Manifesto ‘Let’s talk about our bodies’

Draft Manifesto: Let’s talk about our bodies.  

Sex and gender intersect with other social determinants of health, such as age, race, geography and sexual orientation to create compounding barriers to health, with an intersectional approach essential to their dismantling.

Polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, fibroids, cardiovascular conditions or undiagnosed cancers. These are merely several common health issues women face in their lives. Women spend 25% more time in ‘poor health’ relative to men. Addressing the women’s health gap could improve the lives of millions of women and enhance the well-being of our societies and economies – estimated to deliver an annual $1 trillion boost to the global economy by 20401. We see many opportunities to mainstream intersectional policies for improved women’s health and gender equality. Too often women of color and people from minority groups fail to benefit from health advancements, while digital transformations of health services, including the deployment of AI further perpetuates existing biases and barriers to health. The inclusivity and accessibility of these developments must be considered in their design and approval. 

  1.  Close the gap in women’s health research and innovation 

From failing to consider the sex of cells in early studies to unrepresentative clinical trials, adverse drug reactions are just one of the serious implications women face due to inadequate research – costing the EU €52 billion annually.2

We want to ensure intersectional sex and gender considerations remain a requirement to receive research funding via the next research and innovation (R&I) framework program (FP10). Dedicated funding for R&I into women’s unmet health needs is essential for issues that affect women differently, disproportionately and uniquely. Conditions that we need to focus on range from cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases to post-partum hemorrhage issues and female cancers. By introducing comprehensive sex- and gender-based analysis in the European Medicines Agency’s regulatory procedures and updating guidelines for good pharmacovigilance practices for pregnant and breastfeeding women we can signal preventable negative consequences that impact the health of women. 

  •  Secure bodily autonomy and the right to health for all women

Around half of all women are denied bodily autonomy.Ensuring women have a choice; backed by access to accurate health information; suitable and safe medical technologies and services – including novel contraceptives and menstrual health technologies – free of stigma and discrimination must be a priority

Choice should come with clear knowledge, easily accessible and factually correct information on mental and physical health such as early cancer screening or abortion. Women must make their own choices with accessible trustful information. When access to safe medical services or products is denied or stigmatized, choosing becomes difficult. Therefore, we call to increase women’s health literacy across the life span. We advocate to protect and enshrine the right to abortion in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as demanded by the European Parliament4 to ensure this right remains untouched. Additionally, healthy bodies and true autonomy require healthy workplaces. Today women still earn 14% on average less than their male counterparts. Lack of understanding and discrimination in the professional environment remain a serious problem while EU wide applicable remedies such as flexible working to accommodate everyone’s needs remain underexplored. 

  •  Nurture a health workforce that represents and serves everyone 

A growing pool of researchpoints to women doctors delivering better patient outcomes, particularly for women, highlighting that there’s much room for improvement in medical education and recruitment. 

We plead for the coordination and integration of sex and gender studies and diversity-focused courses in medical curricula to equip future healthcare professionals with the knowledge and skills to provide equitable care to all. Career-long training helps to ensure emerging sex and gender insights are implemented into medical practice. Moreover, by promoting equal opportunities for women and girls we want to drive diversity and equality in STEM and medical careers. 

  •  Lead and collaborate by example.

End the neglect of women’s health by placing it high on the political agenda, to deliver a coordinated and well-resourced response to meet the health needs of all women effectively and efficiently. 

Coordinated action must be taken to co-design an EU Women’s Health Strategy, coupled with a dedicated budget and monitoring framework to guide a comprehensive approach to women’s health across all EU programs and policies. We ask the European Commission to support Member States in adopting similar national health strategies as a first concrete step and appoint a Commissioner with a strong mandate for equality and fundamental rights. The strategies must ensure the gender health gap among policymakers is closed while racial and other intersecting biases (such as disability, sexuality, socioeconomic status) are tackled. Finally, the EU must take a leading role in global health and gender equality by fostering collaboration with multilateral partners, research and civil society organizations. 


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