Portuguese women, especially older ones, are in worse health than men – European report

Portuguese women, especially older ones, are in worse health than men – European report

Portuguese women, especially older ones, are in worse health than men, have more difficulties in paying dental expenses and are expected to live fewer years with quality after 65, reveals a European report.

The data are from the 2021 Gender Equality Index, released today and authored by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), which this year has a special focus on health and the impact of gender inequalities on access to health. One of the main conclusions is that Portuguese women have worse health than men and that this fact has not changed in recent times, noting that the proportion of women who report having good health has increased by only one percentage point since 2010 to 45 % in 2019.

“The proportion of men who reported being in good health remained at 55% during the same period, resulting in a gender gap of 10 percentage points in 2019”, the report reads. It adds that elderly women are the ones who experience the worst health, with only 12%, against 18% of men, aged 65 or over, who said they had good or very good health.

Within gender inequalities in access to health, the Index analyzes five items, including “level of health and mental health”, “healthy behavior”, “access to health services”, “sexual and reproductive health” and “the covid pandemic -19″.

Regarding the first aspect, EIGE realizes that the healthy life expectancy varies from man to woman, since in the case of females, the expectation is that they live up to 72 years of age in a healthy way and with quality of life, less than a year than men. This estimate is also below the European average, as the expectation, for both men and women, is that they will live another 10 years in a healthy way after 65 years of age. On the other hand, 68% of Portuguese women over 65 years of age admitted to having limitations in daily activities because of health problems, against 56% of men.

Regarding healthy behaviors, the Index analyzed, on the one hand, the high consumption of alcohol at least once a month, in people over 15 years old, in which there were only 3% of women against 18% of men. On the other hand, it assessed the percentage of people over 16 years of age who practiced physical activities outside working hours, finding 23% women and 29% men.

In terms of access to health services, it can be seen that 53% of women, compared to 44% of men, had difficulty paying unexpected dental expenses in 2016, with this gender gap being four percentage points higher than the European average. There are also 49% of women and 41% of men who are unable to pay expenses related to mental health care, against 39% and 33%, respectively, in the average of the 27 countries of the European Union.

Regarding sexual and reproductive health, the EIGE report shows, for example, that in 2020 around 5% of women in Portugal wanted to stop or postpone a pregnancy, but were not using any contraceptive method.

Finally, about the covid-19 pandemic, the European institute estimates that 16% more women and 15% more men died in 2020/2021 compared to 2016/2019. Excess mortality is an estimate presented as the percentage of additional deaths in a week compared to a reference period in the case of 2016/2019.

The EIGE report also analyzes the issue of violence and points out that Portugal is not given any score due to the lack of comparable data at the European Union level, but points out that during the covid-19 pandemic, restrictions on mobility and increased isolation exposed women to an increased risk of intimate partner violence.

“Although the full extent of violence during the pandemic is difficult to assess, the media and women’s organizations reported a marked increase in demand for services for women victims of violence. At the same time, the covid-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated pre-existing gaps in the prevention of violence against women and in the provision of adequately funded victim support services,” it reads.

Also regarding violence, the EIGE report states that in 2018 more than 600 women were killed in intimate relationships in 14 Member States, according to official data, pointing out that Portugal did not provide comparable data. However, it was able to find that 68% of Portuguese women who suffered physical or psychological violence were victims within their own home, while 3% of lesbian women and 3% of bisexual women were physically or sexually attacked in the last five years by to be part of the LGBTI community.

One in four women suffered harassment in the last five years and 14% in the last 12 months, while women with disabilities were 9% and 3%, respectively.