women in advancing global health helps to balance the picture and reinforces the universality of the cause. Since most health decisions globally are made by women, it's particularly important to highlight their contribution and to showcase women as role models and exemplars.