Interview with Janessa Oliveira

01 May 2023

Listening to partners: Women in Global Health


Starting its journey in 2015 as a Non-Profit Organization, Women in Global Health (WGH) now represents a global movement of action and leadership for gender equity in health. Currently, the organization has 47 chapters in

43 countries, over 5000 members and 100,000 people in some way involved in its activities across more than 100 countries, establishing a broad network of allies in favor of strengthening gender equal leadership in global health. For this newsletter, we spoke with Janessa Oliveira, PhD in Public Health, who currently coordinates the Brazilian chapter of Women in Global Health.

Hub LAC: WGH has actions both in advocacy and as a platform for different initiatives and partnerships. In this sense, could you give us a concrete overview of the initiatives that you develop?

J.O: WGH has been active for eight years through various initiatives to promote gender equality in the health sector. Our advocacy and stakeholder coordination front, dedicated to collaborating with influential organizations in the field proved to be a crucial part of our work. In fact, regional and national chapters are encouraged to seek alliances and contacts to implement actions that generate noticeable change at the local level. Moreover, the organization promotes events for showcasing successful experiences in other countries, so that other chapters can be inspired to lead their own initiatives. A final aspect we consider critical to our work is participation in global events, as a way of encouraging the

representation of women in these spaces, and being actively engaged in debates towards tackling gender inequalities in the health sector.

Hub LAC: What are the main pieces of evidence that support your understanding of the nature and magnitude of challenges to gender equality in health?

J.O: As it stands, we rely chiefly on secondary data provided mainly by the CNES – National Registry of Health Establishments, and we are working on establishing local alliances to gather information and glean a better understanding of the demographic profile of health professionals in Brazil. With regard to investigating pay inequality, we are in contact with professional councils to obtain robust data. Finally, concerning the various forms of violence that can affect the healthcare workforce, the Brazilian chapter is pursuing data gathering via professional councils and by running its own survey. We do realize this is a sensitive topic, so in order to maximize participation in this survey, we have been forming alliances to disseminate the questionnaire across the country and ensure a more representative sample.

Hub LAC: WGH now has an extensive global network, spanning across five continents. How are these initiatives engendered, considering the particularities of each region or even between countries?

J.O: WGH’s leadership accords a lot of value to creating regional and global collaboration mechanisms between the chapters. To this end, several regional Hubs were put in place, where chapters can come together to align priorities, organize joint activities, among other things. There are also monthly global meetings where chapters engage, share their updates and discuss a range of current issues in the field of global health advocacy.

In order to promote the exchange of experiences and ideas, WGH Global also organizes events and activities with the aim of showing how various themes manifest in different regions. An example of this type of activity were the four regional townhalls (assembly-type meetings) on the subject of Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (SEAH) in the health sector, to which representatives of governments, NGOs and activists were invited to discuss proposed issues on the topic.

During these events (which were held for the regions of Eastern and Southern Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Francophone Africa), interesting initiatives were presented, expanding the exchange of ideas and experiences between representatives of these sectors in different countries. The Brazilian chapter was one of the co-sponsors of the event for the Americas and Caribbean region. See here the results of the events.

Another initiative we’d like to mention, which is more in line with the new WGH proposal, launched at the end of last year, focuses on Universal Health Coverage. We’ve secured funding for projects along these lines and our first initiative will be to work with podcasts. We believe that podcasts are an excellent tool for disseminating quality content in remote areas where internet coverage is limited, as is the case in the Amazon region. We want to disseminate content that promotes female leadership and improves the quality of healthcare in these areas.