On International Women’s Day 2021, the government will launch a new strategy to address the gender health gap. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
It’s become increasingly clear there is a gender health gap. In 2019, research found women are diagnosed years later than men for the same diseases, including cancer and diabetes. In the same year, a report found that more than 8,000 women in a decade needlessly died from a heart attack. The impact of female-specific health conditions such as heavy menstrual bleeding, endometriosis, pregnancy-related issues and the menopause on women’s lives is also overlooked. And in Caroline Criado Perez’s Invisible Women, she explains the case for how the failure to study women more harms their health.
But the government is at last addressing this gap with the Women’s Health Strategy.
To mark International Women’s Day, the government is launching a 12-week call for evidence to better understand women’s experiences of the health and care system. Women are urged to share their experiences to form the basis of the new Women’s Health Strategy. The strategy will set “an ambitious and positive new agenda to improve health and wellbeing and ensure health services are meeting the needs of women”.
According to a GOV.UK press release, the call for evidence has been designed to be “user friendly, quick to fill in and easily accessible from people’s mobiles”. People who live with and care for women, organisations with experience of providing services for women, and those with an expertise in women’s health are also encouraged to share their views.
“Women’s experiences of health care can vary and we want to ensure women are able to access the treatment and services they need,” says minister for women’s health, Nadine Dorries. “It’s crucial women’s voices are at the front and centre of this strategy so we understand their experiences and how to improve their outcomes. I urge every woman, and anyone who cares for women, to feed into this call for evidence and help shape the future of women’s health.”
Minister for equalities Kemi Badenoch adds: “Women know best when it comes to their health, and every woman in this country should feel heard and respected when it comes to their health. We want women of every age, ethnicity and sexuality, from every walk of life, to respond to our call for evidence so we can develop an ambitious strategy which puts their views at the centre.”
Women’s health campaigners and charities have welcomed the new strategy, but say it’s vital women are properly listened to and appropriate action taken. The plan was due to launch last year, but had to be delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The call for evidence will now run for 12 weeks from 8 March (you can find more information here). The BBC reports that it is understood ministers hope to publish it when MPs return to Parliament after the summer break.
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