ROME, APRIL 7 – The international Forum “Starting from girls. Women Forum on inequality and sustainable growth”, organized by WE – Women Empower the World, The Aspen Initiative for Europe and Valore D, is currently underway at the Italian Ministry of International Affairs in occasion of Italy’s G7 presidency and will adresses issues regarding women, growth, health and inequality.
The forum is based on the belief that strengthening young women’s rights and capabilities is an essential element towards their transformation into potential envoys of change: the forum’s aim is to create an International alliance on women’s empowerment as a vital building-block to a more sustainable and equitable growth.
Participants included representatives of International organizations like Federica Mogherini (EU), Simonetta Di Pippo (Unoosa) and Flavia Bustreo (WHO), ministers and members of parliament like Beatrice Lorenzin, Maria Elena Boschi, Valeria Fedeli, Lia Quartapelle, key political and cultural figures like Emma Bonino, Marta Dassu’, entrepreneurs like Diana Bracco, Beatrice Trussardi, and researcher Ilaria Capua. Together, they discussed a number of G7proposals geared towards increasing women’s contribution to economic growth, to the labor market and to technological development and sustainability. Special attention was given to migration issues – “women on the move” and “global care chain” – and the related issues of health and healthcare systems.
In his address, Minister of Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano remarked that “Strengthening young women’s rights and capabilities is an essential element towards their transformation into potential envoys of change. Overcoming the gender gap is essential to guarantee inclusive processes of growth and development, in line with our priorities for the G7 Presidency”.
The WHO chose the Rome Forum to present data on the health of adolescents around the world: each year approximately 1.3 million adolescents die from avoidable causes. About 16 million young women between the ages of 15 and 19 give birth to a child, 49 out of 100 births are by women under age 20. Complications during pregnancy and at birth represent the second cause of death for adolescents worldwide. Other main causes of death among adolescents include HIV, suicide, pulmonary infections, and violence.
Flavia Bustreo, Vice Director General of WHO, called attention to the issue of depression, which is often underestimated. “Depression is an underestimated menace in the modern world, especially among the most vulnerable segments of the population, including women after pregnancy and adolescents. Suicide is, in fact, the third cause of death among adolescents on a global scale. Half of all mental disorders affecting adults begin around age 14 but are undiagnosed and untreated in most cases. The effects of depression caused by war and conflict are devastating: in addition to the immediate, destructive impact of bombs, healthcare systems are crippled and there is a heightened risk of developing an infectious disease and, in the long-term, depression. Depression inflicts deep wounds in the fabric of society that take years to heal.”
Depression affects 300 million people a year worldwide, with a reported 18% increase between 2005 and 2015. According to WHO estimates, less than half of those affected have access to medication or psychotherapy to treat depression, which is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths among adolescents.
Adolescents “represent one-sixth of the global population. Investing in the health of adolescent women to secure their rights to health, education and a full participation in society certainly represents an invaluable resource to transform our world. Investing in their health means an opportunity for wholesome development. In fact, when healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating habits, exercise, drug and alcohol use and sexual behavior are not correctly learned during adolescence, they can have harmful repercussions on health throughout an individual’s lifetime. States that define global priorities, including members of the G7, have an obligation to protect and promote adolescent health and development, starting with measures that guarantee access to health services, including those dedicated to the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls, which also need to reach migrants, refugees and others living in conditions of humanitarian emergency”.
“The rights of women and girls to health” Bustreo concludes, “can only be secured through their full participation in scientific, economic, political and public life. One out of three women in the world is a victim of domestic or sexual violence, 30% suffer serious injuries after being physically or sexually abused by men with whom they had intimate relationships. It is all too often that personal ambitions are dashed due to outdated policies and legislation that prevent women from exercising their rights in full. Women’s’ participation to social, political and economic life is strongly associated with better results in terms of women’s’ and children’s’ health, and women’s presence in politics is one of the best strategies to ensure the protection and development of women’s health and women’s rights. Much remains to be done, however, as only 22.8% of the world’s politicians are women. (MNT/VB)