International Women's Health Coalition Inc.

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Seventy-second World Health Assembly (A72/1)
Agenda Item: 
- Preparation for the high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on universal health coverage

Thank you Chair. We co-convene, with Women in Global Health and Women Deliver, the 35-member Alliance for Gender Equality and UHC with members in 23 countries. The Alliance produced a 7th Ask adding to the 6 Asks from UHC2030. The headline calls for governments – and all stakeholders – to Commit to Gender Equality and Women’s Rights in UHC – in design, financing and delivery. But to fulfill the right to the highest attainable standard of health for all, it is more than an Ask, it is a necessity.

First, ensuring comprehensive health services for all in UHC must unequivocally include comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services provided without stigma, discrimination, coercion and violence. The services must be integrated, high quality, affordable, accessible and acceptable.

Second, the shared goal of leaving no one behind in UHC requires using an intersectional lens to address the discrimination and inequalities - often based on race, ethnicity, age, ability, migrant status, gender identity or expression, indigeneity, health condition, class, and caste – that are persistent barriers to the right to health for all, particularly for women and girls and the most marginalised.

Third, UHC must address gender-related determinants of health throughout the lifecourse, including punitive and discriminatory laws, harmful traditional and cultural norms and practices.

Fourth, a well-paid and well-trained health workforce is critical to UHC success. It is crucial to invest in decent work that protects fundamental rights and promotes leadership, especially for women who make up 70% of healthworkers – often in low status or unpaid and informal positions.

Finally, public health financing mechanisms and budgets must be gender-responsive, equitable, participatory and accessible in order to reduce gender inequalities and the greater burden of out-of-pocket payments women face over their lifetime, including for SHR services and non-communicable diseases.