International Women’s Day 2020

International Women’s Day is a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Additionally it is a call to action for equality between genders.

In 2019 Esther Duflo was part of a trio of economists who won a Nobel Prize for their approach to alleviating global poverty. In 2018 Olga Tokarczuk won a Nobel Prize in literature, Donna Strickland was part of a trio who won the Nobel Prize in Physics and Nadia Murad was part of a duo who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to end the practice of using sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Violence against women, sexual and reproductive health issues are part of the top 10 issues affecting women’s health according to the World Health Organisation. This includes sexually transmitted infections, which also impacts on fetal and newborn survival. Young women are now the demographic most likely to be diagnosed with HIV infections. Not only are they struggling to protect themselves from this epidemic but to also gain access to the treatment that they need.

In Australia domestic violence is expected to increase with our recent national bushfire disasters. The trauma of losing your home and stability in combination with increased financial stress are factors that can exacerbate or start domestic violence. Financial independence and stability is further hindered for Australian women as Australia continues to have a pay gap. Australian men are being paid, on average, $26,853 more than women – a pay difference of approximately 23%. This has a significant impact on women’s ability to accumulate wealth, build stability and be independent.

The pay gap, whilst having a significant impact for women living with domestic violence, has deeper issues that can affect all women. This includes the ability purchase one’s own home, to accumulate superannuation and to participate in social activities such as going to the AFL grand finale. Furthermore, the accumulation of wealth is a contributing factor to good health, not only as it improves one’s ability to access services but it can have a direct impact on a person’s physical and mental well-being.

Gender discrimination within the workplace has shown to increase the risk of developing a mental health condition. Women are 2.5 times more likely to develop depression and 4 times more likely to develop anxiety compared to men who have the same occupation, education levels and age. The difference being the gap in income levels. Gender discrimination increases stress levels and results in poorer health behaviour choices including sleep hygiene, nutrition, exercise, medication adherence as well as alcohol and substance abuse.

Gender discrimination is not only seen in the workplace but can also affect women who are seeking medical treatment. Research has found that survival rates are lower in women than men within a year of their first heart attack. Furthermore within 5 years of having their first heart attack 47% of women will have a stroke, develop heart failure or die compared to 36% of men.

The British Heart foundation found that:
• women are 50% more likely than a man to receive the wrong diagnosis
• women are less likely to be given medicine to stop a second heart attack, and
• women are less likely than men to receive life saving treatments.

Exercise has been shown to lower the risk of developing depression, heart disease and cancer but can also help treat these conditions when they do develop. Studies show that exercise can be as effective as therapy and medication in treating mild-moderate depression. The Australian Physical and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines advise that Australians should engage in a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes of physical activity every day, strength training twice weekly and limit extended periods of sitting. It is important to make life-changing decisions today to promote a healthier life for your future.

Here at Melbourne Osteohealth we offer individual sessions and small group classes to build strength, flexibility and cardiorespiratory fitness. If you are interested in reducing your stress levels, improving your mental and physical health, and increasing your fitness levels the exercise physiologist here at Melbourne Osteohealth is here to help. We offer early morning and evening small group classes as well as one-on-one sessions throughout the day.

International Women’s Day.
International Women’s Day. Mission: To assist women to be in a position of power for making informed decisions about their health.
The Nobel Prize Organisation.
The World Health Organisation. Top 10 issues for women’s health.
Gleeson, H. A new bushfire crisis is emerging as experts brace for an imminent surge in domestic violence. (24/02/2020).
Milner, A., Kavanagh, A. and Hewitt, B. (2016). The gender pay gap is harming women’s health.
British Heart Foundation. Bias and Biology.