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Gender Roles

In the video, Malabika Sarker discusses the impact gender roles have on human resources considerations in polio eradication campaigns. (Step 4.10)
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MALABKA SARKER: Let’s discuss about gender roles. Since women account for 70% of the health and social care workforce, in particularly, they are at the bottom of the pyramid. Gaps in health workers 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 experience barriers at work unlike their male colleagues. This is not only undermining their own well-being and livelihoods. It also constrained progress on gender equality and negatively impacts health systems and the delivery of quality care.
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Work for Polio has provided real opportunities to get out of the home to learn new skills, to gain confidence, and to earn a little money for women across the world. At the same time, polio pay mirrors local labor markets that severely disadvantage women, and they are often paid much less than their male supervisors. While earning a bit of money is good, the low pay is demotivating for many. Let’s critically look at the framework to understand the gender imbalance through your own experience. Take a pause and think, does any of this apply to the experience you have had?
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Occupational segregation or decent work? What about leadership and gender pay gap, which is universal? The occupational segregation is a necessary and important decision. In many contexts, the female workers were hired to ensure that accessibility because the men were not allowed in the household in absence of another aid. However, women are still struggling to break the glass ceiling. The polio program has recently emphasized a big focus on gender and is certainly not worse in this respect than most large global health initiatives. These dynamics negatively impact women’s motivation not just in polio, but in many health programs and creates frustration.
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Vaccination often requires long journeys, overnight field visits, temporary stay in the remote areas, riding on motorbikes which are viewed as culturally unacceptable for women across the community. These challenges make women’s work strenuous and sometimes force them to depend on male coworkers. The question is, how could female frontline workers be better supported? Many female polio workers see higher pay is the key thing that could lead to improvement here. A good salary can silence [INAUDIBLE] critics and allow them to hire someone to do some of the tasks they leave behind. Take a pause and identify potential strategies to overcome these challenges.

Malabika Sarker, MBBS, MPH, PhD James P. Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Bangladesh

In the video, Dr. Sarker states:

“Vaccination often requires long journeys, overnight field visits, temporary stay in the remote areas, riding on motorbikes which are viewed as culturally unacceptable for women across the community. These challenges make women’s work strenuous and sometimes force them to depend on male coworkers. The question is, how could female frontline workers be better supported? Many female polio workers see higher pay is the key thing that could lead to improvement here. A good salary can silence household critics and allow them to hire someone to do some of the tasks they leave behind.”

Consider the lecture and reading “Delivered by women, led by men”. Reflect on the challenges female polio workers face, or female workers encounter in your own context.

  • List three key gender considerations that should be incorporated within the polio eradication initiative as well as other global health programs.
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Planning and Managing Global Health Programmes: Promoting Quality, Accountability and Equity

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