Women scientists facing up to patriarchal society

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Select sharing service
F Pere Tarrés
  • Elena Marbán is the national coordinator of WGH.
    Elena Marbán is the national coordinator of WGH. Source: Elena Marbán.

We interview Elena Marbán Castro, a scientist specialising in the field of maternal and child, and reproductive health.

Which is the task of WGH?

Globally, 80% of healthcare professionals are women, while they only hold 20% of decision-making posts. The task of WGH is to advocate for equity in leadership in global health in all countries.

What is the role of women in science?

The role of women in science is fundamental to advance in the challenges of humanity. Scientific progress is key: very often it takes years of hard work. Try imagining if only half of the World’s population worked in science; we’d have fewer opportunities, as a society, to advance and also the outcomes would be biased, right?

Obviously, in this day and age, we are much better off than years ago, when our grandmothers were denied access to education. My grandmother, for instance, who was top of her class, wasn’t able to pursue her studies because the money at home was spent on her brothers’ education. Right now, for instance, most university students of health studies are women. However, we see very few women holding management positions at universities or research centres in this field.

WGH is a worldwide association. How do you coordinate and share projects around our planet?

We hold monthly meetings with the international team and representatives from the participating countries. Also, we are constantly in touch via email and we follow up on events and campaigns on social media.

How was this initiative established?

WGH (international) was established in 2015. A group of young female researchers and activists who had recently completed their Masters’ realized that leadership in global health, as in many other professions, was male-dominated. With the aim of finding its space in global health, they created this movement (WGH), which now has more than 60,000 members and supporters. Since then, the organisation has grown steadily and sections have been established in different countries.

Last year, I received a message on LinkedIn from a colleague at the WGH International team encouraging me to create the Spanish section, because she had seen that on social media I showed a strong commitment to gender issues. At the time, I though it was a crazy idea, totally out of reach…but after mentioning it to several colleagues, we all thought if was a good idea and we joined efforts. So we decided to start shaping the movement here in Spain. We worked hard to create a group as diverse as possible in terms of territorial representation, professions, fields of expertise, institutions, age, place of origin…and here we are today, starting the group!

What is your role in WGH?

I am one of the co-founders working to establish the current team, which is still growing. I am the organisation’s National Coordinator for Spain, and therefore, I coordinate the different sub-groups: communication, strategy, policies and research.

I also make sure that everything moves forward –creating our website, campaigns on social media, organising events, finding contacts in other associations and institutions, and I also represent WGH Spain at events and meetings with the international team.

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.