The theme of the 8th edition of the Geneva Health Forum (GHF) was Improving access to health: learning from the field. While 'the field' often denotes people, patients, communities, and healthcare workers, we challenge the notion and its usage. A group of like-minded conference participants set up a working group to examine the term 'the field' and look at questions related to language, power, participation, and rights. By highlighting deficiencies of existing terms and jargon, we explain why language is a form of power that matters in public health. We describe global, regional, and national case studies that facilitate full participation to achieve more equitable health outcomes. By concluding with concrete recommendations, we hope to contribute to these shared goals: to correct power imbalances between health authorities and the people that they intend, and are expected, to serve. The authors are all members of the working group.