Good health is critical to advancing economic opportunities for women and the societies in which they live. Decades of data have already shown the power of good health to positively transform economies — and what poor health does to undermine them. One extra year of life expectancy has been shown to raise gross domestic product per capita by about 4 percent. Nearly one-quarter of growth in low- and middle-income countries from 2001-2011 came out of improvements in health.
There is, however, a unique case to be made for investing specifically in women’s health. Despite progress made and years of evidence-based advocacy, a startling fact remains: Nowhere in the world do women have full control over their health because of the limitations and barriers to effective, open sexual and reproductive health care.
A new report by the United Nations Population Fund, “The Power of Choice” finds that throughout the world, cultural, social, and political biases and barriers still make it impossible for some women to choose whether and when to have children, and how many to have. The end result of this outright discrimination is that in some countries, one woman dies every two minutes from a complication of pregnancy or childbirth.
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