Women working overseas need to have more support from their employers on a range of health issues.
Towergate Health & Protection has highlighted this issue and called for employers to do more via their employee benefit programmes.
Towergate points out that women experience a range health conditions including pregnancy, gynaecological conditions and menopause, alongside issues such as breast cancer and osteoporosis. While these latter two can also effect men, they impact women far more frequently.
Towergate points out that attitudes and access to support for some of these conditions can vary across different countries and cultures, and it is important this is recognised in employee support packages.
Towergate Health & Protection head of international Sarah Dennis says: “It is imperative that support is available for women’s health issues both on a physical and mental level.
“Some employers are better than others at providing support, this might be from offering flexibility in working hours through to access to professional assistance. Likewise, some insurers have better propositions than others — we welcome all developments in this area, and we’d like to see more.”
She adds: “International employers are in a unique position to be able to consolidate their provision for women’s health across all areas, learning from forward-thinking countries and employers and applying this to their workforce.
“We encourage employers to be aware of the benefits available to support women’s health issues, and a good starting point is being open to conversation and education.”
The highlight some of the main issues below:
- Breast cancer: this is the most commonly occurring cancer in women and the second most common cancer overall. There were over 2 million new cases worldwide in 2018, with Belgium having the highest rate, followed by Luxembourg. Breast cancer is more easily treated the earlier it is detected, so it’s a good idea for employers to ensure routine screening is available.
- Infertility: this affects an estimated 15 per cent of couples globally, amounting to 48.5 million couples. Accessing treatment and support for infertility is harder in some countries than others. It is important, therefore, that employers consider infertility within their health and wellbeing programmes as some employees may find it harder to find support.
- Miscarriage and stillbirth: . The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines a stillbirth as a baby born with no signs of life at or after 28 weeks’ gestation. In 2015, there were 2.6 million stillbirths globally, with the majority occurring in developing countries. Miscarriages and stillbirth have a huge emotional impact and it is vital that employers ensure professional help and advice is readily available to the woman and her partner, whether this is physical, practical or emotional. Such stresses can be particularly hard to bear when away from home, and employers of staff abroad have an important role to play here.
- Menopause: attitudes to menopause differ from county to country, people will be reticent to talk about it in some countries, and they will be more open in others. For instance, in countries like Bangladesh and China there is little discussion or treatment of symptoms. In contrast within the USA more than one in four women have undergone a hysterectomy by age 54. It is important for employers to be aware of the differences in culture and approach wherever employees are based, so that appropriate support can be offered to all relevant women in whichever country or region they work.
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