Beyond the mortality advantage: investigating women's health in Europe
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Women in the WHO European Region have better health than those in most countries of the world (1), but that does not hold for all women. Inequities – the systematic differences that are avoidable, remediable and unfair – are increasing for men and women within and between countries in the Region. Inequities not only create health consequences, but also social and economic costs. Inequities cannot be reduced without investing in girls and women, but more knowledge is needed on the causes of inequities to inform policies and interventions. Reflecting the objectives of the European policy for health and well-being, Health 2020 (1), and commitments expressed 20 years ago through the Beijing Platform for Action (2) and the Programme of Action of the International Conference for Population and Development (3), the WHO Regional Office for Europe is proposing to develop a regional strategy on women’s health for presentation to the WHO Regional Committee for Europe in 2016. The timing is significant, as it marks the transition from the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals, which highlight the need for action on gender equality and empowerment of women and girls. It is proposed that the strategy will follow the life-course approach, reflecting the accumulation of advantage and disadvantage through exposure to protective and risk factors and presenting opportunities to prioritize actions by age and developmental stages.