The Showstopper – Women In Healthcare

In the words of Swami Vivekananda “There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved, a bird can’t fly on only one wing.”

From being the backbone of their homes, women of this era have risen to become the backbone of the healthcare sector as well. Women’s representation in the healthcare sector has grown substantially over the last decade, in fact going by numbers, the percentage of women in this sector far outnumbers those in other industries. Women in the healthcare domain have taken big and bold strides making their way into the upper echelons of the industry holding positions of command and leadership. The Indian healthcare domain is seeing the dawn of a new era, where transformation and change are being triggered by the rise in the women workforce who bring to the table their outstanding decision-making abilities and leadership qualities.

Natalie Grant Nanda, GM – Business Strategy and Operations, Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune

We need to understand that in healthcare, women have always been intrinsic. Their innate qualities of hospitality, compassion, and nurturing make a difference in healthcare management.

At Ruby Hall Clinic, we have consciously tapped into this potential, embedding compassionate care into the very fibre of our being. One of our priorities has always been to build upon our hospital’s reputation as a Great Place to Work. From our all-women-managed breast centre to leading the ICU and blood bank among so many other specialities, or from commanding the nursing force to playing pivotal roles in day-to-day management. It will come as no surprise, to see that women are at the core of virtually every department within our hospital. The truth is that women are indispensable to our operations.

By fostering a supportive work environment we are empowering women to thrive in the healthcare sector. Their contributions are invaluable, and by investing in their talent and providing avenues for growth, we are ensuring that they reach their full potential.

We have implemented a range of initiatives to foster the growth of women within the hospital.

These include:

Continuous Learning Platforms: Ruby Hall Clinic takes a proactive approach to learning by offering advanced clinical courses for medical professionals we support clerical staff and work staff by helping them pursue higher education the availability of support groups and mentors at

every stage encourages women to pursue their dreams and continuously grow in their respective fields.

  • Pro-Women Policies: We have implemented policies specifically designed to support women in balancing their personal and professional lives
  • Support Systems and Grievance Cell: A grievance cell with the highest level of discretion ensures that any concerns are addressed promptly and confidentially.
  • Investment in Education: The hospital invests considerable resources in the continued education of doctors and senior management. This includes exposure to world-class institutions such as IIM, ISB, and TISS, fostering the emergence of leaders within the hospital.
  • Convenient Facilities for Nursing Staff: For the comfort and safety of women-driven nursing staff, the hospital has taken steps to provide conveniently located nursing hostels and transport facilities. This ensures that women can focus on their roles without concerns about commuting or accommodation. We currently have three hospitals spanning the city and expanding, along with another upcoming facility at Amanora Park town next year. For this very purpose, we are committed to attracting the best medical talent – which will include a considerable woman-driven workforce, for both clinical and administrative roles. Our goal is to provide opportunities for women to excel, lead, and grow within the hospital.

Abrarali Dalal, Director & CEO, Sahyadri Hospitals

At Sahyadri Hospitals, we believe in creating a workforce that reflects the diverse society we serve. Our initiatives are designed to address core areas essential for the empowerment and development of women and girls in our society. We have implemented targeted recruitment strategies to attract female talent across all levels, especially in roles traditionally dominated by men. Our retention strategies include flexible working conditions, mentorship programmes, and career development plans tailored for women, ensuring they grow and thrive within our organisation.

Sahyadri Hospitals has been at the forefront of numerous initiatives over its two-decade journey, particularly in the realm of women’s health. Momstory is a testament to this commitment.

Leadership and decision-making roles are critical for empowerment. We have launched leadership development programmes aimed specifically at women, preparing them for executive roles within the healthcare sector. Furthermore, we are encouraging young girls to pursue careers in STEM and business through workshops and partnerships with educational institutions, breaking down stereotypes and barriers from an early age.

Understanding the unique needs of women and girls has led us to design and build facilities that cater specifically to them. This includes women-centric health clinics, maternity wards, and safe, accessible spaces within our hospitals. Our infrastructure is planned with the safety, privacy, and comfort of women in mind, ensuring they receive care in a supportive environment.

Education is power, and at Sahyadri Hospitals, we empower women and girls with the knowledge to make informed health decisions. Through community outreach programmes, workshops, and digital platforms, we provide accessible, reliable information on a wide range of health topics. We aim to enable women and girls to take charge of their health, understanding their bodies and the healthcare system better.

Lastly, access to education and training is a cornerstone of empowerment. We have initiated scholarship programmes for female students pursuing medical and healthcare-related studies, providing them with the tools and resources to succeed. Our training programs, particularly in rural areas, focus on health education, first aid, and preventive care, ensuring women and girls are not just beneficiaries but also providers of healthcare within their communities.

At Sahyadri Hospitals, we are committed to creating a world where women and girls have equal opportunities to succeed and lead healthy, fulfilling lives. Our initiatives are just the beginning, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to empower women and girls across all spheres.


Dr Rajeev Boudhankar, Medical Director, Holy Family Hospital, Bandra, Mumbai

Here are some of the main issues regarding women's health that we at HFH are actively working on:

Cancer: Two of the most common cancers affecting women are breast and cervical cancers. Detecting both these cancers early is key to prevention and treatment. The latest global figures show that around half a million women die from cervical cancer and half a million from breast cancer each year. We have a month-long camp for screening of these cancers at HFH to celebrate Women’s Day. We also have a vaccination program for our female staff against the human papilloma virus (which causes cervical cancer).

Maternal health: WHO statistics say almost 300000 women died from complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Most of these deaths could have been prevented, if they had access to maternal health programs. This is why, we at HFH have a women’s health programme under our Gynaecology & Obstetrics department.

Violence against women: Women can be subject to a range of different forms of violence, but physical and sexual violence – either by a partner or someone else – is particularly invidious. Today, one in three women under 50 has experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner, or non-partner sexual violence – violence which affects their physical and mental health in the short and long term. Health workers need to be alert to violence so they can help prevent it, as well as provide support to people who experience it. Our Department of Psychology and Psychiatry is actively involved in the management of such incidents in society.

Mental health: Evidence suggests that women are more prone than men to experience anxiety, depression, and somatic complaints – physical symptoms that cannot be explained medically. Depression is the most common mental health problem for women and suicide is a leading cause of death for women under 60. Helping sensitise women to mental health issues, and giving them the confidence to seek assistance, is vital. This is where our Department of Psychology and Psychiatry are actively involved in the management of such patients in society.

Non-communicable diseases: Statistics show that (Reference: WHO) some 4.7 million women die from non-communicable diseases before they reach the age of 70. They die as a result of road traffic accidents, harmful use of tobacco, abuse of alcohol, drugs and substances, and obesity. And now this problem is becoming endemic in India, too. Helping girls and women adopt healthy lifestyles early on is key to a long and healthy life. 

Our Departments of Endocrinology, Dietetics, Psychiatry Preventive Health check-up and YOGA departments are closely involved in lifestyle management for women.

Getting older: Most housewives (homemakers) have often worked in the home, older women may have fewer/no pensions and benefits, and less access to health care and social services, than their male counterparts. Combine the greater risk of poverty with other conditions of old age, like dementia, and older women also have a higher risk of abuse and generally, poor health. This is where our Geriatric and Home Care Services are known as one-of-its-kind in the city of Mumbai Even in 2024 “women’s empowerment” remains a pipedream. Too many women are still missing out on the opportunity to get educated, support themselves, and obtain the health services they need when they need them.

At the local level, Holy Family Hospital is working so hard to strengthen health systems for women, senior women citizens and home care services for women. Our unique programmes like Maternal & Child Health, Community Connect programme, free health awareness camps, YOGA classes, preventive health checkup department, etc are helping us reach the women population at large for their health needs.

Dr Nalini Saligram, Founder & CEO, Arogya World, An Ashoka Fellow 

As the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) continues to grow across different socio-economic groups and regions in India, it’s imperative to prioritise prevention-focussed interventions, especially in women and girls.

Why Prevention?

Landmark clinical studies and WHO say that 80 per cent of type II diabetes and 80 per cent of heart disease can be prevented with three lifestyle changes – we must eat right, increase physical activity and avoid tobacco. While the government’s National Health Policy has taken steps to address NCDs, efforts often lean towards screening and treatment, leaving prevention somewhat overlooked. Prevention at the population level is a smart solution – we cannot treat our way out of the NCD crisis. At Arogya World, we recognise the urgent need to shift the focus towards prevention, particularly through tech-based interventions and collaborations with various stakeholders, reaching people deep in the community, outside the doctor’s office.

Why focus on women and girls?

 It is women who make the decisions about what the family eats and if we educate them on the basics of healthy eating, empowered women will steer their family towards healthy eating. Also, 20 per cent of the Indian population is an adolescent. We must educate them on healthy behaviours before their lifestyle habits are set and educate them during the formative adolescent years when lifestyle habits are adopted. Educating adolescent girls is especially important before they get married as they can bring up a healthy baby, and steer their current and future families towards healthy living.

Why the focus on healthy eating?

Because we know that unhealthy eating is the number one cause of death. And two-thirds of the diabetes problem is due to unhealthy eating. Women can help all family members make healthcare decisions as they go about their everyday lives, at family dining tables and in kitchens.

I firmly believe that empowering women and girls to make informed decisions about their health is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic investment in the well-being of communities. By providing women and girls with access to quality education and training, we can unlock their potential as change agents and catalysts for sustainable development.

How can all this education and training be delivered?

Arogya World has first-hand experience doing this in communities using a doorstep health approach, taking prevention to people where they live, learn and work. In schools – we reach middle school girls and boys in the school setting and teach them through age-appropriate compelling games and activities, the basics of healthy living, We have delivered this programme to 1.35 million kids all over India – in rural and urban government and private schools – working with credible partners who have earned the trust and respect of school authorities. Now we are focused on district-wide deployment and are in conversations with state governments to scale up.

Stanford Center for Asian Health Research and Education, has found a 16 per cent improvement in knowledge, 7.5 per cent improvement in composite healthy eating and 10 per cent improvement in physical activity in kids from hundreds of schools (2015-2022 data). Our materials are available in digital format in multiple languages and have been delivered in traditional, digital and hybrid modes.

In addition, we are conducting Randomized Controlled Trials RCT in rural Gujarat, to test the effectiveness of an integrated MyThali – Healthy School combination for adolescent girls in school and outside school. In workplaces – Women – and men – can be persuaded to change behaviour when we change the culture of workplaces to become health-promoting. 

Our MyThali programme is delivering eating right information to millions of consumers all over urban India using social media, influencers and creative campaigns. We are evaluating the impact of Nielsen IQ. 


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