No token gestures please for new women's health study. Period - Laura Collins, YEP editor
Today the Government is launching a 12-week call for evidence to better understand women’s experiences of the health and care system.
I’m sure it comes as no big surprise that this “landmark study”, as it is being touted, has been timed for International Women’s Day.
Call me a cynic but it’s just a hunch I have.
The glowing Government press release, which landed in my inbox last week, claims the new study is aimed at setting an “ambitious and positive new agenda” which aims to place “women’s voices at the centre” of care to help improve outcomes.
So far so good I’m sure you’ll say, but actually no – this is not good enough.
For far too long many women have had their health issues simply swept under the carpet because they were seen as just that “women’s issues”.
Painful periods? Don’t worry it’s all part of being a woman. Crippling stomach pain? Don’t worry it’s probably just irritable bowel syndrome or part and parcel of having a womb? Tough.
Menopause? Deal with it.
So many women have faced the brush off from medical professionals over the years.
Just look at the staggering waiting time to be diagnosed with endometriosis.
An average of eight whole years! Yes, that’s right eight years of searching for answers, a diagnosis and most important treatment to help make the condition, which has no cure, slightly more bearable from day to day.
I have not been backwards in coming forwards about documenting my own experiences of living with this excruciating womb condition.
My body is broken and leaves me feeling as though my insides are being strangled by barbed wire.
That’s an average day.
At my lowest ebb I have spent many hours curled on the cold bathroom floor, with the toilet nearby, in tears because of the agony I face.
Even getting out of bed can be a challenge – but I always do my best to dust myself off and put on my mask so on the surface you would never guess the unimaginable war that is waging inside my womb.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones. Thankfully I never faced an eight year wait because, as a journalist, I channelled my search for answers in to ensuring I didn’t take no for an answer.
I wasn’t prepared to grin and bear it and just assume this comes with the territory of being a woman.
And this is where the widening gap in inequality stems as many issues, especially those hidden gynaecological ones, are swept under the carpet.
Women’s health should be taken seriously and it shouldn’t have to be timed with a tokenist gesture of empowering women to speak out. If anything so many women have been let down for so long because nobody has been bothered to grasp the nettle and look at how to tackle this once and for all.
Even the research gap into conditions is stark.
So this study has to be more than words and polish from a press release. We need to see tangible actions so “women’s issues” are no longer brushed aside. Period.
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