"If men had been dying at this terrible rate, more would have happened at an earlier stage, because there is an indirect disregard for the troubles and suffering of women and girls."
Gro Harlem Brundtland
Women lose out badly on health care in many societies. Their lower status means the health needs of women and girls are ignored or put behind those of men.
Lack of access to basic health care makes giving birth a life- threatening procedure for millions of women in developing countries.
Religious and traditional taboos also stand in the way of improving women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health.
Investing in women’s health, education and the empowerment of girls is essential to creating healthy families and healthy societies.
Despite improvements in healthcare across many developing nations, women still suffer from health inequalities at every stage of life.
Lack of access to basic maternity services is responsible for 600,000 women’s deaths every year during pregnancy or childbirth, the vast majority in developing countries.
Maternal death rates are particularly high among girls who have children in their teens. Complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls between 15 and 19 worldwide.
Prolonged labour without access to basic obstetric care means two million women across Africa, Asia and the Middle East develop fistula which causes chronic incontinence, lifelong humiliation and often isolation. Treatment is usually a simple surgical procedure, but most women affected don’t even know it is available. Those that do can rarely afford it. There are between 50,000 and 100,000 new cases of fistula every year.
Lack of education and harmful traditional practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation compound health risks for women and girls. In some parts of the world, extreme poverty and cultural practices also lead to high levels of female infanticide.