Women Are Worth It

August 26 commemorates Women’s Equality Day, a proud day for all American women This year marks 100 years since the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted all women the right to vote. Women earned the right to vote through the decades-long struggle of heroes such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Jane Addams, Ida B. Wells, Lucy Burns, and Mary McLeod Bethune who boldly persisted against those who wished to preserve the status quo. (Fun Fact: In 1895, Suffragist Susan B. Anthony came to speak at City Hall in Huntsville!). Women’s Equality Day gives us time to reflect on the work women have done across generations removing barriers, overcoming obstacles, and pursuing new ideas.

One of the greatest obstacles women continue to face is limited access to gender-specific health care. Even now, many women report that their health concerns have been discounted in medical settings, often leaving them feeling brushed off or not taken seriously. Today, one in ten women in the US is uninsured and this number is even greater among minorities and women with lower socioeconomic status. Moreover, among the 10 highest income countries worldwide, American women suffer the most chronic illnesses and lead in rates of maternal mortality. Thousands of US women often skip necessary healthcare appointments due to the relatively higher costs of medical care in the US compared to other economically advanced countries.

Due to the unequal distribution of healthcare especially in rural areas, sixteen percent of women in Alabama state they have no healthcare provider. In addition, women in our state tend to have higher incidences of diabetes, arthritis, asthma, COPD, and kidney disease compared to men. Alabama women also have a higher likelihood of poor mental health at 27% compared at 16% for men.

As we women continue to outlive our male counterparts, we will need to have better access to health providers as well as more gender specific approaches to healthcare. As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day let’s not forget that we are still not “there” yet. Let’s advocate for ourselves and each other in every way. I wonder what our sisters who helped pave the way 100 years ago would think about where we’re at today? I know they would be proud. They understood, like we do, that EVERY woman is worthy of healthcare that focuses on her unique needs as a female. It was true then what is true now; EVERY woman is worth it.

Until next time,
Elizabeth Irby CRNP