Today, 8 March, is International Women’s Day, an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and also to inspire future positive change in women’s lives. This is a timely opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Australia’s women living in rural and remote areas who are famously resilient.
And they have much to be resilient about: rural women have poorer health; worse access to health care services; and higher rates of obesity, diabetes and death than their city sisters. According to the report from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health 2011, they are more likely to die from lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and ischaemic heart disease.
And as if all this were not enough, they have to deal with increasingly severe floods, fires and droughts. In survey after survey, rural women’s voices demonstrate their resilience and adaptability when dealing with adversity.
Social networks – which may be across very far-flung areas – could be a key element of this adaptability, and driving long distances is usually essential for maintaining that contact. And it should be remembered that women’s mental and physical health is a determinant of the health and wellbeing of their children and their communities.
The United Nations 2012 International Women’s Day theme is “Empower Rural Women” and this reminds us of the importance of supporting rural women’s health so that they can reach their full potential and keep contributing to their families, their communities and to the country as a whole.
So, on International Women’s Day 2012, let’s celebrate Australia’s strong women living in rural and remote areas (and let’s not forget them on the other 364 days). If you want some of the relevant facts at your fingertips, the Alliance has released a new Fact Sheet, number 31, Women’s health in rural Australia available on our website www.ruralhealth.org.au.
Dr Lesley Barclay - Chair: 0412 282 801