Gender inequality, root of global crisis in health — WHO


A World Health Organisation report, “Fair share for health and care: gender and the undervaluation of health and care work”, illustrates how gender inequality in health and care work negatively impact women, health systems and health outcomes.

The report that was released on Wednesday said that the outlines under investment in health systems resulted in a vicious cycle of unpaid health and care work lowering women’s participation in paid labour markets, harming women’s economic empowerment and hampering gender equality.

It said that women comprised 67 per cent of the paid global health and care workforce.

“In addition to this paid work, it has been estimated that women perform an estimated 76 per cent of all unpaid care activities.

“Work that is done primarily by women tends to be paid less and has poor working conditions,” it said.

The report highlighted that low pay and demanding working conditions are commonly found in the health and care sector.

” Devaluing care-giving, which is work performed primarily by women, negatively impacts wages, working conditions, productivity and the economic footprint of the sector.

“The report illustrates that decades of chronic under investment in health and care work is contributing to a growing global crisis of care.

” With stagnation in progress towards universal health coverage (UHC), resulting in 4.5 billion people lacking full coverage of essential health services, women may take on even more unpaid care work,” it said.

It said that the deleterious impact of weak health systems combined with increasing unpaid health and care work are further straining the health of caregivers and the quality of services.

Mr Jim Campbell, WHO Director for Health Workforce., said that “The ‘Fair share’ report highlights how gender-equitable investments in health and care work will reset the value of health and care and drive fairer and more inclusive economies.

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“We are calling upon leaders, policy-makers and employers to take action: it is time for a fair share for health and care,” he said.

The report presented policy levers to better value health and care work which improve working conditions for all forms of health and care work, especially for highly feminised occupations and include women more equitably in the paid labour workforce.

Other policy levers are enhanced conditions of work and wages in the health and care workforce and ensured equal pay for work of equal value and address the gender gap in care, support quality care work and uphold the rights and well-being of caregivers.

The report said that investments in health and care systems not only accelerate progress on UHC, they redistribute unpaid health and care work.

It said that when women participate in paid health and care employment, they are economically empowered and health outcomes are better.

According to the report, health systems need to recognise, value and invest in all forms of health and care work.





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