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Forget What You Know About Millennials: Meet Gen H

The first in a new series that explores how millennials are defying stereotypes and working to create better health and a better world for all.

Millennials – misunderstood, maligned, and blamed for the challenges facing the modern workplace.

Companies are scrambling to make sense of the first real internet-literate generation. Some enterprising people are even helping bosses decode millennials—for $20000 an Hour.

But a growing consensus says they are among a generation that has been a catalyst for change.

Millennials are driving changes that will set the tone for healthcare outcomes in the decades to come. They are the new influencers; trail-blazers in a hyper-connected world.

A subset of this generation is working hard to improve global healthcare in the face of considerable obstacles. Meet Generation H (for health).

Roopa Dhatt is co-founder of Women in Global Health, or #WomeninGH. And a millennial.

#WomeninGH was founded as a summit focused on raising awareness around healthcare issues facing women in the developing world.

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Terri Bresenham, President & CEO, Sustainable Healthcare Solutions, GE Healthcare (second from left), Roopa Dhatt, founder of #WomeninGH, and Dr. Christine Sow, Executive Director of the Global Health Council, discussing this year’s World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

“We are committed to bringing attention to the voice of young people and women around the world on social and health issues,” says Dhatt. “When we look at visible leadership and decision making roles, the numbers are disappointing for women.”

Indeed: an estimated 75% of the global healthcare workforce is made up of women, but when we look at leadership positions, the numbers flip. Men take up 75% of the top leadership roles in healthcare.

“These sectors harbor great influence – academia shapes the minds of generations, the private sector holds significant capital and resources, and the government determines wide scale policy,” Dhatt adds.

A big influence for Roopa was the famous #WGH300, a social media campaign launched by Ilona Kickbusch. She was the first to tackle the lack of female representation in global health head on when she began the #WGH300 list on Twitter in 2014.

“We [four like-minded women who founded #WomeninGH] began by chatting on twitter about how to take our ideas beyond social media awareness, turning it to action, and subsequently impact healthcare,” remembers Dhatt. “We had our first Skype call in April 2015 and then launched our Women in Global Health movement at the 68th World Health Assembly earlier this year.”

Dhatt and the other co-founders of #WomeninGH set the bar high for what they wanted out of the Assembly. They aimed to get as many global health leaders as they could to recognize the need for greater gender equality – and equity – in the healthcare sector. They also put out a call to action to inspire global health leaders to make the commitments they needed to put words into action – even going so far as to create a checklist.

WomeninGH_2When asked why so-called Millennials get such a bad rap, Dhatt points to the Internet revolution of the 90s and early 2000s – when most Millennials came of age – as a cause for increased scrutiny.

“Millennials are more visible – they are the generation that interfaces not only with their peers, but all of society more than any other generation before,” she says. “The pressure on them is vast… one mistake can ‘go viral’ and stay with them forever. They are the first generation faced with this phenomenon.”

“Moreover, they are tasked with addressing so many complex problems from local to global and constantly reminded of how stark the future is. They also are gifted with very unique talents—they have grown up alongside the virtual world and are more in tune with design, innovation, and often a wide array of interests as a result of having access to so much knowledge, yet that talent is undervalued.”

There is a way to put Millennials’ increased visibility to good use: highlighting the stories of those young innovators and creators trying to make the world a healthier place. Forget what you think you know about Millennials, and watch this space for more stories about Generation H.

Do you know a member of Gen H, a millennial defying stereotypes and putting her or his talents to work for better health? Let us know: @gehealthcare or facebook.com/gehealthcare.