Panel Discussion: Gendered Data and the Women's Health Strategy
By Holly Mahon
Several Prime Ministers ago, the UK Government unveiled its first Women’s Health Strategy, which made lofty promises to tackle the well-documented gender imbalance in our healthcare system. The new Women’s Health Strategy states that; “historically the health and care system has been designed by men, for men” a usefully astute and necessary analysis. It is defined as “male as default” across research, clinical trials, training for healthcare professionals, and the design of policies and services. This default setting has had a knock-on effect on experiences and outcomes for women in the UK healthcare system. On the 7th December, Atticus Partners is hosting a panel event featuring expert voices from the Shadow Cabinet, the tech industry, and the third sector, to discuss the impact of gendered data in healthcare and the ability of this new strategy to solve those identified issues.
Atticus has a history of supporting women-led campaigns and clients - the Women’s Equality Party, Agenda, and MotherPukkka - to name a few. We are very pleased therefore to see the Government finally pledging to tackle the gender health gap, which has led to significant holes in our data and evidence concerning women-specific illnesses and diseases, and health more broadly. The ten-year strategy sets out new exams medical students will be required to take on the menopause and gynaecological disorders, whilst medical colleges will implement new guidelines for doctors to improve awareness of women’s health problems and root out sexism. This demonstrates a dual effort to target both the empirical lack of data around women’s healthcare, and the societal stigmas and judgements which impact women’s experiences of the system.
The Women’s Health Strategy was developed by the Department of Health in response to a consultation of 100,000 women, which found that eight in ten felt they were not properly listened to by healthcare staff. This socially ingrained disbelief of women’s experiences works in tandem with the current ‘male and default’ system to deliver serious gaps in our data with regards to women’s health issues. The strategy directly makes this link, highlighting societal “stigmas which…[see] female health problems or painful symptoms as something to be endured.” The strategy pledges to take women’s health experiences more seriously and finally begin addressing these gendered data gaps, focusing particularly on menstrual health; fertility and pregnancy; the menopause; mental health; and violence against women and girls.
The publication of the Women’s Health Strategy has also seen the appointment of Dame Lesley Regan as the Women’s Health Ambassador, tasked with helping to drive system-level changes to close the gender health gap. Damer Lesley, a renowned professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has said that the 10-year strategy is an “important opportunity to get it right for women and girls, and make a real difference to 51% of our population by addressing the inequalities that exist across society.”
Atticus Partners is keen to see the promises made by the Women’s Health Strategy come to fruition, as are several of our industry partners, political contacts, and clients. We are therefore hosting a roundtable event, sponsored by Feryal Clark MP, the Shadow Minister for Primary Care and Patient Safety, to discuss the strategy and its proposed steps to tackle the gender imbalance across UK healthcare. The event will discuss the measures set out in the Women’s Health Strategy aiming to address these gendered data gaps, what the ‘male as default’ format has meant for women’s health outcomes so far, and hopes for the future.
Feryal’s expertise in the healthcare sector makes her the ideal Chair for the event, which will feature expert commentary and opinion from leaders in their field: Jessica Southgate, Deputy CEO & Head of Policy at Agenda, Anya Roy, Co-Founder at Syrona Health, and Laura Arrowsmith, Senior Policy
Officer, Health Justice Partnerships at Maternity Action.
Our panel of experts will discuss the impact of the ‘male as default’ system on clinical trials, training for healthcare professionals, and the design of policies and services. They will explore the significant gaps in our data and evidence concerning women-specific illnesses and diseases, and health issues more broadly. They will also discuss the measures set out in the Women’s Health Strategy aiming to address these gendered data gaps, and hopes for the future of women’s healthcare more generally.
Join Atticus, Feryal, and our collective of impressive speakers on the 7th December, either in person in Portcullis House, or online via Zoom. Please see the sign-up link here and contact firstname.lastname@example.org for an in-person slot.