Devishi Tandon
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Isn’t it truly mind-boggling? Women account for 70% of the health and social care workforce, and they perform critical roles as nurses, midwives, and community health workers. They are the industry’s backbone, devoting their lives to caring for others. Nonetheless, despite their large presence, women frequently find themselves in the shadows when it comes to decision-making and leadership positions in the health sector. They appear to be out of the spotlight, especially in light of the COVID-19 response.
You’d think that with such a strong presence in the industry, women would naturally be at the forefront of decision-making, wouldn’t you? But that is not the case. It’s as if an invisible barrier is preventing people from taking on leadership responsibilities and having their opinions heard. This gender disparity in health-care leadership is not only unjust but also harmful to advancement and innovation.
Consider this. Women bring to the table diverse ideas and experiences. Their ideas can help to form legislation, promote research, and influence tactics that help patients and communities with a wide range of needs. We’re passing up a treasure of knowledge and expertise by removing them from decision-making. It’s the equivalent of leaving a critical jigsaw piece out of the image.
Furthermore, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, where healthcare services have been stretched to their breaking point, having women actively involved in determining the response is even more critical. Women have intimate knowledge of how the epidemic affects patients, families, and communities. Their involvement is critical for devising effective policies, reducing inequities, and ensuring a complete and inclusive approach to healthcare.
So, what should be changed? It’s past time to tear down those barriers and provide greater possibilities for women to assume leadership positions. It’s more than just checking a box for diversity; it’s about recognising the great value and contributions that women bring to the table. We need gender equality policies, mentorship programmes to help ambitious female executives and a culture transformation that recognises and rewards women’s ability in the health field.
Allow credit where credit is due. It is past time to place women at the forefront of decision-making, empowering them to influence the future of healthcare and lead us to a more fair and inclusive world.

Let me give you a real-life example of women’s underrepresentation in healthcare leadership and their absence from the forefront of the COVID-19 response.
Dr. Bonnie Henry rose to prominence in British Columbia, Canada, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Henry, as Provincial Health Officer, was instrumental in coordinating the province’s response to the epidemic. Her knowledge, calm demeanour, and strong communication abilities established her as a reliable source of information and advice for the public.
Dr. Henry’s ability to lead and make decisions was well recognised and acknowledged, particularly her emphasis on evidence-based initiatives and prioritising community health and safety. She confronted the pandemic’s issues hard on, devising efforts to flatten the curve and safeguard vulnerable groups.
Nonetheless, despite the great achievements of people such as Dr. Bonnie Henry, women in health-care leadership continue to be underrepresented. While Dr. Henry’s example is inspiring, it is the exception rather than the rule. When it comes to taking major leadership roles in the health sector, many women with equivalent skills and qualifications are sometimes disregarded or face difficulties.
This example emphasises the importance of systematically breaking down these obstacles, ensuring that talented and capable women have equal opportunity to shape decision-making, lead responses to health crises, and contribute significant insights in healthcare leadership roles.
We can aspire for a society where women’s voices are heard, their knowledge is appreciated, and their contributions are honoured by recognising the accomplishments of women like Dr. Bonnie Henry and actively striving to establish a more inclusive and gender-equal health industry.

In conclusion, the underrepresentation of women in health sector leadership, as well as their absence from the forefront of the COVID-19 response, demonstrates a substantial discrepancy. Despite accounting for 70% of the health and social care profession, women are frequently left out of decision-making processes. Dr. Bonnie Henry’s great leadership, for example, exemplifies the value that women bring to the table. It is critical to break down barriers and promote gender equality in healthcare leadership in order to capitalise on women’s competence and various viewpoints. We can develop a more inclusive and effective healthcare system that meets the interests of all persons by actively incorporating women in decision making.