Women are essential to global vaccination efforts around the world, overcoming gender discrimination, stigma, and even violence to protect every child against vaccine-preventable diseases. Keep reading to learn more about their experiences, in their own words, and what it will take to strengthen gender equality in the health workforces of the future.

Immunization is the backbone of primary health care, responsible for saving the lives of 2-3 million children each year and protecting entire communities from disease outbreaks and other types of health emergencies. And at the heart of immunization efforts around the world, you will find women.

Women make up 70% of our severely understaffed global health care workforce. They are on the front lines of immunization programs around the world, defying the odds to ensure that every child is protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.

In communities where it is often considered culturally inappropriate for male health workers to enter homes, women are the only ones who can reach unprotected children. As front-line vaccinators they trek long hours, often in unsafe areas, to deliver lifesaving vaccines. In doing so they encounter harassment, social stigmas, and even violence and targeted attacks on account of their gender. Many health workers have lost their lives trying to give the next generation a healthy start in life.

Read the full article about gender discrimination and vaccines by Holly Greb at the United Nations Foundation.