Healthy Women, Healthy Economies is a global initiative that aims to unleash the “economic power of women by bringing governments, private sector, and other civil sector actors together to improve women’s health,” says Jocelyn Ulrich of EMD Serono, the U.S. branch of Merck KGaA, Darmstad, Germany, in our Friday Podcast. Providing for women’s health needs enables them to “join, thrive, and rise” in the economy, “bringing prosperity home to their families and communities.”
This partnership was established in 2014 within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum by the 21 APEC economies, led by the United States and the Philippines, and members of the private sector. The project sought to address significant barriers to women’s full participation in the workforce, which include non-communicable diseases related to reproductive health and the dual responsibility of the workplace and caregiving for children and elderly parents.
The partnership engaged in a comprehensive literature review and created a toolkit for governments and private sector actors to address these hurdles, with specific recommendations:
• Improve access to sexual and productive health services
• Increase awareness of services for voluntary family planning
• Provide high-quality maternal, sexual, and reproductive health services
• Protect against discrimination
Since 2015, the project has convened workshops to track progress against the toolkit’s policy goals. One of the advantages to working under the auspices of APEC is engaging high-level ministers in women’s health.
The toolkit’s policy recommendations align with the Sustainable Development Goals. “Sustainable economic growth really can’t be achieved if we’re leaving half of the population behind,” says Ulrich.