Interaction between sex and gender and inequality.


Interaction between sex and gender and inequalities in health care

Peggy Maguire, Director General of the European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) and President of European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) described the interaction between sex and gender, inequalities in health care, violence against women and sexual reproductive health.

She recommended:

  • investment in gender-sensitive research, prevention and care;
  • inclusion of reproductive rights, sexual health and violence against women in health planning and programmes;
  • reporting of discrimination in health care; and
  • increased health literacy for women.



Can nutrition extend active healthy living?


Nutrition can extend active healthy life

The Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Commission’s in house science service, published a report highlighting the importance of diet and nutrition in increasing active healthy life , and promoting Active and Healthy Ageing (AHA).

AHA focusses on under-nutrition in the elderly as:

  • a cause of functional decline
  • a consequence of functional decline

while highlighting the main research gaps.

The European population is ageing and the proportion of people older than 65 is  increasing from 17.4% to nearly 30% by 2060.

People over 80 years and older will triple during the same period. Supporting AHA is critical to improving the quality of life in the elderly, to ensure individuals can continue being active.

By ‘healthy’ they refer to physical, mental and social well-being and ‘active’ as the continuation of participation in civic, cultural, economic, physically active, social and spiritual affairs.

Determinants for active and healthy ageing

By critically examining the contribution of diet and nutrition in AHA, and its importance in the ageing process, several determinants of AHA were identified. The determinants of AHA consist of economic, social and behavioural factors.

Economic factors include income, social and work protection, with people on low incomes being at higher risk of illnesses and disabilities. This is because nutritious foods, health care and housing are less affordable and accessible to people with limited financial means. The health and social service system in a country also plays a major role in healthy ageing and should put special effort into health promotion and disease prevention, e.g. via vaccination programmes or regular screening for malnutrition and frailty. Physical and social environments also influence ageing. Cities, communities and neighbourhoods could adapt their structures and services to older people with varying needs and capacities. Social support and social interaction can also greatly affect the elderly’s health and well-being. Behavioural factors play a crucial role in AHA. Adopting positive lifestyle behaviours throughout life is crucial, which include:

  • a well-balanced diet,
  • engaging in physical activity,
  • avoiding smoking,
  • avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
  • appropriate use of medications.

Under-nutrition and functional decline

Undernutrition is also a major issue amongst the elderly. In the European Union more than 20 million older people are at risk of being malnourished, costing European health and social care systems about 120 billion euros per year..… more

International Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Day


International Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Day, 9th Sept., every year.


Each year on September 9th, International FASD Awareness Day is observed. Proclamations are issued around the world. Bells are rung at 9:09 a.m. in every time zone. People around the world gather for events to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy and the plight of individuals and families who struggle with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).

The first FAS Day was on 9/9/99 and it was chosen to reinforce remembering the nine months of pregnancy when a woman should abstain from alcohol.

To learn about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, please visit the FAS Community Resource Center website  ...more


FEMM Committee Meetings

Next FEMM Committee Meeting
Will be held on 24 September 2014 from 9.00 to 12.30 and from 15.00 to 18.30 in Brussels.

FEMM Meetings Calendar for

Committee on women’s rights and gender equality, European Parliament

September :

Wednesday, 24 September,  9.00 – 12.30

Wednesday, 24 September,  15.00 – 18.30

October :

Monday, 6 October,  15.00 – 18.30

Monday, 13 October,  15.00 – 18.30

November :

Wednesday, 5 November,  9.00 – 12.30

Wednesday, 5 November,  15.00 – 18.30

Thursday, 6 November,  9.00 – 12.30

December :

Monday, 1 December,  15.00 – 18.30

Tuesday, 2 December,  9.00 – 12.30

Gender Equality after 2015




Citizens’ Rights  and  Constitutional  Affairs  Policy Department will  hold  a  workshop  on  “A  new strategy  for  gender  equality  after  2015″.

The Workshop  will  provide  the  FEMM  Members  with  an analysis  and  respective  recommendations  for  actions to  be  taken  by  the  European  Commission  and  other European  actors  before  2020  in 7  different  areas  to improve  the  situation  of  women  and  to achieve gender equality:

  • Gender Mainstreaming, Gender Budgeting and monitoring;
  • Economic  independence  and  the  position  of women on the labour market;
  • Maternity  leave,  paternity  leave  and  parental leave and unpaid care work;
  • Women  in  political  and  economic  decision making;
  • Dignity,  integrity  and  violence  against women; and
  • Gender  aspects  of foreign  affairs  and development cooperation.

The presentations address the  challenges  and opportunities  in  these fields.  To  identify  them, the  most  important strength  and  weaknesses of  the  existing  legal framework  and  the actions  taken  in  on-going and  previous   strategies for  equality  have  been analysed.

The  presentations  will  be  followed  by  question  and answer session with FEMM Members ….more


Eurohealth logo

Societies health is women’s health


Joint Press release

Societies health depends on women’s health

The health of women has a direct bearing on the health of the future generation, their families, and communities, and ultimately, the health of societies

On International Day of Action for Womens Health, European public health, health promotion and disease prevention, health professionals and women issues ngo’s are calling for the recently elected European Parliament (EP), its Committees and political parties to stand strong, protect and promote women’s health, gender equality and social justice for all.

Progress on women and girls’ health and commitment to gender equality form the underlying conditions for good public health outcomes in Europe and beyond. Advancement of women’s health and rights go beyond reproductive and sexual health (SRH) and are not only a priority of only the EP Committee on Gender Equality but are a shared political responsibility of other EP Committees that are equally crucial for women’s health and well-being, e.g.the Committees for Public Health and Environment, Employment and Social Affairs, Justice and Economic Issues etc. The new European Commission and President must ensure women’s health and gender equality top their political agenda.

In Europe today, women are disproportionately more affected by the economic crisis and austerity measures often lead to crippling poverty. Many women are victims of gender-based violence and daily discrimination in different areas affecting their health. Across the EU, millions of women do not have access to SRH including adequate and affordable antenatal care, prevention is widely unavailable or too costly. Those on lower incomes such the Roma and other marginalised groups bear brunt of poor health and the social consequences of this. Socio-economic, educational, cultural and ethnicity differences also impact on patterns of behaviour and access to resources.

It is well established that the incidence and prevalence of certain diseases are higher among women. For example, osteoporosis, auto-immune diseases and eating disorders are more frequent among the female than male population. Other diseases and disabilities affect men and women differently. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is major killer in older women. Obesity, smoking and sedentary lifestyles put women at high risk of developing type-2 diabetes, the risk of which is also increasing due to women’s longer life-expectancy (2). Women in Europe are drinking more alcohol today, are becoming more frequent binge drinkers, and alcohol-related health issues start sooner in women than men (3). It should be noted, however, that although women live longer, they usually spend those ‘gained’ years with some form of disability and lower quality of life. Women outlive men by an average of 6 years, however the difference in healthy life expectancy is only 18 months.. Research, medical practice and healthcare systems must better respond to gender-differences and address women’s health across their life-course, as recommended by the World Health Organization (4). It is also important to link efforts to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health - “the continuum of care”.

Changing the socio-economic conditions for women would help tackle poverty, social exclusion, health inequalities, increase gender equality and social justice for all, including young people and older adults, the LGBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS, minority and migrant groups. Strong leadership is needed that is committed to a holistic, inclusive, and human rights-based approach to women and girls’ health in Europe and beyond; an approach which recognises diverse issues such as the feminisation of poverty and violence, governments’ accountability in prioritising health markets and health sector reform. Such an approach also needs to understand how international trade agreements can affect a women’s access to health and other resources.

“Inequalities experienced in earlier life in access to education, employment and healthcare as well as those based on gender and cultural background can have a critical bearing on the health status of people throughout their lives. The combination of poverty with other vulnerabilities such as childhood or old age, disability or minority background further increases health risks and vice-versa, ill health can lead to poverty and/or social exclusion.” European Parliament 2011 Report on Reducing Health Inequalities in the EU Committee on the Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety (5).


EUGenMed Project


The European Institute of Women’s Health is a project partner in EUgenmed.

The Eugenmed project intends to complete the following activities:

Research addressing sex and gender (S&G) in biomedical sciences and health care research is emerging as a novel and highly promising field. Interaction of S&G related mechanisms leads to different manifestation of frequent diseases such as infarction, heart failure, diabetes, rheumatic disease, etc. in both women and men.

This research will lead to novel, better targeted and so more efficient treatment strategies than the previous  approaches and will help increase prevention and healthy life expectancy. We will produce an innovative roadmap for implementing S&G in biomedicine and health research. To help achieve these objectives, we will develop EUGENMED into an open European Gender Health Network that includes all stakeholders and decision makers.

6 meetings with all stakeholders will result in recommendations, guidelines and teaching materials for the implementation of S&G research for

  • target audiences
  • doctors
  • medical associations
  • teachers
  • students
  • researchers
  • industry
  • health policy makers
  • funding agencies and
  • politicians

Material will be disseminated through a European Gender Health Portal. The aim is to create multi sector sourcing of knowledge, key to build consensus and help participation in the projects development. Inclusiveness, openness and transparency will be key principles.

Dissemination of S&G strategies to the next generation of medical interventions and therapies shall improve the health of European citizens. Project outcomes will be fed into relevant policy processes at the EU level e.g. Horizon 20/20.

EUGENMED will lead to significant innovations by introducing S&G into medical practice and research and improve European citizens’ health and Europe’s standing in biomedicine. …more



EU Study of female genital mutilation (FGM)


Study estimating how many women and girls are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in selected EU Member States.

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has published a tender for a Study to estimate how many women and girls are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in selected EU Member States.

The objective of the study is:

  1. Identify and review the existing studies on FGM risk estimation
  1. Carry out a pilot study in at least 3 EU Member States in order to estimate the number of women and girls at risk of being mutilated in the EU
  1. Develop methodological recommendations for risk estimation of FGM in all EU Member States.

The knowledge and expertise to implement the project will include:

  1. experience in EU policies and strategies about gender equality and gender based violence.
  1. experience in the area of female genital mutilation,data assessment and evaluation experience.
  1. in assessing data quality, measurability, comparability and interpretating data on FGM in different related areas (health, asylum, education, human rights, etc.) from a gender equality perspective.
  1. Knowledge about risk estimations, experience in the synthesis and analysis of large amounts of information and project management

The Research staff should comprise of:

  1. 1 project manager,
  2. 2 senior researchers,
  3. 3 researchers and
  4. 1 Editor.

The contract will complete in 5,5 Months from the date of signature and the maximum budget
for implementation is €200,000,excluding VAT.

Application deadline is 28 APRIL 2014

Please circulate this and share with data collection experts including demographers, statisticians etc. …more

A video recording of interview in Brussels


Interview with Peg Maguire to promote EPHA Manifesto with EU Parliament election candidates.

We’ve noticed over the last five years that austerity has a major affect on Europeans. The lack of finances, unemployment, and the stress levels in all countries, not just in one particular country, has caused major, major health problems for people. This is an issue that we need to address now.” sadi Peg Maguire.

Health is a complex issue, with so many factors involved, it isn’t as straightforward as poverty equaling ill health and many of these factors have been adversely affected, but there is a review of the Europe 2020 strategy and EPHA is calling for an increased focus on health in the future vision.

This interview was done to promote the EPHA Manifesto 2014 which is timely in regard to the upcoming European Elections by informing those standing for election about supporting good public health.

Peg said, “We’ve noticed over the last five years that austerity has a major affect on Europeans. The lack of finances, unemployment, and the stress levels in all countries, not just in one particular country, has caused major, major health problems for people. This is an issue that we need to address now.”

Health is a complex issue, with so many factors involved, it isn’t as straightforward as poverty equaling ill health and many of these factors have been adversely affected, but there is a review of the Europe 2020 strategy and EPHA is calling for an increased focus on health in the future vision.

A recorded interview given by Peg Maguire, Director General, European Institute of Women’s Health and recently elected as President of the European Public Health Alliance on public health topics of interest to and for promoting benefits to all European citizens.

Go to EU Parliament Election Manifesto

Cigarettes – a more healthy future?


EU Parliament endorsement of a new tobacco products directive.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has, like many health organisations been in an anti tobacco war, using evidence based information and the growing cost arising from the public health burden that tobacco users create for society:  About 700,000 deaths are attributable to tobacco every year and globally 1 in 2 smokers will die from a tobacco related disease.

The adoption of a WHO framework convention on tobacco control, the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO, contains legally binding obligations for 177 Parties giving a foundation for reducing the demand and supply of tobacco products as well as  providing a comprehensive direction for tobacco control policy at all levels.

The endorsement of the new tobacco products directive by the European parliament is seen as a significant step filling legislative gaps and helping provide a healthier future for all.  In targeting the younger generation of citizens, the new legislation mainly seeks to protect, by avoiding young people being caught by tobacco use when adolescents. It also undermines the tobacco industry’s deliberate strategy of targeting this audience.

Much effort has gone into supporting MEPs by many NGO’s and the WHO by providing them with scientific based evidence on the various issues covered by the directive. Seminars, meeting and material were developed and distributed widely to parliament and citizens    explaining the issues and best ways to reduce smoking.

Representatives from the European Commission, NGOs sand others shared expertise and experiences on best policy approaches for tackling tobacco use, especially amongst women and young girls, who have been large adapters of cigarette us in recent years.

The initial proposal was diluted as it proceeded through legislative procedure and especially after the apparently high level of lobbying carried out by the tobacco industry.  While the  legislation as amended by the EU Parliament provides hope for the future, there are many lessons that need to be taken on board especially those in relation to lobbying process which many feel need to be revised to ensure there is no undue influence being exercised, not only in this but all areas.

The result is not one that should make people feel complacent – it is one that shows there is more work to be done. Hopefully the people involved will not consider that all necessary progress has been made otherwise we may end up with winning this battle and losing the tobacco use war.  We need to reinforce our position and policy management processes to reduce the incidence of self inflicted but very professionally promoted substances that are simply toxic with regard to everyone’s health.  This will help free resources for other health requirements and provide additional resources to these causes.  We all need to seek a healthier future and reinforce the current level of progress for now and the future.

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