2021 Global Health 50/50 Report

Gender equality: Flying blind in a time of crisis

Now in its 4th year, the Global Health 50/50 Report finds that action to dismantle gender inequality inside organisations and to apply a gender lens in health programmes remains scarce.

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that gender matters - to career pathways, to people’s risk of disease and death, to shaping equitable, effective health policies. Yet the 2021 report reveals that the vast majority of activities to address the health impacts of COVID-19 ignored the role of gender. In a male-default world, the report finds that gender as a driver of everyone’s health, including that of men and boys, remains under-addressed. The result: gender-blind pandemic responses that are less effective than they should be, with grave consequences for the health of people everywhere.

Flying Blind also reports the appointment of yet another cohort of mostly male global health leaders, predominantly from high-income countries, with the mandate to exert influence over the health and wellbeing of people worldwide. Despite substantial rhetoric, the data reveals little progress towards gender equality and diversity in leadership across the health sector and no progress on closing the gender pay gap among UK organisations mandated to report on it.

Resources for tackling power and privilege in the workplace

An enabling environment should not rely solely on the discretion of individual managers. Policies formalize standards and processes and their implementation can be tracked, monitored and reported. 

The majority of organisations under review operate in countries with legal frameworks that protect workers against discrimination, including equal employment opportunity laws and equal pay laws. Yet while such laws are essential, they are insufficient to level the playing field when individual bias and institutional discrimination continue to reinforce existing systems of power. 

“If more young people take action, we can collectively ensure that organisations will have to change for the better.”

David Zezai, researcher and member of the Global Health 50/50 Collective

For organisations which have entrenched power asymmetries, addressing equality needs to go further still and delve into the past, interrogating historical injustices, identifying how they are perpetuated through existing power structures, and taking action. For example, this could mean putting specific measures in place to support the careers of historically underrepresented groups. The movements to decolonise and achieve gender equality in global health provide examples of why redressing past injustices through positive action is a vital step. 

There are a multitude of resources to guide employees, leaders and organisations in developing policies which promote and realise everyone’s rights in the workplace. A selection of such resources are presented below for guidance across a range of policy areas, including from organisations in the GH5050 sample.

The following resources offer information and guidance for organisations on implementing workplace measures on equity, diversity and inclusion and/or updating policies and practices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. GH5050 has not verified the accuracy of information in these links, but we list them as a source of further information:

Family-friendly policies:

International Network on Leave Policies & Research - Country Reports - Reports on maternity, paternity, parental leave and leave to care for sick dependents available by country 

International Network on Leave Policies & Research - Defining policies - Definitions of maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave and leave to care for children who are ill  

International Labour Organisation - Maternity and Paternity at Work - Review of national law and practice on maternity and paternity at work across the world  

Global Health 50/50 - How to Develop Family Friendly Workplace Policies - Guide for organisations developing parental leave, flexible working and family-friendly workplace policies

Diversity and Inclusion:

Corporate Equality Index 2021 - includes recommended policies and measures for LGBTQ-inclusive workplaces 

Stonewall - Best practices, toolkits and resources - collection of resources for organisations creating an LGBT+ inclusive workplace

UK Government - Race in the workplace - the McGregor Smith Review - independent review and recommendations on behalf of UK Government

National Council of Nonprofits - Why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion matter for Non-Profits 

ILO - Promoting Equality and Addressing Discrimination - guidance on disability inclusive appraoches at work 

Gender parity and diversity within leadership:

World Bank - Women Business and the Law - Measures gender inequalities in the law in over 170 that impact women’s employment

World Economic Forum - Global Gender Gap Report 2020 - Index of gender parity in over 150 countries 

BoardSource - Diversity, Inclusion and EquityBoardsource - Diversity, Inclusion and Equity - resources for inclusive, diverse and equitable boards   - resources for diverse, inclusive and equitable boards

UN Women - Global norms and standards: Leadership and political participation - Overview of internationally agreed norms and standards relating to women’s leadership and political participation

2020 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index - Tracks gender equality performance of public companies

Gender pay gap: 

Eurostat Gender Pay Gap Statistics - Gender pay gap data by country across the EU

UK House of commons Gender Pay Gap Briefing Paper - Statistics and analysis of the gender pay gap in the UK

Global Health 50/50 - How to: Measure and Address the Gender Pay Gap in Global Health - Guide for organisations seeking to address their gender pay gap

ACAS Managing Gender Pay Gap Reporting - Guide for UK employers on how to report on and address the gender pay gap