Investing in the Power of Nurses

Women make up 70% of the total health and social care workforce. In the nursing and midwifery profession, that percentage is even higher. Despite this, however, women hold only 25% of health system leadership roles.

Addressing gender-related barriers to leadership in nursing is critical to ensuring universal access to quality health services and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3.

Investing in the Power of Nurse Leadership: What Will It Take? is a new report launched by Nursing Now in collaboration with IntraHealth and Johnson and Johnson.

Drawing on surveys and interviews with over 2,500 nurses and nurse-leaders, the report offers essential new insights into the lived experiences of nurses worldwide.

At the Women Deliver 2019 Conference, Girls’ Globe spoke to Barbara Stilwell, Executive Director of Nursing Now.

She told us: “This moment in time is a moment for nurses. And I don’t think it will come again for a long time.”

The research found that there are a ‘constellation of barriers’ preventing female nurses in particular from progressing into leadership roles.

Key recommendations to address these barriers include:

1. Change the perception of the nursing as a ‘soft science’ and elevate the status and profile of nursing in the health sector.

2. Address occupational sex segregation and eliminate the perception of nursing as ‘women’s work.’

3. Eliminate employer discrimination on the basis of gender or child-bearing status.

4. Build nurses’ self-confidence and sense of preparedness to assume leadership positions.

5. Ensure workplace environments that are safe and responsive to work/life balance and allow for employee flexibility to fulfil both formal work and unpaid care responsibilities.

6. Ensure opportunities for nurses to access funding for leadership development, higher education, or other professional development.

7. Foster increased access to professional networks and mentoring schemes for nurses.

It’s clear that major changes are required to strengthen leadership and equality in the global nursing workforce. This report reflects the voices of nurses – it’s time for the rest of the world to listen.

This blog post was created by Girls’ Globe powered by Johnson & Johnson.

The Amazing Reason Mothers in India are Giving their Babies Wearable Medical Records

This blog post was originally posted on as part of a project with Girls’ Globe, Upworthy and Johnson & Johnson.

When Ruchit Nagar’s parents moved to Houston, Texas, in the late 1980s, they had no idea their son would grow up to save children’s lives in their home country of India.

Then again, it wasn’t exactly a total surprise, though, as their son had been interested in global health from a young age. Nagar had loved biology in high school, so he volunteered in American hospitals to learn more about the healthcare system. Later, he went on global health mission trips to Honduras and Ecuador, where he spent time working in a research laboratory at a government-run hospital.

But it was while he was in college, studying at the Yale Center for Engineering Innovation and Design, that he learned a startling truth. 1.5 million children die from vaccine-preventable diseases every year and an estimated 9.5 million infants worldwide still don’t have routine immunization services. Despite how critical these vaccines are, this “vaccination gap” still exists.

Nagar quickly realized that it wasn’t just an issue of access, either. Poor record keeping was making the problem much worse.

An agricultural community in Udaipur, India. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/TeshTesh

Maintaining immunization data in developing countries is a difficult task. Healthcare workers usually collect and store the information manually in paper log books, which means searching through all that data by hand. Couple that with how often families lose their medical documents and you can see what obstacles providers are up against.

That’s why, after Nagar’s professors asked the question: “What can you do to address the world’s vaccination gap?”, he and a group of other students came up with a business plan that could help address the vaccination gap, while helping healthcare workers too.

This led them to launch a nonprofit called Khushi Baby to help monitor the health care of mothers and children in India.

Khushi Baby (which translates to “Happy Baby” in Hindi) created a culturally-symbolic necklace that also happens to contain their full medical history.It’s a digital, battery-free, waterproof data storage device. In other words, it allows people to literally wear their medical records.

In order to access those medical files, healthcare workers in rural villages just need to scan the necklace with the help of the smartphone Khushi Baby app.

Photo credit: Khushi Baby

So, in a way, this invention is like a child’s medical passport, as well as a visual reminder for mothers to get their babies vaccinated on time.

The team hopes that when mothers and their babies wear their Khushi Baby pendant in the village, it might also start a conversation among mothers who may not be attending health camps regularly. And since Khushi Baby services include voice call reminders in the local dialect, the team is also hopeful that more mothers will plan checkups and vaccinations ahead of time.

Hopefully, this easy-to-use technology will help bridge the healthcare gap that exists between developing nations and the rest of the world.

“I have a reason to get out of bed every morning because I truly believe that what we are doing has the potential to make a difference to improve maternal and child healthcare for those who may otherwise be forgotten,” says Ruchit.

Digitizing vaccination data makes treating patients much easier, and, since the technology is relatively low-cost, it’s accessible even in low-income areas.

But Khushi Baby is about more than access to vaccines. It’s also about giving health workers the data they need to improve their treatment programs.

The technology empowers healthcare providers by allowing them to make better decisions faster. The app’s checkup summary page helps them consolidate patient info from busy health camps, which then helps them make appropriate recommendations and offer the right kind of care.

The Khushi Baby team at work developing technology. Photo credit: Khushi Baby

“Many of our early interactions with mothers and frontline nurses in rural Udaipur [India] showed us that there was an opportunity to do things better,” says Nagar.

Monitoring data is crucial in helping countries prioritize and tailor vaccination strategies for each region. The app also comes in handy for medically-focused nonprofits because it helps them monitor the impact of their work, ensuring the success of their immunization programs.

Of course, for the Khushi Baby app to work, people have to actually use it. That’s why Nagar chose to make it a necklace.

He tapped into a cultural norm in India to get locals interested in wearing his smart device. The black thread around the necklace is traditionally worn across India to ward off buri nazar, or evil eye. It’s said to bring good health and fortune.

“By observing that children were wearing jewelry in rural Udaipur, we realized that we could slot our technology into something that was already culturally-symbolic and accepted by the communities. In doing so, it made our wearable less likely to be lost or forgotten,” he explains.

A woman in India wearing the Khushi Baby necklace. Photo credit: Khushi Baby.

So far, the Khushi Baby app is operating in over 350 villages and tracking the health of over 15,000 mothers and their babies.

And they’re not stopping there.

Khushi Baby aims to scale its impact to over 1000+ villages with a team of over 250 health workers. They hope to track the health of over 80,000 beneficiaries in the future.

Photo credit: Khushi Baby

“Closing the vaccination gap will require national and multinational resources and efforts,” says Nagar. “Our goal is to track the health of the entire district of Udaipur by 2020 and lay down the blueprint for other districts across India (and elsewhere) to replicate and scale-up.”

It’s no surprise Khushi Baby was named as one of the finalists of the GenH Challenge, which acknowledges and awards innovative solutions to worldwide health issues.

Khushi baby is on the verge of transforming lives for the better in areas that desperately need the help.

It all started with a simple but powerful idea — that everyone, no matter where they are in the world, deserves the chance to thrive. Thanks to innovators like Nagar, that possibility is closer than ever.

And with technology like this leading the way, we might someday live in a world where no mother or child is left behind.

Preeti Shakya co-authored this post with Maisha Z. Johnson.

GenH Challenge: Submit your Ideas

In recognition of the impact midwives are creating across the world, Johnson & Johnson has launched a new initiative – the GenH Challenge. Midwives are everyday pioneers of ingenuity, although many might not realise it, or feel particularly comfortable referring to themselves in such a way! This exciting opportunity hopes to encourage midwives to see themselves as innovators with the power to help to create the healthiest generation in human history – “GenH”.

The GenH Challenge is looking to discover brand new ideas from the front lines of care that can change the trajectory of health. If this sounds daunting, don’t worry! The competition welcomes ideas in their earliest stages, and it welcomes small ideas that have the potential to create great impact.

The initiative launched on 19 June 2017 at the 31st Triennial ICM Congress, with midwives coming together with Johnson & Johnson’s GenH Challenge team to talk about what human-centred design really means in an interactive workshop. Human-centred design, the J&J team explained, is one of those terms that many people find off-putting, as it sounds a little like jargon, but it simply means designing everything we do with the person we’re trying to serve at the heart of it all. It is putting a human being first and doing everything else from there. It is what most midwives are doing every single day from the moment they arrive at work.

Midwives have always, by the very nature of what they do, exemplified human centred design. When an expecting mother comes to a midwife with a question or a worry, the midwife focuses on the human in front of them. The GenH Challenge is therefore an opportunity for midwives to be supported in what they already do, day in and day out, and to connect those at the front lines of care with the resources they need to make the greatest impact possible.

So perhaps it’s time to ask yourself: what can I affect? What problems do I see, and what can I make better? If you’re starting to think of an idea, or even a seed of an idea, Girls’ Globe encourages you wholeheartedly to register, and to submit your application. Nobody else can see the world through your eyes, nobody else can speak up with your voice, and so your unique ideas really do matter!

Applications from anywhere in the world are eligible, and so long as your team includes someone who works at the front lines of care, any for-profit or non-profit organizations can apply. The only other rules are that your idea must have received under $250,000 in funding or been in development for 5 years or under.

You can apply any time until 4 October 2017. Full guidelines are available at

Even if you don’t currently think of yourself as an innovator, you truly can be a pioneer of ingenuity by taking part in this exciting opportunity. This is your chance to transform midwifery for the future. Good luck!

Girls’ Globe Bloggers at the Global Citizen Festival 2016

Girls’ Globe was present at the Global Citizen Festival, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, to provide coverage of the festival and to share stories of the JNJ Young Leaders.

During the festival Girls’ Globe’s team of young women bloggers interviewed festival participants, talked with the Young Leaders and reported live from the heart of the action. But here’s the question: Can a festival really create sustainable change or make a difference? Here are some of our bloggers’ thoughts:

I think the most profound moments during the Global Citizens Festival were when I had moments to contemplate the sheer magnitude of the experience. The idea that more than 60,000 people were gathered from all over the world with varying socioeconomic and religious backgrounds to celebrate change in spite of the current geopolitical climate. Priyanka Chopra said it best, “The Global Citizen Festival is the only gathering that empowers people to make the change that they want to see.” I’ve always been taught to celebrate in the good times and in the bad; on September 24 the Global Citizens came together to make noise against a slew of social injustices. Although I loved being outside and hearing the phenomenal artist, I think my favorite moment was when HP as well as other tech companies announced the creation of Learning Studios in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. I’m not sure how to put it into words, so I will just say YES!!!

– Wynter Oshiberu


It’s special to be involved in an event where artists and attendees alike are of one mind, seeking to better the world.

– Sarah North

The Global Citizen Festival was undoubtedly a festival with a difference. It raised awareness about issues affecting vulnerable populations across the world. We need to invest in education for girls, no girl below the age of 18 should be out of school for any reason. It is crucial that we jointly work towards building safer communities for women and girls.  The most powerful tool we have after our voices, is the power of technology and social media to improve lives and influence decision-makers to adopt more inclusive and progressive  policies and that will seek to protect the rights of women and girls.”

– Zanele Mabaso

At the Global Citizen Festival I was very inspired that they had a big focus on refugees and the crisis the world is standing in front of in light of war and injustice. What I was most inspired by was the fact that they brought people who had been in these horrible situations themselves. For example there was a girl who had swam as far as 3 kilometers while pushing a boat with people in it – just to help them survive. Now she lives in Germany and competed in this year’s Olympic Games as a swimmer. That inspires me and I am very thankful that Global Citizen is giving these people a chance to tell their story.

– Amanda Ring

The Global Citizen festival is very different from any other music festival, because the entire premise of the event is for people to take individual and collective action to solve some of the biggest and most pressing challenges of the world.


Through these actions and push from the festival and its thousands of participants and supporters, real commitments are made – for example, the Dutch government committed to spend $100 million per year for three years to improve access to water and sanitation, Canada committed C$20 million to UNICEF’s Education Cannot Wait Fund, Australia committed AU$10 million towards improving girls’ education in the Indo-Pacific Region and Microsoft made commitments towards providing various types of services to refugees, from psychosocial support to digital literacy and computer science.

These are only a handful of all the commitments and pledges that have been made in connection to this year’s Global Citizen festival – and it’s quite clear that this festival does, indeed, make a real difference and act as a catalyst for concrete action and change. It proves there is strength in social media and in collective action, and that we are strongest when we come together to demand accountability, demand commitment – and most importantly, demand action.

Girls’ Globe is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson to provide coverage during the Global Citizen Festival and to share the stories of the Young Leaders who are participating in the activities in New York. 

Photo Credit: Sarah North / Girls’ Globe

The Integration Hypothesis

​Empowering women and girls has taken me from East Africa to South and East Asia. The scope of my work has cut across sectors including health, trafficking prevention, gender based violence, water and sanitation and women’s empowerment. Several years ago, while working in rural Uganda, I learned you can not approach issues for women and girls without recognizing the interconnectivity that exists. Speaking with communities in rural Uganda about gender-based violence brought to light the lack of adequate access to healthcare services for women and girls. In rural India, an immense need existed to involve a variety of stakeholders including community leaders, health workers, men, faith communities, governments, organizations, the private sector and donors in a locally-led process to empower women and girls through water and sanitation (WASH) programs. While working among women and girls who had been trafficked throughout South and East Asia, I realized the power and importance of working with local women. Their ideas and solutions for their own development continually inspired me. Change for women and girls requires a variety of entities working together towards an integrated approach to development.

FHI360 is an organization that strives to improve the lives of women, girls and communities by advancing integrated, locally driven solutions for human development. They challenge the development community to think proactively and provocatively about holistic development for women and girls. Yesterday, FHI360, in partnership with Johnson and Johnson and Women Thrive Worldwide, hosted an event in New York City to discuss what’s being called the ‘Integration Hypothesis’ – which poses the question:

Can breaking development silos make a difference for women and girls?


Abbigal Muleya, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for Zubo Trust in Zimbabwe is a young woman who is breaking all barriers to improve the lives of women and girls. During the event, she delivered a powerful ‘lightning talk’ about community driven solutions which empower girls and women through fish farming programs. Zubo Trust provides networking, capacity development and rights awareness workshops to expand economic opportunities for women. In conjunction with Zubo Trust, Abbigal has worked tirelessly on locally led solutions to ensure women and girls have the same rights as men to become fish farmers and own their businesses. She has cut across sector, social and cultural lines to make this dream a reality. Abbigal set the stage for an engaging conversation around integrated development. She challenged participants to critically think about ways to approach community-led integrated development initiatives.

Leith Greenslade, Panel Moderator and Vice Chair of the MDG Health Alliance, shared with us her thoughts on integrated development priorities for women and girls on Instagram.

Using #IntegratedDev on Twitter, audience members helped spread awareness of the positive examples of integrated development as well as the challenges related to working in silos:

An integrated approach for women and girls requires the development community to address issues from a variety of angles and perspectives. We cannot work in isolation but rather, we must work together to find creative solutions. Central to this is listening to the voices of women and girls. I sat down with Ann Starrs, CEO of the Guttmacher Institute and a champion for women’s and girls’ health. Ann believes truly listening to women and girls is an essential ingredient for successful integrated development programs. I whole-heartedly agree with her and other panelists who passionately spoke about their work and creative solutions.

After the panel ended, we asked event participants their thoughts and ideas on improving the lives of women and girls through integrated development approaches. Find out what Judith Moore, Principal Associate/Strategic Lead for MNCH at Abt Associates, and Mary Kate Costello, Policy Analyst at The Hunger Project had to say on our Instagram.

Want to join the continued conversation on integrated development? Stayed tuned for more engaging interviews and blog posts!

Follow #IntegratedDev, @GirlsGlobe & @FHI360

Event panelists included (left to right as shown above):

Midwives: The Real Unsung Heroes

There are individuals, around the world, who are saving the lives of women, children and families every day. These are no ordinary people, in fact, many call them heroes. They travel to remote villages, through crowded urban centers, across mountains and rivers to provide life saving care to mothers and families. Creativity and strength are their “super powers” as they work with limited resources under strenuous conditions.

These super heroes have saved the lives of many of my friends. Amazing individuals, most of them women, provide loving care to babies and mothers near and dear to my heart. Who are they? It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it is:

A midwife!

Midwives are saving lives. They help prevent serious complications for mothers and their babies during childbirth. Competent midwives greatly decrease the risk of both mother and child dying during birth. After childbirth, midwives continue to support mothers and their children through care, help with breastfeeding and other comprehensive support services. Their jobs look different depending on the country where they work.

Midwives must have the right skills and the best resources in order to do their jobs effectively.

With the help of a trained midwife, women’s and families’ stories around the world are different. Death is replaced with life. A midwife can provide the essential care needed to prevent harmful and preventable complications during and after birth. Yet, more than one-third of all births take place without the care of a skilled birth attendant. The 2011 State of the World’s Midwifery report, listed nine countries with a significant shortage of trained midwives or skilled birth attendants. Many of these countries have some of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates.

We need more trained midwives and we must celebrate those tirelessly working to save mothers, children and families around the world.

In the developing world, midwives need continual training and ongoing support. To ensure this support is a reality, governments, organizations, the private and health sectors and midwives, themselves, must be involved.

Last fall, I had the privilege of visiting the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I was impressed by The Hamlin College of Midwives and their mission to train more midwives to serve in rural areas in Ethiopia where there is a significant need for maternal care.

I recently read an amazing story about how Jhpiego, an organization working to save the lives of women and children worldwide, is supporting a midwifery program in rural Ethiopia. They also work in other countries to support maternal and child health programs.

The Hamlin College of Midwives and Jhpiego are two positive examples of people and organizations working to support the incredible work of midwives.

On June 1st the International Confederation of Midwives will hold the 30th Triennial Congress in Prague. Over 3,000 midwives from around the world will gather to share their work, learn new best practices and celebrate each other! During the congress, the 2014 State of the World’s Midwifery report will be published. The world’s leading general medical journal The Lancet will feature a midwifery series. At the congress, special ceremonies will be held to recognize and honor midwives vital contributions. Let’s take the time and celebrate these amazing heroes.

There is beauty and hope reflected in the lives of women who are able to deliver safe and healthy babies.

Want to join the global conversation?

Follow @GirlsGlobe, @JNJGlobalHealth, @FHI360, @world_midwives and #ICMLive for coverage related to the upcoming International Confederation of Midwives, taking place in Prague,1-5 June 2014. Use the hashtag #SOWMY2014 and follow the launch of the 2014 State of the World’s Midwifery Report.

 Cover Photo Credit: UNAMID, Flicker Creative Commons