Where are the women in global health leadership?

‘The health system can reduce discrimination against women by giving women equal opportunities to assume leadership roles.’

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Let’s meet Dr. Odete da Silva Viegas, a dermatologist who also serves as the Director General of Health Services Delivery in Timor-Leste. She’s also part of the task force for COVID-19 in Timor-Leste, and was recently appointed as a spokesperson for the COVID-19 Integrated Center for Crisis Management.

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Why did you choose to become a doctor?

I chose to become a medical doctor because I wanted to serve people, to better understand their needs, respond to those needs, and provide services that respect the rights and dignity of my patients.

The health system plays a role in advancing gender equality. What can we do?

We can promote the concept of leadership to women and end prejudice against women in leadership. It is time to acknowledge that women like men can be as courageous, brave, have ambition and have the capacity to make sound decisions.

What kind of barriers exist for women professionals in public health?

We need to respect and acknowledge women as professionals. Too often, negative stereotypes and prejudices against women in the workplace become enabling factors for sexual abuse against women to occur. That includes abuse of women who are in leadership roles. When women are in leadership positions, their attire and physical appearance are often viewed in relation to their position.

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Moving forward

There’s a long way forward to gender equality. We’re seeing a number of initiatives take place to achieve it, including campaigns for equal pay, women’s rights in the workforce, and access to leadership positions.

Creating a more equitable world through tech + design | www.catalpa.io

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