Dr. Iris Mwanza

Director Community Health Roadmap

Dr. Iris Mwanza is the Director of the Community Health Roadmap, a collaboration of UNICEF, USAID, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, World Bank, World Health Organization and the Community Health Acceleration Partnership – elevating community health systems and community health workers in 15 focus countries.

Prior to this position, she was the Executive Director of the BroadReach Institute for Training and Education, and the Deputy Director and Chief Operations Officer for the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ). At CIDRZ, she ran operations for large scale prevention, care, and treatment programs for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Cervical Cancer. Before global health, Iris worked at the World Bank in Washington DC on Finance and Private Sector Development in South Asia, and as a corporate lawyer. She is a strong advocate for gender equality and is the co-chair of the Women in Global Health and W.H.O. Gender Equity Hub. She is also passionate about conserving nature and in on the WWF-US Board of Directors.

Iris has an M.A. and Ph.D. in International Relations from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and law degrees from Cornell University and the University of Zambia.

For more information:


5:05pm – 6:05pm EAT

Monday, 8 March 2021 Day 1

Breaking Barriers: Gender-inclusive health and leadership in Africa

Hosted by Amref Health Africa

Women’s health is vital to advance broader health and development goals across Africa, yet women themselves – especially African women – are underrepresented in leadership and decision-making across global and national health institutions, while women’s health is often deprioritized or underfunded compared to other health issues. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that gains made in women’s health are being threatened, especially when it comes to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH).


Taking place on International Women’s Day, this session will elevate the discourse on women in global health – focusing on both women as leaders and women as beneficiaries of health programs and funding. The session will provide a platform to highlight the vital role that women leaders have played in addressing health challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic – from policymaking and technical leadership to scientific research and development. It will also shine a spotlight on women’s involvement in health policies and decision-making (particularly for women’s health, SRHR and MNCH) as well as the gaps in women’s leadership and influence that must be addressed. Conversations will encourage greater collaboration and coordination among stakeholders around advancing a gender-equitable approach to Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and reiterate the need to prioritize funding, policies and programs that meet the health needs of women and girls, as part of countries’ UHC plans and investments.


The moderator will also engage the speakers to discuss the importance of dismantling barriers for young women leaders. Speakers will be asked to share personal experiences and insights of the barriers they faced (or continue to face) in their careers, how they have overcome gender barriers, why these challenges remain, and what women leaders and their allies can do to help change the playing field for the next generation of women leaders.