WHO joins UN partners for new series on women's health & equality

‘Possible’: The WHO joins UN partners for new series on women’s health and gender equality

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What would a true global agenda addressing Women’s Health and Gender Inequailties address? Given massive disparities in what women and girls experience internationally, it’s hard to quickly answer such a question.

However, the World Health Organisation along with a number of key United Nations bodies are attempting to to so, in a series of new papers released this week, along with a number of key podcast episodes for the British Medical Journal.

The series builds off the key goals on health and gender equality for women and girls that have already been outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Achieving them is not impossible, nor does it lack significantly new imagination — the means to making them happen are known, says the WHO on making this announcement.

The new series, building off 2020 content, aims to look at where and how progress has been achieved, while also pushing for the essential gains that still need to be made. It features 40 authors from 15 different countries, all aiming to outline the barriers to progress, while also sharing key modes available for change and inspiring possibilities for the future.

Importantly, the series also looks at where and how COVID-19 has exacerbated existing inequities for women, especially on health.

According to the World Health Organisation, the series provides an urgent reminder that “the needs of half the world’s population cannot be treated as an afterthought.”

All up, the series aims to push an agenda that features:

  • Bodily autonomy — enabling women and girls to make informed sexual, reproductive, and healthcare decisions—a human right for all.
  • Promoting equitable gender norms, including those that make violence against women and girls, including harmful practices such as early/forced marriage and female genital mutilation, unacceptable.
  • Financing universal health coverage and social protection to cover health costs, child care, paid parental, sick and family care leave and old age pension.
  • Valuing paid employment and unpaid care work equally and enabling men to share care work with women.
  • Addressing male bias in the development of vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics.
  • Strengthening health systems to include safe, decent working conditions for the majority female health workforce including eliminating sexual harassment and violence.
  • Investing in feminist movements, which have been instrumental in fostering progressive changes towards gender equality.
  • Ensuring women’s and feminist leadership in governments, health and development agencies, and other global organizations.

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