For Immediate Release

In Celebration of International Women’s Day 2018, the European Institute of Women’s Health announces its latest policy brief, “Women and Menstruation in the EU,” in order to #PressforProgress and forge a more inclusive, gender equitable world.

8th of March 2018Since 2014, International Women’s Day (IWD) has been held on the 8th of March each year to celebrate women’s contributions and achievements and to call for continued change to promote gender equity. The European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) supports this year’s theme, “#PressforProgress” to actively work to reduce on gender inequities. In celebration #IWD2018, the EIWH is announcing that a new policy brief will soon be available, “Women and Menstruation in the EU,” to highlight the impact of menstruation and menstrual disorders and call on stakeholders to work together to reduce this impact.

Menstruation is a natural part of women’s lives. However, many women are affected by menstrual symptoms, such as heavy bleeding and pain. About a fifth of women suffer pain severe enough that it interferes with daily activities. Severe menstrual pain can have a significant impact on academic and employment participation. An estimated 30-50% of young women miss school or work at least once per cycle due to menstrual pain. Even when school or work is attended, the presence of pain can affect concentration leading to poor performance and productivity. The pain can also reduce participation in other daily activities, including voluntary physical activity, including sports as well as social and recreational pursuits.

Menstrual disorders are widely misunderstood. There is a lack of population-level interventions that increase awareness and facilitate easy access to care. This #IWD2018, the EIWH calls on policymakers and stakeholders to promote the integration of menstrual management into general public health campaigns as advocated by the WHO Action Plan on Sexual and Reproductive Health. Efforts should be made to integrate women’s health issues like menstruation into employment and economic policies in order to adequately address the issues. Stakeholders must #PressforProgress and work together to share best practice in health and socioeconomic policies. Collaboration with civil society, government officials, authorities, healthcare professionals, educators, professional organisations, NGOs, patient organisations, industry and other key stakeholders is vital to increasing awareness of menstruation and menstrual disorders.

The EIWH applauds the EU Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) Committee for highlighting the economic empowerment of women. The EIWH also commends the WHO Regional Committee for Europe for adopting Resolution EUR/RC66/R8, the Strategy on women’s health and well-being in the WHO European Region. The Strategy calls on Member States “to develop and implement strategies and policies that advance the health and well-being of women […] and to promote the participation of women in decision-making as agents of change,” which includes “the impact of gender and socioeconomic inequalities on women’s health and well-being throughout their lives.” These efforts must be broadened and address the silence surrounding menstruation and menstrual disorders in order to empower women at home and work as well as to improve women’s health and wellbeing.

Investing in women’s health requires a comprehensive life-course approach that includes social and economic factors, addressing important issues that affect women, like menstruation and menstrual disorders. 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 and employment, and with girls and women themselves is key to successful policy and programming. Available evidence must be used to best identify entry points for various interventions and services—both population and individual health for considerations to girls and women at particular points in their life must be taken into account by stakeholders.

Efforts must be made to increase the understanding menstruation and menstrual disorders in order to maximise women’s personal and professional lives. Policymakers and key stakeholders support action that addresses menstrual disorders through efforts like the establishment of task forces to bring the conversation in schools or workplaces. On #IWD2018, the Institute calls on key stakeholders and citizens of Europe to #PressforProgress to work to reduce gender inequities. The EIWH welcomes new efforts to develop effective policies that reduce the burden that menstruation and menstrual disorders pose to women.

Click here for: “Women and Menstruation in EU” policy brief

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About the EIWH

Founded in 1996, the European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that uses an evidence-based to advocate for an equitable, sex- and gender-sensitive approach in health policy, research, promotion, treatment and care. The Institute promotes biomedical and socio-economic research that addresses sex and gender-based differences to ensure access to quality treatment and care for women across their lifespan. The EIWH strives to reduce inequities by drawing policymaker’s attention to the obstacles that women in minority, migrant, refugee and socio-economic disadvantaged groups face. The Institute’s activities work to empower individuals to play an active part in their own health management.

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