Secure and Promote Women's Health
6 September - 15 October 1999
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Working Group Summaries
About the Working Group
In 1995, at the Fourth World Conference on Women, delegates from 189
countries endorsed the Beijing Platform for Action, which called upon
governments, the international community and civil society, including
non-governmental organizations and the private sector, to take action
in the 12 critical areas of concern. The Platform identified "Women
and Health" as one of the critical areas and emphasized the importance
of a holistic and life-cycle approach to women's health. It
reiterated women's right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable
standard of physical and mental health, including reproductive health.
It addressed the right of women to control all aspects of their
health, and the equal relationship between women and men in sexual
relations and reproduction.
The Platform defined the following five strategic objectives:
- Increase women's access throughout life cycle to appropriate,
affordable and quality health care, information and related services
- Strengthen preventive programmes that promote women's health
- Undertake gender-sensitive initiatives that address sexually
transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, and sexual and reproductive health
- Promote research and disseminate information on women's health
- Increase resources, and monitor follow-up for women's health
The objectives of the Secure and Promote Women's Health Working Group
are to discuss whether these objectives of the Platform for Action
have been realized.
- Has there been progress in promoting women's health?
- What are the obstacles?
- What must be done in the future?
The agenda for the Working Group will be as follows:
Week 1. What are the main challenges we face in developing strategies
to promote women's health?
- What are the major obstacles to the improvement of women's health in
different parts of the world?
- How have the different aspects of globalization affected women's
- Can women's well being be improved by economic development?
- Is poverty the major cause of sickness in women?
- Why do so many women still have problems obtaining the health care
Week 2. What are the best policies for promoting women's sexual and
- How can family planning services be delivered in ways that make them
more accessible and more acceptable to those who need them most?
- What are the best strategies for ensuring that men take their
responsibilities seriously in the context of both sexual and
- What policies are needed to prevent morbidity and mortality from
- How can we ensure better treatment for the half million women who
die and the 5 million who are damaged as a result of pregnancy each
- What can be done to empower women in their sexual relationships with
- How can we ensure that prevention and treatment services for STD's
and HIV/AIDS meet the needs of women as well as those of men?
Week 3. What are the most effective means of achieving safer living
and working conditions for women?
- What are the main environmental hazards to women's health?
- What are the most effective strategies for giving women greater
control over their living and working conditions?
- What are the special problems facing migrant women and those caught
up in situations of conflict and what are the most appropriate
strategies for helping them?
- Why is the home such a dangerous place for so many women and how can
it be made safer?
- What are the particular risks facing women who work outside the home
and what are the most effective ways of reducing them?
Week 4. Promoting mental health in women
- Why do women seem to suffer more than men do from depression and
- How can we prevent the tobacco industry from persuading more women
- Why are more women abusing alcohol than ever before and what can we
do about it?
- What are the best strategies for reducing the impact of gender
violence on women's mental health?
- How can we ensure gender sensitivity in the delivery of mental
Week 5. How can gender issues be mainstreamed in health services?
- What are the best ways of involving different groups of women in the
planning of health services?
- How should medical research be changed to ensure that it takes the
concerns of women as seriously as those of men?
- What does gender sensitivity in the delivery of services really
- How can the health sector reform policies be designed to ensure that
women do not lose out in access and quality of care ?
- What are the particular problems facing women working in the health
sector and what are the most effective ways of dealing with them?
Week 6. Making health a human rights issue for women and for men
- Why is it important to define health as a human rights issue?
- Why is this especially important for women?
- What are the best ways of campaigning for women's right to the
highest attainable standard of health?
- How will we know if we have achieved gender equity in health?
- What are the most effective ways for women and men to work together
on health and human rights issues?
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