WomenLift Health and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative – IAVI announce Partnership to advance Women’s Leadership in Global Health

WomenLift Health and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative – IAVI announce Partnership to advance Women’s Leadership in Global Health

Memorandum of understanding targets gender equity, mentorship, and training to expand the power and influence of talented women in science.

Nairobi, Kenya, February 27th, 2024. IAVI, a nonprofit scientific research organization, and WomenLift Health, a non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating the advancement of women into senior leadership positions in health, have announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that paves the way for collaboration to advance women’s leadership in global health research. This partnership brings together IAVI’s expertise in developing vaccines and antibodies for HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and emerging infectious diseases, with WomenLift Health’s mission to expand the power and influence of talented women in global health. 

Despite efforts to increase women’s representation in global health research, gender disparity persists, particularly in leadership roles. Recent statistics indicate that women make up only 29.2% of the STEM workforce, with leadership positions in STEM and research and development standing at 12% and 31%, respectively. By pooling together their unique strengths, IAVI and WomenLift Health are addressing these disparities by promoting an environment for continuous growth and leadership of women scientists. This collaboration will provide women leaders in science with opportunities for mentorship, training, and support to enhance the visibility and impact of their work, while promoting gender equity in leadership.   

“Our partnership with WomenLift Health exemplifies our commitment to diversity and innovation in global health. Empowering women in science not only advances gender equality but also enriches the pool of ideas and solutions we bring to the world’s most pressing health challenges,” said Mark Feinberg, M.D., Ph.D., IAVI president and CEO. 

This collaboration is rooted in a shared commitment to gender equity and the empowerment of the next generation of female leaders. It is embedded within IAVI’s ADVANCE (Accelerate the Development of Vaccines and New Technologies to Combat the AIDS Epidemic) initiative — a 10-year cooperative agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). ADVANCE continues to invest in African-led HIV prevention science by working closely with a network of independent but interconnected centers of excellence, known as clinical research centers. ADVANCE emphasizes shifting leadership to African investigators, allowing the research to be driven by Africans for Africa. 

“Joining forces with IAVI accelerates our shared vision of a world where diverse, accomplished leaders drive transformative health outcomes. Together, we’re not just advocating for more seats at the table; we’re building a longer table,” added Norah Obudho, M.D, MPH, PMD, PgMD, East Africa Director, WomenLift Health. 

Prior to the MoU signing, IAVI and WomenLift Health engaged in collaborative initiatives, notably the IAVI Leadership Development Program. Within this program, WomenLift Health played a pivotal role by providing and endorsing original content on Gender Transformative Leadership training. Additionally, both organizations continue to collaborate within a Technical Working Group (TWG), focused on innovating approaches to enhance the capacity of female leaders within IAVI and its partner networks. These programs provide structured opportunities for mentorship, training, and support to women in the field, aiming to close the gender gap in STEM and amplify women’s contributions to research and innovation. 

As this partnership progresses, its impact on empowering women, enhancing global health research, and fostering inclusive leadership will be communicated globally, inspiring further action towards equality and health for all. The partnership is dedicated to ensuring health innovations and policies are reflective of and responsive to the needs of diverse populations.   

About WomenLift Health

Established in 2019, WomenLift Health works to advance equality in health leadership through a range of actions at the individual, institutional, and societal levels. This includes “Leadership Journeys,” which focus on equipping mid-career women with tools, along with peer, mentor and coach support, to successfully use their voice, expertise and leadership for impact. It includes pushing conversations and partnerships with senior leaders in health institutions, taking steps to prioritize gender equality. It also includes supporting/convening global conversations about the importance of women’s leadership, amplifying the voices of national and global health leaders including at the biennial WomenLift Health Global Conference. WomenLift Health envisions a world where diverse, accomplished leaders collectively transform health outcomes.  We work in North America, South Asia, East Africa, Southern Africa and continue to explore expansion to other regions.

About IAVI

IAVI is a non-profit scientific research organization dedicated to addressing global, unmet health challenges including HIV and TB. Its mission is to translate scientific discoveries into affordable, globally accessible public health tools. Read more at iavi.org.       


IAVI’s Media Contact

Ethel Makila

Director, Communications, Advocacy and Policy



WomenLift Health’s Media Contact

Liberty Kituu

Communication Manager, East Africa