What do you see as the biggest challenges to women’s and children’s health at present?
I think a major challenge at present is keeping women’s issues on the political agenda. We need to keep asserting the importance of a social determinants of health approach. This means taking account of gender (women’s and men’s social roles), alongside other determinants such as ethnicity, indigeneity, socio-economic status, sexuality and disability which is vitally important for progressing health and addressing health inequities alongside. Progressing women’s health can then be understood as something that will require a whole of government approach, for example tackling violence against women.
How do you view the role of public health NGOs, and in particular women’s and children’s health promotion, in the wider health sector?
I think organisations like Women’s Health Action play a vital role in the wider health sector. Including consumer and gender perspectives in health policies and service planning helps to ensure services that are responsive to the needs of women and their children. This then helps to ensure better health outcomes and better use of public health dollars. With an increasing policy focus on children it is important to recognise that children’s issues are inseparable from the wellbeing of women and whanau that care for them. Women’s Health Action’s work in breastfeeding promotion is a great example of health interventions that recognise women and children as an inseparable dyad.
Julie can be contacted on Julie@womens-health.org.nz or phone (09) 520 5295.