How Healthy Are Women?

On International Women’s Day, Canadian women can celebrate good health and a life expectancy of 83 years. But in Africa, many women can only expect to live to be 54.

Today is the 101st International Women’s Day celebration. According to the theme of this year’s event is Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures. The United Nations has declared it to be “Empower rural women—end hunger and poverty.” In Canada it’s Strong Women, Strong Canada with an emphasis on women in rural, remote, and northern communities.

Women’s health in Canada
No matter what theme is being celebrated, it’s a good time to take stock of women’s health. According to the report Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report by the Government of Canada, in 2009,

  • 60 percent of Canadian females aged 12 and older reported being in very good or excellent health
  • those most  likely to report better health had achieved higher education and salary levels
  • 28 percent of women aged 25 to 54 had a bachelor’s or graduate university degree (double the number in 1990)
  • a woman in Canada can expect to live to be 83, according to a 2010 report from Statistics Canada

Women’s health abroad
A World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet on women’s health (2009) paints a much less rosy picture for women globally, especially in developing countries.

  • 99 percent of maternal deaths occur in developing countries
  • life expectancy for women averaged 80 years in 35 countries in 2007, but only 54 years in the WHO African Region
  • for women aged 15 to 44 HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death globally
  • 80 percent of the cases of cervical cancer occur in low-income countries where screening and treatment options don’t exist

The WHO reports that many health problems older women face around the world can be attributed to bad health habits in adolescence and adulthood, including smoking, sedentary lifestyles, and unhealthy diets.

Resolve to be healthy
New Year’s resolutions may be long forgotten, but this International Women’s Day, take a moment to assess your health and resolve to make one healthy change in your life. Learn about women’s health issues. We’ve come a long way, baby, but we still have a long way to go when it comes to the global health of women.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here