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International Women’s Day 2020

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One of the key themes of International Women’s Day is ‘to assist women to be in a position of power for making informed decisions about their health.’

There is already a lot of evidence that there is gender inequity in health, which has to be rectified. There needs to be fairness in addressing gender-specific health needs, access to treatment and resource availability.  Everyone’s health should be equally valued!  The Lancet (2019) reports that contemporary social movements (such as #MeToo) have helped shape the global gender health landscape and have shone a light on specific issues.  Taboos surrounding discussions on menopause, menstruation and female fertility are starting to be removed.  We all have our part to play in breaking down the barriers in gender-specific health support, and continue this positive momentum.

Employers can support International Women’s Day by re-evaluating their health support to take account of gender specific issues.  By why is this important to employers?

  • There is an accepted view that a ‘one approach for all’ mentality is no longer effective in terms of policy and process
  • Employee engagement is influenced by emotive topics which include gender and health
  • Gender-specific health issues impact productivity, retention, sickness costs and morale
  • Recognising how differences in managing gender-specific health issues helps to support a diverse wellbeing strategy
  • Outdated healthcare policies undermine diversity and inclusion

Employers need to redesign their heath support in line with the demographics of the workforce and to promote inclusivity.  Issues to consider include access to care and dealing with specific conditions: there is a demonstrable gender health gap in access to NHS care and the response to reported symptoms. Women, for example, have a 50% higher chance of initial misdiagnosis. Women suffering from endometriosis, which affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age, often wait more than 7 years for a correct diagnosis (NICE 2017).  65% of women have experienced poor mental health at work, compared to 57% of men (Mental Health at Work Report BiTC, 2018).  In the week of International Women’s Day, what better time is there to consider what employers can do to improve these statistics and play their part in closing the gender health gap?

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