Gender, equity and human rights

Gender, equity, human rights team newsletter 2017

March 2017

International Women’s Day 2017 and looking forward to CSW61

Happy International Women’s Day! This year’s theme is #BeBoldForChange, and we at WHO are taking decisive steps to work towards a more gender-inclusive world. While significant progress has already been made to address women’s health needs, challenges remain: Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) constitute 65% of all female deaths. Tuberculosis is one of the top five killers of women aged 20 - 59 years. Studies show that the wage gap between men and women is the worst in the health sector. Adolescent girls and young women in countries hit hardest by the HIV epidemic are nearly twice as likely to acquire HIV than their male peers. Nevertheless, we have reason to hope, and there is growing awareness of the discrimination that compounds gender inequalities.

Today at WHO, I had the honor of speaking at an event marking International Women’s Day beside Director-General Dr Margaret Chan and H.E. Ms Suraya Dalil, Permanent Representative of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, as well as several other notable guests. Dr Soe Nyunt-u joined us from the WHO country office in Mongolia and highlighted what he has learned about integrating gender, equity and human rights into health policies and programmes from experiences in his country. Dr Davison Munodawafa, Gender, Equity and Human Rights Team Lead at the WHO office in the African region also shared his work on increasing women’s dialogue and participation in their own health issues.

Next week, I will be at the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61), where I will be participating in a panel on empowering health workers and attending many WHO co-sponsored side events.

Now more than ever, understanding gender, addressing inequalities that compound gender inequality and respecting women’s human rights are essential for improving health outcomes for women and girls. Watch our team’s new video on how integrating gender, equity and human rights is necessary to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Also marking International Women's Day, Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s & Children’s Health, has written a commentary after attending last week’s She Decides conference in Brussels, a gathering coming at a time when the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls are facing stark challenges. In it, she writes that when women make decisions about their own health, they in turn affirm their voices and improve their futures and lives.

Keep checking our website for updates and follow me on Twitter for more!

Warm regards, Veronica