WLGH Conference 2020

Day 1 Agenda


OCTOBER 13, 2020

10:00am-10:40am UTC – Opening and Fireside Chat00

Opening remarks by Barkha Dutt, Award-winning TV Journalist; Washington Post Columnist

This fireside chat will focus on the journeys of two of the most accomplished and visible South Asian women in the health field – the barriers they’ve faced, the successes they’ve had, and what their paths to the top have taught them about the value of women in global health.

10:45am-11:40am UTC – Breakout Sessions

COVID-19 has taken an unprecedented psychological toll on women, especially those working on the frontlines of the pandemic. While grappling with the myriad impacts of this global emergency, these women have also faced harassment and discrimination – deepening mental health crises in the South Asia region and worldwide. This session will explore the unique mental health needs of women in the health workforce during emergencies, why mental health must be integrated into the COVID response moving forward and how women are leading this charge. 

  • Gracy Andrew, Vice President, CorStone
  • Prabha S. Chandra, Professor of Psychiatry, The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore
  • Nazla Rafeeg, Head of Communicable Disease Control, Health Protection Agency, Maldives
  • Moderated by Daanika Kamal, Founder, The Colour Blue

Health systems around South Asia rely heavily on female community health workers (CHWs), who are frequently the first point of contact for those seeking care. Despite their vital role, these women often receive significantly less pay, support and recognition than other health providers. In this session, community health researchers and advocates will dive into the challenges that female CHWs face on the ground and examine strategies to strengthen their capacity, better meet their needs and ensure their voices are included in decision making.

  • Priya Karna, Technical Officer – Reproductive Health, World Health Organization, India
  • Nerges Mistry, Director, The Foundation for Medical Research
  • Sabina F. Rashid, Dean & Professor, BRAC James P. Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University
  • Shanta Laxmi Shrestha, Immediate Past President, Beyond Beijing Committee (BBC) Nepal
  • Moderated by Vinoj Manning, CEO, Ipas Development Foundation

Media in South Asia faces a two-fold challenge: Sparse coverage of key women’s issues, including women’s health, and a lack of women in leadership positions. In this session, leading media personalities will share their successes in helping to bring women’s stories to the fore and charting a path forward to break down barriers to gender equal representation in media and popular culture.

  • Anubha Bhonsle, Editor, NewsWorthy
  • Shaili Chopra, Founder, SheThePeople.TV
  • Munizae Jahangir, Journalist & Editor in Chief, Voicepk.net, Pakistan’s First Digital Media Platform for Human Rights
  • Jaya Luintel, President and CEO, The Story Kitchen
  • Moderated by Sapna Kedia, Technical Specialist, International Center for Research on Women, Asia

Women and men looking to fight for the issues they care about often face a range of barriers – from self-doubt to prohibitive social norms around engaging in activism. In this interactive session, participants will engage with the leader of the Change.org Foundation – known for engaging millions of citizen-activists around the world – to share and learn about how to find your voice and mobilize communities for change.

COVID-19 continues to strain public health systems and cause economic disruption across South Asia, posing unprecedented challenges to those in leadership positions. This session will highlight two of the most critical forces in India’s response to the pandemic – across the public and private sectors – to understand the ways in which they are adapting their leadership to meet people’s need amid crisis.

  • Shobana Kamineni, Executive Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited
  • Renu Swarup, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India
  • Moderated by Nandini Oomman, Global Health & Development Specialist and Founding Curator & CEO, The Women’s Storytelling Salon
11:45am-12:45pm UTC – Plenary Panel

Over the past decade, there have been important advances in addressing gender inequality in countries in South Asia, yet steep barriers remain to women setting the policy agenda. This panel will bring together some of the most powerful women in South Asia’s public sector to explore how gender influences their work, how they have helped advance the equality agenda, and what having women at the decision-making tables means for people’s health and wellbeing across the region.

  • Hon. Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, MP, Speaker, Bangladesh Parliament
  • Suraya Dalil, Director, Special Programme on Primary Health Care, World Health Organization
  • Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant of Pakistan’s Prime Minister and Federal Minister, Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Ministry/Chairperson BISP
  • Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director for South-East Asia, World Health Organization
  • Moderated by Barkha Dutt, Award-winning TV Journalist; Washington Post Columnist
12:45pm-1:00pm UTC – Closing
  • Barkha Dutt, Award-winning TV Journalist; Washington Post Columnist