The World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Special Programme HRP and the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) in partnership with the British Medical Journal (BMJ), have released a special series of papers on “Women’s Health and Gender Inequalities.”
The series celebrates and interrogates collective progress towards making the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on Women a reality for all women and girls everywhere, in all their diversity. It launches the week of the Generation Equality Forum’s closing meeting, the largest global feminist gathering in more than 25 years.
There are 13 articles, written by 40 authors working together across institutions from 15 countries, at different stages of their career.
As well as analysing past successes and evidence-based strategies to advance women’s health and gender equality, the series reflects on new and emerging threats. This includes COVID-19, which has exacerbated existing inequities, with reports of rising violence against women, as well as higher adverse economic impacts caused both by increased unpaid caregiving and the fact that women work in more insecure, low-paid and informal jobs.
In addition, three episodes of The BMJ Podcast are dedicated to the special series.
Through intergenerational dialogues and between feminist advocates, researchers, health professionals, and policy makers, the podcast creates an informed and inspiring space to explore progress in several areas of women’s health but also to examine why still not one country can claim to have achieved gender equality.
The Women’s Health and Gender Inequalities series articulates a forward-looking agenda towards:
- 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, childcare, 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 organisations.
“National governments and the global community need to do better together to support and enable women and girls to enjoy their health and fulfil their rights. This BMJ series on Women’s Health and Gender Inequalities takes us on a powerful journey: from understanding the barriers, to sharing effective modes of change and inspiring possibilities for the future,” said Ian Askew, Director, World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research, including the United Nations Special Programme HRP.
The complete series, along with the podcast episodes, is an urgent reminder that the health, well-being and needs of half the world’s population cannot be treated as an afterthought. As outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the goals of health and gender equality for women and girls are not out of reach. We know how to achieve them, and future generations are entitled to nothing less.