- The pandemic highlighted the invaluable contributions of women in the healthcare sector yet exacerbated inequalities for women in the region.
- ‘DEI by Design’ calls private and public organizations to lift up women in the health sector, especially in representation, research, and conflict-resolution.
- The report was a result of collaborative virtual panel series with top medical practitioners and health science professionals from the region.
DUBAI, UAE, Nov. 7, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Pfizer and the Arab International Women Forum (AIWF) launched the ‘DEI by Design’ report containing insights and recommendations about how women’s leadership can impact the Middle East and North Africa’s health outcomes. The report was a result of collaborative virtual panel series with top medical practitioners and health science professionals from the region that discussed mentorship, hospital strategies, and diversity in clinical trials among other topics.
The COVID-19 pandemic underscored women’s vital role in healthcare leadership while exacerbating gender inequities. Despite challenges, it also highlighted opportunities to address the gender gap, especially as 90% of frontline health workers are women.
The report provides recommendations to lift up women in health. Among many solutions, the report highlights the importance of addressing acute health and mental health challenges for women in conflict-ridden countries and include their voices in decision-making processes to humanise medical provisions for refugees; investing in a robust homegrown research culture in the region; advocating for enhanced collaboration between health authorities, hospitals, and universities to establish organised frameworks for clinical trials in the MENA region.
AIWF President & Founder Dr. Haifa Al Kaylani shared, “AIWF is delighted to share this very special report, the culmination of months of collaborative effort with our valued partners at Pfizer and with the women leaders in health who contributed to the series and to the rich discussions captured within our joint report with Pfizer. We believe that the recommendations delivered by the ‘DEI by Design’ series will pave the way for tangible change, ensuring that women at every level of healthcare – from grassroots workers to senior executive leadership – are empowered, recognised, and celebrated for their growing role at the forefront of health innovation, research and discovery. Together with Pfizer, we are proud to provide this roadmap to a future where women’s contributions to health are elevated and fully realised. We invite stakeholders across all sectors to delve into this report, be inspired by its findings, and join us in enacting meaningful change.”
Likewise, Pfizer Regional President Middle East, Russia and Africa (MERA) Patrick van der Loo also shared, “This report unearths critical recommendations to ensure that women and their insights are represented in the healthcare sector. At Pfizer, we believe in listening to every voice to create scientific breakthroughs for patients. Our partnership with AIWF is a great step in bringing together health experts and women on the ground to mobilize organizations and governments to embed diversity in the region’s health ecosystem.”
For well over a decade, Pfizer has been a Platinum Corporate Partner of the Arab International Women’s Forum, a leading development organisation based in London with strong representation throughout the MENA region and especially the UAE and KSA where its Global Corporate Partners (PepsiCo, PwC and Pfizer) have their regional headquarters. After the global pandemic which spotlighted the invaluable contributions of women health practitioners and professionals AIWF and Pfizer are especially proud to have worked in close collaboration and in dialogue with all the stakeholders and speakers featured in this report.
To download the Report & Recommendations, please visit
Leverage the strengths of a diverse and experienced team for personal and professional growth through mentorship, role modelling and knowledge/experience exchange. Actively identify potential female leaders within and beyond their teams and offer them support to bridge the gender disparity in leadership and research positions.
Create an intra-regional and international network of MENA women in science who can provide mutual support and share experiences. Make women leaders more visible and celebrate their achievements to inspire and motivate young women and girls. Implement mentorship programs, guest speaker series, and other networking/learning opportunities that bring established women leaders and rising stars together in educational, university, and workplace settings.
Accelerate discussions on eliminating gender bias from workplace policies and ensure flexibility in working hours. Aspiring women should be encouraged to maintain work-life balance and not sacrifice family for career or vice versa. Launch proactive and transparent career development initiatives and promotion programmes within 8 organisations. Recognise the importance of men as allies in the journey towards DEI in the health sciences and in STEM overall.
Instil values such as trust, confidence, empowerment, resilience, and equal opportunities in children from a young age, and encourage girls’ interest in STEM fields and let them pursue their interests without interference.
Be supportive of girls’ ambitions, especially if they involve entering traditionally male-dominated fields.
Recognise health as a human right. Harness the increase in social justice movements around public health postCovid to ensure greater accountability and a more rights-based approach to healthcare DEI.
Create respectful and dignified environments for health workers and patients alike, emphasising inclusion at all levels of the healthcare sector. This involves creating safe spaces, encouraging idea exploration, and promoting open feedback at all levels. Implement top-down cultural changes to fully embrace DEI training, as organisations with cultures of continuous learning are more likely to align with DEI values. Recognise the value of employees as the backbone of the healthcare system.
Ensure that women, who make up a large proportion of healthcare workers, are involved in decision-making processes.
Address acute health and mental health challenges for women in conflict-ridden countries such as Sudan and Syria and for those living in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and other parts of the region.
Include women’s voices in decision-making processes in global public health to humanise medical provisions for refugees.
Promote public health education in schools and workplaces for disease prevention and regional health promotion, emphasising that the health of women directly impacts the health of families, communities, and economies.
Increase the visibility of female medical practitioners and health science workers in community and healthcare settings to role model female leadership. Address gendered barriers to DEI and inclusivity in family and healthcare planning and provision through community engagement and education on how women can care for their own health. Ensure DEI is incorporated into health program design, measurement, monitoring, and
evaluation. Include women in senior oversight positions as a clear condition of funding/implementation.
Encourage mainstream MENA media to positively portray women professionals, particularly in health, to facilitate cultural and mindset shifts about the role of women and girls in society.
Embed DEI considerations into the design and implementation of codes of ethics and conduct in healthcare, ensuring the language used by healthcare professionals reflects DEI values and respects the dignity of healthcare workers and patients.
Develop, strengthen, and invest in a robust homegrown research culture in the region where women have real opportunities to lead in STEM academia and research. Embrace the vast potential for healthcare innovation through technology and AI to deliver unprecedented opportunities for women with the ambition, education, and technological skills to innovate.
Governments should address clear public health issues such as smoking, obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension, and cancer, particularly among women. Women should have equal representation in the leadership addressing these issues. Acknowledge and address the rise of mental health concerns in the region and ensure women are included in the strategic design and leadership to address these issues.
Invest in human capital for health, translate post-pandemic international commitments and global directives into action, and translate policies into plans. Embed DEI into formal education, workplace and HR processes, and the mentality and mindset of every professional in the health sector.
Implement initiatives aimed at reducing health disparities and ensuring equitable access to care.
Increase health literacy among the general public through awareness campaigns and educational programs. Conduct training programs for the medical community on good clinical practices and DEI-focused implementation of clinical trials.
Advocate for enhanced collaboration between health authorities, hospitals, and universities to establish the necessary cohesion and organised frameworks for clinical trials in the MENA region.
Strategise for and design multi-stakeholder intra-regional and international collaborative clinical projects, for which DEI is often a condition for funding.
Engage with diverse communities to address their specific concerns and involve them in the design and implementation of clinical trials.
Collaborate among stakeholders including healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies, regulatory authorities, academic institutions, and patient advocacy groups to navigate the complex regulatory frameworks in the MENA region.
Undertake efforts and reforms to ready the infrastructure for global clinical trials collaboration, learning from progress made in countries such as Saudi Arabia. Expedite access to innovative treatments and life-changing medications in MENA countries by increasing the presence and speed of clinical trials.
Invest in education, infrastructure, capacity-building, and community engagement to support clinical research and trials.
Strive to address the underrepresentation of women in clinical trials and research to ensure diversity and inclusion in medical innovation, and work towards embedding DEI into clinical trial frameworks by advocating for women’s voices and needs to be more clearly heard in all aspects of the medical field.
Make medical and health education more accessible and affordable for women by addressing the rising cost of learning and relatively low levels of scholarship funding in the MENA region.
Teach the value of holistic and patient-centric care to female medical students and early career practitioners.
Address the issue of burnout among women, particularly those in leadership roles, to support them in their career trajectory and in striving for work-life balance.
Challenge societal and institutional expectations that women should stop working or limit their responsibilities when they have children.
About Pfizer Inc.: Breakthroughs that Change Patients’ Lives
At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacture of health care products, including innovative medicines and vaccines. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as one of the world’s premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 170 years, we have worked to make a difference for all who rely on us. We routinely post information that may be important to investors on our website at www.Pfizer.com. In addition, to learn more, please visit us on www.Pfizer.com and follow us on Twitter at @Pfizer and @Pfizer News, LinkedIn, YouTube and like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Pfizer.
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