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Sarah Kuponiyi

Chevening Scholar 22/23 at Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
Team lead at Alora Reusable Pads, Program Specialist at A Well Informed Adolescent Initiative, National Youth Gender Activist at UN Women.

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United Kingdom

In recent years, there have been notable advancements and changes in women’s health, driven by global efforts to achieve gender equality and improve access to quality healthcare. Some significant changes I have observed include:

a) Increased emphasis on comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services: There has been a growing recognition of the importance of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services for women. Efforts to expand access to contraception, safe abortion services, and maternal healthcare have been instrumental in improving women’s health outcomes.

b) Integration of gender-based violence prevention and response: There has been a shift towards addressing gender-based violence as a public health issue. More comprehensive approaches that integrate prevention, response, and support services for survivors of violence have emerged. This holistic approach recognizes the long-term impact of violence on women’s health and well-being.

c) Focus on menstrual health and hygiene: Menstrual health and hygiene have gained increased attention, both globally and within communities. Efforts are being made to destigmatize menstruation, improve access to menstrual hygiene products, and provide accurate information about menstrual health, ensuring that women and girls can manage their menstruation in a dignified and healthy manner.

Looking ahead, several challenges will shape the landscape of women’s health in the next three years. Some of the major challenges include:

a) Inequities in access to healthcare: Despite progress, many women, particularly those in marginalized communities, still face barriers to accessing quality healthcare. Addressing inequities in healthcare access and ensuring that women from all backgrounds can avail themselves of essential health services will be crucial.

b) Persistent gender disparities: Gender disparities in various aspects of health, including access to education, economic opportunities, and decision-making power, continue to hinder women’s health and well-being. Addressing these disparities and promoting gender equality is vital for improving women’s health outcomes.

c) Emerging health threats and pandemics: The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the vulnerability of women’s health to global health crises. Future pandemics and health emergencies may disproportionately impact women, especially in areas such as maternal health, sexual and reproductive health, and gender-based violence. Building resilient health systems and ensuring gender-responsive approaches in emergency preparedness and response are critical.

To effectively address the challenges in women’s health, a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach is needed. Some key catalysts that can drive positive change include:

a) Strengthening health systems: Investing in robust and resilient health systems that prioritize women’s health is essential. This involves improving infrastructure, healthcare workforce capacity, and supply chain management to ensure equitable access to quality services.

b) Empowering women and promoting gender equality: Empowering women to make informed decisions about their health and well-being is crucial. This can be achieved through education, economic empowerment, and increasing women’s participation in decision-making processes at all levels.

c) Enhancing collaboration and partnerships: Addressing complex health challenges requires collaborative efforts between governments, civil society organizations, international agencies, and the private sector. By fostering partnerships and leveraging collective expertise and resources, we can develop innovative solutions and amplify the impact of interventions.

d) Investing in research and data-driven approaches: Strengthening the evidence base through research and data collection is vital for designing effective interventions and policies. Investing in research that specifically focuses on women’s health and using data to inform decision-making can lead to targeted and impactful interventions.

In summary, by addressing the challenges in women’s health through a comprehensive approach, promoting gender equality, strengthening health systems, and fostering collaboration, we can work towards achieving better health outcomes for women globally.

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