Drs Anna Roca (Deputy Theme Leader of the Disease Control and Elimination) and Uduak Okomo were invited as speakers at the 2nd Women Leaders in Global Health (WLGH) conference, scheduled from 8-9 November 2018. The conference was hosted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine bringing together established and emerging leaders from across sectors and cultures to work towards gender equity in health leadership. The two day conference was packed with talks, panel discussions, interactive workshops, skills sessions and more. Several other staff from the Unit also attended the conference (Prof Beate Kampmann, Dr Effua Usuf, Dr Ramatoulie Janha, Marie Rose Thorpe, Alberta Davis, Isatou Jagne, and Penda Johm).
The conference addressed women leadership in the fields of humanitarian emergencies, sexual and reproductive rights, mental health and climate change. It also highlighted emerging and established women leaders in global health; support mentoring and skills building opportunities; and support women in all forms of leadership from local communities to global organisations, from science to politics.
Dr Anna was the moderator in the session titled Creating an Enabling Environment where she shared her experiences at MRC Unit The Gambia at the LSHTM, as well as the Unit’s public engagement activities. All members of the round table gave a presentation on what their institutions are doing to enable an environment for women as well as current data on women representation at different levels. Subsequent discussion at the Round Table focused on the gaps and the challenges for the future to improve women representation and empowerment.
Dr Uduak Okomo participated in another session titled ‘Gender Lens on Leadership in Global Health Research: What Works’. This session focused on the status of global health research leadership and lack of diversity (gender gap, race gap etc.) from the perspective of academia, private sector and International NGOs. Dr Uduak discussed diversity beyond gender alone and shared her experiences as an African female researcher. This session concluded with a discussion on possible levers for change to promote gender equity and diversity for global health research – reports and data; targets and incentives; and equipping women (and men!) to be agents of change.
According to Anna “The conference was a unique opportunity to see how many inspirational women leaders are in global health and how much work is yet needed to ensure gender equity”