International Women's Day and Gender Bias in Health

Happy International Women's Day! Today we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. However, we must also acknowledge that gender inequalities persist in various aspects of life, including health and healthcare. 

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Women are confronted with health inequalities throughout their lives, from prenatal care to old age. Some of the most pressing issues include unequal access to healthcare services, a lack of education around sexual health, and reproductive health challenges, such as maternal mortality and unsafe abortions. 

Moreover, gender biases and stereotypes in healthcare can also impact women's health outcomes. For example, women's symptoms are often dismissed or attributed to psychological factors, leading to delayed or misdiagnosed treatments. Women also face challenges in accessing healthcare services due to cultural norms and discrimination based on gender, ethnicity and socio-economic status. 

There are also gender biases within healthcare systems. Women account for around 76% of all NHS staff. However, this figure drops to just 37% of senior roles in the NHS, demonstrating that women are still underrepresented at the top. Furthermore, a survey of UK doctors in 2021 found that 91% of female doctors in the UK had experienced sexism at work, which highlights the stark inequalities within healthcare structures. 

On this International Women's Day, let us raise awareness about gender inequalities in health and healthcare, and commit to working towards a more equitable and inclusive world for all women. Let us advocate for policies and programmes that prioritise women's health needs, promote gender-responsive health systems, and empower women to take control of their health and well-being. Together, we can create a world where every woman has access to the care and resources she needs to thrive.