Leeds Women and Girls Voices help shape the first fully inclusive State of Women’s Health report for a city

Women’s Lives Leeds, in collaboration with Leeds City Council, have commissioned unique report that provides a comprehensive picture of life, health and wellbeing for women and girls in Leeds which has been published today (Friday 8th March 2019).

The report provides detailed analysis of data about health and factors such as lifestyles, combined with conversations with women from across Leeds. Launched on International Women’s Day, city leaders have affirmed that the report will be used to inform future policies and plans.

In response to the launch of the report Women’s Lives Leeds are pleased to say:

“This is a major step towards our overall vision for the city which is that many more women and girls in Leeds will have their needs met and be empowered to lead safer, healthier lives.

 The report comprehensively focuses on women and girls in Leeds and demonstrates how life factors have both positive and negative effects on their health and wellbeing. This report starkly clarifies that taking a fully inclusive collaborative approach can not only provide dividends for the city but beyond. Not only will this report help shape future arrangements for Leeds, we envisage opportunity for Leeds to influence national policy and strategy and welcome such endeavours.

We particularly welcome the acknowledgement and support from our City’s leaders, Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council who said “This report highlights that although there are many positive things happening in Leeds which improve women’s health and overall lives, there are still women who have poor health and live in difficult circumstances. This reflects pressures on our communities in a changing world where people are facing austerity and a society not properly aware of the significant health challenges women face. The report provides both evidence and recommendations to help us make women’s lives better.”

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults, has quoted “I am delighted we have produced the first significant analysis of the state of women’s health and what this means for Leeds. We will use it across the city to help improve women’s health, and hope it will also be useful beyond Leeds, helping people to understand the need for gender sensitive services for women.”

Our message is that we need to take a gendered approach to commissioning services for women and girls and that a “one size fits all” approach is flawed. Women and Girls centred commissioned services are still a necessity for Leeds.

A recent evaluation of the Women’s Lives Leeds Project’s Complex Needs Service (October 2018) has outlined the successes of our gendered, tailored specific model. Combining this learning and the State of Women’s Health Report we will continue to advocate for and support the development of gendered sensitive services for women and girls.

In addition we are pleased to see that the first recommendation fits with one of our three outcomes: To empower women and girls in Leeds to have their voices heard, to influence strategy and contribute to future service development, and as a consortium we recognise that there are still additional barriers to inclusion for particularly marginalised women, we have and will continue to work to ensure all women have their voices heard and decisions about them include them.

The report states: “Women’s Voices are heard … ensure that women are listened to and involved in policies that affect them, with the Leeds Women’s and Girls Hubs and other partners being involved in designing and delivering services”. As Women’s Lives Leeds facilitates the Hubs we will continue to ensure that women and girls have the mechanisms to be fully involved.

 Nik Peasgood, Lead Partner for the Women’s Lives Leeds Project said

“Women’s Lives Leeds Partnership aims to put women & girls voices at the heart of decision making, by informing & influencing service design, planning and commissioning in the City. I am delighted that a collaborative approach has been taken in considering the state of women’s and girls’ health in Leeds and I am determined that our expertise will help to ensure that recommendations from this report are embedded for the future benefit of everyone in Leeds.”

Jeannette Morris-Boam, Women’s Lives Leeds, Project Manager, said:

“What makes this report different is that we made sure that Women and Girls from across Leeds took part and provided their voices. This has helped us to understand their issues and the priorities they feel need to be addressed. What they said reminded us of  how important it was to listen to them and I am really pleased to see that the first recommendation states: “Women’s Voices are heard” recognising that women and girls are an important element of service design and development and will be included in the future.”

Tessa Denham, CEO Women’s Counselling and Therapy Service, WLL founding partner said:

“We are delighted to welcome this report’s systemic view of women and girls health. By including in one report, for the first time, the wide range of interconnected factors influencing our health, commissioners and providers are enabled to understand more clearly how to design effective sustainable solutions addressing the health inequalities faced by girls and women.”

The full State of Women’s Health in Leeds Report and the Summary can be found at: www.womenslivesleeds.org.uk/womenshealth

For further information please contact:

jeannette@leedswomensaid.org.uk, Jeannette Morris-Boam, Project Manager, Women’s Lives Leeds

claire@leedswomensaid.org.uk, Claire Harrison, Communications Worker, Women’s Lives Leeds