Photo by Ssara Porter
Photo by Sara Porter

Over the past 20 years, diabetes has emerged as a global epidemic both in developed and developing countries. Although steps can be taken to control the disease, diabetic individuals are at risk of serious complications, including heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease, amputations, dental disease, and complications in pregnancy. In some cases, diabetes can lead to pre-mature death. ref 1  As this world wide epidemic continues to grow, women are consistently impacted by the negative affects of diabetes.

GAWH Campaign on Diabetes

In 2003, the Global Alliance for Women's Health launched an advocacy campaign entitled, "Women and the Emerging Diabetes Epidemic," in effort to expand international awareness of the increasing prevalence of diabetes and its impact on women. Since launching the campaign, GAWH has:

  • Held nine symposia on diabetes and its impact on women
  • Submitted a statement (E/CN.6/2005/NGO/36) to the UN during the 49th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which underscored the need to both develop forward-looking policies as well as take on the epidemic from a gender perspective
  • Initiated a network of worldwide NGOs to disseminate information on the diabetes epidemic

Throughout the campaign, GAWH has highlighted several aspects of the epidemic that indeed indicate diabetes to be a pressing women's health issue. We have emphasized that women are disproportionately at risk to the disease. We have noted that as primary care givers, women have the burden of caring for those suffering from diabetes and its associated complications. Most recently, GAWH has advocated for the attention of the global health community to address the serious problems associated with diabetes in pregnancy. In short, GAWH has called for the recognition of diabetes as a chronic disease that challenges the advancement and empowerment of women and girls.