Robin Strongin

By Robin Strongin. What does it mean to be healthy? Beyond that, what does it mean to be a healthy woman? What does it mean to be a healthy woman in the developing world?

Here’s what the United Nations WomenWatch Directory of U.N. Resources on Gender and Women’s Issues says:

“Women have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. The enjoyment of this right is vital to their life and well-being, their ability to participate in all areas of public and private life.”

Unfortunately, many women around the world do not enjoy this right.

2009 World Health Organization (WHO) report

Consider this information from the report, “Women and Health: Today’s Evidence Tomorrow’s Agenda:”

Despite considerable progress in the past decades, societies continue to fail to meet the health-care needs of women at key moments of their lives, particularly in their adolescent years and in older age… Women provide the bulk of health care, but rarely receive the care they need—up to 80 percent of all health care and 90 percent of care for HIV/AIDS-related illness is provided in the home—almost always by women. Yet more often than not, women go unsupported, unrecognized and unremunerated in this essential role, and health care continues to fail to address their specific needs and challenges throughout their lives.

International Women’s Year

In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating March 8th as International Women’s Day. WomenWatch, an initiative of the Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality, explained on their Web site that the day’s symbolism has a wider meaning: “It is an occasion to review how far they have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilize for meaningful change.”

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Year is “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All.” How can we make real progress when women all over the world do not have the right or the ability to attain the highest standard of physical and mental health?


This article first appeared in the Be Inkandescent E-Zine.

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