Women in Technology and Science

Women's Health Taskforce

  • 27 February 2020

Women’s Health Taskforce 6 February 2020

Anne-Marie Flaherty WITS Vice-Chair writes:

I was delighted to attend The Women's Health Taskforce - Stakeholder Engagement forum, on February 6th, 2020 at the Department of Health. The morning consisted of a comprehensive introduction on the need for such a Taskforce in Ireland, issues that have faced and currently face women in relation to their health and the Taskforce's work to date including its scope and proposed future direction the Department plans to take.

The participants ranged from social entrepreneurs, community and outreach groups, patient and support groups, those working with marginalised women and physical health and activity leaders. This wide range of voices really allowed for fascinating small group discussions during the second part of the morning. These discussions focused on the implications of the current women's health system in Ireland, areas that are working well and areas that need, not only drastic improvement, but a massive change in societal attitudes to allow that to happen.

Participants were then asked to move to groups which would focus on one of the areas that the Taskforce plans to focus on, as part of its rolling two year action plan. These groups included; Menopause, Gynecological health, Mental health and Physical Activity.

I would have an interest in participating in any of the groups, but I opted to join in the Physical Activity discussion, as it's an area I have a strong background in and a personal passion for. I have seen the importance physical activity has through all stages of a person's life. Barriers to participation and engagement with physical activity were discussed such as; social concerns, financial restrictions, safety concerns, accessibility, pressures on women as caregivers etc. .The high rate of girls dropping out of sport and physical activity is an area of significant concern. We discussed important initiatives like 20x20 which are highlighting inspiring Irish women in sport, "can't see, can't be". Also, the "This Girl Can" campaign from the UK, where women participating in sport and activity is promoted as something fun and accessible to all shapes,sizes and ages. The overwhelming consensus was that participation in, or engaging in physical activity is seen as such a positive way of enhancing other areas of health and well-being.

I would hope to participate in future stages of the Taskforce and really look forward to seeing what came out of the Stakeholder Engagement Forum and genuinely hope that the energy and desire to see women's health prioritised and engaged with at national level continues. Many thanks to the fantastic discussion group facilitators, who really allowed for some great contributions.

More information on the Women's Health Taskforce is available here: https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/-womens-health/

In the photo Anne- Marie Flaherty WITS Vice-Chair and Maggie Lawler a women's health and fitness expert, with a special focus on pre and post natal athletes.

Read the output from the Forum.