Making Real Progress: The Path to Prioritizing Women’s Health

diverse women

Investing in women’s health can dramatically accelerate societal progress – especially in developing nations. The best part? The return on investment in women’s health is high: there is the potential for an additional US$1 trillion to be added to the global economy every year thanks to a growing number of healthy women being empowered to enter the workforce. 

By empowering women through positive health outcomes, we promote and encourage their personal and professional growth. Here’s how to travel down the path to prioritizing women’s health. 

Empowering Female Patients: Improving Women’s Health Literacy

Self-advocating for our health as women is completely dependent on our level of health literacy. Being informed and empowered about what treatments are available, where to access them, and how to communicate health needs to medical professionals is critical to the empowerment of female patients. So how do women improve their health literacy? The process is multifaceted.

First, female patients need to be educated and informed about health matters. This empowers them to be able to communicate confidently with health practitioners and to advocate for their needs as patients. In addition to this, they need to know how to seek out the healthcare resources they need – including how to locate licensed and accredited medical practitioners, such as nurses who have completed the relevant agnp online programs.

Reproductive Women’s Health: Treating Female-Centric Health Matters

In a historical sense, reproductive health has long been tied up with the concept of women’s health. For a long time, they have been seen as one and the same – indeed, one cannot exist without the other, they are intrinsically linked. 

There is no denying that reproductive health is an integral element of being a woman. For this reason, a heavy focus has been placed on the role of women in terms of family planning and reproduction – especially in the developing world. Providing women in these geographical locations with equal access to contraception and education about sexual health has been critical when it comes to the prevention of unplanned pregnancies, for instance. 

But, there are other health concerns – beyond reproductive matters – that are part of the female experience. Medical conditions such as endometriosis, breast cancer, and cervical cancer, are examples of these. These gender-specific health issues exist outside of the realm of reproductive health. However, they are just as important to acknowledge, diagnose, and treat. Only once we look at women’s health as relating to the health of the individual – beyond their ability to reproduce – can we start to make real progress in terms of gender equality in health.

Gender Discrimination in Healthcare: Beating the Gender Bias

Yes, sadly, discrimination against women exists in the healthcare space. Historically, the diagnosis of ‘hysteria’ was common among women – particularly those experiencing gender-specific mental illnesses such as premenstrual dysphoria disorder, or post and antenatal depression and anxiety. 

While not to the same degree, it’s concerning to see that there is still gender discrimination in healthcare today. Some examples of gender bias in healthcare include: 

  • Women with mental illness are often labeled as overly emotional and unstable.
  • Women can be treated as hypochondriacs who over-exaggerate their symptoms when compared to their more ‘stoic’ male counterparts.
  • There are gaps in medical research around women’s health, with the focus traditionally having been predominantly on the health of male patients. This has led to a lack of understanding of the health needs that specifically relate to female patients.

If we want to make real progress in global gender equality, we need to focus on prioritizing women’s health. 

As discussed, gender bias and discrimination still exist in the healthcare system, even today. Women are still often labeled as overly emotional or hypochondriacs by clinicians, treating doctors, and physicians. 

How to overcome this? Empower female patients by improving their health literacy. By educating, informing, and empowering women, they can be better prepared to advocate for themselves in medical settings.

Just as importantly, we need to stop seeing women’s health as being solely related to their reproductive health. The health and well-being of female patients mean more than just being able to make healthy babies. The individual herself also needs to be cared for – beyond her reproductive health.