Home Position Statement Women’s Health
Women have a right to health and well-being. However, poverty, inequitable relationships between men and women, poor access to health care, inadequate education and a variety of social, economic, political and cultural factors adversely influence the health of millions of women worldwide.
ICN endorses the health agenda set out in The United Nations General Assembly Special Session Beijing + 5  and the ICPD + 5 Forum  and believes that it will contribute significantly to women’s fundamental right to health.
ICN supports the protection of women’s rights and deplores sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and girls for prostitution, and all forms of violence against women including female genital mutilation. ICN is particularly concerned about the growing prevalence of HIV infection in women.
ICN urges governments and other interested parties to ensure that reproductive health information and services, and adequate maternal care are provided as a matter of priority to address the unacceptable levels of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality.
ICN promotes gender equity, education and empowerment of women in both public and private life; and supports fundamental social reforms to address the inequalities in power, status and roles.
ICN endorses a gender mainstreaming approach in all aspects of health, including epidemiology studies, research, decision-making, service planning and care delivery, which takes account of the fact that most of the causes of women’s suffering are rooted in social, behavioural and cultural systems  .
ICN strongly supports the establishment of services that are accessible, sensitive to women’s needs at all stages in the life cycle, and that provide a full range of integrated health care and health education.
ICN believes that nurses, as knowledgeable, skilled health professionals, the majority of whom are women, are the advocates and healthcare providers of choice for women. Nurses can and should contribute directly to health policy, service planning, practice development and research in women’s health.
Women’s health encompasses physical, mental and social well-being throughout the life cycle, and has a direct impact on the health of children and families.
Women, especially single mothers, bear a disproportionate burden of poverty. Of those who are poor, 70% are female [iv] .
The global population aged over 65 is increasing by 750,000 per month. By 2025 there will be more than 800 million older people in the world. Two thirds of them will be in developing countries and a majority of older persons will be female [v] .
Women’s right to health and well-being must be protected throughout the lifespan and particularly during the vulnerable phase of the girl-child where rights to education, health and social support are especially important. During their reproductive years women need access to health and control over their reproductive health rights.
Lack of access to services, low socio-economic status and societal values that tolerate violence, sexual abuse and other violations of women’s rights continue to fuel the HIV/AIDS epidemic in women. In countries with high HIV prevalence, young women are at higher risk of contracting HIV than young men. [vi]
Nurses can have a significant impact in strengthening women’s capacity to exercise increased control over their lives and living conditions.
Nurses require formal education and training in gender sensitivity and the skills to appraise, monitor and evaluate policies and programmes from a gender perspective including, for example, epidemiology studies, decision making and service planning.
Adopted in 1996
Revised in 2002
 The United Nations General Assembly Special Session Beijing + 5 http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw
 ICPD + 5 Forum http://www.unfpa.org/icpd
 Snehendu B. Kar, PH in Women and Health: Maximising Women’s Capacities and Leadership. Proceedings of WHO Kobe Centre, Second International Meeting, Canberra, Australia, 4-6 April 2001 WHO
[iv] Gender and Health technical paper, WHO, 1998.
[v] WHO. The 1999 World Health Report. Life in the 21st Century. A Vision for All
[vi] The World’s Women 2000 – Trends and Statistics 2002 UN