Fostering the “untapped potential” of women leaders around the world | News

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February 25, 2022 – Bridget Malewezi is committed to ensuring people have access to credible and reliable health information, especially in the age of COVID.

Malawian physician and public health practitioner, Malewezi has spent a decade as a health columnist for Malawi news outlets, and also offers health advice as “Dr B on Health” on social media platforms. of social media. She is one of five members of the 2021 cohort of the Jane Jie Sun Harvard LEAD Fellowship, which aims to equip and empower women in low- and middle-income countries for leadership roles in global health. The hope is that these women will in turn serve as mentors to future leaders in global health.

The scholarship, offered by the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) and the Women and Health Initiative (W&HI) at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, was launched in 2019 with support from Trip.com Group CEO Jane Jie Sun.

“Women are underrepresented in leadership positions in global health,” said Ana Langer, professor of public health practice at Harvard Chan School, who directs W&HI. Langer co-manages the fellowship with HGHI and mentors some of the fellows. “They have huge untapped potential. With just a little support and the opportunity to learn and collaborate over the course of a day, they can thrive and become much more influential and able to effect change in the various areas in which they work.

The LEAD Fellowship is for mid-career women leaders who have already made significant contributions in their home country, and in some cases globally, and who show the potential to achieve more, said Change. Fellows take courses through Harvard on topics including driving change, economic justice, and global health care delivery; attend workshops to develop skills in areas such as public speaking, self-promotion and negotiation; work one-on-one with mentors; give lectures; and share experiences with each other.

“The idea is to give them the opportunity to reflect on what they’ve done so far, work on new projects, connect and network with like-minded people at Harvard and beyond. beyond that, to take classes, attend seminars and be matched with mentors,” Langer said.

Previous LEAD Fellows have made notable progress, Langer said. For example, Stela Bivol from Moldova, a member of the 2019 cohort, has moved from leading a non-profit organization focused on disease response and health systems strengthening in Eastern Europe to a new role. to the World Health Organization, as strategic adviser on infectious diseases for this region. Another member of the 2019 cohort, Shabnum Sarfraz, had previously held senior positions in the Pakistani government – ​​including leading a health care reform effort in Punjab province – and, after the scholarship , has been promoted to a broader national role overseeing a wide range of sectors, including health, education and social care.

In addition to Malewezi, scholarship recipients from 2021 LEAD Fellowship Cohort include Mareli Claasens, a clinical epidemiologist from Namibia who has focused on taming tuberculosis; Preethi John, an Indian health and development management professional, currently Director of the Chitkara Global Health Institute; Alice Kayongo, a public health practitioner and human rights defender in Uganda, who is a senior policy advisor for WACI Health, an organization that advocates for equitable access to health care for all in Africa; and Julieta Kavetuna, Mental Health Specialist at the Public Health Institute of Namibia and Member of the Namibian Parliament.

Malewezi said she relishes the opportunity to connect with other members of the Harvard community who are doing similar work to her. And Kavetuna, who said she enjoys learning from experts across the University, said: “I believe that with every opportunity that comes my way, I should grab it with both hands and shoot for it. the best part. When I saw this opportunity [to participate in the Fellowship]the fact that it is about women and health has inspired me more than ever.

Although so far this year’s LEAD Scholars have had to participate remotely due to the pandemic, the plan is to bring them to campus for two weeks in May to take a class and speak at upcoming events. , Langer said.

This year’s scholarship recipients are already getting noticed, she said. After John gave a well-received lecture last November on the human resource gaps India faces as it strives to achieve universal health coverage, she was invited by Vikram Patel, Professor in the Department of Global Health and Population and co-chair of the Lancet Commission. on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development, to join the commission. Says Langer, “It’s a great example of the connections people can make.”

She added, “I really like this program. It makes a difference.

Karen Feldscher

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