DOT-MOM Podcast with Dr. Belen Garijo


“As many as 865 million of our mothers, daughters, [and] sisters across the globe are not reaching their full potential to contribute to their national economies,” said Dr. Belén Garijo, CEO for healthcare and executive board member of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, at a recent Wilson Center event. The act of caregiving, and the physical and mental health impacts that accompany it, often disproportionately rest on the shoulders of society’s women.

These negative health impacts often hold women back from achieving their full potential, according to Dr. Garijo. “When health costs rise, households may not tighten the belt as much for men as for women,” she said. “We are advocating for policies that enhance productivity, and most importantly, advance equity.”

Merck KGaA has been investigating their own employee productivity and retention of female workers. According to Dr. Garijo, the pharmaceutical company has implemented policies to support career pathways for women, such as unconscious bias trainings for senior executives, sponsoring high-potential women within the company, and flexible work arrangements.

The “Healthy Women, Healthy Economies” toolkit, developed in partnership with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and other partners, analyzes “traditional healthcare access barriers, as well as broader topics, like the impact of unpaid work,” said Dr. Garijo, and relates these issues to “economic impact and success in the workplace.”

Accompanying the toolkit is “Embracing Carers,” a global initiative launched by EMD Serono, the branch of Merck KGaA in North America, which is “actively engaging in quantifying the impact of the role of caregiving and advocating for progress on behalf of those filling these rewarding and challenging roles,” said Dr. Garijo.

With the support of progressive policies, private and public sector leaders, and male counterparts, we can not only achieve gender equity, but also create a more productive workplace. “We are very committed to addressing the challenges,” said Dr. Garijo, “but we cannot do this alone.”

This audio was recorded at an event at the Wilson Center on March 22, 2018.