As it works to relieve suffering and save lives in humanitarian and public health emergencies, one of the Global Health Cluster‘s priorities is the training of women leaders. Indeed,
increasing the deployment of women in leadership positions will help reduce the gender imbalance in the emergency workforce and can contribute to preventing sexual exploitation and abuse in emergency contexts.
To advance this effort, the Global Health Cluster held its first all-women training focused on Health Cluster coordination and leadership from 17 to 21 October in Berlin, Germany, with support from the Center for International Peace Operations (ZIF).
With the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office, ZIF provided organisational support and covered the training venue, as well as board and accommodation for the duration of this course. The WHO and ZIF have signed a Standby Partnership
Agreement in June 2022, which facilitates gratis deployments of highly skilled humanitarian personnel to strengthen the capacity of WHO Country Offices to respond to emergencies, with the funding from the German Federal Foreign Office.
Training attendees discuss a SIMEX exercise; Photo Credits: Global Health Cluster, October 2022
15 women from all six WHO regions and from WHO’s three levels (headquarters, regional offices and country offices) participated, together with eight NGO partners’ representatives. The programme consisted of a one-day workshop followed by two
and a half days of training simulation exercises that addressed topics such as: initial establishment of a national Health Cluster, needs assessment and analysis, resource mobilization, implementation and monitoring activities, and the prevention
and response to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment (PRSEAH). A two-part women in coordination leadership clinic, led by Dr Gaya Gamhewage, WHO Director of PRSEAH, was also included, offering participants the opportunity to exchange on different
leadership styles and models.
The facilitation team comprised six Health Cluster and training experts from Ethiopia, Somalia, the WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia, the WHO Health Emergencies Programme’s Learning and Capacity Development Unit, and the Global Health Cluster
The training allowed participants to improve their skills in leadership and coordination; Photo: Global Health Cluster, October 2022
“The simulations and real-life case studies and practicing the various assessment tools gave me a better understanding of how I can develop my career in Health Cluster Coordination Leadership.” – Training participant
Overall, participants gained the necessary skills to work as Health Cluster coordinators and in other leadership positions linked to the coordination, planning, implementation and monitoring of effective humanitarian health interventions in acute and protracted emergencies. Participants also reported the training helped them better understand WHO’s role as Cluster lead, the role of the Health Cluster coordinator and the Health Cluster team, as well as the vital leadership roles all partners and NGOs can have within the Health Cluster. By the end of the training, participants completed individual action plans for follow up in the coming six months.
The diversity of participants and facilitators brought together allowed for rich discussions and sharing of experiences, thereby helping to build a strong informal network of highly qualified women working in emergencies. Confirming its positive impact,
91% of participants rated the training as excellent as part of the final evaluation, 96% said that they would recommend the training to other Health Cluster personnel and 100% said that they would
recommend the training to women who wish to develop their careers in coordination leadership.
Moving forward and should funding permit it, the Global Health Cluster hopes to conduct the workshop annually.