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, and most maternal deaths are preventable, with common causes of maternal injury and death contributed to excessive blood loss, infection, high blood pressure, unsafe abortion and obstructed labour. 

Some of the sociocultural factors that prevent women, girls and mothers benefiting from quality health services 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
  • 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. 

But despite the grim statistics and the shared belief that things should be better, there is some exciting and reassuring movements, big and small, happening all over the world. Many organisations work tirelessly to improve the health of women, girls and mothers.

Let's celebrate...

1. Parliaments promote women's, children's and adolescents' health in the time of COVID-19
Parliamentarians chose to shine a bright light on the importance of health equity at the opening day of the recent 144th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary (IPU), with a particular focus on the promotion of women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health. (Article here)

2. WHO urges quality care for women and newborns in critical first weeks after childbirth
The World Health Organization (WHO) today launched its first ever global guidelines to support women and newborns in the postnatal period – the first six weeks after birth. (Article here)

3. Learning from women's experiences during childbirth to improve quality of care
A special supplement from WHO and HRP, newly published in BMJ Global Health, spotlights how women and their newborn babies are treated during childbirth and offers a path to improved facility-based care. (Article here)

4. New global report on maintaining services for maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and older people during the COVID-19 pandemic: lessons learned from 19 countries
Since May 2020, WHO has supported 19 countries to raise the profile of and commitment to maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and ageing (MNCAAH) through an Initiative on mitigating the indirect impacts of COVID-19 on MNCAAH services. The goal was to ensure that during the response to COVID-19, actions would be taken to mitigate indirect effects on MNCAAH due to disruptions to service provision and use. (Article here)



Roger van Zaal (Photographer) © Max Havelaar Netherlands


May 02, 2022 — Lauren Scaroni