International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrates the achievements of women around the globe, while also highlighting the need for gender equality. IWD is over 100 years old! It was first celebrated in 1911 and is now held every year on March 8th.
On International Women’s Day it is important to have open and honest conversations about health equity, including the opportunity for everyone to make informed decisions about their health.
For CanFASD, health equity means that women have the right to know the impact that substance use during pregnancy can have on their health and the health of their child; it means that women have the right to supports and services that can help to reduce or eliminate their substance use during pregnancy; and it means that women can access affordable contraception and are empowered by up-to-date information on their sexual and reproductive health.
The realm of FASD prevention covers all of these areas. It is more than spreading awareness that the safest option during pregnancy is not to consume alcohol. FASD prevention also incorporates initiatives like:
- Our online Prevention Conversation course that teaches health care practitioners and service providers how to engage in open and honest conversations about alcohol consumption during pregnancy;
- British Columbia’s Pregnancy Outreach Programs that provide supports and services to women who use substance to give them the tools and supports needed to reduce or eliminate their substance use;
- Alberta’s Teaching Sexual Health campaign that provide teachers and parents with resources and information to effectively teach sexual and reproductive health to children, teens, and young adults;
- Indigenous wellness and FASD prevention programs that incorporate culture, language, traditional knowledge, and land-based programming;
- Comprehensive substance use programs for pregnant and parenting women that increase women’s access to prenatal care, health care, social support, housing and nutrition services, and others;
- And many more.
The reality is that we are still fighting for these rights because health equity has not been reached. Despite the fact that timely access to effective contraception reduces the risk of unintended pregnancy, only 74% of youth aged 15 to 19 and 68% of youth aged 20-29 in Canada that do not desire pregnancy are consistently using contraception because of a lack of accessibility. Moreover, women who use substances still face stigma and discrimination that negatively impacts their access to supports and services.
Collectively, our actions can make a difference. Each of us can challenge stereotypes and stigma, fight bias, broaden our perspectives and understanding of women’s lives and the role of substances in their lives, and celebrate the achievements of women and girls who are working to eliminate or reduce their substance use during pregnancy. Learn more about health, substance use, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder on our website at www.canfasd.ca.
Show your support for women this International Women’s Day using the hashtags #IWD2020 and #EachForEqual on social media this Sunday and beyond.
Happy International Women’s Day!