Investing in the health of Women

International Women’s Day (IWD) has three different themes this year: the international theme is “Connecting Girls and Inspiring Futures”; the UN’s is “Empower Rural Women — End Hunger and Poverty” and the European Parliament‘s is: “Equal pay for work of equal value.”

Here at Wellesley Institute we think a lot about the issues raised by these themes, and we think a lot about the future. Most importantly, we think about what has the greatest impact on people’s health and futures and the determinants that affect their health. We call these the social determinants of health and they include income, education, adequate housing, poverty, food security: all of which are issues that have a major impact on the lives of women.

Last week, the Project for an Ontario Women’s Health Evidence-Based Report (POWER) released its final chapter on the social determinants of health and populations at risk. The POWER study took place over six years and examined gender differences in access to care, as well as quality and outcomes of care for the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Ontario.

The Wellesley Institute recently released a report, Colour Coded Health Care, a look at how race plays a role in health care access, and what happens to racialized Canadians who have multiple barriers to access. The intersectionality between gender and race naturally creates multiple barriers to access, barriers we must work toward dismantling.

We are also looking at how the current social assistance system in Ontario tends to reinforce health inequities and limit opportunities for good health. Social assistance has an enormous influence on the health of women in Ontario. In our submission to the Commission For the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario, we highlight the importance of access to childcare. Along with supports for housing, nutrition, and health care, our recommendations suggest that equity must be built into any social assistance program for the health of us all.

With good research and investments in the future health of our populations, we can clear the obstacles to better health for everyone.

Further Wellesley Institute research on women and population health:

Canada’s Colour Coded Labour Market

Race, Racism and Health with Dr. Camara Jones

Work and Health: exploring the impact of employment on health disparities

Homeless women, housing and social support

Older women’s responses to abuse and neglect

My Baby and Me: Infant passport

Health equity and women’s health services