There is general agreement in the literature that getting more girls into school and into higher education should lead to more women in the healthcare workforce, particularly focusing on getting women into better jobs. However, this is not supported by much explicit evidence. It is a causal assumption made by policymakers and donors. There is little evidence to suggest that women in the healthcare workforce have made strong contributions to economic development beyond that of the health sector as a whole. This may be because it is too difficult to separate out different demographic groups’ contributions. There is some evidence that women’s presence as workers and leaders has improved attitudes about women and is making some progress towards women’s rights. It is unclear to what extent this is due to efforts to increase girls’ schooling, as few studies examine this causal link. Women are battling an extremely patriarchal work environment and the literature makes strong recommendations that structural and institutional elements are improved, in order for women to reach their economic potential.
K4D helpdesk reports provide summaries of current research, evidence and lessons learned. This report was commissioned by the UK Department for International Development.
Browne, E. (2018). Economic and gendered impacts of the healthcare workforce. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.