Happy International Women’s Day!
This year, more than ever, it feels like we need this day. In fact, sometimes, it seems that the world is not a great place for women and that rather than advancing and continuing in our quest for equality, we are actually going backwards.
When we have governments – usually led by men – still thinking that they have a say with what women do to and with our bodies, making decisions about, and placing restrictions on our reproductive options and confusing health reform with the limiting of choices, we know that we’re not even close to things being fair for women.
My world is very shaped by women. Exhibit A: just a few of the women and girls who I’m lucky enough to call friends, family and colleagues, many of whom I’ve met through my diabetes life.
But for me, International Women’s Day is about far more than my own world.
This year, the International Diabetes Federation has decided that the theme for November’s World Diabetes Day will be Women and Diabetes. In an effort to draw attention to the specific challenges faced by women with diabetes across the globe, the IDF will develop a range of materials to support women. There will be an entire stream at the IDF Congress in Abu Dhabi at the end of this year dedicated to women and children’s health.
Currently, there are almost 200 million women across the world living with diabetes and 40% of them are of reproductive age. That is a lot of pregnancies potentially impacted by diabetes. The need for safe, evidence-based, pre-pregnancy care for women with pre-existing diabetes is essential to improve outcomes for women and their babies. And this needs to start early. With half of cases of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy occurring in women under 30 years, girls and young women with diabetes need to have access to education and information about the importance of pregnancy planning.
Women’s health and diabetes has always been a special interest area of mine. My first big project when I started working in diabetes organisations was to help develop a diabetes and pregnancy booklet.
But pregnancy is not the only health issue for women with diabetes. There are a lot of other concerns and issues that need to be addressed, and I am looking forward to what the IDF do later in the year.
So today I’m celebrating – and saluting – women around the world – especially my own daughter who sent me a clip of the women teachers from her school performing ‘I am Woman’. And checking out some really important women’s health-related sites (some links below). Go get your green, purple and white on and celebrate the day!
Diabetes Sisters is a fabulous organisation based in the US and run by two of the women who appear in the collage above. It’s led by Anna Norton (CEO) and Sarah Mart (Director of Operations) who are exactly the kind of women you want on your team. I’m lucky to call them friends.
And, today is the perfect day to do the The Jean Hailes annual Women’s Health Survey and help shape women’s health in Australia.