Strengthening sexual and reproductive rights in Colombia
July 9, 2020
Health in the last mile
July 30, 2020

Population matters



On July 11th it is a special day to raise awareness of population issues around the world.  The aim of this day is to focus the world’s attention on the importance of population issues. 

The Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme recommended its introduction in 1989. Inspiration for this special day comes from the interest that was raised by “Five Billion Day” on 11th July, 1987.

Gender inequality affects everyone, including men. Stereotypes or ‘rules’ about how women, men, girls and boys should begin in childhood and follow us through to adulthood.

Not everyone experiences inequality in the same way. The situation is worse, and often different, for people who face more than one type of discrimination.

Iwords Global aims to raise awareness about the impact of gender on health outcomes from ‘The Last Mile’ report launched in June 2020.

  • Gendered ideas about bodies and workplaces continue to dictate the kind of roles men and women tend to occupy. As a result, men’s and women’s exposure to health risks is different. For example, workers in the mining industry (typically male) are profoundly impacted by environmental pollution and lack of safety. In contrast, household pollution caused by use of fossil fuels disproportionately affects poor women who are responsible for cooking. However, this latter issue hardly receives any attention.
  • Ideas around masculinity motivate risky practices, including unprotected sex, alcohol abuse, and dangerous driving; “about three-quarters of all road traffic related deaths are in men younger than 25.
  • Pre-conceived notions of gender identity and sexual orientation mean non-heteronormative behaviours are punished in many societies. These punishments include stoning, corrective rape, bullying, and harassment and can have long-lasting impacts on physical and mental health.
  • Traditional gender norms encourage control over a woman’s body, sexuality, and life. This may lead to practices such as female genital mutilation, or sexual and gender-based violence. Global estimates from WHO indicate that about one in three women worldwide experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Violence has a negative impact on women’s physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health. Conflict, displacement, and post-conflict/disaster further exacerbate violence against women.
  • Gender influences an individual’s capacity to respond to disaster. Research shows that women and girls are disproportionately affected by disasters, particularly when it comes to injury, and death. It is estimated that women and children are 14 times more likely to die in disasters.
  • Although women and men are both affected by infectious disease outbreaks, they are impacted in different ways. Epidemics and pandemics that have occurred worldwide have revealed that these situations make existing inequalities for women and girls worse. Partner violence tends to intensify in those times, and women’s vulnerability to such violence increases during these emergencies. On the other hand, as in many countries social norms place a heavy caregiving burden on women and girls, they are likely to be more affected (physically and mentally) by disease outbreaks. Equally, since globally women represent 70% of the health and social sector workforce (UN)197, they are at the frontline to get disease infections. This makes them more vulnerable to become infected and also more exposed to discrimination. Despite this context, policies and public health efforts have not yet addressed the gendered impacts of disease outbreaks.

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