Celebrating longer, healthier lives on International Women’s Day

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

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What is saving and taking women’s lives in 2017?

The global average life expectancy for a girl born today is about 74 years. That’s 20 years more than women born in 1960.

An Australian girl born today can expect to live to 84 years. She’s gained a decade since 1960. Life expectancy for our Nepalese sisters has doubled from 35 to 71 years.

Around the world there’s been a remarkable transformation in the human condition. It’s come from a host of public achievements, including the following:

  • Improvements in living conditions in the early 20th century—better water supplies, sewerage systems, food quality and health education, have led to overall lower death rates and longer life expectancy at all ages.
  • In Australia, childbirth is 10 times safer for babies, and in USA, childbirth is 100 times safer for the mums than it was 100 years ago.
  • In Australia, we’ve seen a 95 per cent decrease in death rate for children aged zero to four years (including infants).
  • We've seen an 80 per cent reduction in cervical and uterine cancer mortality.
  • We have universal education for all children with no discrimination towards girls achieving their goals.
  • The protection of human rights of women and girls are improving, though we have more to do.
  • Women are less likely to die of breast cancer thanks to screening and improved treatments.

Globally, there are big changes as well. For example, a quarter of all adult Botswanans carry HIV, but transmission from infected mums to their babies is just four per cent because of advances in health care and facilities, better access and education.

The global education of girls is continually improving the lives of girls and their families. Keeping girls in school and ensuring they can learn in safe and supportive environments is leading to many benefits for girls, their families, communities and economies.

But some problems are yet to be resolved. Globally 83 million people die each year from chronic disease.

One Australian woman dies each week due to domestic violence. There was a seven-fold increase in lung cancer deaths in women over the 20th century. Life expectancy for Indigenous women is 73.7 years, a 0.6-year improvement over the previous five years, but a long way still to go with Closing the Gap.

At the World Congress on Public Health in Melbourne in April, we’ll hear how Australia’s and the world’s public health leaders plan to transform women’s lives in the next 50 years.

How will they tackle domestic violence, adolescent health, diabetes, obesity, tobacco, alcohol and many other challenges?

Public Health global experts participating in the Congress are available for media interviews for International Women’s Day, including:

For further information and interviews contact, Julie Michaud or Niall Byrne on 03 9398 1416, niall@scienceinpublic.com.au, +61 417 131 977.