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Health, society equity for women and girls a must


Tāmaki Makaurau – Health inequity is still prevalent worldwide, negatively impacting socio-economic opportunities for women and the economy.

Women’s health concerns are still underserved by the research community and workplaces.

Positive signs of progress exist, including through social movements and femtech.

In 2022, research has shown men earn on average 10 percent more than women in New Zealand. Across the country, women are under-represented in higher-level jobs. In fact, many women are employed in industries where more than 80 percent of the workers are women.

In an ideal world, women and girls would live in a healthy, safe and equitable environment where they can thrive, free from discrimination and injustice.

Unfortunately, trends and data show that such a world is far from reality. Women’s health is still deprioritized, underfunded and under-researched, leading to significant challenges while widening gender gaps and social and economic disparities.

Women generally live longer than men but spend more of their life in poor health. Moreover, they are confronted with persistent barriers to accessing healthcare. And challenges such as gender discrimination, lack of education and domestic violence persist.

The current healthcare system is failing to address women’s health needs. A newly published report from UN agencies and the World Bank shows that globally, 800 maternal deaths occur every day, one every two minutes, due to child pregnancy and childbirth complications.

Despite the progress and ambitions to end maternal deaths, the world will lose more than 1 million lives if we continue with this trend.

Where research and development (R&D) is concerned, up until 1993, the US Food & Drug Administration didn’t require women to be included in clinical trials.

Today, only 4 percent of all biopharma R&D spending goes toward female-centric issues, leading to a lack of understanding of women’s health issues.

A 2019 study revealed that 52 percent of women considered gender discrimination with a healthcare provider to be a serious issue and 25 percent said they did not take their pain seriously.

While the world still have a long way to go, there are emerging trends and initiatives paving the path for a better future, yet more work is still needed.

The more countries invest in women’s health, the more they contribute to the safety, health and well-being of the family, the community and the country.

Improved access to women’s health services can help achieve sustainable development goals and reduce hunger and poverty, promote healthy lives and well-being, ensure primary education and achieve gender equality, women empowerment and sustainable economic growth.

Women’s health is tied to the economic performance of a country. For example, improved family planning services in Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal could increase per capita income by eight to 13 percent.

The covid pandemic increased awareness of the uneven burden women and girls carry. Women, as half of the world’s population, are no longer taking the back seat and are not scared to express their needs.

Companies could take a more proactive and supportive role and normalize the conversation around women’s health in the workplace.