Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Women and Health: The key to sustainable development

June 05, 2015

A groundbreaking report published today by The Lancet

After three years of deliberations, the report of the Lancet Commission on Women and Health was published today. Co-chaired by Drs. Ana Langer from the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and Afaf Meleis from the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, the Commission brought together public health and social science experts, programmers, policy makers, and advocates to write a groundbreaking paper that discusses the inextricable links between women’s roles as users and providers of care in the health system, their homes and communities. The Commission explored the effects of gender, socioeconomic status, and human rights on women and health, and the impact of global demographic, political, environmental and epidemiological transitions on women.

The Commission on Women and Health’s report clearly articulates that when women are valued, counted and compensated, and governments are accountable to them, they are better positioned to make significant contributions to the wellbeing of families, communities and nations and, ultimately, to sustainable development.

Published at a critical policy juncture, when the Millennium Development Goals are about to come to an end and the global community is adopting a new set of Sustainable Development Goals, the Commission on Women and Health offers key recommendations for policy-makers, governments, civil society, academics, donors and other stakeholders that will help translate high level policy commitments into concrete action for the benefit of women, their families, and communities. The report demonstrates that all actions that improve women’s health and enable them to reach their full potential in the health sector will expand women’s contributions in other areas, like agriculture and the environment.

The Commission on Women and Health report will be officially launched today at a symposium at the Harvard Chan School in Boston, MA. A portion of the symposium will be live simulcast today at 3:30PM (EDT) and is accessible at

The Commission on Women and Health represents a collaboration of individuals and organizations from all around the world and The Lancet. In particular, this commission represents a key partnership between the Maternal Health Task Force at the Harvard Chan School and the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The Gates Foundation provided financial support to this effort and made essential intellectual contributions to it through the active participation of staff serving as commissioners and a commentary by Melinda Gates also published by The Lancet today.

To read the full report of the Commission on Women and Health, please visit

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