Advocacy, Leadership

WomenLift Health Conference: Re-imagining Leadership 

3 July 2024

The WomenLift Health Conference, held from 6-8 April in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, brought together a diverse group of global health leaders under the theme “Re-imagining Leadership: New Approaches to New Challenges.” The ICM delegation, including Chief Midwife Jacqueline Dunkley Bent OBE, Board Member Olive Tengera, and Young Midwife Leader Alumna Ashu Martha Egbe, and Harriet Nayiga, shared their reflections with us.  

The conference aimed to advance women’s leadership and promote gender equality in global health, providing a platform for exchanging ideas, sharing best practices, and exploring innovative solutions to the challenges faced by women in leadership roles. 

 Discussions highlighted the importance of elevating women leaders to address emerging health threats and foster sustainable development. Participants’ diverse perspectives underscored the necessity of collaborative efforts to achieve these goals. 

The ICM delegation found the conference to be a source of inspiration and empowerment. Olive Tengera, ICM Board Member for Africa, said, “There is a pressing need for gender equity in health leadership, and creating inclusive environments is crucial for women to thrive and contribute effectively. Strategies such as mentorship programs, leadership training, and advocacy for policy change are essential for advancing women’s leadership in global health”. 

Ashu Martha Egbe shared, “The WomenLift Health Conference was a powerful boost of inspiration and practical knowledge. The session on inclusive leadership really resonated with me, emphasising the importance of creating psychological safety for diverse voices.” 

A recurring theme was the critical role of women’s leadership in advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights . Empowering women and ensuring gender equality were identified as essential components for sustainable development and improved health outcomes.  

The conference also highlighted the significant contributions of women health workers, including midwives, to strengthen health systems. It addressed the challenges they face in reaching leadership positions and emphasized the need for gender-transformative policies to support their advancement. Harriet Nayiga noted, “The conference was an opportunity to meet and connect with high-level representatives and leaders from various sectors. The discussions on transformative leadership were particularly impactful, emphasising the need for accountability, transparency, and integrity in leadership”. 

Workshops on emotional intelligence, leadership skills, and resilience provided practical tools for current and aspiring leaders. The ICM delegation found them particularly valuable, offering new perspectives and practical solutions to the challenges they encounter in their roles. 

Building on the importance of women’s leadership and gender equality in global health, we hope to see more midwives taking center stage in this space. Midwives are essential healthcare providers and key drivers of gender equality and women’s rights. Our expertise and advocacy play a crucial role in advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights and strengthening health systems worldwide.