Here’s how England plans to end taboos on women’s health – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology

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This article is brought to you through The European Sting’s collaboration with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Kate Whiting, Senior Writer, Training Content


  • England’s new Women’s Health Ambassador is on a mission to close the gender gap in health.
  • Dame Lesley Regan says she wants to end taboos on topics like menstruation and menopause.
  • Overall stress levels were 4% higher among women than men between 2020 and 2021, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2022.

“I strongly believe that when you do things right for women, the whole rest of society benefits.”

So says Dame Lesley Regan, England’s new Women’s Health Ambassador, who is on a mission to close the gender gap in health.

She wants to end the taboos on certain women’s health topics that we fear, including menstruation and menopause.

“In the beginning, my main focus will be to look at the areas of health and well-being that really affect the lives of almost all women. So, all the common things that we don’t talk about so often: problematic periods and really good and easy access to contraception.

“Menopause has suddenly found a place in the public domain – and I want to be able to do that for all areas that affect women.”

Women’s Health Strategy

Dame Lesley, a doctor and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Imperial College London St Mary’s Hospital Campus, will implement the UK Government’s Women’s Health Strategy for England, which promises to ‘reset the dial on health women”.

His appointment comes after a UK menopause task force was set up in February 2022, following a bill passed by parliament calling for free hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Nearly 100,000 women wrote to the government in response to a call for evidence. They said health-related taboos and stigmas can prevent them from seeking help and “reinforce beliefs that debilitating symptoms are ‘normal’ or something that needs to be endured.”

They felt more comfortable talking about general health issues, including diabetes and heart disease, than women-specific conditions, such as menopause and postnatal depression.

Through its Women’s Health Strategy, the government aims to achieve these five objectives:

  • Allow all women to feel comfortable talking about their health and no longer face taboos when talking about their health
  • Provide access to services that meet the needs of women throughout their lives
  • Provide access to quality information and education, from childhood to adulthood
  • Enable all women to feel supported in the workplace and reach their full potential at work
  • Incorporate routine collection of demographic data from participants in research trials to ensure research reflects society.

Lack of data on women may perpetuate the gender health gap, the UN says, in part because men are often the default in medical research, then in policy design – and at the same time. n the global scale, there is still work to be done to close the gap.

The gender gap in global health

In the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2022, which measures gender parity in 146 countries, it was shown that the gender gap in health and survival has only varied slightly over time, bottoming out in 2018 and recovering slightly since then.

The report noted a recent gender gap in stress levels.

Between 2020 and 2021, overall levels of stress, sadness, worry and anger increased by 1% in women and were 4% higher in women than in men.

Stress has increased for almost all women, regardless of their employment status: unemployed women (+3%), self-employed women (+4%), women working part-time and not seeking not a full-time job (+4%), as well as for inactive women (+3%).

The only category in which stress among women decreased was that of women employed part-time and seeking full-time employment. In contrast, stress decreased for almost all men in 2021, only increasing among men working part-time looking for full-time work.

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What is the World Economic Forum doing about the gender gap?

The World Economic Forum has been measuring gender gaps since 2006 in the annual Global Gender Gap Report.

The Global Gender Gap Report tracks progress in closing gender gaps at the national level. To turn this information into concrete actions and national progress, we have developed the Gender Parity Accelerator model for public-private collaboration.

These accelerators were convened in twelve countries from three regions. Accelerators are established in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico and Panama in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank in Latin America and the Caribbean, Egypt and Jordan in the Middle East and North Africa, and in Japan. and Kazakhstan in Asia.

All National Accelerators, as well as Knowledge Partner countries demonstrating global leadership in closing gender gaps, are part of a larger ecosystem, the Global Learning Network, which facilitates the exchange of ideas and knowledge. experiences via the Forum platform.

In these countries, CEOs and ministers work together over a three-year period on policies that help to further reduce the economic gender gaps in their countries. This includes extended parental leave, subsidized child care, and more gender-inclusive recruitment, retention, and promotion practices.

If you are a business in one of the Gender Accelerator countries, you can join the local member base.
If you are a business or government in a country where we do not currently have a Gender Parity Accelerator, you can contact us to explore the possibilities of creating one.

Back in England, Dame Lesley is just starting to work on key targets for the Women’s Health Strategy initiatives – time will tell if the strategy is successful in closing the country’s gender health gap .

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