WHO wake-up call

Anyone who thought that the feminist movement’s work was long done will have been shocked by news from Geneva yesterday.

The World Health Organization’s first study of women’s health around the globe has concluded that H.I.V. is the biggest cause of death and disease among women between the ages of 15 and 44. According to the U.N. agency, one in five deaths among women in this age group is linked to unprotected sex.

‘Women who do not know how to protect themselves from such infections, or who are unable to do so, face increased risks of death or illness,’ observed the 91-page report, which aims to highlight gender inequalities in health care.

As WHO chief Dr Margaret Chan told journalists in Geneva, ‘We will not see a significant improvement in the health of women until they are no longer recognized as second-class citizens in many parts of the world.’

By way of an interesting addendum, it’s well worth reading William Pesek’s recent column for Bloomberg. ‘Following the money often gets you to the bottom of a story,’ he notes, but ‘following the economic experience of women may offer more insights.’ In short, the more a society values women, the healthier its economic prospects are likely to be.

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