Closing the Women’s Health Gap: A $1 Trillion Opportunity to Improve Lives and Economies

Investments addressing the women’s health gap could add years to life and life to years—and potentially boost the global economy by $1 trillion annually by 2040. Over the past two centuries, the rise in life expectancy—for both men and women—has been a tremendous success story. Global life expectancy increased from 30 years to 73 years between 1800 and 2018. But this is not the full picture. Women spend more of their lives in poor health and with degrees of disability (the “health span” rather than the “life span”).

A woman will spend an average of nine years in poor health, which affects her ability to be present and/or productive at home, in the workforce, and in the community and reduces her earning potential.

You know, it’s really important to realise that being healthy is not just good for us personally, but it’s also linked to how well our economy does. Did you know that every year, women lose around 75 million years of their lives because of poor health or dying early? That’s like losing a whole week of life for each woman every year. But here’s the thing: if we start closing this gap, it could have a huge impact. By 2040, it could be like having an extra 137 million women working full-time jobs. Imagine what that could mean for lifting women out of poverty and helping them support themselves and their families!

Bridging the Gap

Now, addressing this gap isn’t easy. It means investing a lot of money, but it also opens up new opportunities. And beyond just the economic benefits, it’s also about fairness and making sure everyone has access to good healthcare. When we bridge this gap, it’s not just about improving women’s lives—it’s also about creating a ripple effect throughout society. It could mean healthier future generations and more people living well as they grow older. So, it’s not just about the numbers; it’s about creating a more inclusive and healthier world for everyone.

You know, when we talk about women’s health, it’s usually just about things like sexual and reproductive health, but that’s only part of the story. This report looks at women’s health in a broader way. It includes not just issues like endometriosis and menopause, which are specific to women, but also other health problems that affect women more or in different ways.Now, here’s something interesting: while sexual and reproductive health, along with maternal, newborn, and child health, make up about 5 percent of women’s health concerns, that’s actually just the tip of the iceberg. A whopping 56 percent of the health problems women face are conditions that are either more common in women or show up differently in them. And the rest, about 43 percent, are health issues that affect both men and women pretty much equally.

Embracing the full definition of women’s health

When we talk about women’s health, we’re talking about a whole range of issues that affect women’s lives in different ways. It’s not just about one thing; it’s about understanding and addressing all the ways women’s health can be impacted.

With thanks to Kweilin EllingrudLucy Pérez, Anouk Petersen, and Valentina Sartori
Read the full article on the McKinsey website.