Intended for healthcare professionals


Seeking a better world for women and girls

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 28 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5712
  1. Janice Du Mont, scientist1,
  2. Deborah White, associate professor2
  1. 1Women’s College Research Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5G 1N8
  2. 2Department of Sociology, Trent University, Peterborough, ON, Canada
  1. janice.dumont{at}

A moral and political movement is needed to end gendered oppression

One of the great injustices of our times is the insidious, systemic, and widespread oppression of women and girls. Gendered violence and avoidable complications of pregnancy and childbirth are associated with increased risk of depression, anxiety, suicidality, chronic diseases, disabling injuries, and death.1 2 They are also infringements of basic human rights and freedoms.1 2 For several decades these problems have been documented, and programmes, campaigns, policies, laws, conventions, and treaties have been devised to eliminate them.1 2 Despite some successes, American journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn argue in their 2009 book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, that it will take an incipient movement to emancipate women fully from what is the “equivalent of slavery.”3 Half the Sky is an impassioned call for action to stop routine abuse and neglect.

The statistics are grim. Up to a billion women worldwide have been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in their lifetime.4 Four out of five of …

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