Sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement resonated at the opening plenary session of the fifth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research with speakers highlighting how this is just the “tip of the iceberg” and there is a long road ahead in achieving sustainable development goals with leaders sometimes being sexual harassers.
“The #MeToo movement has shown us that even the most privileged among women have not been spared from cultures of sexual harassment and exploitation. The intersectional approach – also explored in the previous symposium – tells us that this is the tip of the iceberg, and we need to go deeper to understand and tackle the true extent of gender-based discrimination and violence, especially on the wellbeing of poor women with less recourse to systems of accountability,” Dr Kabir Sheikh, chair of Health Systems Global which is one of the sponsors of the event, said in his opening remarks.
Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address global challenges, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The Goals interconnect and in order to leave no one behind, the target is to achieve them by 2030. SDG 5 is about gender equality and calling out sexist behaviour or comments which is at the heart of the #MeToo movement.
Later while moderating a panel discussion on the intersectoral approach to achieving SDGs, Anthony Costello from University College London talked about how the road is difficult and with dictators and sexual harassers at the helm, it is a challenge to address sexual violence.
The SDG document lays down: “Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large. Implementing new legal frameworks regarding female equality in the workplace and the eradication of harmful practices targeted at women is crucial to ending the gender-based discrimination prevalent in many countries around the world.”
Organised every two years, HSR aims to bring together policy makers, health system researchers and non-government organisations on one platform to discuss how to make health systems better. The focus of the Fifth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research (HSR2018) in Liverpool between 8-12 October is on advancing health systems for all in the sustainable development goals (SDGs) era. The theme this year is “Health Systems for All in the SDG Era”. The four plenary sessions will each focus on one subtheme of the conference – leaving no one behind, engaging the private sector, multisectoral action, and community health systems
In her keynote address at the plenary on community health systems on Wednesday, WHO DDG Dr Soumya Swaminathan spoke about health systems research to align with the targets and implementation challenges faced by policymakers and the importance of researchers to continuously have a dialogue with policymakers.