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The Health Collective

As a charity we have worked tirelessly for almost 60 years to save and change the lives of women, girls and babies.

Shockingly, the UK has the widest gender health gap in the G20 as our health system has been designed by men for men. In July 2022, the UK Government tried to tackle this disparity with the launch of the Women’s Health Strategy, which promised to tackle the deeply rooted inequalities in our healthcare system to improve the health and wellbeing of women across the country.

Nowhere is this gender health gap more pronounced than for women from diverse ethnic groups. The 2022 National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) study, which was part funded by Wellbeing of Women, found that women and their babies who are from Black or minority ethnic communities experience worse outcomes during pregnancy and the postnatal period.

Together with our ambassador Dr Nighat Arif, we want to make change. The Health Collective has emerged out of the urgent need to do more to ensure all girls and women receive the best care, regardless of which community they belong to. It is being led by grassroots organisations representing women’s voices from every community in our society.

We are at the start of a long road, with a lot of work to do, but it feels achievable through combined action and collaboration.” Dr Nighat Arif Wellbeing of Women Ambassador

We want to ensure members voices are being heard and used to influence Government policy via the Women’s Health Strategy and create collaborative solutions to overcome many common challenges.

A group of women standing huddle together, there is also one man standing on the far right side- Dr Nighat Arif is in the centre; arms outstretched

The objectives of The Health Collective are to:

  • Support ongoing work that grassroots organisations are already doing to support their communities
  • Ensure that diverse women’s voices are heard and can influence Government policy via the Women’s Health Strategy
  • Create collaborative solutions between members to overcome many common challenges
  • Identify barriers to equitable healthcare and suggest ways to overcome them. Promote types of care that women from marginalised communities want in a way that works for them

We held our first meeting in September 2023, to gather insights on health prioritises for women from marginalised communities. Over 30 participants attended including grassroots organisations and healthcare professionals.

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A post shared by Dr Nighat Arif (@drnighatarif)

The discussions highlighted a clear need for better engagement, culturally competent care, improved funding models and cross-sector collaboration.

From these insights, the following recommendations are proposed to support grassroots organisations in better serving women within marginalised communities.

Dr Nighat Arif and Janet Lindsay, CEO of Wellbeing of Women, standing together in front of a group of people.

Funding and resources

  • Sustained core funding for women’s health organisations, especially at community level
  • Multilingual, accessible and culturally relevant health education resources
  • Regional partnerships and platforms to unite advocates nationally
  • Employer support for women’s health work as a valued service

Grassroots community engagement

  • Improved engagement and co-production with marginalised populations
  • Spaces for women to speak openly about stigmatised health issues
  • Support from men as allies in breaking society’s stigma and taboos

Health system improvement

  • Enhanced training for healthcare professionals on cultural competency and bias
  • Better data collection and representation of the impact of treatments and interventions for diverse communities

Read the full report here.

What’s next?

The event highlighted major gaps in meeting the needs of marginalised women but also showcased the passion and potential for change through cross sector collaboration. Implementing the recommendations in this report can help create more inclusive clinical pathways and close disparities in women’s health outcomes.

In January 2024, we will be holding the second meeting of The Health Collective, to take forward the recommendations made in the report. The group will meet quarterly with some meetings virtual and some in person.

The Health Collective -  Nighat and Lesley

The Health Collective is being led by grassroot organisations and healthcare professionals representing women’s voices from marginalised communities in our society.

It aims to ensure that their voices are heard and used to influence Government policy via the Women’s Health Strategy and to create collaborative solutions to overcome many commons challenges.