Women Leaders in Health and Conflict Initiative

Launch of New Seminar Series

The Women Leaders in Health and Conflict (WLHC) initiative is a group of aspiring and established experts working within the conflict and health domain in low, middle- and high-income countries. We are working together to build a sustainable platform to address significant challenges and opportunities for women’s leadership in the conflict and health sector. Women are disproportionately affected by armed conflict and humanitarian emergencies. Women are also increasingly at the forefront of improving health for conflict-affected populations through service delivery, education and capacity strengthening, advocacy and research. They have made important contributions to health system development, improving evidence and humanitarian interventions as well as in uncovering human rights abuses, highlighting the detrimental health outcomes of marginalised groups, and bringing vital knowledge and intervention gaps to global attention.

WLHC is a collective effort responding to the growing grass-roots demand from women based in conflict-affected regions around the world to improve health of conflict-affected populations. WLHC adopts a unique position within the broader global movements working towards gender equitable leadership; focusing on a sector that is under researched and under resourced given the complex political, security and research environment the sector is positioned in. Although there are significant barriers preventing more women from taking up leadership roles across the conflict and health sector, there is also a wealth of opportunities. A core objective of this initiative is to develop a diverse network that effectively translates research into practice by working in close collaboration with academic partners, NGOs, humanitarian practitioners and policy makers.

Our vision

To achieve gender equality in leadership in health in conflict-affected settings to support the health and wellbeing of all individuals affected by armed conflict.

Our mission

To address the current gender inequities and inequalities in health in conflict-affected settings through research, collaboration and activities that influence policy and practice.

Our objectives

  • Developing the evidence base on women’s leadership in conflict and health by undertaking quantitative and qualitative research
  • Creating a network of researchers and practitioners working towards the advancement of women leaders in conflict affected areas
  • Accelerating a global mentorship programme where senior female and male leaders’ mentor the next generation of women leaders in conflict and health
  • Advocacy for women leaders, early and mid-career researchers and students in and from conflict-affected settings

To find out more about our work contact kristen.meagher@kcl.ac.uk

Policy Brief – Women’s leadership in health in conflict and peacebuilding


Meagher, K., Khaity, M., Hafez, S. et al.Strengthening health systems and peacebuilding through women’s leadership: a qualitative study. Global Health19, 21 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-023-00920-1
Meagher KMkhallalati HEl Achi N, and Patel, P., A missing piece in the Health for Peace agenda: gender diverse leadership and governance

Meagher, K., Elliott, I., & Patel, P. (2022). Gender and leadership in conflict settings.Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 100(1), 3–3A. https://doi.org/10.2471/BLT.21.287528

Meagher, K., Attal, B. & Patel, P. Exploring the role of gender and women in the political economy of health in armed conflict: a narrative review. Global Health 17, 88 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-021-00738-9
Meagher, K., Abbara, A., Fahham, O., and Patel, P. Women Leaders in Syria in the COVID-19 Response and Beyond. International Perspectives in Psychology 2021 10:2, 122-125

Patel, P., Meagher, K., El Achi, N. et al. “Having more women humanitarian leaders will help transform the humanitarian system”: challenges and opportunities for women leaders in conflict and humanitarian health. Confl Health 14, 84 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13031-020-00330-9

Previous Events

International Women’s Day: Voices from compounded crises in Syria in the earthquake aftermath (Arabic)  (English) 8 March 2023
Speakers: Dr Hala Alghawi, Fatima Al-Obed, Abeer Aryan, Mouna Khaity

Women’s Leadership in Reproductive Health and Rights: Sharing Turkish Experiences, 25 May 2021
Speaker: Professor Ayşe Akın

Opportunity Amid Challenge: Community-Led, Youth-Powered COVID-19 Research in Sudan, 23 February 2021

Speakers: Israa Zain Alabdeen, Omamah Abbas, Abd Elhameed Ahmed, Dr Maysoon Dahab, Rahaf Abu Koura

Building bridges of trust in Central Asia and COVID-19: experiences from the field, 2 December 2020,
Speaker: Dr Tasnim Atatrah

The role of women leaders in Syria in the Covid-19 response and beyond, Dr. Aula Abbara, Dr. Ola Fahham and Dr. Abdulkarim Ekzayez, 21 October 2020

Women & Health and their role in Lebanon’s current political crisis and Intifada, Dr Nassim El Achi, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom, 4 February 2020

Conducting health research in complex environments: ethical and gender related challenges, King Hussein Cancer Center, Amman, 10 December 2019

Bridging the divide between political science and public health, Professor Melani Cammett, King’s College London, United Kingdom, 28 October 2019

Inaugural Lecture – A Shared Story, Professor Rita Giacaman, King’s College London, United Kingdom, 15 October 2019