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It all started when…

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Lauren Wedekind, WLGH 2018 Mentee

Lauren is committed to understanding and preventing cardiometabolic conditions. Since completing her MSc in Public Health at LSHTM, she has undertaken doctoral training through the NIH-Oxford Fellowship between the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) and Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics. She is trained to: quantify the joint effects of genetic and lifestyle factors upon disease risk (especially type 2 diabetes and diabetes during pregnancy); expand understandings of differences in clinical presentation of and disparities in risk of complex traits; and promote population-level health interventions to address these risks and disparities. Ultimately, Lauren wants to understand health inequities, promote cardiometabolic disease prevention and train diverse next generation of researchers and providers.

You can find Lauren on Twitter at @wedekindle


Why have you decided to sign up as a mentee?

Mentors who come from familiar backgrounds and serve in ways we admire can be forces for justice. As a young woman beginning her PhD this year, I hope to learn how to lead a fulfilling and helpful career at the intersection of genetics and medicine. In the long run, I will work to understand and prevent diabetes, both within and outside more thoroughly-investigated Northern and Western European populations. Along the way, by being a mentee at the WLGH Conference, I can learn to be a supportive mentor and clear communicator for my future students.

What do you think the program can offer mentees?

The WLGH mentorship program offers a great opportunity for young people like myself to create and build on connections we will make at the conference, and discuss in depth the benefits and challenges we face in our personal and professional. I am really looking forward to continuing the conversations I had as a student at LSHTM on how to use the privilege of our training and mentorship networks to promote global health. All of my fellow mentees and I could do this in a range of ways, including promoting health education, social care, discussions on research ethics, and disease treatment and prevention.

Who has been your role model in global health and why?

A former classmate and friend Akua Kusi has been a source of inspiration throughout the past two years as the creator of a platform for uplifting voices and promoting the health of women of colour. In the basement of LSHTM's Tavistock building, we met working on our MSc summer projects - she was transcribing interviews on the Ghanian Health Service and how women were being taught about breast cancer. She also started the LSHTM Women’s Health Group, bringing together students of all backgrounds to discuss global women’s health topics from health inequalities to broader social issues like gender and socioeconomics. Akua still supports the Group and  leadership team from Berlin, where she is a physician and a researcher.

What career advice would you give to yourself five years ago?

Looking forward to my coming years of doctoral training, a long-time mentor of mine, Rabbi Patricia, reminded me that our world needs “researchers with heart.” David W. Orr, an environmentalist, shares this convicting and motivating insight that applies however we train and serve: “There is a myth that the purpose of education is to give one the means for upward mobility and success. The plain truth is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does need desperately more peacemakers, healers, restorers, story tellers, and lovers of every shape and form.”

 

Learn more about the mentorship programme here.

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Dr Evelyn Kusi, WLGH 2018 Mentee

Evelyn is a medical doctor and global health researcher, with a doctoral degree in the field of perinatal medicine and an MSc Public Health from LSHTM. She is currently engaged at the interface of global and national public health, working for the refugee services in preventive and migration medicine under the medical directorate of the Charité in Berlin. She is a keen advocate for global equity, sexual and reproductive health, and her interests are focused on health policies and programme implementation, particularly in the field of sexual and reproductive health and disease prevention. In the long term, she is striving to advocate for and drive evidence-based global health policy at the international level for every woman and child, everywhere.


 

Why have you decided to sign up as a mentee?

I would like to achieve my full potential as a doer and change maker in my profession of health. With a gender lens in mind, I believe the Women Leaders in Global Health mentorship programme offers a unique and refreshing opportunity to engage with and learn from highly inspirational individuals in the global health field. As a global health community, we should strive for diverse and equal representation in leadership as both men and women benefit from it. The world needs new and innovative solutions in our aims for health, equity, and human rights, and I believe we need all hands on deck to achieve these goals.

What do you think the program can offer mentees?

This kind of programme can offer a vast presentation of leadership and leadership skillsets to learn from. To get extra insight can be a game changer in navigating one’s professional career. It also offers early and mid-career women access to advice from those who have broken, are breaking or are helping to break the infamous glass ceiling on female and diverse leadership in health. By bringing together individuals from different career levels, mentors and mentees can share unique perspectives on various situations and grow fruitful relationships with each other. In a way, communication leads the way to sustainable change as through shared knowledge mentees can multiply that benefit elsewhere.

What do you see as the key issues for women’s leadership?

I think the lack of female representation is  complex and  interlinked with  other factors. But as Elizabeth Maclean pointed out in her 2017 study on recognising female leadership, when men and women are asked to draw a ‘leader’, they both tend to draw men. This shows an equal lack of recognition of the potential of female leadership regardless of gender. It is up to us to change that  by giving female leadership a broadly recognised platform, to equally recognize women as the leaders they can be and are.

What challenges have you faced in a global health career?

Most challenges in my career and in our structured medical training have been equally shared by men and women. However, I clearly recognise the challenge of recognised competency for myself and other women especially those striving for leadership position in health. Male and female stereotypes of what both genders should do, look like and are capable off too often obscuring our views to adequately assess the individual’s competency, be it as a female doctor or male nurse. I hope we as a society might someday be able to leave those outdated concepts behind to maximise everyone’s full potential, for everyone’s benefit.

Who has been your role model in global health and why?

I deeply admire Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the current and first female WHO Regional Director for Africa. She has qualities of resilience, competency and endurance, and has created and contributed to changes for people and health. She gave the address for my Masters programme graduation at LSHTM and made clear that sometimes the road to change in global health might be unclear, uncertain - and a lot of times about timing - but just as much ought to be about taking one step at a time and being passionate about your work. Her path was not straightforward but a clear mind has guided her through a 35 year public health career.

What career advice would you give to yourself five years ago?

Three things: Patience, that there is more to health than medicine, and for those hard days on the ward a song by Stevie Wonder - “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing.”

How do you think this type of conference could impact women’ leadership in global health?

On a grand scale, through conferences like this one, women in leadership positions are made visible .They inspire new generations of female leaders in health globally, and individually foster networks and connections between like-minded people. This in turn strengthens the path for a more equal and diverse representation in global health and everywhere else. I am excited for this year’s programme, the people and the intense discussions in London. Thank you for having a read and see you there!

 

Learn more about the mentorship programme here.

 
 

Women Leaders in Global Health London 2018

Celebrating women in global health leadership and cultivating the next generation of women leaders.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
November 8-9, 2018

 
 
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WLGH 2017 - a new vision for leadership

The inaugural Women Leaders in Global Health conference held at Stanford University on 12 Oct was attended by over 400 women and men - representing more than 250 organizations and from 68 countries - and watched live by another 400 viewers joining in from homes and workplaces around the world.

After the WLGH 2017 conference, a new vision for global health leadership emerged. Published with a commentary in The Lancet, the Call to Action represents input from conference participants and others over the following weeks.  Help spread the word and share your comments and feedback.

WLGH Highlights - see more in our media gallery