We’re on the precipice of achieving truly monumental strides for gender equality.
Progress has been made in recent years to achieve gender equality for women globally; in 46 countries women now hold more than 30% of seats in national parliament , girls now enrol for primary school at nearly the same rate worldwide as boys and in 76 countries the rate at which women died during childbirth dropped by at least 40% .
However, women still face huge health inequalities.
More than half of HIV-positive people are women, and 75% of these women live in resource scarce areas such as sub-saharan Africa. Worryingly, most pregnant women are unaware of their HIV status because of a lack of access to diagnostics, lack of knowledge of the disease, or fear of knowing the outcome due to the stigma it places on them. The impact of HIV infection also extends to their families, more than 2 million children under the age of 15 are living with HIV, most having acquired it via their mothers .
The story is similar for diseases specific to women too, currently more than 80% of cervical cancer deaths occur in developing countries. Countries where the crucial diagnostics required to test for the high-risk cancer-causing strains of HPV are limited, or non-existent  .
A recent study published in Nature Human Behaviour suggests that the prevalence of infectious diseases plays a large role in gender equality, and decreasing disease prevalence could help increase gender equality in the future .
Grossman and his team discovered that once the worry of infectious disease is lifted, people have a more positive outlook and women are more likely to pursue new activities such as education, exploration or political pursuits. This allows them to become more individual, embrace difference and celebrate innovation. Women start seeing opportunity, rather than peril. A shift occurs and change blossoms.
Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and therefore also half of its potential . Gender equality is vital to sustainable development. When women are empowered it benefits their families and their communities, creating a change that ripples through to future generations . No-one captures what this means for global development better than the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who said “Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth. Companies with more women leaders perform better. Peace agreements that include women are more durable. Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support. The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all.” 
It is imperative we continue to address the significant inequalities women face. We hope to do this by working to strengthen healthcare systems by bringing gold-standard diagnostics to the point-of-care. With a faster diagnosis we can tackle infectious diseases quickly and efficiently, avoiding the devastating impact they have on women and their families, creating a change that will open up a world of opportunities for women globally.
- United Nations, “Gender Equality: Why It Matters,” UN, New York, 2016.
- R. Ruiz, “This is what 20 years of gender equality progress looks like,” Mashable, 09 03 2015. [Online]. Available: http://mashable.com/2015/03/09/gender-equality-study/#.z64GzeGWqqJ. [Accessed 06 03 2017].
- N. M. Nour, “An Introduction to Global Women’s Health,” Rev Obstet Gynecol., vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 33-37, 2008.
- a. S. J. G. Jan M. Agosti, “Introducing HPV Vaccine in Developing Countries – Key Challenges and Issues,” The New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 356, pp. 1908-1910, 2007.
- M. E. W. V. a. I. Grossmann, “Pathogen prevalence is associated with cultural changes in gender equality,” Nature Human Behaviour, 2016.
- M. Panchani, “Role of Primary Health Care in the Empowerment of Women,” International Journal of Research Studies in Biosciences, vol. 2, no. 11, pp. 21-27, 2014.
- United Nations, “2014 Theme: Equality for women is progress for all,” United Nations, 08 03 2014. [Online]. Available: http://www.un.org/en/events/womensday/2014/. [Accessed 06 03 2017].