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

Become a Game Changer – attend THE GENDER ECONOMICS GLOBAL CONFERENCE 2014

REMINDER; 6 weeks to go!  JUNE 10 AND 11

Become a Game Changer – you are invited to attend THE GENDER ECONOMICS GLOBAL CONFERENCE 2014

Do you want to change the way we view gender, or have a closer look at the way economic policy is formed and how it impacts your life?  Ever thought about the value of Diversity and Gender Balance and not had a forum in which to discuss your opinions and work towards real solutions – want more than a talk fest?  Well the Centre for Gender Economics and Innovation (C4GEi) is pleased to present the inaugural Gender Economics Global Conference 2014 which brings together international speakers, leading academics as well as practitioners in the fields of Diversity, Economics, Sociology, Business Investment, Gender, Innovation and Leadership.

As a ‘Game Changer’, be prepared to discuss, debate and explore your own experiences in relation to the conference streams of Policy, Investment, Environment, and Innovation and Health.  This is the place where you can speak up and make a difference!

Book your seat NOW by going directly to the website at or register directly on Eventbrite by clicking the button at the bottom of this page.

Gender Economics is a new field of study that looks at the way that economic policy is formed and how this flows through to business and society.  By looking at things differently, I believe we will create sustainable and positive change.  The Conference is an opportunity to work together to uncover new discourses to existing issues, reframing the way we think about ourselves, our workplaces and society.

Your opinion does matter, and your participation in this conference will make a difference.  The Centre for Gender Economics and Innovation, Australia™ (C4GEi™) will combine the outcomes from the conference, and current research to develop positive and practical solutions for business and you can be part of the ground breaking and exciting field of Gender Economics and Diversity Economics!  The conference offers you the opportunity to see speakers in the Plenary sessions that align with your interests.  You can then find out the latest research to compliment these talks by attending one of the concurrent Academic Sessions.

Finally you can make a difference by participating in one or all of the Working Sessions.  These important sessions give you a chance to be a “Game Changer” and they will focus on;

  1. Wealth and Influence – Exploring your attitudes and approached to material wealth and how you can create the means to have greater influence
  2. Innovation – Where it comes from, why it is important as well as social and structural influences that assist or derail innovation
  3. Empowered Identity – How to empower your decisions, actions and outcomes by exploring assumptions and beliefs about gender roles that support or diminish your own sense of Identity and purpose

In the facilitated working sessions we will harvest people’s insights from what they have heard and the facilitators will use their expertise to help you to discover opportunities for you to break through outdated paradigms and claim your purpose to influence and change those around you.

Please be prepared to discuss, debate and explore your own experiences in relation to these topics

OUTPUTS from the Sessions;

  • The plenary closing session will provide a brief summary of themes arising from the Working Sessions
  • The plenary sessions and academic session talks will be further analysed and processed and feedback provided to participants, sponsors and facilitators.
  • This material will be further collated and integrated in the Centre for Gender Economics and Innovation with my existing research from the Diversity Program Review Framework (DPRF) that is currently being rolled out to the mining industry as the AWRA Recognised Program through AMMA
  • Finally Facilitator Reports, selected Academic Papers and presentations coupled with further research will culminate in the publication of a book on Gender Economics and rolled forward to the next conference planned for September 2015 in Detroit, USA.  You can be part of this journey!

Be part of leading-edge thinking and come to this game changing event!

We are really excited about the conference venue at the UNSW, in this fantastic new facility that enables and promotes collaboration, sponsored by the UNSW and catering sponsored by theNAB (National Australia Bank).  If you are already going to a Women’s Leadership or Empowerment event, that’s great!  You will already feel inspired, validated and moved by what you hear.  Take it a step further, and then come along to this event, to engage, get down to work and create some committed outcomes!  We are offering a platform for some really important work that will change the way the world thinks about Gender Economics and pave he way towards Wealth, Influence, Innovation and Personal Empowerment for anyone who wishes it, regardless of gender.


I am super pleased to announce that we will have a Youth Panel of Year 11 and 12 girls fromKincoppal Rose Bay School, Vaucluse and I will be working with teachers to blend the conference streams with their current study.  This will be a fantastic session where the girls will get to the opportunity to speak to an international audience on the Plenary stage.  We will get to hear the latest ideas from our youth – this is something to really look forward to.

The conference program, held over 2 days 10-11 June 2014,  comprises two full days of plenary sessions, panel discussions, plus a number of presentations selected from a call for papers process, as well as the Working sessions.

The conference format will be relaxed but retain a ‘working’ focus that encourages discussion and gives time for individuals to connect with others in a ‘trade delegation’ environment. We expect delegates from around the world to attend the conference and this will provide a good opportunity for cross cultural discussion and networking.

Thank you to Virgin Australia who are supporting the conference by offering discounts on Domestic Flights to and from Sydney.  Go to the website here for more information on how to book.

MY VISION for the Conference is that it is a place to get some work done that provides for practical and sustainable solutions to gender equity.

See you there!

Susanne Moore
Founder and CEO,
The Centre for Gender Economics and Innovation (C4GEi)
Sydney NSW Australia
+61 439 420 897

Thank you to our generous sponsors!

The University of New South Wales

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Gender Economics is about the way we use gender for economic advantage, its not a women’s issue.

Men have used gender to decide their business strategy for centuries. Think the new television show Mr Selfridge about the start of the Selfridges shopping empire and the trend of shopping for leisure which exploited women’s emerging need to assert themselves as individuals.  As the time that the suffragette movement was emerging most women didn’t work outside the home, but shopping gave them a way to express their individuality.  And they liked it!  Think about car advertising and football and how we see targeted campaigns for men or for women to entice them to their brands.  These all have attributes of gender economics so when you think it doesn’t apply to you – think again.  Ask yourself why you recently brought that Jeep, or you think its OK to gamble at a Casino.

Many men think that Gender Economics is a women’s issue, but it is not.  Men have a gendered role which is often stereotyped and restrictive.  They can be just as affected by gendered decisions as women, and there are clear cases where this exists.  Often these decisions are coupled with values based judgements that see the intersection of race and gender, much like the idea for some that all young Muslim men must be terrorists.  Of course this isn’t true, but think about the policies and laws that have already been put into place using underlying assumptions about men and women, culture and religion.   Although some of these polices can be positive, many end up degrading the lives of people because of a judgement made about their gender.

Check out the conference site for more examples.

“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


104 Million Women in 59 Global Economies Started Businesses

Womens' Business Social

Womens’ Business Social (Photo credit: JodiWomack)

via Mojalink

April 16, 2013 Gail Romero

“Although the impact of women’s engagement in the global economy cannot be underestimated it is difficult to ensure success without professional business training and preparation. The ability to start a new business is entirely different then actually growing a business to successfully empower a woman economically, grow jobs and make serious gender and economic changes in a community, region or nation.

In 2010, 104 million women in 59 of the world’s economies started small and medium sized enterprises, creating millions of new jobs and changing dramatically their domestic, as well as the world’s, GDP. When women start businesses, the impacts can be monumental if they are successful. They create income for themselves resulting in economic empowerment. Multiple studies and research also indicate an additional side benefit – dramatic reductions in gender based violence (GBV). In a 2008 UNDP study the actual GDP income can be impacted by as much as 7.5% and household income reduced by 4.5% based on GBV. Currently the statistics implicate that 1 in 3 women suffer from gender based violence in the world today. Stopping gender based violence can actually save lives and increase economic viability in entire nations – with women and children benefiting as well.

Another important aspect of economic empowerment is when women are seen as role models by their families and communities. If successful, the family can appreciate social and economic stability and household income will rise. Numerous studies indicate that when women earn income they are more prone to invest in their families, ensure that their children have access to education, better food and healthcare. In turn, those same studies indicate that in many countries men will use similar income advances for personal purchases such as alcohol, tobacco, tea houses, sexual encounters and gambling.

Despite these proven truths, barriers to women’s economic empowerment still exist. A serious lack of easily accessible and robust programs exist to provide resources to the fastest growing source of economic growth in the world – women. This goes well beyond the micro-credit loans initially started by such illustrious world leaders as Nobel Laureate Mohammed Yunis from the Grameen Bank and Sir Fazil Abed from BRAC International. Micro-Credit loans for the poorest of the poor, those who live on less than $1.25 a day provide important initial beginnings to start businesses. These are critically important however may not necessarily grow jobs in a magnitude necessary to fuel economic growth, social, and political stability. A much more dynamic level is necessary to steady communities and nations during economic failings.

In all of these programs, there are three goals:
• Make sure that countries around the world appreciate the economic contribution and potential that women present to their economies,
• Cooperate with reducing the barriers that still exist to women’s full and unencumbered participation in the workforce,
• Develop technology platforms for business resources, education and mentoring that can accommodate the economies of scale necessary to ensure more successful growth of women owned businesses and jobs growth.

At the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation – Women and the Economy Summit this past September, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined significant benefits that the world expects from closing this gender work gap. Part of her remarks: are of particular importance as it relates to the robust programs that MUST be employed.
“But that great, global dream cannot be realized by tinkering around the edges of reform. Nor, candidly, can it be secured though any singular commitment on the part of us here. It requires, rather, a fundamental transformation, a paradigm shift in how governments make and enforce laws and policies, how businesses invest and operate, how people make choices in the marketplace.
The transformational nature of this undertaking that lies ahead is, in my view, not unlike other momentous shifts in the economic history of our world. In the 19th century, many nations began moving from an agricultural to an industrial economy. Then the inventions and mass productions of that era gave rise in the 20th century to the information age and the knowledge economy, with an unprecedented rise in innovation and prosperity.”
We are now in the 21st century – a century where women are in the news as leaders, authors, presidents and CEOs. We are in a new century of leadership, collaboration and expectation. We have a constant stream of articles and blogs about networking, collaborating, having it all and leaning in. It is a century where technology and social media can play an integral role in shaping ideas, sharing, educating and mentoring.

We are now in a century where we must no longer “tinker around the edges” but take advantage of our enormous technology platforms and social media to break the gender barrier for work and jobs. We can use our technology for more than posting a picture or following a celebrity – we can, we must, and we will use technology to help mentor women in business globally and grow jobs – for women.”

see the original article and comments here

Gail Romero is CEO and Founder Collective Changes – Senior Counsel MacKenzie Romero Consulting

Why Gender Equality is important to our economic future

Conference on Gender Equality in Government an...

Conference on Gender Equality in Government and Business – MENA Initiative (Photo credit: OECD)

Gender Equality is important, particularly in terms of gender diversity and seeing more women in leadership.  Women make up up more than half the population in most countries, except for India and China (United Nations 2010; pg. vii) where there are more men than women, effectively creating a greater number of men worldwide.  Women are the back bone of support structures in most situations (some without choice), and are the target of marketers of consumer products, yet they do not have full representation at executive manager and board level in most organizations.

It is imperative that women claim their voice, as equal citizens, as company directors and policy makers to shape a future for our children that is inclusive and not exclusive.  Gender diversity is here,  and is rightfully being recognized as a way to improve economic outcomes by tapping into creativity, innovation and a thinking pattern outside the norm.   Gender diversity programs offer organizations a mechanism to reach female resource’s that are often hidden in supporting roles where they are merely supporters of strategy instead of the instigators or collaborators of organisational strategy.

Greater gender diversity will allow many women to input directly into our economic future as decision makers and leaders, and not be restricted to indirectly impacting the economy by being consumers and supporters.  The parenting and care giver role, traditionally attributed to female’s need not be barriers to a women’s progression to leadership roles, or economic burdens if we value those roles.  The burden of childcare still falls to many women,  often by choice, but this can also create perceived barriers to  their career advancement or their ability to have agency over themselves and their own choices.

Very often the female’s wage is seen as the ‘second income’ for a family – or the ‘little job’ as many women refer to it, so it becomes a gender issue for a couple of reasons, but most notably because in our society like most others, the idea of women as primary care givers of children reinforces the idea of a gendered role for women. Of course, both men and women can look after children, but way back in about 1890 in Australia the start of wage inequality happened with policies developed specifically to discourage women from re entering the workforce. Some of this lead to the separation of roles (market separation) and the feminizing of parts of the workforce.  Once a part of the work effort became feminized and primarily performed by women, the wage could be lowered and these female workers could be paid much less than men – since it was believed that they could only ever make a small contribution to the family income because it was well known at the time (by the men making the policy) that men were the ‘breadwinners’.

Around this time, 1907 (the Harvester Judgement), the then President of the Australian Arbitration Court, Henry Borne Higgins devised the “living wage’ that was based on what he determined to be the minimum amount required for a man with a wife and 3 children to “keep himself and his family in frugal comfort” (MacIntyre 1985, pg; 55).  Mr Justice Higgins based his calculations on his expectation that all adults would marry, and that men were always the primary wage earners.  This is important because some of  that thinking is alive and well in the minds of our policy makers today.

Most notable being ex Australian Prime Minister John Howard who put many women offside because of his strong views about a woman’s place in the home. Current Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott often expresses similar views and consequently women have to constantly fight legislation that tries to erode their ability to work outside the home. The most obvious place that this happens is in the cost of childcare. For a average young family in Australia where the male earns a take home pay of $600, the second income, usually the female’s is capped at around $400 take home (after tax).  Anything over this means that they lose any child care subsidy that they currently have, meaning that for the female to go back to full time work, they need to earn a substantial income to cover the costs of full time childcare which can be anything from $80+ per day. When you start to do the sums, she is almost better to stay at home, which some believe is the purpose of the policy. I wouldn’t like to say that, however there are issues with this way of creating policy that I think is pretty shortsighted and entrenched in the patriarchal and religious belief’s of  less enlightened times.

Another problem for single mothers is that this same system can just encourage a cash economy as they struggle to get a second income to try and get ahead. Whilst they are stuck in low paying, casual jobs, many of them are losing their skill currency and this is what is costing our economy money, because they are not working to their full potential. Many are lost to their earlier careers, often finding it hard to get back into the same employment after taking time out for child care, meaning that the valuable input of talented women is being lost to our organisations and ultimately our economy.


MacIntyre, Stuart (1985) ‘A fair wage’ in Winners and Losers: The Pursuit of Social Justice in Australian History, Sydney: Allen & Unwin, Ch.3, pp. 51-58 (excerpt)

United Nations Statistics Division (2010), ‘The Worlds Women, Trends and Statistics’, Department of Economics and Social Affairs, ST/ESA/STAT/SER.K/19,United Nations publication,Sales No. E.10.XVII.11 downloaded 5/04/2013,

Gender Equality: A Good Investment


Melanne Verveer the US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues speaks about Gender Equality being not just the ‘right choice, but the smart choice’ to grow our economies.   She talks about research that has shown where the gap between male and female equality has been closed, those countries are far more economically prosperous and see an ‘enhancement to economic action’.

She further points out that studies have shown that women invest their income in far greater numbers into education, in activities that benefits children and the community, and concludes that this can only benefit all society.

see the video here Gender Equality: A Good Investment


Posted on the Women’s Center on 3 November 2011.