Employee Spotlight: Meet Paula Owino

Potrait photo of Paula Awino

Meet – Paula Owino – Senior Consultant at Global Office Consulting.

"Health inequities are created by, enacted in, and maintained by society’s systems and structures" - Paula Owino

Time with GOC:

Three years and five months


Nairobi, Kenya

Area of Interest in International Development:

MNCH, WASH and Nutrition

Background – Tell us a little about yourself:

I was born in Nairobi, Kenya and spent my formative years going to school in Nairobi. Both my parents are Kenyan, which tends to confuse a lot of people because I often get told I look like I’m from Ghana. I have an older brother and younger sister – all of our first names begin with the letter P.

I did my A-levels in Leeds (UK) then went on to do my BA (Hons) in International Relations at The University of Leeds. In my final year of my BA degree, I really enjoyed my “State and Politics in Africa” and “Violence and Reconciliation in Africa” modules – so much so that I decided to pursue a MSc in African Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Living and working in London was a great experience that I will never forget but as the saying goes, there is no place like home.

What issues do you consider to be most prevalent to women globally?
Gender equality, healthcare inequity and lack of access to economic opportunities.

If you were heading a fund especially for gender, what would be the first thing you would do?
I would put the money directly in the hands of women in the global south- the experts. I think it should go without saying that funds for gender should be led by those who are the most affected and who through lived experiences, understand the context and nuances necessary to successfully implement gender funded programmes.

What are some of the biggest barriers to progress in gender, justice, and global health?
Women make up the majority of the global health workforce, but a minority of global health leadership, which resultantly leads to inferior care for issues relating to women.

Maternal mortality is unacceptably high. Around the world, approximately 810 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Lastly, the right to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is widely recognized by UN member states as being central to the realization of the human right to health outlined in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Despite this, billions of people around the world lack access to water, sanitation and hygiene services. In many LMICs, WASH sectors were in a critical condition before the outbreak of COVID-19, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem.

What do you think are some of the solutions to these problems?
We need to not only build up women in global health leadership, but we need more women in global health in general to advocate for women’s rights. Ultimately, providing women and girls with the tools to empower themselves and promote gender equality is crucial to accelerating sustainable development.

We also need to recognise that health inequities are created by, enacted in, and maintained by society’s systems and structures. Any attempt to alleviate inequities, therefore, must operate at a structural level, too. For example, access to WASH services is directly influenced by education, socioeconomic status, geographic location, gender and health. Those facing the greatest inequalities are also the ones who suffer the harshest consequences of inadequate WASH services.

In order for change to be truly transformational, it needs to address structural inequities.

Tell us something about you that we don’t know?
The older I get, the more glass/transparent elevators freak me out.

What three items would you take to a desert island and why?
Definitely some SPF 50 I never go anywhere without some, a polaroid camera to capture the beautiful sunsets and an endless amount of drinking water (I believe in my ability to feed off the land if I have to!)

Song that always gets you dancing?
Any Burna boy song- I am obsessed with his music.

What is the best thing about working at GOC?
This goes without saying, the people! I am not quite sure how GOC does this, but over the last three years I have had the pleasure of working with the most authentic and extremely talented people who I have and continue to learn a lot from.

Even in our virtual office, our banter is still top tier.

Where are you going to be in ten years’ time?
Living my best life – whatever that looks like for me in ten years’ time. We know COVID-19 has changed the way we live and putting the last two years into perspective, I hope in ten years’ time I am working in a sector I am passionate about but more importantly…that I am happy and healthy.