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Conference on Women’s health: a life course approach



Ministerial Conference on Women’s health: a life course approach, Rome, 2 – 3 Oct 2014 Auditorium, Ministry of Health – Viale Giorgio Ribotta 5


The Ministerial Conference on “Women’s health: a life-course approach” will take place under the auspices of the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Policies for promoting the health of women across their lifespan represent actions aimed at improving the health of the entire population. It will be an opportunity to discuss, compare and share experiences on this issue among the 28 Member States in order to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment strategies.  According to the principle of “promoting health in all policies”, during the Conference debates will be focus on four main topics concerning women’s health:

  • lifestyles
  • sexual health
  • reproductive health
  • female cancers

These topics play in fact a fundamental role in terms of actions for the promotion of women’s health and primary and secondary prevention of adverse outcomes.

Each session will be introduced by an opening keynote speaker on the topic’s state of the art within the EU framework. The Session will continue with two in-depth speeches, to focus on some relevant aspects of each of the four topics. A guided discussion will follow with scheduled brief interventions of Ministers or their delegates representatives on the implementation of policies in their own Country.

The Conference will start on Thursday 2nd at 9 a.m. with the First Session dedicated to lifestyles, with in-depth speeches on “Physical activity during different stages of a woman’s life” and “Diet and nutrition for women during different stages of life”, and then we will continue through the afternoon with the Second Session dedicated to sexual health, with in-depth speeches on “Sexually transmitted infections” and “Endometriosis and sexual pain”.

On Friday 3rd we will discuss on reproductive health, with in-depth speeches on “Preconception Health” and “Pregnancy, childbirth and puerperium”. In the afternoon we will discuss on female cancer, with in-depth speeches on “Screening as an opportunity to promote woman’s health” and “Infertility Prevention among oncology patients”.  …more (pdf)

Spring forward for Women


Spring forward for Women

Debate on the state of play

UN Women, in cooperation with the European Commission and FEMM Committee, is organizing the conference “Spring forward for Women” on 5 November 2014 in the European Parliament. The Conference aims to provide the opportunity for an exchange of experiences and views between women lawmakers from the Arab States and their European counterparts to identify common challenges and opportunities for women’s effective political participation. This event is part of a larger project, Spring forward for Women, co-financed by the UN and the EU. This project for political and economic empowerment of women in the Southern Mediterranean region promotes access and effective participation of marginalised women in economic and public life by addressing the barriers that have impeded their engagement in these areas.  The debate will be held on 24 September.

A new strategy for gender equality post 2015


A new strategy for gender equality post 2015

Upon request of the FEMM committee, the Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs Policy Department held a workshop on 3 September on “A new strategy for gender equality post 2015″ which provided 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 reach 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.

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


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