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Episode 017: Gender Equity, Social Science & Public Health with Puleng Letsie

The Days for Girls Podcast


Puleng is a public health education and gender specialist with more than 20 years of experience managing programs within the HIV, gender, sexual and reproductive health and human rights spaces. She is passionate about Sexual, Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and also cares deeply about social change communications and community capacity development. She has worked with the United Nations and many government ministries as well as national and regional NGOs in various capacities. At present, she is a member of the WHO SocialNet: a team of 23 social scientists trained to integrate social science-based interventions into health emergency work. 

In this episode, Puleng shares what drives her as a fierce advocate of gender equity, what it means to be a social scientist working in the public health sector and why social/cultural elements must be factored into emergency health interventions. She also unpacks the importance of ‘community capacity enhancement’ – and why lasting change must always start from the inside out.

Notable Quotes

“That has been my mantra: that the answer lies within us. It lies within the person that wants to make a change, it lies within the person that is affected by inequality, it lies within the person that really aspires to see change - either change from getting out of patriarchy, change from getting out of inequality, change from getting out of poverty, from out of stigma and discrimination, and so on. So that that is my passion.”


  • How Puleng’s feminist spirit and upbringing inspired her prolific career as a gender equity advocate
  • Her personal trauma with gender discrimination in the workplace, and how it deepened her resolve to fight for the rights of all women and girls 
  • All about WHO SocialNet’s efforts to integrate social science interventions into emergency health work 
  • Why identifying the social/cultural norms, values, dynamics and capital that exist within communities can help improve outcomes in any public health crisis 
  • How taking a social scientist approach to issues like vaccine hesitancy can improve COVID-19 outcomes around the world
  • The importance of community engagement and risk communication in health emergencies - and what happens when the health sector fails to prioritize these
  • Community capacity enhancement: why meaningful change is only possible when challenges are contextualized and those most affected are at the center of solutions 



Twitter: @PulengL

Facebook: @PulengLetsie

LinkedIn: Puleng Letsie

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