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  Right from the Start

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Right from the Start:


Promoting a Life-Course Approach to Gender Equity in Health

European Institute of Women’s Health 21st Anniversary Expert Conference,

European Economic and Social Committee, Brussels, Belgium, 4-5th December 2017

About the EIWH

Founded in 1996, the European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that uses current evidence to advocate for an equitable, sex- and gender-sensitive approach in health policy, research, prevention, treatment and care.

The Institute promotes biomedical and socio-economic research that addresses sex and gender-based differences to ensure equitable access to quality treatment and care for women across their lifespan. The EIWH highlights existing inequities and draws policymaker’s attention to the health gap that socio-economic disadvantaged population groups still face, with a particular focus on the obstacles that women in minority, migrant, refugee and other vulnerable groups encounter.

Our aim is to promote a more health literate public by engaging and empowering individuals and groups to play an active part in their own or their family’s health management.

Women’s Health in Europe across the Lifespan

One of the biggest challenges facing European societies is the current demographic change and retaining health across the lifespan in an ageing population. Women are on the forefront of ageing in two relevant ways: 1) their greater longevity than men and 2) their multiple carer and societal roles.

Despite the vital role that women play in their families, communities and societies, women have significantly less financial resources than men. Women experience a gender pay gap during their working years, earning on average 16% less than their male counterparts in the EU. Women also face a pension gap during retirement, with women on average receiving pensions that are 40% lower than men. The gender pay and pension gap varies greatly from country to country; for example, pension gender pay gaps range from a 4% to a 46%. As a result, working and older women have less financial resources. This gap widens over lifetime and during retirement and is especially problematic during old age; many women struggle to pay for help with assisted living or long-term care.


Investing in women’s health and well-being requires a life-course approach. Action must be taken early and at critical points to ensure health and wellbeing from young through older age. Collaboration with other sectors, such as education, the social sector, employment and engaging with girls and women themselves is key to successful policy formulation and implementation.

Available evidence must be used to best identify entry points for various interventions and services-both population and individual health and consideration specific to girls and women at particular points in their life must be considered by respective stakeholders.

The life-course perspective, RIGHT FROM THE START, is relevant to create a continuum from prevention through treatment and care. Only then will society be able to successfully tackle the chronic disease burden that European society is facing. Convincing our governments and reorienting our health and social systems to invest early on in prevention, is today’s major societal challenge. We need your help and support.

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.”

Office of Research on Women’s Health (2010)[i]

Conference Objectives

In celebration of the EIWH’s twenty-first anniversary and sixty-years of gender equality in the EU policy since the Treaty of Rome (1957), the EIWH milestone conference will bring together decision makers and thought leaders to review the progress that has been achieved in gender equity and health over recent decades.

The conference will examine both the biological and social factors relevant to gender equity in health and well-being through facilitated expert discussions. The participants will work together to devise steps to reduce sex and gender inequities across the lifespan and develop a European Action Plan for Women’s Health.

Conference Structure

Day One

The first day will set the scene using the most recent evidence base and lay the foundation for the next phase of EIWH’s European Action Plan for Women’s Health with ’21 Right from the Start’ Recommendations.

The agenda on Day 1 takes a life course approach starting with childhood into old age and will be orientated towards:

  • Health and Social Policy, Education & Rights
  • (Early) influences: Family, education,
  • Role models, technology, life style and self

Day Two

Experts will work on central policy topics to develop a European Action Plan on Women’s Health. The sessions will comprise of brief presentations, facilitated discussions and formulation of recommendations to generate concrete steps for acting moving forward together.

Day One: Right from the Start: Why We Need a Life Course Approach

The first day will set the scene and lay the foundation for the next phase of the European Action Plan for Women’s Health.

11.00-11.30 Registration


11.30-11.40 Welcome

11.40-11.55 Opening Keynote Address

11.55-12.10 Introduction, History of the EIWH and Conference Objectives

12.10-13.10 Right from the Start: Early Intervention in Maternal and Child Health Panel

Discussion points:

  • Perinatal health, pregnancy, birth and post-partum support
  • Safe use of medicines during pregnancy and lactation
  • Environmental exposures and prevention of chronic disease with a focus on gestational diabetes and obesity


14.10-14.20 How Has Gender Equality Progressed Over the Past Ten Years?

14.20-15.20 A Life Course Approach to the Health in Women and Families Panel

Discussion points:

  • Sex and gender differences in diseases (policy briefs)
  • Chronic disease prevention and early intervention
  • Healthy lifestyles and vaccination
  • Women’s multiple roles in society

15.20-16.20 Active and Healthy Ageing Panel

Discussion points:

  • Active and healthy ageing: major challenges for the future

o Living with cancer and dementia

  • Social protection, including financial security, pensions, and caregiving
  • Role of technology in empowering carers

16.10-16.30 Discussion, Summary and Next Steps

Close of Day 1, Brief for Day 2 (Introduction to the Facilitated Discussion)

19.00-21.00 Evening Dinner for Conference Participants

Restaurant (TBD)

Day Two: Driving the Agenda in Women’s Health

Experts will work together on central policy topics key to women’s health. Each of the panellists will presentation their recommendation for intervention. Each of the four panels will work with the delegates to prioritise recommendations for inclusion into the Action Plan. The delegates will work together to develop a European Action Plan for Women’s Health in the last session.

09.00-09.05 Opening


09.05-09.20 Day 2 Keynote Address

09.20-09.35 Setting the Scene: Promoting Women’s Health in All European Policies

  • Integrating Sex and Gender into Policy
  • Policy for Women by Women

09.35-10.35 Moving Forward Together: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Discussion points:

  • Integrating sex and gender into public health promotion and prevention
  • Social determinants of health
  • Health promotion-preventing chronic and infectious disease
  • Health protection-promoting a life-course approach to vaccination across Europe

10.35-11.00 COFFEE BREAK

11.00-12.00 Moving Forward: Research and Personalised Medicine

Discussion points:

  • Research and analysis of results by sex/gender and age
  • Personalised medicine
  • Women and clinical trials
  • Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS) guidelines on the inclusion of women in clinical trials
  • Importance of the inclusion of sex and gender: the example of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including new technologies and imaging

12.00-13.00 Moving Forward: Access, Treatment, Care and Responsive Health Systems

Discussion points:

  • Responding to healthcare needs by the inclusion of sex and gender
  • Equity in healthcare
  • Vulnerable group health needs, including migrant health
  • Access and meaningful patient engagement

13.00-14.00 LUNCH

14.00-15.00 Moving Forward: Education, Training and Health Literacy

Discussion points:

  • Integration of sex and gender into healthcare professional education and training
  • Engaging the broader healthcare community
  • Broad concept of health literacy, including personalised health literacy

15.00-17.00 Putting it all Together: Creating a European Action Plan for Women’s Health

Facilitated discussion session on the alignment of sex and gender across the lifespan and policies in Europe based on the 21 expert recommendations.

Closing Remarks and Conclusions

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