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Taking Action for Women’s Health

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

Robin Wilson, Editor-at-large

Even a global pandemic can have a silver lining, it seems.

The resurgence of nature during Covid-19 lockdowns, with seas and skies emerging gloriously untainted after years of rampant pollution, is an obvious and tangible one.

A more personal silver lining is the renewed focus on health and lifestyle adopted by many of us during these lockdowns.

Although miserable isolation imposed by these lockdowns may have driven some in the opposite direction to find solace in comfort binge-eating, there’s no doubt that these situations have sparked real desire for focused, healthy living.

And even those who binged on junk food to take away the pain have seen the error of their ways – and their waistlines – to swap their unwholesome lifestyles for more disciplined and healthy ones.

So, with International Day of Action for Women’s Health soon to be upon us on Friday, 28th May, we take the opportunity in this issue of Brilliant to highlight some of the issues involved in the health of women.

Brilliant-Online Magazine, May 2021 Issue, Taking Action for Women’s Health

Fundamental Human Rights

However, the issues raised by this yearly event go to the fundamentals of women’s health, as opposed to more cosmetic ones surrounding weight gain and appearance.

This day has been commemorated by women’s health advocates and their communities since 1987 – with women, girls, advocates and allies taking action and standing up for their sexual and reproductive human rights.

Its first Call for Action, a multi-year campaign on preventing maternal mortality and morbidity, was an immediate success and achieved results on a number of levels, the most immediate being that it provided women’s grassroots organisations with better access to information previously only available through specialised journals.

The campaign also brought to light important gaps in research data on women’s health, which led to more face-to-face meetings, seminars and research studies. And participation in this internationally-coordinated campaign brought the women’s health movement closer together at both national and international levels to strengthen the impact of the movement.

At the same time, international bodies such as the World Health Organisation, the Pan American Health Organisation and the World Bank took up the issue under the theme of “Safe Motherhood,” encouraging investment of funds to improve services and sponsoring seminars, training and research programmes.

Since that beginning, the International Day of Action for Women’s Health has become recognised by governments, international agencies and civil society organisations around the world, with its annual collaborative Calls for Action focusing on a particular topic of women’s health.

Over the years the topics have included: Access to Quality Health Care; Feminisation of Poverty; Access to Safe and Legal Abortion; Government Accountability in Prioritising Health Markets; Health Sector Reform and Women’s Health; Women and HIV/ Aids; International Trade Agreements and Women’s Access to Health; Violence Against Women as a Global Health Emergency; Young People’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights; and Access to Contraceptives.

All these issues go to the heart of women’s concerns, and in an age when many feel that rights and values are being eroded and even violated, it’s more important than ever that they’re highlighted, discussed and acted upon.

Let us know if you have a story to tell:

Robin Wilson



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