The healthcare sector is a critical cornerstone of society and the leadership within it plays a pivotal role in shaping its direction and progress. In the recent past in KEnya and across the world there is a growing recognition of the importance of empowering women to take on leadership roles in healthcare. This shift is not only a matter of gender equality but also a strategic decision to harness the full potential of the healthcare sector.
The Driving Country Level Change – Women in Healthcare Leadership in Kenya Project, a project implemented by Strathmore University Business School in partnership with the Kenya Healthcare Federation, has embarked on hosting intentionally curated Focus Group Discussions that seek to represent an overarching voice of the challenges and enablers of women’s career advancement in Kenya’s health sector and specifically from mid to senior level management. These discussions will allow participants to share their unique perspectives on how gender norms and roles impact their careers as healthcare professionals.
On Thursday, 26th October, 2023, the implementing team hosted the first Focus Group Discussion, an event was graced by c-suite level women leaders in the healthcare space from Nairobi and its environs and the discussions delved into the enablers and barriers shaping women’s career advancement in Kenya’s health sector.
The event was moderated by Dr. Elizabeth Gitau, Executive Director of Kenya Association of Private Hospitals with Dr. Tim Theuri, CEO, Kenya Healthcare Federation, delivering a cogent opening remark, setting the tone for an insightful discussion by highlighting on the momentousness of finding and creating eco-systems within organizations that will make work better for women in the healthcare space.
Brenda Mbathi, Vice Chairperson, Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), graced us with a puissant keynote speech, highlighting the importance of being adaptable and embracing change as more women rise the ranks and the critical necessity of establishing a ‘work integration balance.
Dr. Elizabeth Muthuma, Faculty Member at Strathmore University Business School, provided an introduction to the Women in Health Leadership Project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation outlining its significance in transforming the healthcare sphere in Kenya and the goals of the project.
The participants’ contributions have ignited meaningful dialogues that will pave the way for concrete change in advancing women’s leadership in Kenya’s healthcare sector. A unifying alignment from the focus group highlighted that understanding the interplay of cultural and social factors is essential for creating a more equitable and diverse healthcare leadership landscape, which can lead to improved healthcare outcomes and better representation of women’s perspectives and expertise in the field. Furthermore, strategies for promoting diversity and gender equity in leadership positions, such as implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives, mentoring programs, leadership training, and advocacy for more inclusive policies and practices were substantially emphasized upon during the focus group discussion.
This event was a pivotal moment in the country’s collective journey toward gender equity and empowerment as we continually seek to achieve the targets of SDG 5.
Article by Judith Amolo