Global Business Briefing: The Future of Women’s Health and Equity

On March 31, 2022, the Meridian Corporate Council partnered with Hologic to host a hybrid conversation with Her Excellency Bergdís Ellertsdóttir, Ambassador of Iceland to the United States, and Her Excellency Uzoma Emenike, Ambassador of Nigeria to the United States, to discuss women’s health and its links to equity and sustainable development. The discussion was moderated by Jayne O’Donnell, Urban Health Media Project CEO and former health policy reporter, USA Today, with special remarks by The Honorable Nancy Brinker, Founder, Susan G. Komen; Co-founder, Promise Fund of Florida, and Dr. Susan Harvey, Vice President of Worldwide Medical Affairs, Hologic.  

Below are the top takeaways from the conversation: 


Developed in collaboration with the Gallup World Poll research team and a global advisory board of medical and research professionals, the Hologic Global Women’s Health Index is a multi-year, comprehensive survey of women’s health. Over 120,000 women and girls from 116 countries and territories were interviewed to track the progress of women’s health. This report, which represents 93% of the world’s population, reveals that every country has significant room to improve on women’s health and global equity. Accessing this data allows world leaders and health policy decision-makers to identify problems, recognize the disparities each country faces and take needed action to put women’s health at the forefront of policy priorities. According to Dr. Harvey, Hologic and Gallup are committed to tracking the Index’s impact, including looking at ways to incorporate timely issues as well as ensure consistent benchmarks.   


To improve women’s health outcomes, it is essential that women are involved in issues and decisions surrounding their own health. Ambassador Brinker emphasized that women leaders are credible and passionate advocates who can use their voices and positions to show other leaders the realities of women’s healthcare, and thus encourage them to ensure women’s health has the priority that it deserves. Ambassador Ellertsdóttir of Iceland, a country that prides itself on being an especially gender-equal society, highlighted there are more women studying medicine in Iceland than men. As a result of these educated and empowered women, new policies and female-only healthcare clinics are being implemented across the country in support of women’s rights.   


There are many factors that adversely affect health, not just poor physical circumstances. A lack of education, for instance, can reduce the capability of finding, understanding, and utilizing health information. In this regard, education plays a crucial role in determining a woman’s health, quality of life and longevity. Ambassador Emenike of Nigeria shared that increasing the number of girls in the education system is one of Nigeria’s main priorities because only 47% of girls are currently attending school, meaning more than half of them are not receiving even a basic education. Education provides women with the ability to make decisions for their own healthcare and incorporate preventive care services that focus on early detection and prevention of disease as well as evaluating their current health and wellness. Importantly, education allows women to be independent in their thinking, earning potential and self empowerment.  


According to Ambassador Ellertsdóttir, gender-based violence (GBV) has worsened since the advent of the COVID-19 crisis and now needs to be addressed as a public health issue. The Hologic Global Women’s Health Index found two in three women worldwide – or about 1.7 billion women – say domestic violence is a widespread problem in their country, and nearly six in 10 men agree. It is critical that countries undertake the necessary actions including policy reforms to increase awareness, respond and eventually prevent GBV against women and girls, which includes establishing global nondiscrimination. Iceland is one of many countries committed to promoting gender equality and human rights and to protecting women and girls from gender-based violence.  Dr. Harvey at Hologic also underlined that escalation of issues like GBV is a reflection of institutional issues as well, thus having wide societal implications. 


While state-of-the-art healthcare and medical devices are present and readily available in many countries around the world, one billion women throughout the world still did not speak with a healthcare provider in 2020. The public and private sectors must work together to find solutions to these healthcare inequalities and to promote equal rights and implement appropriate gender policies in support of women. Iceland has already begun the process of finding solutions and taking action by making abortion services easily accessible and free of charge. Nigeria is dedicated to women’s health and gender equality and has established the Family Planning 2030 commitment, to ensure women and girls are able to make informed choices regarding contraceptive use and aims to strengthen results-oriented partnerships with stakeholders and experts. 

Hologic’s commitment to continue conducting the Hologic Global Women’s Health Index shows the important role the private sector plays in advancing women’s health globally. If you would like to learn more about the Hologic Global Women’s Health Index, please visit: 

Project summary

Global Business Briefing: The Future of Women’s Health and Equity | March 2022
Number of Attendees: 40
Countries: Nigeria, Iceland
Impact Areas: Empowering Women and Girls, Global Health, Business and Trade
Partners: Diplomatic Corps, Private Sector, Public Sector