Women, power and cancer:

A Lancet Commission

Commissioner of the Month for March 2024

Commissioner name

Deborah Mukherji

Job Title

 Consultant Medical Oncologist, Clemenceau Medical Center Dubai, United Arab Emirates;

Adjunct Associate Professor, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon

What is your role on the Lancet Commission for Women, Power, and Cancer?

Commissioner and co-author with a focus on the workforce section of the Commission.

Why are you passionate about your work on the Commission?

Advancing gender equity will not be achieved until everyone is convinced that we all benefit from women achieving their full potential. The huge challenges we face globally in all aspects of cancer control can only be addressed by teams with diverse expertise and perspectives. Despite the best intentions, many workplace policies to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion have reduced our aspirations for culture change to “checkbox exercises”, which are received with increasing negativity.

I am passionate about the Commission’s work to highlight the gaps and identify key actions towards meaningful progress. There are data from the business world that diverse teams are more successful; we have a lot of work to do to show how this finding translates into improving cancer control in all communities.

What excites you most about the ongoing work of the Commission in 2024?

We were all thrilled by how well received the Commission was when the report was published in September 2023. The next step is to build on this positive momentum and demonstrate impact. 

Regional launches are an important way to review the findings and recommendations of the Commission in the context of diverse healthcare systems around the world. I work in the Middle East, where there have traditionally been low rates of women’s economic participation and representation in leadership. However, positive steps are already being made to address many of the gendered aspects of equitable access to cancer diagnosis and care. There is a lot more that can be done to support women in leadership positions. 
There are many research questions that have been sparked by the findings of the Commission and we welcome all who might be interested in taking these forward to contact us.

What drew you to join the Commission?

It was a great honor to be invited to contribute to the Lancet Commission for Women, Power, and Cancer after working with several of the commissioners and advisors on a Covid-19 and Cancer Global Taskforce. The experiences of women around the world during the pandemic demonstrated how hard-won advances in gender equity took a step backwards in the face of crisis, but also showed how impactful collaborative research could be conducted virtually. I was interested in how the work of the Commission could address the gender-related imbalance of power that exists across the entire spectrum of cancer control including in the healthcare workforce.

What do you like to do uutside of work?

I currently see patients six days a week, but in the limited time outside work I enjoy reformer Pilates and entertaining at home with my husband Walid, who is a surgeon and talented chef!