Education, including health education helps empower women, says Nevis Health and Gender Affairs Minister

NIA — The following is a statement by Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, Minister of Health and Gender Affairs on Nevis delivered by Mrs. Nicole Slack-Liburd, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health at the Department of Gender Affairs’ Health is Wealth Seminar for Women and Girls on March 08, 2018, at the St. Paul’s Anglican Church Hall, to mark the observance of International Women’s Day and World Kidney Day.

I bring you greetings on the occasion of International Women’s Day. A day when the world applauds the achievements of women, and recognizes the challenges that we still face with regard to gender equality and empowerment.

As Minister of Health and Gender Affairs, I recognize that one of the ways that the empowerment of women is realized is through education, including that of health education.

I applaud the Gender Affairs Department for twinning health and gender in this way, as it recognizes the interlinkages between these two areas. If we examine the Sustainable Development Goals for example, we see the link between gender and sexual and reproductive health, as well as maternal mortality for example, which also highlights the issue of women’s health.

This seminar entitled “health is wealth” targets women from both the public and private sectors and will discuss various issues that affect women including chronic kidney disease, as well as its risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension, and the issues of aging and related factors including menopause.

We highlight women’s issues and that of women’s health during this month of activities in commemoration of International Women’s Day. The advancement of women however, is a permanent priority for the Ministry of Health and Gender Affairs. This is evident through our various programmes which address maternal health such as cervical cancer screening, and antenatal and post-natal clinics which also provide obstetrics and gynaecological services.

Programmes for the empowerment of women include training in non-traditional occupations for women, as well as the education of women and men on matters relating to gender in the workplace including that of sexual harassment.

The theme for International Women’s Day calls for women to be activists and transform women’s lives. At the end of this session, I expect you to be motivated and empowered to change any risky behaviours you may have such as the consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages, and your lack of physical exercise. This practice will help you to keep Non Communicable Diseases at bay, as well as manage conditions that you may already have.

As nurtures, in society, we women recognize that we should not only change our own behaviours, but that of our families including our children. I encourage you to make a pledge today to reduce the amount of Cheetos, sodas and candies that we give our children.

After the conclusion of this session, I also expect you to garner information about menopause that can prepare you for this stage of your life, including coping with symptoms such as hot flashes, and dispelling some of the associated myths including inevitable weight gain.

After you have been motivated and empowered, I am sure that some of you may want further information about these topics. I am positive that the facilitators will welcome your immediate questions and further queries.

You can of course also follow up with the Community Health Department including the Health Promotion Unit, our six health centres, the Gender Affairs Department, and your private physician so you can continue to be encouraged.

Let us continue to press for progress, as we aim to advance our health, which will not only benefit us as individuals but our communities and our country.

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