Here is the full speech delivered at The Rubin Museum on May 19th (click here to read the entire speech), an excerpt follows below:
The timing of this session is fortuitous because just this week the World Economic Forum released a report on “Women’s Empowerment—Measuring the Global Gender Gap”. In many areas the gap is wide if not abysmal. The report measured economic participation, economic advancement, political participation, educational participation and health status and wellbeing.
I am more accustomed to dealing with the issue, where are the women? In my world at Planned Parenthood, we are faced with over 500,000 women who die every year around the world from pregnancy-related causes, including 70,000 from botched abortions. We are faced with just half the women of the world having access to modern contraceptives and as a result with half the pregnancies on the planet, including in this country, being unintended. We are faced with the increasing feminization of the HIV epidemic, where half of the people living with HIV are women, and in sub-Saharan Africa it is 60% and rising. We are faced with the explosion in STDs around the planet and the medical fact that 70% of women with a STD are asymptomatic, whereas only 10% of men are, thereby making women less likely to be treated. We deal with sex bias against girls before, during and after birth. The sex ratios in China and India are heavily skewed towards the male child. The issues of male violence against women and lack of education, political and business opportunities for women are well known.
The health and rights issues of men are less well known, but they are there. I come to the issues of men with some biases and skepticism, but with increasing concern. The picture of male versus female health is a mixed one. There are few clear answers. We know that male behavior leads to deleterious health consequences for men and for women. I am convinced that we are not going to solve female health and rights issues, without addressing those of men too. Gender is an important lens with which we should view these problems, but it is not the only lens.
The question we have to answer for men is, What’s in it for the men?