The International Day of Action for Women’s Health or International Women’s Health Day is celebrated on May 28 annually since 1987. Year after year, women, girls, advocates, and allies have continued to take action and stand up for sexual and reproductive rights for what they are: an indivisible and inalienable part of our human rights.
The main goal of the celebration of this day is to raise awareness on the issues related to women’s health and well being, including Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).
Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) include the following rights:
- Receive information on sexuality
- Choose their partner
- Decide to be sexually active or not
- Decide when to have children
- Use modern contraceptive methods
- Access to maternity care
- Safe abortion and post-abortion care
- Know about Prevention, care, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and infection
During the past years, various issues have been addressed related to women’s health and rights such as:
- Health care and medication facilities
- To protect women from sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/ AIDS
- Understanding on contraceptives
- Safe and legal abortion facility
- Improvement in the health sector and women’s health
- Women’s SRHR
Poor health and social status affect millions of women and adolescent girls around the world, making accessibility and affordability of healthcare services a challenge in 21st-century. Women are generally vulnerable to poor nutrition in all phases of life, impacting their growth and development, and are more likely to have babies with low birth weight. Gender-based discrimination (preference for a son) along with other social pathologies like the dowry system, early marriage, often results in mistreatment and abuse of women, which eventually leaves a negative impact on her overall health.
Top 5 Women’s Health issues:
- Sexual and reproductive health problems are responsible for one-third of health issues for women between the ages of 15 and 44 years.
- Unsafe sex is a major risk factor – particularly among women and girls in developing countries. This is why it is so important to get services to the 222 million women who aren’t getting the contraception services they need.
Violence against women:
- Women can be subject to a range of different forms of violence, but physical and sexual violence – either by a partner or someone else – is particularly invidious.
- One in three women under 50 has experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner, or non-partner sexual violence – violence which affects their physical and mental health in the short and long-term.
- Health workers need to be alert to violence so they can help prevent it, as well as provide support to people who experience it.
- Many women are now benefitting from massive improvements in care during pregnancy and childbirth introduced in the last century.
- In 2013, almost 300 000 women died from complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Most of these deaths could have been prevented, had access to family planning, and some quite basic services been in place.
- Evidence suggests that women are more prone than men to experience anxiety, depression, and somatic complaints – physical symptoms that cannot be explained medically.
- Depression is the most common mental health problem for women and suicide a leading cause of death for women under 60.
- Helping sensitize women to mental health issues, and giving them the confidence to seek assistance, is vital.
- Three decades into the AIDS epidemic, it is young women who bear the brunt of new HIV infections. Many young women still struggle to protect themselves against sexual transmission of HIV and to get the treatment they require.
- This also leaves them particularly vulnerable to tuberculosis – one of the leading causes of death in low-income countries of women 20–59 years.