Investing in Women’s Health Supports Healthy Economies
UBC’s latest Women’s Health Seminar Series focused on the topic of how women’s health is integral to healthy economies, hosted by Dr. Marina Adshade. To understand how these topics are intimately related, it is important to break down the real economic benefits for governments to invest in the health of women. Not only does women’s health encourage participation in the workforce, but it also increases productivity, and supports the healthy development of future generations in the workforce as women are primary caregivers and children’s health is linked to mothers’ health.
The importance of women’s health is a pillar that the Mothers Matter Centre recognizes in healthy family life. As an organization whose programs primarily serve mothers and focus on their empowerment and improvement for them to help their families, good physical and mental health is at the forefront of that family’s success.
Women’s Health Affects Work, School, and Family Life
Dr. Adshade’s flow chart shows just how interconnected women’s health is to many different sectors of society. By investing in the positive health of women, governments are investing in positive outcomes for women’s work, education, and family life. In turn, this contributes to increased income, human capital, and increased children’s wellbeing which, ultimately, support reduced government spending and increased tax revenue.
Health Issues Stopping Women’s Participation
The Canadian Community Health Survey (2015/2016) asked the specific reasons that women missed work. Women were much more likely to miss work for mental health or infectious disease, and women’s ability to work was also negatively impacted by menstruation, PMS and PMDD (which contribute to poor concentration and memory, fatigue, missed deadlines), menopause symptoms that affect productivity, migraines, and mental health issues.
Economic Cost of Not Having Women in the Workforce
In B.C., 48% of workers are women, 43% of all hours are worked by women, and women account for $2 billion in labour annually (stats from Monthly Labour Force Survey – taken across Canada).
The economic costs of not having women in the workforce is significant. In B.C. alone, the total economic loss due to illness/disability is over $2.5 billion annually.
5 benefits of investing in women’s health
1. Female labour participation
2. Human capital accumulation –Women (all the skills women bring into their jobs – ie. Uninterrupted years in the workforce)
3. Human capital accumulation –Children (children’s health is closely tied to mother’s health)
4. Unpaid caregiving
5. Gender Equality
Despite the statistics and comprehensive understanding of the substantial economic gain to be made, investment in women’s health is still not happening on a large enough scale.
It is important to recognize that women’s labour force participation is important for family wellbeing but also whole economic wellbeing. Women’s heath is a topic that should not be minimized, but rather should be a huge priority for policy makers and governments.
Source of information and images: “Healthy Women, Healthy Economies,” webinar by Dr. Marina Adshade, UBC.