Health

Mapping women’s health worldwide is key to gender equality

Women’s health is the cornerstone of economies and societies worldwide — but leaders continually fail to prioritize it. This lack of action on women’s health enables social and economic backslides and widens the gender gap across the board, everywhere.

Now, more than ever, we need global leadership to find a way out of this ongoing crisis and put women at the forefront of policy decisions.

Throughout history, women have disproportionately suffered from health crises. This trend continued in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oxfam International reported that women globally lost more than 64 million jobs in 2020 and at least $800 billion in earnings — and these gaps have widened as the pandemic dragged on longer.

According to the Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, economic participation and opportunity remained the second largest of the four critical gaps tracked in 2022 and will take another 151 years to close. While some regions perform better than others, no region has yet managed to close even 80% of its gender gap across the board.

As women held families and communities together during this time, their own essential health care, such as screenings for deadly diseases, was put on hold. The Hologic Global Women’s Health Index, an annual study that measures women’s experiences worldwide, found that only 12% of women globally responded that they had been tested for cancer in the previous 12 months in 2021, despite this disease killing 10 million people worldwide. In addition, the data shows that only one in 10 women reported that they had been tested for sexually transmitted diseases or infections.

Women’s emotional health has also been put at stake. The Hologic Global Women’s Health Index found that emotional health is at an all-time low, with worry, stress, sadness and anger continuing to increase around the globe: around 4 in 10 women said they experienced worry and stress during “a lot of” the previous day.