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Women’s health in crisis as living costs rise globally

September 27, 2022

Women are being forced to neglect their health to meet the needs of their families as inflation and economic downturn squeeze household budgets.

Women's health neglected to meet the needs of other family members as inflation and economic downturn squeeze household budgets. women health crisis inflation.

With some women already skipping meals, medical appointments, and treatments to help make ends meet, campaign groups are now warning the situation will only worsen as many countries begin imposing austerity measures and winter starts to bite.

Charities say the global cost-of-living crisis has disproportionately hit women, who typically earn less than men and take on more unpaid household caring duties.

Poor households are still reeling from lost income and burgeoning debt due to the Covid-19 pandemic and cannot withstand further economic shocks such as rising inflation, said women’s rights campaigners.

In Lebanon, where the pound has lost more than 90 per cent of its value, food prices have risen more than 11-fold, and over 80 per cent of the population has fallen below the poverty line, women are struggling to pay for costly sexual and reproductive healthcare.

The price of birth control pills, for example, has surged by more than 600 per cent since 2019.

A June survey conducted by the Young Women’s Trust charity found that 30 per cent of young mothers in the UK were sometimes going hungry so that their children could eat.

This rose to 58 per cent of single mothers.

Wangari Kinoti, global women’s rights lead at the international charity ActionAid, said all aspects of women’s health were at risk.

“What we see happening is women end up reducing the number and quality of meals they eat each day and foregoing essential healthcare – such as maternal healthcare and period products – in order to buy food.

“With less food available, women and girls become the ‘shock absorbers’ of the household, meaning they end up eating last and least, with serious health and nutritional impacts, particularly for pregnant and breastfeeding women.”

This follows a survey conducted by Hologic and Gallup which revealed the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic brought more health challenges than the first for women.

Countries were scored based on women’s responses to questions in five categories: general health, preventative care, mental health, safety and basic needs like food and shelter.

The overall score for the Global Women’s Health Index in 2021 was just 53 out of 100, one point lower than in 2020.

No country scored higher than 70 points in 2021, with Taiwan, Latvia, Austria and Denmark in the top spots.

Three countries scored fewer than 40 points: Afghanistan, Congo and Venezuela. The United States landed in 23rd place, with 61 points out of 100.

Related: Health inequalities widening for minorities post-pandemic

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