Women’s Health Week: How Can You Get Involved?

Women’s health week will be celebrated from the 6th to the 10th of September in 2021. Now in its ninth year, women’s health week is a five-day nationwide drive committed to spreading awareness, information, and options for better health choices for women. This is an initiative by Jean Hailes to generate more attention, give access and spur actions to improve women’s health when it dawned on her that there was not a similar event devoted to it.

This campaign is the largest event in Australia addressing the overall health, wellness, and wellbeing of women full of online activities and happenings organised for and by women. Its focus is to create a discussion, engage and aspire women to focus on promoting good physical, mental and emotional health for women.

“If a woman is in good health, her family, community and the society around her also benefit.” – Dr. Jean Hailes

Why Focus on Women’s Health?

Men and women are built differently and consequently have different needs. Women live longer than men but spend fewer years in good health, and they are more burdened by illness during their lifetime. Men, in general, are thought of as stronger, more muscular. Consequently, making the women weaker, is this true health wise, too?

“A woman’s health is her capital.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

The plain truth is women hold many externally focussed health roles in other people’s lives. They are daughters, sisters, friends, wives, nieces, grandmothers, and mothers. Each individual role carries in itself multiple tasks. Also adding to that, they bring income to the household as part of their role in the family, and we have someone who will think of themselves last, as an afterthought, if at all. These are often people who will ignore the pain and will only consult a doctor at the very last minute and when the pain has become unbearable.

This is not good practice. Even an engine needs to be inspected, cared for and maintained to properly function and last a long time. So too, should the body. If longevity is to be discussed, women tend to live longer than men. Does it equate to being healthier & better-quality lives?

“The woman who does not require validation from anyone is the most feared individual on the planet.” – Germaine Greer.

Women’s Role in Society

It has not been long since women were considered second-class citizens and as such, were given less importance over everything including healthcare. Even the approach to childbirth is to ‘grin and bear it’. Most women were designated as caregivers even then, and subsequently prone to catching whatever was going around. Did you know that PMS (premenstrual syndrome) was only recognised and given a name in 1931? As only women suffered through it and as it was one of the taboo subjects, it was one of those late “discoveries”.

“According to the western model, pregnancy is a disease, menopause is a disease and even getting pregnant is a disease. Dangerous drugs and devices are given to women, but not to men – just for birth control. I’ve reached the conclusion that to many doctors BEING A WOMAN IS A DISEASE.” – Barbara Seaman

And maybe it is. Or maybe we have gotten so used to being the footnote, the last in line to be cared for. Women have amazing bodies – imagine creating, carrying, and delivering a new human within them. But as different as men’s and women’s bodies are, there are diseases and illnesses that women are more prone to than men. Although women are less vulnerable to infectious diseases, they are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic autoimmune illnesses, Turner and Rett syndrome. This is usually attributed to the X chromosome. Other diseases such as lupus, osteoporosis, systemic sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis mostly affect women whereby their symptoms can get better when the woman is pregnant.

Speaking of pregnancy, women can suffer gynaecological issues specific to their genders, such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), uterine fibroids, and other disorders that may stem from having a woman’s reproductive organs, less attention to their medical needs, and other challenges that may be present at the time.

There are also studies present that state that women are 2 to 3 times more prone than men to experience mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. This might be because at almost all stages of a woman’s life they are compared, evaluated, and measured. From childhood opportunities available between boys and girls to preteens body image, sexualizing the female form to reproductive decisions and when applicable, postpartum situations. This does not even include issues of identity, fertility, and menstrual cycles that can affect more than the mood of the day.

“When women take care of their health, they become their best friend.” – Maya Angelou

Women’s health week reminds us to set aside some time to take stock of our bodies and minds. To put in the time to work on ourselves so we may not give up and be weakened by the daily battles we undergo. This is to give a clear focus and encourage more women to prioritise their health. We may think we’re okay, but that may not be entirely true. That it is okay, that we are not fully okay and in fighting form. This is to call their attention and get their wellness checks frequently.

Women’s Microbiomes

The history of the world is a history of women’s microbiomes. Not every woman will have a child, but every child born has mimicked their mother’s microbiome. If the theory of a continuing microbiome from mother to child is true, then each child’s microbiome is carrying history since man first appeared on earth in their gut. The roles of women in the family, community, and society cannot be discounted. In their microbiomes, they carry histories of immunity, diseases, vaccinations, and all the environmental encounters of their bodies. Women as mothers, educators, caretakers, disciplinarians, workers, and partners are the backbone of society itself.

“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates

“If there’s one thing to know about the human body; it’s this: the human body has a ringmaster. This ringmaster controls your digestion, your immunity, your brain, your weight, your health, and even your happiness. This ringmaster is the gut.” – Nancy S. Mure

How Can You Get Involved?

Being healthy means more than just living longer. It is living a quality life with greater enthusiasm, being mobile and coherent, and if possible, in great spirits. Sometimes longevity can be a curse when you hear of people you know getting sick and dying suddenly. More so when it is for a disease that could have been detected early. Participating in events such as Women’s Health Week may not just help you and your family but also your friends and acquaintances, people close to you. The activities leading up to and on the said dates vary in topics and intensity. There are articles, recipes, informative videos, and tools to help you make better healthier choices. Join with friends or family and colleagues, participate in an event or share within your circle, it is totally up to you.

Share the news and events or donate when you are able. Women’s Health Week is supported by numerous organisations, businesses, media groups and more. Subscribe to online campaigns. They have more than a thousand different events with more than 45,000 subscribers. Get involved just by seeking information online. You can also try joining an online platform full of people who are interested in promoting women’s health or be an advocate. Women’s health should be a big concern not just for every female’s existence but for everybody.

“She remembered who she was and the game changed.” – Lalah Deliah