The Leadership for Women's Health Initiative will engage a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to build the bank of knowledge and advance the field in the critical area of women's health and well-being. LWH goals will be to formalize the field, making women's health a global priority through the following efforts:
Developing Emerging Leaders - By using an applied learning model, selected emerging leaders from different world regions will be analysts of their own ecosystems, ultimately leaving the program with knowledge, skills and relationships in place to mobilize an appropriate sequence of strategies, policies and resources necessary to transform women's health through their chosen fields. The program will foster and enhance the growth of trainees who are able to impact women's health issues at significant scale by creating infrastructure that allows for social change and transformation.
Building a Knowledge Base - LWH will generate and collect resource materials on women's health and facilitate evidence-based research that will be available through an open access repository. This includes case studies, teaching notes, policy briefs, white papers, original research and global women's health curricula.
Forming a Dynamic Community - A Learning Network will facilitate interactions and connections amongst emerging leaders, academics, practitioners, policy-makers and other stakeholders within the global women's health community. This community will connect via in-person networking as well as web-based platforms that enable members to collaborate and draw upon one another for ideas, support and strategies to advance women's health and well-being on an ongoing basis.
Anchored at Harvard, the LWH will be able to engage the resources and the intellectual capital of faculty and students across Harvard's schools. Faculty and students will interact with trainees, contribute to case study development, collaborate on research, engage in mentor-mentee relationships, and participate in field-based work.
Emerging Leaders Program - The program will launch in Fall 2013 with a modular curriculum based in leadership skills development as well as essential global women's health content using case studies and group exercises as modes of pedagogy. The Leaders program will be ongoing with a new set of entrants each fall. Beginning in July 2012 curriculum will be finalized.
Learning Network - LWH envisions a community of leaders, advocates, scholars, practitioners and others interested in global women's health issues has been identified and is expanding daily. A subset of this group has met twice to-date, in a planning capacity. As a 2012 commitment, LWH will plan a major annual conference to bring this community together in-person to examine and stimulate partnerships that translates into action towards improving women's health and well-being. Further, by fall 2013, LWH commits that the web-based platform of the Learning Network will be launched.
Building the Field - Curriculum and case studies are being created as part of an effort to build the pool of evidence-based knowledge in global women's health. Out of the Emerging Leaders Program and the Learning Network, collaborations and research will emerge further contributing to building the field. Concurrent with the first cohort of leaders, beginning in September 2013 LWH commits to distribute seed grants annually to support programs and research to improve women's health and well-being.
Program Evaluation - At the start of 2013, LWH will begin designing a study to assess the immediate and long-term impacts of LWH. The study will include a mid-year and annual evaluation.
Investing in the health of women and girls is smart for development, global stability and national economies. It is also imperative for human rights and social justice. These sentiments are shared by leaders of the WHO, World Bank, UN, academics and politicians alike (Ban Ki-moon, World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland January 2012; 2012 World Development Report p.vii; WHO Women & Health Report p.v). The health of families and communities are intimately tied to the health of women. As custodians for families and communities, women make important decisions about nutrition, health care and use of resources. Women also disproportionately represent the majority of human resources for health, though much of this work is unrecognized and under-valued (George p.12). Women's health is more than biology. It is also about understanding gender norms and inequities that determine whether a woman can or cannot achieve her full health potential.
In 2009, international and national NGO leaders, advocates passionate about women's health, and Harvard faculty gathered for two summits to consider global women's health issues and recommend solutions while making best use of Harvard University's resources in service to improving global women's health. Subsequently, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Global Health Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital partnered to develop the concept of Leadership for Women's Health (LWH) Program with the goal of identifying and nurturing agents for social change and transformation by providing tools, information, skills, and networks necessary to significantly impact the health, well-being and human rights of populations of women.
In 2012 LWH is moving from concept to action and launching the commitment described below. LWH leadership believes that the next generation of significant improvements in health, well-being and human rights for women can be realized by identifying and nurturing the most promising leaders and facilitating dynamic partnerships and exchanges.