The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday, the International Women's Day, called for strengthening women's leadership for an equal future in a COVID-19 world.
Echoing this year's theme -- "Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world" -- for the special day, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing that progress on gender equality has regressed during the days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have seen appalling increases in violence against women and reduced access to services for sexual and reproductive health. In relative terms, employment losses have been higher for women than for men. Women have also borne an additional and disproportionate burden of care for children and older people, and in social and health care," he said.
According to WHO's records, however, women accounted for almost seven out of ten reported health worker infections, reflecting the fact that women make up roughly 70 percent of the global health workforce.
To further advance gender equality, WHO launched earlier in February the Gender Equal Health and Care Workforce Initiative to increase the proportion of women in health and care leadership, to promote equal pay and to ensure safe and decent working conditions for women health and care workers.
To mark the International Women's Day, Tedros announced on Monday that WHO is launching a new Global Breast Cancer Initiative, to reduce mortality from breast cancer by 2.5 percent every year until 2040, saving 2.5 million lives.
WHO statistics showed that breast cancer has now overtaken lung cancer as the world's most-diagnosed cancer. Its five-year survival rate after diagnosis now exceeds 80 percent in most high-income countries, but the rate is much lower in lower-income countries.