Delivered by women, led by men: a gender and equity analysis of the global health and social workforce

World Health Organization


Demographic changes and rising health care demands are projected to drive the creation of 40 million new jobs by 2030 in the global health and social sector. In parallel, there is an estimated shortfall of 18 million health workers, primarily in low- and middle-income countries, required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and universal health coverage. The global mismatch between health worker supply and demand is both a cause for concern and a potential opportunity. Since women account for 70% of the health and social care workforce, gaps in health worker supply will not be closed without addressing the gender dynamics of the health and social workforce. The female health and social care workers who deliver the majority of care in all settings face barriers at work not faced by their male colleagues. This not only undermines their own well-being and livelihoods, it also constrains progress on gender equality and negatively impacts health systems and the delivery of quality care.