Investing in women and girls: progress in gender equality to reap health and social returns
Investments in women and girls reap positive returns for their health and well-being and that of society.
Gender equality is a major determinant of health: it is acknowledged as a means of achieving optimum health in women, men, girls and boys.
There is an information gap about the full economic and social costs of inequality. However available evidence suggests that the costs are staggering:
- One-quarter of all women living in the developing world today suffer from some kind of illness or injury related to pregnancy and childbirth. The 2005 World Health Report estimated the annual global price tag to scale up maternal interventions to be $1 billion in 2006, increasing to $6.1 billion in 2016.
- Violence against women is a worldwide public health problem that cuts across social and economic backgrounds. The estimated cost of intimate partner violence is US$ 5.8 billion per year in the United States of America.
- A study from Asia estimates that the cost of the gender gap in education is US$ 16 billion to US$ 30 billion annually.
Social and financial outlays that raise the status and living conditions of women and girls have tremendous multiplier effects - those who live with more dignity and opportunities are better able to reach their potential and contribute fully to their communities.
With other United Nations agencies and international partners, WHO is determined to increase gender equality and women's empowerment across the globe.