June 16, 2024

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International Women’s Day Study Links Gender Equality to Life Expectancy: NPR

International Women’s Day Study Links Gender Equality to Life Expectancy: NPR

Protesters march in Berlin to celebrate International Women’s Day on Wednesday.

John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images


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John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images

Protesters march in Berlin to celebrate International Women’s Day on Wednesday.

John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images

Both women and men are more likely to live longer when a country makes steps towards gender equality, according to a New global study which the authors believe is the first of its kind.

The study has been published in the journal PLOS Global Public Health This week, just before International Women’s Day. It adds to growth Research body Turns out, progress in women’s rights Everyone benefits.

“On this International Women’s Day, let’s not forget that evidence demonstrates that strengthening women’s representation across multiple sectors contributes to richer societies and, in turn, healthier societies for all,” said lead author Kat Pinho Gomez, a research fellow at the George Institute for Health. Global and Imperial College London in a statement.

Researchers estimated gender equality in 156 countries using the “Adjusted Global Gender Gap Index,” which is based on an index developed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) between 2010 and 2021. They believe this is the first study to examine the link between that index and the gender gap in life expectancy.

Globally, greater gender equality is associated with longer duration [life expectancy] For both women and men, the gender gap widens [life expectancy]they concluded.

Overall, in 2021, every 10% increase in the adjusted gender gap index was associated with a 4.3-month increase in life expectancy for women and a 3.5-month increase for men, resulting in a larger gender gap of eight months.

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There was significant variance across geographic regions, with a much narrower gap among high-income countries.

This suggests that gender equality may initially widen the gender gap in life expectancy, the researchers say, “because the benefits of gender equality primarily benefit women’s lives and health.” But the multiplier effect will ultimately benefit men’s longevity, too.

“As countries advance along the continuum of gender equality, the benefits of increasing women’s participation in society extend to men, leading to a greater increase in the number of men [life expectancy] narrowing the gender gap in [life expectancy],” they write.

Education equality has the strongest link to longevity

“Many of the factors that determine how long you will live—such as working and living conditions, exposure to pollution, access to health care, education, income, and social support—are implicated in gender differences around the world,” Benho-Gómez explains.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index focuses on four dimensions: health, economic opportunity, education, and political leadership.

The researchers focused on the political, economic and educational aspects of gender equality, and found that the latter had the strongest association with increased life expectancy.

It underscores the importance of investing in education, especially in low- and middle-income countries where the resources are, Benho Gomez says Opportunities for girls are still limited.

The study notes that while more than two-thirds of countries reached gender parity in primary enrollment in 2020, large disparities remain in parts of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

Girls’ access to education Long term effects For their own well-being and that of their community, including in areas such as family planning and poverty reduction. It is not only important in developing countries, Benho Gomez says.

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“Even in high-income countries – where significant progress has been made in addressing gender inequality in recent years – investing in gender equality may still be beneficial for life expectancy, especially for men,” she says.

Advances in politics and the workforce are also needed

The study also highlights some of the economic challenges women face, particularly the gender wage gap and their low participation rates in the labor force.

She says that “unlocking the full potential of half the world’s population” will require changing social norms and implementing “gender-sensitive policies” such as adequate parental leave and flexible working hours.

The study acknowledges that these policy reforms are easier said than done. Even when women are represented in large numbers in political institutions, she says, they often face glass ceilings and other challenges that limit their ability to effect change.

The weaker link between gender equality in politics and the gender life expectancy gap, Benho Gomez says, “raises concerns about how gender equality is implemented by political systems around the world.”

United nations Display data That women around the world are underrepresented at all levels of decision-making, from executive to local government positions. At the current rate, gender equality will not be reached in the highest positions of power for another 130 years, she says.

Only 31 countries have female heads of state and/or government as of January 2023 – and that was before the announcements of the resignation of high-profile female leaders such as New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern and Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon.

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“As we have seen from the recent resignations of high-profile female politicians, women still face significant challenges in this field, including discrimination, balancing private, family and political life, obtaining support from political parties, and securing campaign financing,” Pinho-Gomez says.

The results can help set policy priorities at a critical time

While the authors say their study is robust—particularly because of the reliability of WEF data and the large number of countries included—they also acknowledge several limitations.

First, the data was not available for all countries in the world, so the associations observed in some regions might look different if all of their neighbors were included. The indicator they used is not comprehensive, so including additional indicators of gender inequality may produce different results.

They also say that the associations they observed between gender equality and life expectancy could be explained by other factors, such as social and economic development and sociocultural norms.

However, they believe their findings can help policymakers around the world set priorities in public health and other areas.

And the issue has taken on a new urgency: The World Economic Forum estimates that the time it would take to close the global gender gap has increased by an entire generation — from 99.5 years to 135.6 years — as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which, in the researchers’ words, has had a “transgender impact.” multiple areas of life.