Women’s Health Week is Australia’s most prominent social gathering devoted to promoting the health and wellness of women and girls. It is a nationwide initiative consisting of events and online activities to enhance women’s health and assist them in making healthier decisions.
Spearheaded by Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, this September weeklong celebration serves as an annual reminder for women to make time and prioritise their health and wellbeing. The fun and exciting part is that nobody has to do it alone.
About Jean Hailes for Women’s Health
Jean Hailes for Women’s Health is a national women’s health organisation committed to improving the health and wellbeing of Australian women. They offer professional health information, education, and support services to assist women in managing their health and welfare throughout their lives. They aim to empower women to make informed choices to live healthier, happier lives.
How Australia’s Women’s Health Week Started?
Having realised that there was no recurring event that centred on women’s health in Australia, this gave birth to the first national Women’s Health Week back in 2013. Organised and run by Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, thousands of women from all walks of life sign up to participate in offline and online activities annually.
Highlights of Women’s Health Week 2021
In 2021, the Jean Hailes platform reached over 3.6 million people through social media efforts, over 128,000 women took part in 2,277 events, and 54,000 women signed up for the online campaign.
Women’s mental health was a significant focus during the week because of how the pandemic disproportionately affected women. As a result, 30% of the participants were encouraged to do a health check or screening.
Leading Health Issues Among Australian Women
In Australia, women experience different health issues than men. Some issues are specific to women, such as pregnancy and gynaecological problems. Others are shared by both genders but may affect women differently due to factors such as hormones and body composition. Community members, first aiders, family members, and emergency responders need to be aware of these conditions to provide appropriate support when required. Some of the common health conditions affecting Australian women are:
The leading cause of death and hospitalisation among Australian women. The most common type of cardiovascular disease is coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks. Other types of cardiovascular disease include:
- heart failure
- peripheral vascular disease
It is another leading cause of death and illness among Australian women. The most common cancers affecting women are breast, colorectal, and endometrial.
Chronic respiratory disease (CRD)
It is considered a group of lung diseases that tend to be persistent and progress over time. They include conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. Women are at higher risk for developing CRDs than men, which is thought to be due partly to hormones and other female-specific risk factors.
Some Australian women may experience mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or eating disorders at higher rates than others. Additionally, certain lifestyle factors (such as stress or trauma) can contribute to developing mental health disorders.
It is a condition that causes bones to become fragile. It is a particular concern for older women, as it can lead to an increased risk of fractures.
A major problem in Australia, with around 61% of adults being overweight or obese. This is a significant health concern as obesity can lead to a range of other health problems, such as:
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- certain types of cancer
A chronic condition occurs when there is too much sugar in the blood. One in seven Australian women have diabetes.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a hormonal disorder that affects up to 10% of women of childbearing age. The condition can cause various symptoms, including irregular periods, excessive hair growth, and acne. In some cases, it can also lead to fertility problems. While there is no cure, treatment can help manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.
A condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. It is a common health problem for Australian women, with around 3 million women affected by the condition.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
STIs are infections acquired through sexual contact. These can lead to severe health problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
A Week of Evidence-based Health Information
Educating women is the primary goal. Since the attendees are diverse, Jean Hailes has tailored age and culturally-appropriate health information, translating it into various languages and health literacy levels to better serve all women. Information is delivered through different channels in the form of:
- feature articles
- fact sheets
This year’s Women’s Health Week will be held from 5 to 11 September 2022. All women, workplaces, and communities are invited to get engaged by organising an event, disseminating health information, and urging women, girls, and individuals of all gender identities throughout Australia to prioritise their health.