Posts tagged gender
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.
- 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.
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 kick-off conference, 7 Apr, Brussels
Keynote speech: Patricia Reilly, Member, Cabinet of the Commissioner Máire GEOGHEGAN-QUINN
Patricia joined the Cabinet of Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn in February 2010, and is responsible for the health and consumer protection and bioeconomy policy areas, as well as communication and Joint Research Centre coordination.
Thank you very much for the invitation to this conference. It is of particular interest for the Commission as research addressing sex and gender in biomedical sciences and health research is a novel and highly promising field.
The interaction of sex and gender related mechanisms leads to different manifestation of diseases; infarction, heart failure, diabetes and rheumatic disease express themselves differently in women and in men.
Research in this area will lead to better targeted and therefore more efficient treatment strategies than the previous ‘one-size fits all’ approach thereby creating opportunities for prevention and increasing healthy life expectancy.
And, it is my pleasure to be here and speak about gender in research. But first, let me turn to gender mainstreaming and update you on the recent activities of the Commission in relation to the field of medical research.
I’ll preface this by saying that I think there is still a lot to do to reach the gender mainstreaming goals in research – but we’re making some real progress.
Gender mainstreaming and EU Prizes for Women Innovators
For example, according to the “She Figures” report published by the European Commission, women represent only 33% of European researchers, 20% of full professors and 15.5% of heads of institutions in the Higher Education sector.
Similarly, on average, women make up 30% of the entrepreneurs in the EU, and they often face greater difficulties than men in starting up businesses and in accessing financial support and training.
Therefore, the Commission has taken some actions to address these inequities. As one outcome of these, at the European Commission Innovation Convention on 10 March in Brussels, President Barroso awarded the EU Prizes for Women Innovators to three outstanding winners from the life science and health sector who have shown that women can successfully bridge the gap between science and business.
The first prize winner is Saskia Biskup (Germany), co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of CeGaT GmbH, a leading biotech company for diagnostic gene panels, a major step forward in diagnosing patients with rare diseases.
The second prize winner is Laura van ‘t Veer (The Netherlands), co-founder and Chief Research Officer at Agendia NV and a leading personalised health company creating diagnostic tests that foretells the risk of recurrence for breast cancer patients.
The third prize winner is Ana Maiques (Spain), co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Starlab, a leading research and innovation company focused on the space and neuroscience industries based in Barcelona.
They have forged remarkable careers in innovation and brought their ideas to market by becoming entrepreneurs. I hope that their achievements will inspire many other women students, researchers, entrepreneurs and innovators to follow in their footsteps.
Given the great success of the first contest in 2011 and the current edition, it shows the need for such a prize. Despite some advances in recent years, women in research and entrepreneurship remain a minority. This is a waste of talent that we cannot afford.
We have to foster gender equality and also raise the profile of successful women innovators. Therefore, we are exploring the option of continuing the contest until the day when we won’t need a specific prize for women scientists and innovators because the opportunities, rewards and recognition will be gender neutral in all areas of research and business.
But having said this, there is already an example in health research, which shows that things are moving already. May be you know that the Commission has recently set up independent expert advisory groups for providing high level external advice to the Commission in all fields of research.
And this time the composition of the new health research advisory group has even more women than men (18 women and 13 men). This is only possible because women are now, step by step, reaching high level positions in research and society.
Gender dimension in biomedical research
Now, I would like to come to the second point of my intervention, which is the gender dimension in research:
This is also very high on the Commissions’ agenda and I am happy for the opportunity to update you on the current developments in our new framework programme for research Horizon 2020.
I should also mention that for us, gender issues are implicit in medical research, and in most of our FP7 projects, wherever applicable, this has been taken into account.
Under Horizon 2020, research needs to respond to different societal challenges, one being ‘health, demographic change and wellbeing challenge’, which is probably of most interest to this audience and the EUGenMED project. I should add, though, that health research is also supported in many other parts of our programme, like the ERC grants, fellowships and more.
Within the new programme, applicants are requested to give much more attention to sex and gender differences in health research. Therefore it is now mandatory for applicants to address these issues as part of the scientific description in each proposal.
The EUGenMed project
And, this is where the EUGenMed project comes in, as it aims to produce an innovative road map for implementing sex and gender differences in biomedicine and health research. The EUGenMed results are expected to inform political input as well as to help tailoring sex and gender aspects in health research and for medical practise.
Even though gender equality is a key priority for Commissioner Máire Geoghegan–Quinn and gender issues in research are now substantially reinforced, we count on EUGenMed’s results to help improve the situation further.
Overview – how the gender dimension is addressed in Horizon 2020 research
I will give you an overview of what has been recently introduced in the new programme:
As compared to FP7 gender aspects appear in three ways, in terms of
- Gender balance in decision-making,
- Balanced participation of female and male scientists in research teams and
- Enforcing the gender dimension in research and innovation content.
Enforcing the gender dimension in research and innovation content
Enforcing the gender dimension – what do we mean by this? If we really want to achieve excellence, we cannot afford to ignore the gender dimension that has been proven to be an important aspect in biomedical research.
It has to be clear that sex and gender analysis will improve the quality of research and the societal relevance of the produced knowledge, technology and innovation.
Now under Horizon 2020, the gender dimension is explicitly integrated from the beginning – a significant departure from FP7, where so far only 28% of finalised health research projects have indicated a gender dimension.
In the Horizon 2020 work programme for 2014-2015 more than 100 topics are flagged as “gendered” topics, this means that gender issues are explicitly mentioned in the topic. The work programme for the societal challenge of “health, demographic change and well-being” has 17 “gendered” topics.
And this is just the minimum – it does not prevent the applicants from including gender issues in proposals to non-flagged topics. In the application forms applicants are requested to describe how sex and/or gender analysis is taken into account in the project’s content, scientific concept and approach.
“Gendered Innovations” report
During the last two years an expert group has built resources on the gender dimension and this led to the publication in 2013 of a report entitled “Gendered Innovations” which included several case studies for gender in health & medicine – you can find more on the related website.
It is a pleasure for me to see that Professor Ineke Klinge, the rapporteur of the “Gendered Innovations” report, Professor Vera Regitz – Zagrosek from the Charité Institute for Gender Medicine and Peggy Maguire and Hildrun Sundseth from the European Institute of Women’s Health are taking part in this work as it continues. It is good to see research groups teaming up with health organisations, such as the EIWH. The expected results of the EUGenMed project will be a much-needed follow-up.
We believe that scientists themselves, women and men, can contribute to change the practices. A key aim of Horizon 2020 is to engage more experts with gender know-how in project teams, the advisory groups and proposal evaluation panels.
So I very much encourage you all to register in the experts’ database accessible via the European Commission Participant Portal to ensure that we can rely on high quality gender expertise for our proposal evaluations.
Importance of and encouragement for networking for the gender dimension in research
I also would like to underline the importance of networking, and the key role that professional associations, platforms of scientists, patients and health NGOs and other networks can play in this context.
As many of you may be aware of, the Commission is funding two important initiatives aimed at supporting networking: the COSTAction – GenderSTE, and an interactive portal, GENPORT, both run by gender experts.
The first organises awareness-raising events across Europe; the second one offers to the scientific community a wealth of resources on gender in Research and Innovation, ranging from publications, experts’ database to training resources, among others.
In H2020 the programme reporting as well as the monitoring of the integration of the gender dimension will also be improved. The gender dimension will be part of the general reporting of project participants and the Commission will monitor it through a specific Performance Indicator on an annual basis as from 2016.
However, Horizon 2020 is just a small part in the total budget spent for Research and Innovation in Europe. Member States provide the main research budget.
The first European Research Area Progress Report published last September revealed great disparities among Member States – very little attention is given by Member States to the integration of the gender dimension in national research programmes.
It is crucial that EU Member States make sure that their national Research and Innovation programmes also take account of the gender dimension and I hope that Horizon 2020 will inspire them. We are pleased to see that significant moves occurred recently in Ireland and in the Nordic Countries.
A full consideration of the gender dimension in research content is now a requirement for the grant schemes of the Irish Research Council. Applicants are required to submit a written statement to the Council indicating that the gender dimension has been taken into account and explaining the implications for the research proposals.
An enhanced gender policy was put in place by NordForsk, the network for Nordic research cooperation. All applications for grants must now describe the gender dimension in the proposed research and the gender composition of the consortium.
Furthermore, in Italy some members of the national parliament proposed in 2013 a law which aims at including systematically gender issues in medicine.
Finally I am convinced that gendered innovations stimulate creativity, offering new perspectives, posing new questions, opening new areas to research, offering more effective prevention and medical treatment to enhance the quality of life of both men and women.
I wish the EUGenMed project a great success and I count on all of you to make it happen that the recommendations from EUGenMed will help to further improve the current situation in medical research and provide powerful input to European health and research policy and, last but not least, put Europe on the cutting edge of innovation to the benefit of our economy and society at large.
Thank you very much for your attention!
EU Gender Medicine Project kicks off 8 April 2014, Brussels.
In a one day kick-off conference, the European Gender Medicine Project (EUGenMed) partners met with eighty experts and key stakeholders to assess the status quo of Gender Medicine (GM) in Europe.
The kick-off conference marked the first of a series of projects meetings under the DG Research and Innovation funded Framework 7 programme project to be held in 2014 and 2015 that will culminate in the development of a roadmap for the further implementation of sex and gender (S&G) in biomedical sciences and health research in Europe.
Patricia Reilly, Member of Cabinet for Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, DG Research Innovation delivered the keynote address at the kick-off conference, highlighting the importance of the project and its objectives, Research addressing sex and gender in biomedical sciences and health research is a novel and highly promising field.
The interaction of S&G relates mechanisms leads to different manifestation of diseases, such as infarction, heart failure, diabetes and rheumatic disease in woman and in men. Research in this area will lead to better targeted and therefore more efficient treatment strategies than the previous one size fits all approach there by creating opportunities for prevention and increasing healthy life expectancy.
The kick-off meeting planned the four workshops on specific areas of sex and gender in biomedical sciences and health research.
Conference participants defined the most relevant topics for each workshop and determines the experts and stakeholders to be invited.
The first Workshop will be held at Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin in the autumn of 2014. At this workshop, a multidisciplinary, multi sectoral group of key stakeholders will discuss the most important topics in sex and gender differences in clinical medicine and pharmacology.
We will examine existing, national and European- level research programmes. We will also work together to set priorities for research by identifying unmet needs and specifying desired outcomes. Issues like the role of gender in pharmacology and in personalised medicine will be discussed.
stated Vera Regitz- Zagrosek, Project Coordinator and director of Institute for Gender in Medicine at Charité Universitaetsmedizin Berlin.
The other three workshops will be held later in 2014 and 2015.
Workshop 2 organised by Maastricht University will cover sex and gender aspects of public health and prevention and Workshop 3 organised by Charité University will cover sex and gender aspects in basic biomedical research.
The final workshop will concentrate on sex and gender in medical regulation and education and will be hosted by the European Institute of Woman’s Health in Brussels.
The results of the workshops will be integrated into a roadmap in a final conference that will be held in Brussels later in 2015.
In addition, EUGenMed will create the European Gender Health Network, which will include relevant stakeholders and decision makers.
The Network will identify target audiences and potential contributors for the communication of sex and gender issues. There are many key stakeholders such as doctors, medical associations, teachers, students, researchers, industry, health policy makers, funding agencies and politicians.EUGenMed will work to identify bridges and possible collaborations amongst these stakeholders in order to instigate implementation of sex and gender in biomedical sciences, practices and health research in Europe,
explained Ineke Klinge, Associate Professor of Gender Medicine at Maastricht University.
Project partners and experts stressed the need to effectively disseminate project results in order to ensure the incorporation of sex and gender into future biomedical science and health research. Hildrun Sundseth, President of the European Institute of Woman’s Health said,
Sex and gender strategies must be incorporates to the next generation of medical interventions and therapies. Project findings will be disseminated in a targeted and customised fashion to key stakeholders at local, national and European levels. The introduction of sex and gender into research and medical practice will lead to significant innovations and has the potential to improve European citizens health.
European Gender Medicine Project kicks off in Brussels 7th Apr 2014 Brussels
One day kick-off conference organised by European Gender Medicine Project (EUGenMed) partners and funded under the EU 7th Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration will be held on 7 April 2014 in Brussels. Approximately 80 experts and key stakeholders will assess the status quo of Gender Medicine (GM) in Europe. The kick-off conference will be the first of a series of project workshops to be held in 2014 and 2015 that will culminate in the development of a roadmap for the further implementation of sex and gender (S&G) in biomedical sciences and health research in Europe. Patricia Reilly, Member of Cabinet for Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, DG Research & Innovation, will deliver the keynote address at the kick-off. The meeting will plan the next four workshops on specific areas of sex and gender in biomedical sciences and health research. Conference participants will define the most relevant topics for each workshop and determine the experts and stakeholders to be invited. Research addressing Sex and Gender (S&G) in biomedical sciences and health research is a highly promising field. Interaction of S&G related mechanisms leads to different manifestation of frequent diseases such as tissue death, heart failure, diabetes, rheumatic disease in women and men. Research in this area will lead to novel, better targeted and therefore more efficient treatment strategies than the previous global approaches and will increase opportunities for prevention and healthy life expectancy. In addition, EUGenMed will create the European Gender Health Network, which will include relevant stakeholders and decision makers. The Network will identify target audiences and potential contributors for the communication of sex and gender issues, such as doctors, medical associations, teachers, students, researchers, industry, health policy makers, funding agencies and politicians. EUGenMed results will be widely disseminated in order to ensure the incorporation of S&G into future biomedical science and health research in order to encourage innovation and improve European citizens’ health. For more information: . ….more
Gender balance and gender perspectives in research and innovation
Policy for the Research Council of Norway 2013 – 2017
Norway has been a global leader in many the areas concerned with gender and the improvement of opportunities for women to achieve full levels of equality.
The Norwegians are demonstrating they have ambition and determination to complete this task. They are setting achievable goals supported with a strategy and policy to ensure that any areas related to gender where they are not achieving their best, will be tackled in systematic and supported ways using targets to achieve their policy goals. In doing so they will benefit from harnessing the the industry and intelligence of many more people in their population.
Their recently released document, outlined below states:
1 The Norwegian Research Council will be a driving force
The Research Council has worked for many years to promote gender equality in research, gender perspectives in research and fundamental knowledge about gender. We seek to be a driving force in these areas, both nationally and internationally.With regard to gender balance, we are especially concerned with accelerating the pace at which change is taking place in senior-level academic positions and research management. In Norway, the number of women and men earning doctoral degrees is the same. Yet even in areas where women constitute the majority of doctoral students, it is men who comprise the majority of those recruited to research careers in top positions.
In a research context, Norway is ranked at the top in Europe with regard to the proportion of women on boards and as leaders of institutions. But when it comes to “grade A” professorships, Norway lies just slightly below average.
The loss of female research talent gives cause for concern for both Norwegian and international research. Experience shows that introducing simple, concrete measures can lead to a substantial improvement in the gender composition. But to bring about a more sweeping change, leaders within the sector must play an active role. In recent years the Research Council has introduced gender perspectives in research as a mandatory criterion in the assessment of grant applications.
All of our programmes and initiatives must specifically assess what the gender dimension means for their particular knowledge field. If we are to succeed, we must raise the level of expertise among everyone involved. The aim is to enhance the overall quality of research.
Gender balance and gender perspectives also receive considerable attention in European research and innovation policy. We must aspire to become one of the leading countries in Europe in this area. Norway has all the prerequisites – culturally, economically and politically to achieve this goal.
Research, via gender as one of several key perspectives, to gender as the main theoretical or empirical focus. Gender research projects are increasingly being funded through the Research Council’s open arenas, thematically oriented programmes and other types of initiatives.
Research institutions have an ongoing responsibility to maintain gender research as a separate field of knowledge, and the Research Council will follow developments in this area.
In recent years the Research Council has introduced gender perspectives in research as a mandatory criterion in the assessment of grant applications. In order for this measure to be effective, it is necessary to increase awareness and competence within the Research Council administration and among those who assess grant applications. To succeed in achieving broad-based integration, the responsibility for this must be clearly defined within the organisation.
The Research Council will follow up the policy by establishing operational targets with clear leadership responsibility and report on the performance within its own activities.
1. The Research Council will assume a greater national responsibility for promoting gender perspectives in research and innovation
The Research Council will:
- establish a national meeting place on gender perspectives in research between basic gender research, other research fields and across disciplines;
- draw on gender research when developing subject field strategies and evaluations;
- include discussions of gender perspectives in research policy input related to government white papers, national strategies, institutional strategies, the development of international research initiatives, etc.;
- incorporate gender perspectives in the Research Council’s dialogue with research institutions;
- integrate gender perspectives in Norway’s participation in the EU framework programmes and international funding instruments
2. The Research Council will work more systematically to promote gender perspectives within its own administration of research funding
- Assess the significance of gender perspectives in the development and programmes and activities;
- Introduce annual division-based reporting on efforts related to gender perspectives in programmes and activities;
- Strengthen gender perspectives in selected priority areas;
- assess the relevance of gender perspectives in all application assessment;
- implement competence-building measures for the administration and programme boards in various thematic and subject areas;
- take the initiative to strengthen policy oriented research on gender equality challenges in society.
3. The Research Council will strengthen the knowledge base on gender perspectives for use in research and innovation policy
- evaluate the capacity and quality of gender research in Norway with a view to developing this research field;
- include analyses of gender perspectives in the Research Council’s annual reports
To download the full report…… more
“Despite some advances in recent years, women in research remain a minority
and a glass ceiling is in particular blocking women from top positions. This is a
serious injustice and a scandalous waste of talent.
The Commission is focused on fostering gender equality in our research programmes, and working to change a deeply rooted institutional culture.”
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science
30 day use of e-cigarettes by youth up 500%
Policy Brief: Women and alcohol
Gender and chronic disease policy briefings
Europe consumes twice the average amount of alcohol than any other part of the world. The More than 1 in 5 of the European population European region over 15 years old, binge drinks at least once a week. Alcohol is the third largest risk for disease and death after tobacco consumption and high blood pressure. ...more (Pdf)
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