PRESS RELEASE

06 November 2019 – For Immediate Release

The European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) hosts: 

‘Economy of Wellbeing: Healthy Women – Healthy Europe’

A call for Action for Women’s Health at European Parliament.

06 November 2019: Today, the European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) and Sirpa Pietikäinen, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Finland, hosted a Women’s Health Information Day in the European Parliament (EP): ‘Economy of Wellbeing: Healthy Women – Healthy Europe’. Speakers included MEPs, representatives from the European Commission, World Health Organization and other key health stakeholders.

The perspective taken by this Information Day was to give evidence that healthy women make a healthy Europe. This is fully in line with on-going EU activities on the ‘Economy of Wellbeing’ that puts people and their wellbeing at the centre of policy design. Wellbeing and economic policies are closely intertwined and mutually reinforcing: economic growth improves people’s wellbeing, and a healthy population enhances economic growth and stability.

The EIWH Information Day illustrated how a comprehensive, inclusive Europe must prioritise women’s health. The speakers looked at the need to promote women’s health in Europe 2020 through a life-course approach. European Commission representatives from DG Research and Innovation, DG Health Food and Safety, Research and DG Education, Culture, Youth and Sport discussed how to meet future policy needs for women’s health in Europe. The examples of the Austrian’s Women’s Health Action Plan and the Irish’s Women’s Health Task Force added a concrete example of how it is possible to move forward.

The MEPs speaking at the event agreed that the European Union (EU) could do more to protect and promote women’s health and committed to drive the women’s health agenda in the EP. They were the first signatories of the EIWH EU Call for Action on Women’s Health and supporters for the establishment of an Interest Group on Women’s Health in the EP to continue the discussions and future advocacy work: Mairead McGuinness (Ireland), Sirpa Pietikäinen (Finland), Evelyn Regner (Austria), and Irène Tolleret (France).

Closing, the event, Peggy Maguire, EIWH Director General encouraged all MEPs to follow suit and priortise women’s health at EU level- by emailing the EIWH : info@eurohealth.ie.

We cannot stand idle faced with the current health, economic and societal challenges that women have to overcome. They need to be fully considered as equal contributors to society.

All future EU initiatives and legislation must therefore prioritise women’s health and ensure the economy of wellbeing fully acknowledges their role in society’

said Ms. Sirpa Pietikäinen, MEP (EPP, Finland), member of the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, co-host of the Information Day alongside the EIWH.

Women’s health is often overlooked, indeed women themselves don’t prioritise their own health. The health needs of women change with age and therefore we need health providers to understand and provide appropriate care at every stage of life.

It is important to hammer home the message that biological differences and social influences need to be taken account of in regulatory and healthcare practice’ 

said Ms. Mairead McGuinness, MEP (EPP, Ireland), Vice-President of the European Parliament.

We need a strong gender equality strategy at European level that pays specific attention to women’s health. This means tackling their specific medical needs by supporting gender-sensitive research and clinical trials but also including health risks that arise from stereotypical and obsolete gender roles.

Unfortunately women are still seen as the guardians of family members health, while they have to juggle work and family life and suffer from discrimination in many areas. Women’s sexual and reproductive health is at risk while women’s rights are under attack and violence against women is one of the most serious threats to women’s health in Europe. Time to act for women’s health is now,

said Evelyn Regner, (S&D, Austria), Chair of the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee in the European Parliament.

We need a strong gender mainstreaming approach in all policies at European level. Women’s health is a non-negotiable priority: women are at the frontline as family carers and contributors to society.

They are affected by diseases differently from men. As such they need to be fully considered in all health, social and economic policies that will be developed at European level’,

said Irène Tolleret, MEP (Renew, France), Member of the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee in the European Parliament.

Europe must invest in a life-course approach to health promotion and disease prevention at critical points from pre-conception to childhood through older age. Together we must ensure equity of opportunities for women in all policies to foster a Healthy Europe.

The EIWH looks forward to working with our EU Parliament colleagues in making women’s health a priority for EU. Only through concerted, tangible, concrete and swift action can women’s health be improved across the EU’

said Peggy Maguire, Director General, European Institute of Women’s Health.

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Background notes:

The promotion of sex and gender equity has been a long-standing theme in the philosophy and operations of the EU.i In line with Articles 160 and 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the EIWH calls on the EU to commit to the reduction of health inequalities and provide equitable health for all.

Biological and social influences are critical to health. Many factors outside of the health sector—such as socioeconomic status, education, culture and ethnicity—affect behaviour and resource access. Sex and gender also have important implications for healthcare and health systems. Healthcare and health systems should be highly responsive to women, but too often fail them.

Reducing health inequities is not only the right thing to do, but is also economically prudent. By 2050, the GDP in the EU would increase by 6-10% or €2-3 trillion if gender equality is improved. Gender policies have been shown to have a stronger impact on GDP growth than labour market and education policies.ii Health inequalities result in an economic loss of about €980 billion per year in the EU.iii

Under the new EU government, policymakers are focusing on sectors crucial to growth, competitiveness and job creation. The Finnish EU Presidency’s main social and health theme, ‘Economy of Wellbeing,’ examines gender equal economies and gender mainstreaming. In line with the European agenda, the Information Day focuses on the Economy of Wellbeing. The event marking the continuation of the EIWH’s campaign Healthy Women—Healthy Europe.

In celebration of the twenty-first anniversary of the EIWH and sixty-years of gender equality in the EU policy since the Treaty of Rome (1957), the EIWH held its milestone anniversary conference in 2017, bringing together over sixty key decision makers and thought leaders to review the progress that has been achieved in gender equity and health. The conference cumulated in the European Action Plan for Women’s Health.

In follow-up to the conference and in the run-up to the 2019 European Parliament elections, the EIWH officially launched its EU Manifesto for Women’s Health in the European Parliament on the 10th of October 2018. The Manifesto lays out how Europe can do more to prioritise women’s health, and thereby, improving the health of all.

Join the dialogue and prioritise women’s health in the EU on Twitter @EIWH.

For more information, please visit:

About the European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH)

Founded in 1996, the European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that uses an evidence-based approach 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.

European Institute of Women’s Health, CLG33 Pearse Street, Dublin 2, Ireland

Register Charity Number 20035167 CHY Number 12184

Phone: +353-1-671-5691 • Fax: +353-1-671-5662 • Email: info@eurohealth.ie

Website: https://www.eurohealth.ie

i European Institute of Women’s Health. 2000. Gender Equity in Public Health in Europe. https://eurohealth.ie/reports/ [Accessed 12 September 2018].

ii European Institute for Gender Equality. 2017. Economic case for gender equality in the EU. https://eige.europa.eu/gender-mainstreaming/policy-areas/economic-and-financial-affairs/economic-benefits-gender-equality [Accessed 30 August 2018].

iii EuroHealthNet. 2015. What do EU Member States need from the EU health policy? https://eurohealthnet.eu/sites/eurohealthnet.eu/files/2015_04_17_Letter%20for%20informal%20EPSCO%20Council_final.pdf [Accessed 1 September 2018].

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