Media centre

Equal rights and opportunities for women and girls essential for better health

Statement by WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan
International Women's Day 2010

8 March 2010

Thirty years after the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), many girls and women still do not have equal opportunities to realize rights recognized by law. In many countries, women are not entitled to own property or inherit land. Social exclusion, "honour" killings, female genital mutilation, trafficking, restricted mobility and early marriage among others, deny the right to health to women and girls and increase illness and death throughout the life-course.

We will not see sustainable progress unless we fix failures in health systems and society so that girls and women enjoy equal access to health information and services, education, employment and political positions.

International Women's Day is a day of celebration and reflection on how to eliminate discrimination against women and girls. For instance, a few days ago, WHO and five UN partners pledged to jointly build a future of gender equality and social justice for adolescent girls. We are convinced that educated, healthy and skilled adolescent girls will help build a better future. They will stay in school, marry later, delay childbearing, have healthier children and earn better incomes that will benefit themselves, their families, communities and nations.

Today we must all join forces to make sure that the health of women and girls is not jeopardized simply because they were born female.

For more information, please contact:

Monika Gehner
Communications officer
Gender, women and health, WHO, Geneva
Tel: + 41 22 791 3941
Mobile: + 41 77 45 80 320
E-mail: gehnerm@who.int

Share