Back 6 July 2015

The Lancet Commission on Women and Health Launch

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In June, I attended the London launch of The Lancet Commission on ‘Women and Health: the key for sustainable development’, held at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

What is most significant here is that the document makes the shift from ‘Women’s Health’ to ‘Women and Health’: “Women and Health, not women’s health.  The distinction is important because unless the contribution women make to society is recognised, the new-post 2015 global goal of sustainability will be little more than a distant utopia." 

As the Executive Summary states “worldwide priorities in women's health have themselves been changing from a narrow focus on maternal and child health to the broader framework of sexual and reproductive health and to the encompassing concept of women's health, which is founded on a life-course approach. This expanded vision incorporates health challenges that affect women beyond their reproductive years and those that they share with men, but with manifestations and results that affect women disproportionally owing to biological, gender, and other social determinants.” 

The document makes four recommendations in the following categories: 

  • Value women
  • Compensate women
  • Count women
  • Be accountable to women

It takes a life cycle approach and considers women as recipients and providers of health-care (in employed and non-salaried settings), and the importance of gender perspectives in policies and services. This is an important ‘must-read’ document for midwives as primarily female health-care providers and as health care recipients. 

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