On October 31, 2013, the IWHC Leadership Council hosted a conversation with Alicia Yamin, Lecturer on Global Health at Harvard School of Public Health. More than 60 guests attended the afternoon event at the University Club, where Yamin discussed the recently released World Bank report: Investing in Women’s Health: Closing the Deadly Gap Between What We Know and What We Do.

According to the report, better reproductive health care and gender equality go hand-in-hand: “Addressing the reproductive health needs of women is a prerequisite to achieving gender equality, but despite international commitments, actual progress on this front has been slow and remains a blight on global development.”

The Leadership Council is a group of IWHC supporters who share a broad interest in the U.S. foreign policy agenda and are committed to women’s health and human rights globally.

Yamin expanded on the theme of gender inequality and reproductive health in her discussion of how better health care for women — including maternal care and access to contraception and family planning information — affects a woman and her family’s economic well-being. As the report notes, women make up a significant share of the labor force, and their health has a direct impact on their ability to work. And it’s not just work performed outside the home. The report notes that when a female family member who does not work outside the home falls ill, “family members need to absorb the work done by women inside the home, which might reduce their own ability to exploit outside economic and educational opportunities.”

Yamin also touched on the other main contributions of the report, including its country-by-country comparison and exploration of what causes poor reproductive health, and its recommendations to policymakers for improving public health outcomes in developing countries.

For nearly three decades IWHC has known that investing in women and girls is not only smart economics, it’s the right thing to do. The recently released World Bank report confirmed this fact.

Read the World Bank report.