In almost every society, from Baltimore to Beijing, boys are told from a young age to go outside and have adventures, while young girls are encouraged to stay home and do chores. In most cultures, girls are warned off taking the initiative in any relationship and by 10 years old, already have the distinct impression that their key asset is their physical appearance.
These are the findings of a new six-year study of gender expectations around the world, which gathered data on 10- to 14-year-olds from 15 different countries of varying degrees of wealth and development. The research teams interviewed 450 adolescents and their parents. And they found a surprising—and somewhat depressing—uniformity of attitudes about what it takes to be a boy or a girl.
“We found children at a very early age—from the most conservative to the most liberal societies—quickly internalize this myth that girls are vulnerable and boys are strong and independent,” says Robert Blum, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and the director of the Global Early Adolescent Study.
FYI: The findings were drawn from a series of comprehensive interviews conducted over the last four years with approximately 450 early adolescents matched with a parent or guardian in Bolivia, Belgium, Burkina Faso, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Scotland, South Africa, the United States and Vietnam.
New York – Denmark has symbolically passed the baton to Canada to serve as host country for the next Women Deliver Conference, the world’s largest conference on gender equality and the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women in 2019.
Denmark’s Minister of Development Cooperation, Ulla Tørnæs (Left), symbolically passed the baton – a Women Deliver ceramic arrow – to Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau (Right). The ministers were joined by Gender Equality Advocate and Deliver for Good Influencer Ms. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Women Deliver’s President/CEO Katja Iversen in New York, US on 19 September 2017. Photo/COURTESY.
Denmark’s Minister of Development Cooperation, Ulla Tørnæs (Left), symbolically passed the baton – a Women Deliver ceramic arrow – to Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau (Right) with Gender Equality Advocate and Deliver for Good Influencer Ms. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Women Deliver’s President/CEO Katja Iversen in New York, US on 19 September 2017. Photo/COURTESY.
This was announced during the 72nd annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) where Denmark’s Minister of Development Cooperation, Ulla Tørnæs, symbolically passed the baton – a Women Deliver ceramic arrow – to Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau.
The ministers were joined by Gender Equality Advocate and Deliver for Good Influencer Ms. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Women Deliver’s President/CEO Katja Iversen, and Women Deliver Young Leaders Olaoluwa Abagun and Dakshitha Wickremarathne.
The conference will bring over 6,000 world leaders, influencers, advocates, academics, activists, and journalists from more than 160 countries to Vancouver from 3-6 June 2019. Women Deliver – a leading, global advocate for girls and women – has been hosting the Women Deliver Conference every three years, since 2007.
“Both Canada and Denmark are some of the world’s leaders when it comes to investing in and empowering girls and women,” said Katja Iversen, President/CEO of Women Deliver.
“Today doesn’t just mark the passing of host country duties, but also serves as an important moment to double down on their commitment to women’s rights, gender equality, and sexual and reproductive health and rights – at home and in their foreign policy and development assistant.”
The Women Deliver 2019 Conference will present new knowledge, promote world class solutions, and serve as a fueling station for action, energy, investment and policy change. It will continue the momentum generated at the Women Deliver 2016 Conference, held in Copenhagen, Denmark – one of the first major global conferences following the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During Women Deliver 2016 – more than 100 solutions were presented to improve the lives of girls and women, and spur action across the globe.
“Denmark is already looking forward to WD2019 in Vancouver. We will play our part in making it a success. We will be there to continue the fight for women’s health, rights and wellbeing. We will continue to deliver!” – Denmark’s Minister of Development Cooperation, Ulla Tørnæs
The Women Deliver 2019 Conference will engage a broad spectrum of voices, including indigenous populations, youth, and those impacted by conflict, with an additional 100,000 participants anticipated to be joining virtually or in satellite events.
“Women Deliver 2019 is not just a one-off conference. It is a movement to empower women and girls and build a better world. It is an honour and an opportunity for Canada to be the next host!” – Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau
Patrick Robison of Elkhart Lake, WI and Marilyn Windau of Sheboygan Falls, WI collaborated to design and create the golden ceramic arrow for Women Deliver that the two ministers exchanged. Robison has over 40 years of teaching experience in ceramics with middle school, college, and adult students. He creates garden sculptures and owns a gallery and sculpture garden in Elkhart Lake. Windau taught elementary and middle school art for 25 years, makes books ceramic covers and other ceramic functional pieces, and is a published poet of three manuscripts, one self-illustrated.
Women Deliver is seeking suggestions on topics to be covered and speakers to be featured at the conference. People can submit their ideas or learn more about Women Deliver 2019 at wd2019.org.
About Women Deliver: As a leading, global advocate for the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women, Women Deliver brings together diverse voices and interests to drive progress for gender equality, with a particular focus on maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights. We build capacity, share solutions, and forge partnerships, together creating coalitions, communication, and action that spark political commitment and investment in girls and women.
For months, health officials in this socially conservative state capital have been staggered by a fast-spreading outbreak of a disease that, for nearly two decades, was considered all but extinguished.
Syphilis, the deadly sexually transmitted infection that can lead to blindness, paralysis and dementia, is returning here and around the country, another consequence of the heroin and methamphetamine epidemics, as users trade sex for drugs.
To locate possible patients and draw their blood for testing, Oklahoma’s syphilis detectives have been knocking on doors in dilapidated apartment complexes and dingy motels, driving down lonely rural roads and interviewing prison inmates. Syphilis has led them to members of 17 gangs; to drug dealers; to prostitutes, pimps and johns; and to their spouses and lovers, all caught in the disease’s undertow.
More and more people around the world are getting sick with two or more health conditions at the same time. For example, people are increasingly coping with two chronic non-infectious diseases, like hypertension and diabetes. Or they will have a chronic infectious disease like HIV and a chronic non-infectious disease like asthma.
The co-existing conditions could include diseases, disorders, illnesses or other chronic health problems. The concept of having two or more chronic health conditions at the same time is called multimorbidity.
Traditionally, developed countries have a high prevalence of non-communicable diseases – like hypertension – and due to this, a high rate of multimorbidity.
Now the tables seem to be turning. Due to the rise in the cases of non-communicable diseases in developing countries, there is an increasing emerging pattern of high levels of multimorbidity. This includes cases of hypertension which is now the most common co-morbid chronic non-communicable disease in the world.
The prevalence of non-communicable diseases is increasing at an alarming rate. In 2000, non-communicable diseases accounted for only 56% of the total disease burden. Scientists estimate that by 2020, they will account for almost 70% of the total disease burden in developing countries.
The increase has been driven by urbanisation and changing dietary and behavioural patterns with people eating more processed food and sugar and exercising less.
But alongside this, many developing nations, especially in Africa, have the additional burden of chronic infectious diseases.
Non-communicable diseases and chronic communicable diseases co-occur, and the risk factors, such as alcohol and tobacco use, associated with them are often shared. This further increases the likelihood of multimorbidity.
In Africa, the concern is that populations who are already socially and economically vulnerable also face the highest risk of multimorbidity. These include the elderly, people who have a lower socio-economic status and those who are not as educated. An intersectoral approach to address these vulnerable groups is needed. This remains challenging for developing health services in many African countries.
Affecting the patient and the system
The impact of multimorbidity is three-fold: it affects the patient, the health care provider and the health system as a whole.
Multimorbid patients have a decreased quality of life and tend to access health services more frequently. This often results in loss of potential income. And it places an extraordinary financial and psychological burden on the patient. The psychological burden often manifests as depression with mental health conditions frequently being associated with multimorbidity, which are often neglected or poorly managed.
More generally, the high self-management requirements and multiple drug prescriptions associated with multimorbidity can lead to poorer health outcomes for patients.
From the provider perspective, multimorbid patients are complex to treat. This can lead to increased workloads. In addition, they need an in-depth understanding of multiple drug and disease interactions. With each additional comorbidity consultation, time and individual patient cost increase dramatically.
But providers often find themselves in systems which are inadequately prepared to deal with this level of complexity due to their vertical nature. Vertical systems are based on the one disease model of care, which focuses on individual diseases, rather than holistic patient care.
Innovative models of integrated care are required to appropriately manage the multimorbid patient. This is a challenging task as integrated models need to be context specific. A “one size fits all” isn’t enough to address patients’ needs.
Tackling the problem
To tackle the problem, solutions need to focus on what’s causing multimorbidity. This means that policymakers must look beyond the health sector – they must engage with multiple sectors. This is necessary as most risk factors relating to multimorbidity are driven by factors that lie outside the health care system. Risk factors such as obesity, alcohol use and smoking can all be influenced by policies outside the health sector.
In South Africa, a well known example of this has been the reduction of secondary smoking as a result of a range of anti-smoking initiatives. These included using the media to run campaigns warning about the health risks of smoking, to limiting smoking areas in the hospitality industries alongside the establishment of an excise tax on tobacco products.
More recently, to address the rising burden of diabetes and associated risk factors, South Africa has proposed a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. A similar tax was successful in reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in Mexico.
One of the challenges in creating these policies lies in opposing powerful industry actors whose interests don’t lie with health issues, but with making profits. This requires advocacy from several key public health role players such as academics, civil society, and governmental departments.
In Africa, multimorbidity will impose increasing strain on vulnerable people and already stretched health systems.
A structured collaborative approach is needed to manage the problem. This should include developing a good understanding of Africa’s unique patterns of multimorbidity, its causes, and focus on prevention.
Before he became defense secretary, Gen. Jim Mattis once pleaded with Congress to invest more in State Department diplomacy.
“If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition,” he explained. Alas, President Trump took him literally, but not seriously.
The administration plans a $54 billion increase in military spending, financed in part by a 37 percent cut in the budgets of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
That reflects a misunderstanding about the world — that security is assured only when we’re blowing things up. It’s sometimes true that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun, as Chairman Mao said, but it also emerges from diplomacy, foreign aid and carefully cultivated good will.
Military power is especially limited when threats come from new directions. More than four times as many Americans now die each year from opioids as have died in the Iraq and Afghan wars combined, but warships can’t defeat drug traffickers. To beat traffickers, we need diplomacy and the good will of countries like Mexico and Afghanistan.
And we certainly can’t bomb Ebola or climate change.