How women contribute $3 trillion to global healthcare

June 8, 2015 8.25pm AEST
Women make up 90% of the world’s nurses. EPA/Ahmed Jallanzo
The traditional focus on women’s health tends to emphasise only their healthcare needs. But women are important providers – as much as they are recipients – of healthcare in their homes and wider communities. This involvement is undervalued economically, politically and culturally. Data analysed from 32 countries, constituting about 52% of the world’s population, and reported in the Lancet Commission on Women and Health, shows that women contribute around US$3 trillion in healthcare annually. The report is the culmination of three years work and represents an important milestone in the consideration of some of the key issues affecting women and their role in society.

Huge economic contribution

Women play a vital role in the global healthcare workforce as nurses, midwives, community health workers and doctors. In some countries 90% of nurses are women. Although they are still less likely than men to reach senior positions in healthcare professions, in some countries (such as the UK), women now predominate in terms of medical school intake. This does not, however, translate to equality in terms of those who go on to practice medicine once trained, nor equality in pay. The report also documents the vital role that women play in healthcare that goes unpaid. This includes contributions made by women and children to giving care in the home. An ageing population, living longer but experiencing chronic diseases, means a larger demand for care, much of which is traditionally provided by women and children. Such informal care responsibilities, while enhancing the care provided to individuals and making significant savings in the formal care sector, can impact caregivers in a number of ways. As well as affecting their own health, it can also hinder their ability to take up educational, employment and social opportunities. Valuing the input of unpaid labour is certainly not straightforward but the commission undertook detailed research to “value the invaluable”. They estimate that women’s unpaid contributions equate to 2.35% of global GDP, with a large variation around this depending on assumptions made about wage rates and other factors.

Unpaid caregivers are predominantly women.

This worldwide picture is reflected in the UK, where the informal care sector is dominated by women, with similar effects on their health and employment options. Just in terms of the ageing population, the demand for unpaid care is substantial. In England, about 1.4m older people with disabilities living in their own homes currently receive unpaid care. Plus there are predictions that the demand for this care will rise sharply and a growing “care gap” will emerge in terms of the availability of unpaid carers. As welfare cuts in both health and social care sectors in many European countries are implemented over the next few years, it is likely that these demands will only intensify.

Women’s health

The report also analyses the health status of women worldwide over the course of their life times. It focuses on the shifting burden of disease and illustrates that while there have been important advances in priority areas such as maternal and reproductive health, there is still some way to go. Deaths from communicable diseases and maternal, perinatal and nutritional disorders decreased by about 20% between 2000 and 2013. But there are still big variations across the world and in the ten most fragile countries (mainly in sub-Saharan Africa) deaths from these largely preventable conditions account for two-thirds of the 3m neonatal deaths and 60% of all maternal deaths. The commission also broadens the focus beyond traditional concerns that relate to reproductive health, to consider the entire life-course of women. It concludes that more attention to chronic disease and non-communicable disease is required as conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, stroke, cancer, diabetes and mental health disorders are now the leading causes of death and disability for women in almost all countries. The position of women in society has a major impact on their access to healthcare and chances of avoiding or managing these health conditions.

Why women?

It is worth noting that choosing to focus specifically on gender to categorise health status is not universally accepted as the best analytical approach. Particularly by those who see the complex interplay between a range of determining factors (such as socioeconomic status, race, geography) as being far more important for an in-depth understanding of health and health inequalities. The authors recognise this issue in part by referring to policies that have improved overall healthcare. But they contend that the shifting demographic, social, political and environmental arena presents specific and complex challenges to women which require targeted rather than general measures. For instance, by ensuring that the political and cultural barriers to accessing healthcare by women are recognised.

Empowering women through education has important health benefits. EPA/Jalil Rezayee

The commission also makes suggestions for acting on their findings. Their solutions look at the role of women more broadly in society. They also suggest specific policies to address education, access to healthcare, workforce and remuneration policies, as well as changes to the way in which statistics and research studies account for women. It seems very appropriate that rather than focusing only on things that can be done for women, there is a need to empower them. In recognition of the huge amount women contribute towards care giving, it makes sense that women who themselves are healthy contribute to a “virtuous circle” of health. The authors make the case that those who experience gender equality and are valued in their societies, are best placed to make a substantial contribution to their own health and well-being, as well as that of their communities. As Kofi Annan once said:

When women thrive, all of society benefits, and succeeding generations are given a better start in life. See the original article in the Conversation

Why it matters that Super Fund Managers have Gender Balance

I was listening to the National Press Club discussion about Superannuation today with a panel including John Brogden, former politician and now Chief Exec of the Financial Services Council. Brogden is expected to head up AICD in early 2015 and he said that “looking forward twenty years, when the head of AMP for example has $200 million of super funds to invest, he and others like him, will be listened to”. They will be listened to by the investment market, by ‘mums and dads’ and no doubt by government. With the $ value of managed funds expected to grow, what those companies invest in, or want to invest your super funds in will make a difference. Not just to your super nest egg, but to your life and the lives of your family. These ‘super’ funds will become even greater influencers to government policy, and the market economy than they are now.

If that is not scary enough, now think about who might be the key influencer in that company? No doubt the CEO or Chair of the Board. What is the gender, cultural and age diversity mix of the board and what sort of company culture have they developed? Do they have an interest in sustainability, do they have an interest in gender equity and equality, are they an inclusive company? Or, like many current organisations, the decision makers remain majority male. Yes sure, they may have a great understanding of the benefit of diversity, they may even be pro women, but if board gender diversity numbers of women continue to decline, we could be in for some startling outcomes over the next twenty years as raised by Brogden.

In twenty years our reliance on superannuation to fund our retirement will increase significantly and with larger and larger amounts of the elderly and pre retirement (50-65 year olds) already struggling, the impact could be dire. How will the current lack of women in senior leadership and boards play out in this scenario twenty years into the future?

Are you scared? You should be. Unless we can see more diversity in our top companies, and quickly, then we have the potential to have decisions made that benefit the few with the exclusion of the many. This is why it is vitally important that we encourage our girls and young women to invest now, to understand the investment cycle and plan for their future. Don’t leave the influencing decisions to others.

With rumblings in the Australia Super Industry and government about different ways to structure super and how and what super funds might invest in, it is important that we understand what is going on and what the ramifications might be for the future. For example, some of the rumblings mentioned in todays Press Club Event by Chief Executive of Industry Super Australia, David Whiteley were; investing 5% of super in public infrastructure, or not making super contributions compulsory for low income earners because well, “they will always be on benefits anyway”. Note this is not necessarily Whiteley’s view, he was merely demonstrating the potential issues when large amounts of money are involved and then mixed with value judgements, bias and in some cases downright discrimination or stupidity.

The potential to degrade the lives of others by limiting diverse opinions on some of these boards could be real. The resultant economic impact could be gendered if we don’t do something about the gender pay gap and gap in superannuation savings between men and women now. Think about where the money and influencers are? They are normally heads of state, CEOs or owners of large corporations, the banking and finance industry, or leaders in industry segments all trying to do the best for their shareholders. With the increasing amount of money accumulating in superannuation, we are seeing another major influencer being created.

Thinking forward and looking under the surface of what is happening and pointing out the gendered implications is what Gender Economics is all about. Contact us at The Centre for Gender Economics and Innovation for more information about innovative board strategy, research on economic decision making, and creating a diverse high performance culture.


“The trouble with gender economics”, The Guardian 2011

reblogged from The Guardian

Original Post by

Thursday 19 May 2011 01.59 EST

At a global summit in Paris, France, MPs from around the world argued that investing in girls can spur economic growth. But the economic case for gender equality has its critics

MDG : Young girl in class at Makuyuni school in the Monduli District, Tanzania, Africa.

Young girls attend Makuyuni school in the Monduli District, Tanzania, Africa. Photograph by Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

Family planning is notoriously one of the most politicised and divisive issues in development debates, and gender equality one of the most neglected. But over the past few years, advocates for both have emerged from across the political spectrum and from some of the most unlikely sources – including the World Bank. This week, a diverse group of parliamentarians from around the world gathered at the French Assemblée Nationale before next week’s G8 summit, calling for a special focus on the 600 million girls and young women in developing countries around the world.

Organised by the European parliamentary forum on population and development (EPF), the summit brought together parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, including the UK Liberal Democrat Jenny Tonge, French Socialist Philippe Tourtelier, and George Tsereteli, a centre-right MP from Georgia. EPF secretary Neil Datta argues that “each political party has a value base that can be supportive of reproductive health”, and that the trick is to mobilise support without politicising debate. Above all, it’s the economic case for supporting girls – popularised by the social media-savvy “Girl Effect” campaign and promoted by the World Bank – that is bringing unexpected allies to the table.

According to Gill Greer, director-general of the International planned parenthood federation, every year a girl spends in secondary school pushes her future wages up by 15-20%, and women generally re-invest 90% of their earnings in their communities. The World Bank agrees, and has thus decided to back programmes focusing conditional cash transfers on women, and providing vouchers to employers who hire women. For the bank’s expert on gender, Mayra Buvinic, investing in girls is simply “smart economics.” For Greer, the argument that investment in the rights and health of girls can spur economic growth provides a powerful tool for advocates seeking consensus on politically sensitive issues such as reproductive health. And according to Datta, arguments about the economic benefits of gender equality, reproductive health, and family planning have helped to garner cross-party support in donor countries including Ireland, Spain, and the Netherlands.

But making women work for the market is not the same thing as making markets work for women, and the economic argument for investing in girls is not without its critics. Earlier this year, a debate about the Girl Effect campaign rippled across the development blogosphere, sparked in part by a provocative critique on Aid Watch. Guest blogger Anna Carella argued that the Girl Effect plays into stereotypes of women as natural caregivers and reinforces perceptions of “women’s work” and “men’s work”. It further neglects crucial macroeconomic issues and prioritises the wellbeing of the economy over the wellbeing of women, she said. “While this campaign seems like a godsend for those who have been working to improve the lives of women, it may actually be damaging to women.”

Meanwhile, Elaine Zuckerman, a former World Bank economist, has taken aim at the bank’s gender action plan and policy, criticising its dismissal of human rights and arguing that the “business case for gender equality” only perpetuates the bank’s neo-liberal agenda. And for Datta, the risk is that programmes favouring quick fixes will win over long-term strategies to tackle deep-rooted power relations that require generations to surmount.

All of this leaves global gender advocates in a tricky position. They have an argument that has garnered unprecedented support for traditionally neglected issues and divisive debates. Linking gender equality with economic growth offers a convincing argument at a time when budget cuts and austerity talk put NGOs and aid agencies under enormous pressure to provide innovative approaches to entrenched development issues. And it’s an agenda that shows no sign of losing steam. Next year, the World Bank will dedicate its flagship World Development Report to gender equality. And the bank’s International Development Association (IDA) fund, which provides soft loans and grants to the poorest countries, has made gender equality one if its four priority themes. But to benefit from this unprecedented focus without seeing stickier issues slip off the agenda – such as the hard-to-measure but crucial issues of women’s rights, empowerment, and long-term generational change – is no small task. Without a doubt, this is a debate to watch.

• This article was amended on 20 May 2011. The original referred to Elaine Zuckerman as an economist from the World Bank’s independent evaluation group. This has been corrected.

See original article here,


“Next step in parental leave is tailoring it to give women best career rebirth”

Some commentary on the new Australian Parental Leave scheme proposed by the new Liberal government.

“Next step in parental leave is tailoring it to give women best career rebirth”

Article from Melissa Grah-McIntosh of the Brisbane Times September 11, 2013

Policies with impact for a productive society”

from Women on Boards (WOB’s)

Pay equity, women in leadership and childcare were the issues nominated as the most important to women in a recent survey of more than 1,000 members of Women on Boards.

Paid Parental Leave (PPL) was ranked the issue of least importance.

The survey was conducted over two weeks by Women on Boards to their database of more than 15,000 professional women with 1095 responses.

The purpose of the survey is to inform the future government, policy makers and the business community of issues impacting on the productivity, leadership potential and economic well being of women in Australia.

WOB Directors, Claire Braund and Ruth Medd, said the survey highlighted the complexity around the inter-related issued of maintaining workforce productivity while enabling employees to contribute to the social economy through parental and other caring responsibilities.

“The issues are complex and it is very clear that single issue policies implemented in isolation will not address the rapidly changing needs of male and female workers, business and society,” Braund and Medd said.”  see the rest of the article here


A Solution For A Struggling Global Economy: Gender Equality

Article 10/14/2011 @ 5:06PM |5,063 views

2011 Nobel Prize winner Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

2011 Nobel Prize winner Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

By Ritu Sharma and Joe Keefe

“This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to three women from Africa and the Arab world in acknowledgment of their courageous work promoting peace, democracy and gender equality. In awarding the prize, the Nobel Committee stated that democracy and peace cannot be achieved unless women have the same opportunities and rights as men.

They might have added that without gender equality sustainable economic development cannot be achieved either. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that women are the key to a global economic recovery.

A few weeks ago, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, chairing the first-ever Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) High-Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy, made this point emphatically: “By increasing women’s participation in the economy and enhancing their efficiency and productivity, we can have a dramatic impact on the competitiveness and growth of our economies.”

In her remarks, Secretary Clinton recounted some of the evidence: The Economist found that the increase in employment of women in developed economies during the past decade contributed more to global growth than did China. In the U.S., a McKinsey study found that women went from holding 37% of all jobs to nearly 48% over the past 40 years, and that the productivity gains attributable to this modest increase in women’s share of the labor market now accounts for approximately 25% of U.S. GDP. That works out to over $3.5 trillion – more than the GDP of Germany and more than half the GDPs of China and Japan.”



Helping women to start businesses to boost productivity – REBLOGGED

Home / Epaper / China Business Weekly

Helping women to start businesses to boost productivity

Updated: 2013-05-20 07:38

By Chen Jia ( China Daily)
Women working at an automobile component factory in Jiangxi province. According to data from the All-China Women's Federation, China now has more than 30 million female entrepreneurs. They make up 25 percent of all Chinese business leaders. Provided to China Daily

Women working at an automobile component factory in Jiangxi province. According to data from the All-China Women’s Federation, China now has more than 30 million female entrepreneurs. They make up 25 percent of all Chinese business leaders. Provided to China Daily

Zhou Xin, a 27-year-old woman, is expecting to double her company’s annual revenue to 20 million yuan ($3.25 million) this year from 2012 after improving her marketing strategy learned from a business course.

Zhou is the founder and owner of Tianjin Xinkelv Food Co, which produces healthy green and organic foods and develops recipes.

She founded the company in 2009, when she graduated from university, without any business management experience or knowledge.

“All things are difficult before they are easy,” Zhou said. “When I decided to realize the business idea that I formulated when attending the university, I couldn’t find any startup capital.”

After Zhou’s loan application was rejected by banks, she asked for money from a relative.

“As a guarantee, I secretly took the house property ownership certificate from my parents and handed it to the relative. The first loan was 1 billion yuan,” she said.

As a food company, the most difficult time Zhou’s business suffered was in 2011, when many steamed bread producers were mired in a scandal concerning use of colorants.

“Very few customers came to my shop at that time, fearing our products might harm their health,” she said.

Zhou hung a poster outside her shop that stated that if just one product was below the required standard, then refunds would be made on thousands of quality products.

She also invited a food quality inspector to conduct tests on the food she sold.

“The high quality of our food and our honesty has helped to win back the trust of customers. It made me realize the importance of marketing, which I learned from special business training courses,” Zhou said.

The food company’s annual revenue was 1.2 million yuan in 2010. It jumped to 6 million yuan in 2011 and 10 million yuan in 2012.

“Now I understand how important funding and specific training are for entrepreneurs, especially for businesswomen,” Zhou said.

“I became more focused, ambitious and goal-oriented in making strategic decisions after receiving this education.”

Since 2008, Goldman Sachs has invested $100 million to provide 10,000 underserved women around the world with business and management education.

Validated data indicates that, globally, within 30 months of graduation, 83 percent of surveyed graduates increased revenues, 77 percent hired additional employees and 90 percent mentor other women postgraduates.

More than 2,000 women in China have or will be trained through the Goldman Sachs’ global program.

“Investing in women is one of the most effective ways to reduce inequality and facilitate inclusive economic growth,” said Dina Habib Powell, president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation and global head of corporate engagement.”

read the full article here

“Cost of gender gap put at $195b”,but still too much focus on flexibility and not enough on economic and political policy change

Cost of gender gap put at $195b

March 9, 2013

Copyright © 2013 Fairfax Media

Another unfavourable and I think unhelpful comment in this article that focuses only on the key issues of childcare and workplace flexibility.  It is limiting and makes women sound like special cases instead of addressing the real issues of centuries of legislation that created an unequal gendered workplace.

In the article, this quote “Diversity strategy and compliance expert Prue Gilbert from Prue Gilbert Consulting said the key focuses for government should be childcare and workplace flexibility.”  is one that I think is unfavourable and unhelpful.  More than just focusing on these issues we need [Australian] government policy changes that assist and encourage ‘families’ and single parents to return to the workforce without losing key financial incentives.  Many parents suffer from increasing tax burdens on second income’s and reductions in child care subsidies making a return to work less attractive financially for those wishing to return to work.  Many older female workers (over 40) are finding it difficult to stay in, or return to the workforce because of the stigma’s of agism and the traditional feminized role that some of these women may have held in previous positions that makes the cost of this experience harder to complete with less expensive younger workers.  So again, lets not just put it all down to flexibility and childcare, this is a complex issue that has taken many centuries of legislation to embed itself and needs to now be dismantled bit by bit.  I am not saying that flexibility and childcare arn’t important, they are, but they are only part of the issue.

However the article does point out some salient facts that if we do manage to keep more women in the workforce there are significant implications for the economy.

“Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that female participation in the workforce fell in the 15-to-19, 20-to-24 and 45-to-54 age brackets over the past three years.

Figures compiled exclusively for The Saturday Age by Goldman Sachs reveal that in dollar terms this equates to an estimated $33 billion in GDP foregone between now and 2016. ”Lifting female participation is one way to do this and, given the politics around immigration, it is the most politically expedient path. It also utilises a highly educated resource that Australia has already invested in,” he said.

Shadow minister for finance Andrew Robb said the analysis, while sobering, showed there was enormous potential to materially boost female participation with the right policies.”

AWRA answers call for gender diversity

Original article published in Gas Today Thursday, 2 August 2012

AWRA answers call for gender diversity

Thu, 2 August 2012

The Australian Women in Resource Alliance helping the growing gas sector meet its skilled workforce needs through building greater gender diversity.

Australian Women in Resource Alliance (AWRA) Project Officer Marie Henry says that developing a greater level of workforce diversity has become a priority for employers embracing the great opportunities and challenges within Australia’s evolving energy sector.

“The country’s top six gas projects alone have a capital expenditure of more than $154 billion and the industry is reporting the shortage of professional and skilled workers could double by the end of this year,” she says.

To meet this challenge, resource industry employer group AMMA is facilitating AWRA. This part federally-funded initiative has a very clear objective: to boost the resources industry’s skilled workforce through the increased attraction and retention of women.

Ms Henry says “While women represent 45 per cent of the total Australian workforce, they make up just 16 per cent of the resource industry. This unfavourable figure has seen a number of industry stakeholders and academics unite under the AWRA banner to increase the representation of women in resources to 25 per cent by 2020.

“It may seem an ambitious goal, but we believe this can be achieved through the widespread implementation of workplace policies and procedures that both promote the employment opportunities abundant in the industry and ensure our workplaces cater to a gender diverse workforce.”

AWRA says that its Way Forward Paper is the first step in creating awareness of the economic benefits of gender diverse workforces.

The paper outlines how AWRA can facilitate the appropriate cultural change and promote best practice workplace policies to increase the participation of women in gas, mining and oil roles.

In coming months AWRA will also release its various Way Forward guides, which address a range of workplace practices and specific policies that will help our industry achieve this goal.

“Through support of the AWRA initiative, we can better promote the gas sector as an attractive career pathway for women and start making some real progress towards meeting our workforce needs,” says Ms Henry.


Gas Today –

Australian Minerals and Mining Association website