Are you a man or a woman?

Gender has a significant impact on health

  1. Between 15% and 71% of women around the world have suffered physical or sexual violence committed by an intimate male partner at some point in their lives. The abuse cuts across all social and economic backgrounds. Violence has serious health consequences for women, from injuries to unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, depression and chronic diseases.
  2. Some studies show that up to 1 in 5 women reports being sexually abused before the age of 15.
  3. Even though early marriage is on the decline, an estimated 100 million girls will marry before their 18th birthday over the next 10 years. This is one third of the adolescent girls in developing countries (excluding China). Young married girls often lack knowledge about sex and the risks of sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS.
  4. In most countries, women tend to be in charge of cooking. When they cook over open fires or traditional stoves, they breathe in a mix of hundreds of pollutants on a daily basis. The indoor smoke of a cooking fire is responsible for half a million of the 1.3 million annual deaths due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) among women worldwide. In comparison, only about 12% of COPD deaths among men each year are related to indoor smoke. During pregnancy, exposure of the developing embryo to such harmful pollutants may cause low birth weight or even stillbirth.
  5. Once thought to occur mainly in wealthier countries, the health impacts of cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, depression and other mental, neurological and substance abuse (MNS) disorders are increasingly felt by women globally. In fact, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) account for 80% of deaths among adult women in high-income countries; 25% deaths among adult women in low-income countries are attributable to NCD.

1000 women die every day of the consequences of pregnancy and child birth.

24 more years on average a female can expect to live in a high income country than a low income country.

1/3 of all female deaths are due to cardiovascular disease and stroke.


Being a woman has significant impact on health

Being a man or a woman has a significant impact on health, as a result of both biological and gender-related differences. The health of women and girls is of particular concern because, in many societies, they are disadvantaged by discrimination rooted in sociocultural factors. For example, women and girls face increased vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.

Some of the sociocultural factors that prevent women and girls to benefit from quality health services and attaining the best possible level of health include:

  • Unequal power relationships between men and women;
  • Social norms that decrease education and paid employment opportunities;
  • An exclusive focus on women’s reproductive roles; and
  • Potential or actual experience of physical, sexual and emotional violence.

While poverty is an important barrier to positive health outcomes for both men and women, poverty tends to yield a higher burden on women and girls’ health due to for example feeding practices (malnutrition) and use of unsafe cooking fuels (COPD).

Women's Health is one of six challenge issues for women's ministry.
Download brochure, Women's Health

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