Women’s Health Interest Group Launch
The launch of the Women’s Health Interest Group, hosted by MEP Tilly Metz (Greens/EFA, LU), took place on 23 October from 10.00 – 11.00 CET, at the European Parliament (room 5E1) and online. It was an event filled with empowering and inspiring discussions as we shone a light on women’s health inequities, highlighted the important progress made on women’s health issues across Member States and discussed the vast work yet to be done. MEPs, women’s health champions, patient advocates, NGOs, researchers and many more stakeholders came together to ensure that women’s health is prioritised in the EU policy and research agenda.
The European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) recognises the imperative of prioritising women’s health and well-being. The establishment of the Women’s Health Interest Group comes at a pivotal time in light of the upcoming European elections, with the aim to effectively shape an EU Strategy for Women’s Health and advocate for gender equity in health across Europe.
The Women’s Health Interest Group aims to embed women’s health in the work of the European Parliament by uniting a diverse group of MEPs to promote access to high quality prevention, treatment and healthcare for all women in Europe. We are thrilled to bring together like-minded individuals passionate about women’s health.
During the event, speakers raised awareness of the need for gender equity across the healthcare continuum, from design of research protocols and health technology assessment, including open discussion on women’s health issues and unmet health needs, to the development of policies and strategies to improve gender equity in healthcare. For more on this, please see our 2024 Women’s Health Manifesto.
- Why an EU Parliament Interest Group: The Evidence. Peggy Maguire, EIWH & Rebecca Moore, EIWH.
- Embedding Women’s Health in Policy – Model of Good Practice. Dilly O’Brien, Dept of Health in Ireland.
- Embedding Women’s Health in Policy – Model of Good Practice. Sylvia Gaiswinkler, Institute of Public Health, Austria
Frances Fitzgerald (EPP, IRL)
Barry Andrews (Renew, IRL)
Carina Ohlsson (S&D, SWE)
Deirdre Clune (EPP, IRL)
Stelios Kympouropoulos (EPP, GRC)
Maria Walsh (EPP, IRL)
Maria da Graça Carvalho (EPP, PRT)
Billy Kelleher (Renew, IRL)
Tilly Metz is a Luxembourgish a Member of the European Parliament since July 2018. She is the Vice-President of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Public Health and represents the Greens/EFA Group in the Committees on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, Transport and Tourism, and Agriculture and Rural Development. She also chairs the Delegation for Relations with Central American Countries and is President of the Animal Welfare Intergroup.
Health and health care are among her core issues: she represented her political Group in the negotiations on the extension of the mandate of the European Medicines Agency and around the Pharmaceutical Strategy. Currently she is involved in the negotiations around the European Health Data Space and the revision of the pharmaceutical legislation, among other things. She is also Vice-President of the Intergroup on People with Disabilities and advocates for the treatment of rare diseases.
Sirpa Pietikäinen, Finnish MEP in the European Parliament who has worked for many years to improve the quality of life for women and their families over the life course.
She is a member of the National Coalition Party, part of the European People’s Party. She has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2008, and was re-elected in 2009 and 2014. Sirpa is a member of:
- Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs
- Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality
- Delegation for relations with Palestine
- Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean
MEP Pietikäinen has highlighted the longstanding bias against women in health care and expressed the need for EU attention on the topic. “The older we live the greater the bias becomes”. As older women experience stigma and bias on the bases of their age and their gender. Women are underrepresented in clinical trials, even though older women proportionally consume the most medicine. Due to their under-representation women are at greater risk to develop adverse drug reactions compared to men. Furthermore, symptoms for some diseases can differ between men and women and women are more likely to develop invisible illnesses. We need to move away from a “One size fits all” approach in the health care system.
Sylvia Gaiswinkler is a Sociologist and Senior Health Expert. She has been working as a project manager and research assistant at the GÖG since 2015, and in the Health, Society and Equal Opportunities department since 2021.
Since 2022 she has been responsible for the coordination office for women’s and gender health. Since 2016 she has been coordinating the strategic process for implementing the Women’s Health Action Plan, since 2019 as the National Focal Point for Women’s Health. As an expert, she deals with socio-economic effects on health, in particular with the influence of sex and gender, migration and refugee background and different working and living conditions.
Dilly O Brien
Dilly O’Brien is a Principal Officer in the Department of Health Ireland. She is the current Lead of the Women’s Health Programme and Head of the Policy, Strategy and Integration Unit in the Department of Health. Dilly has worked in various policy and legislative areas in the Department of Health over the years prior to her appointment in January this year to Women’s Health. These areas include Governance, Health Promotion, Disabilities, Tobacco Legislation, and Child Welfare and Protection Policy.
A Political Scientist Peggy Maguire has worked at the international, regional and national level over the last twenty-five years highlighting the need for gender equity in biomedical research, public health and social policy. Prior to her role as Director General at the EIWH, Peggy was Director of Development at the National Maternity Hospital, Dublin and Director of the Research and Education Foundation at the Irish College of General Practitioners.
As an advocate for a health literate public, Peggy developed a cancer communication and information initiative for and by women to ensure cancer information was women led. As part of her commitment to gender equality, Peggy has been a member of the WHO expert group on gender mainstreaming and contributed to the WHO Women’s Health Strategy for Europe. In 2014 Peggy worked on amendments to the Clinical Trials Regulation to ensure gender and age were included. Peggy is also former President of the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA). Peggy has initiated and contributed to EU projects such as Engender-Inventory of good practices in Europe for promoting gender equity in health; Engendering Research Ethics Committees (RECs) and EUGenMed, leading the research and the workshop on the inclusion of Sex and Gender in Healthcare Professional Education.
In 2019, the Minister for Health in Ireland appointed Peggy co-chair of the Women’s Health Task Force. Peggy’s research and advocacy work supports gender equity, ageing, patient and disability rights as well as the implications of social determinants on health and wellbeing. In October 2021, the WHO Academy Quality Committee announced the appointment of Peggy to its Board and chair of the patient and community engagement working group.
Rebecca works on and manages various projects including EIWH projects promoting safety of medicines in pregnancy, real world data, HTA and AI, cervical cancer uptake among vulnerable women and digital health literacy. Rebecca represents the EIWH on many advisory groups including the DG Sante HTA network, ECDC Advisory Forum representing patients and is an EIWH patient representative at the EMA. Rebecca has written extensively on gender and health including contributions to the WHO Women’s Health Strategy for Europe and also co-wrote the first Gender and Women’s Health report for WHO EMRO.
Rebecca Moore is a National Cancer Institute and Health Research Board PhD Fellow in Health Economics at the Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Medicine, Trinity College. Dublin. Rebecca’s research focuses on cost effectiveness in cancer care. During her PhD she spent two years under the supervision of a NCI-sponsored mentor at the University of North Carolina where she participated in Comparative Effectiveness Research for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Rebecca also has an MSc in Health Population and Society from the London School of Economics.