EWL 2015 Year of Action on Beijing+20

EWL Beijing+20 in April - A holistic approach for the highest standards of wellbeing and health for all

[Brussels, 1 April 2015] Did you know that one in ten women in Europe doesn’t have access to care in the first months of pregnancy? that abortion is still not legal in Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and Poland, forcing women to face the health risks of unsafe illegal abortion? that between the ages of 25 and 40, women are three times more likely than men to suffer from depression, the higher rate being at times when they have their babies?

In April, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) focuses on Women and Health, as part of its Beijing+20 campaign. Read and share EWL’s factsheet on Women and Health, which is part of EWL report “From words to action” and comprise our key demands to the European Union and the Member States.

All our members mobilise throughout Europe to make 2015 a critical year towards the realisation of all commitments of the Beijing Platform for Action. Women and girls rights cannot wait 20 more years to enjoy their full women’s rights! At all levels, you can take action. Contact our member organisations, join us by following us on social media, disseminating our factsheets and report, coming to our events and the activities of our members if you can!

Women and Health & the European Union

Health and wellbeing, both physical and mental, are crucial conditions for the full development of every human being. Health is more than a biological issue: according to the World Health Organization, it represents “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. However, women and girls have specific health needs, which are not yet understood and integrated into European and national policies.

On the one hand, biological differences imply that women have particular health concerns and needs, especially related to their sexual and reproductive health. On the other hand, the social construct of gender and women’s roles and stereotypes impacts on women’s representation of their own health, on their access to health and health care, and women’s heath itself (for example, the prevalence of violence against women).

In addition to this, age, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or identity, resources, education, social and marital status, position in the labour market, place of residence, the level of gender equality in society and other attributes influence women’s health needs and access to health. Moreover, women’s and girls’ health is also endangered by the unawareness of gender aspects among health care professionals, which can lead to gender bias in medicine.

Promoting and guaranteeing women’s and girls’ highest standards of health are a precondition for the enjoyement of their full human rights.

Read EWL position paper on women’s health in Europe (2010).

EWL demands - A holistic approach for the highest standards of wellbeing and health for all

  • Ensure that all EU health related policies and programmes have an integral gender dimension, and take into account the specific needs of women and girls, through prevention, gender mainstreaming, gender impact assessment, gender budgeting, and the collection of sex disaggregated data.
  • Take measures to ensure equal access to health care services – including women’s shelters – to all women independent of their legal or migration status, disability, sexual orientation, race or ethnic origin, age or religion, or geographical situation.
  • Support health research focused on women’s health and health needs, especially in the framework of EU Research Framework Programmes; include gender/sex as a criterion for funding in all EU research.
  • Facilitate women’s access to senior posts in the health sector, including to the boards of medical and research centers.
  • Promote women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights, adequate gender-sensitive information and comprehensive sexuality education, as well as reliable, safe and affordable contraception, and quality maternal health care.
  • Provide for safe and legal abortion within and beyond the European Union; abolish the restrictive Protocols and Unilateral Declarations annexed to Accession Treaties to the European Union for Ireland, Malta and Poland.
  • Ensure that health (including reproductive and sexual health) services addressed to women are covered under public health services and are accessible through public health insurance schemes.


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