Women’s health matters

WOMEN and girls are honored this month, with various activities, including those led by the Philippine Commission on Women.

Presidential Proclamation No. 227, Series of 1988 declares the observance of the month of March as Women’s Role in History Month, and Republic Act No. 6949, Series of 1990 declares March 8 of every year as National Women’s Day which aims to give recognition to the contributions of Filipino women in our society.

This year’s theme, “We Make Change Work for Women,” also used last year, will be the same until 2022. It highlights the empowerment of women as active contributors to and claimholders of development. This pursuit of development is also anchored on the commitment of “Malasakit at Pagbabago” or True Compassion and Real Change.

Proclamation No. 759 issued on March 6, 1996 declares every fourth week of March as the Protection and Gender-Fair Treatment of the Girl Child Week (March 22-28). This underscores the need to provide every girl who is below 18 years of age with equal opportunities and adequate protection to prepare her for role in community development.

Ladies have specific roles that make them special and unique. Most common roles are being a wife and mother, but then, not all women choose to be one. Single ladies still have big responsibilities in the society. They can be mothers to their nephews or nieces, a surrogate mother to abandoned children and yes, be a mother to their pets.

Females can also be depended at work, as the big boss or an administrative assistant or a housekeeper. All roles are essential and equal. Some women are the voices of a chosen advocacy – human rights, children’s rights, mental health, women, and much more. Bravo to these courageous women. Women can excel in their chosen roles. They juggle many roles at the same time.

Having an excellent health is important, both physically and mentally. Women like everyone else are not spared from sickness or disorders.

Physical concerns are as important as mental health. Sometimes the disorders are inter-related. A cancer patient may experience depression.

Women have the tendency to set aside the symptoms they feel. They prioritize their children’s or their husband’s health, not to mention their parents or siblings. It is okay to love ourselves, too.

Audrey Tan-Zubiri, a columnist at Philippine Inquirer, reported the eight health concerns of women – cardiac problem, stroke, cancer (specifically ovarian, cervical and breast), diabetes, urinary tract infection (UTI), migraine, depression and maternal health.

Most common mental disorders for women are depression, eating disorders, and anxiety disorders specifically panic attacks.

Depression is a common disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, decrease of energy, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite and poor concentration (World Health Organization). It is not just about sadness.

Eating disorders are a group of conditions marked by an unhealthy relationship with food. There are three main types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa (weight loss due to excessive dieting and exercise), bulimia nervosa (extreme overeating and purging and other behaviors compensating overeating) and binge eating disorder (regular episodes of extreme overeating and feelings of loss of control about eating).

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to danger, like an automatic alarm that goes off when one feels threatened, under pressure or is facing a stressful situation.

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders that when distressed can affect a person’s normal life. People who experience anxiety often feel worried and are afraid.

All of these medical concerns can be managed and treated. It is necessary to visit one’s physician regular. Self-love is not being selfish. Self-care is a must!

Happy Women’s Month, ladies!