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Lack of female leaders in health sector: brief

A female doctor performs a gynaecological exam in 2016. A new brief notes women are underrepresented in the health sector.
A female doctor performs a gynaecological exam in 2016. A new brief notes women are underrepresented in the health sector. Athena Zelandonii

Lack of female leaders in health sector: brief

Only one in five leadership positions at the Ministry of Health are held by women, despite women constituting the majority of the country’s more than 19,000 health care workers, according to a policy brief published this week.

Furthermore, only 16 percent of senior health care workers – such as doctors – are female, compared to 100 percent of midwifes, according to the brief, titled Promoting women’s leadership in post-conflict health sector in Cambodia and published by an international research consortium at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The brief also noted that women have fewer opportunities, compared to men, to train for new positions. “This is problematic for several reasons,” it reads.

“Women’s concerns, for example, are not reflected in health policies . . . Human resource policies, such as those related to career advancement, do not take into account women’s life course events, such as childbearing and childcare.”

In the Kingdom, most women prefer to be cared for by female health workers, and the shortage of female doctors limits women’s access to services, it adds.

Ly Sovann, spokesman for the Health Ministry, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Chum Sopha, executive director of the NGO Health and Development Alliance, said the findings in the brief were problematic and reflected reality, but noted that some of that inequality may have to do with the country’s traditions and history of instability.

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