Women and Diabetes: Our Right to A Healthy Future
Worldwide, there are nearly 200 million women suffering from diabetes – that’s 1 in 18. Diabetes is the ninth most common cause of death among women today. Sadly, there are still millions of women living with the condition who don’t even know they have it. As a result, this year, the International Diabetes Foundation has devoted World Diabetes Day to “Women and Diabetes,” focusing this day on “Our Right to a Healthy Future.”
Whether you have diabetes or have a loved one with the disease, you can do your part to spread awareness on this important day.
What can be done about diabetes?
Although research is promising, there is no cure yet. But, ever since Paul Langerhans made his groundbreaking discovery of insulin in 1869, people with diabetes have had significantly more hope. Most people know that diabetes can be managed by a careful regimen of diet, exercise, medication, and – in some cases – insulin therapy.
People with diabetes should avoid smoking, alcohol, excessive carbohydrate consumption and items with a high sugar content, such as soda and fruit juices. You can discuss with your doctor good things to eat that are also good for you.
There is hope
When you are a woman with diabetes, it’s not uncommon to feel isolated and alone. However, you are one of many brave women who are fighting this fight. Every November 14, people with diabetes organize to support each other on World Diabetes Day. The focus of this year’s enclave includes the following points:
- Affordable access to healthcare for the disease
- Affordable access to insulin and other diabetes-related medications
- Affordable access to the necessary equipment for diabetes management
- Affordable access to self-help instruction and other forms of education regarding diabetes
With almost 200 million other women behind you, you should feel empowered as you look forward to a bright future.
The year 2017 is the 27th in the history of World Diabetes Day. It began as a joint effort between the International Diabetes Foundation and the World Health Organization. The idea was to create a disease-specific organization that would both spread awareness and provide help and guidance to people who have diabetes. Today, more than 1 billion people are involved in over 160 countries. The organizers are proud to focus on women’s issues this year.
Women face double stigmatization if they have diabetes. First, they can face discrimination because of their disease; second, they face discrimination because of their gender. These discriminatory practices occur in both developing countries and heavily industrialized nations, but thankfully the tide is changing for the better. Building awareness and providing education are two of the most effective weapons at combating negative stereotypes and practices.
The idea of having a billion people behind you – all speaking with one voice – can be greatly empowering and motivating.
This year, World Diabetes Day is dedicated to reminding us all about our value as women, no matter what personal struggles we may have in our lives. We all deserve access to treatment and medicines simply because we’re human beings. Women should have access to facilities that promote healthy activity and opportunities to pursue the sport or other physical activity of our choosing. Any woman who desires to become pregnant deserves proper education about both gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, so they can make informed decisions about their healthcare and – in some cases – save their lives.
There must also be Type 2 diabetes prevention programs that include the special nutritional needs of women, especially pregnant women. We also need to work so that adequate screening and comprehensive treatment options are available for all women everywhere.
By the power of your voice, you are contributing to a growing effort to create a better world for all of us. Some aspects of dealing with diabetes can be frightening and intimidating. Through our advocacy, we can help make health care access and treatment itself more obtainable and achievable.
How you can make World Diabetes Day your own
There a number of ways you can organize to advocate on World Diabetes Day. Contact your friends, health professionals and advertise to the general public. Make people aware of, not only your situation, but the situation of your 200 million fellow women with diabetes and one billion advocacy partners. Highlight the point that if nothing is more is done, the staggering number of nearly 200 million women who currently struggle with diabetes will rise to more than 313 million by 2040.
You can use social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and others to disseminate photos of your event and information about it – and future events – online. Share the #WDD hasthtag wherever you go, and other hashtags such as #WomenandDiabetes, #T1D, #T2D and #EmpowerWomen. Get on Twitter and share @WDD with your followers. Tag the people you follow too.
There are a number of other things you can do to support your sisters with diabetes. Dress in blue. Buy some blue lights for your home to show your solidarity for world diabetes awareness. Set up a flash mob of people wearing blue in support.
Contact local, state, and federal legislatures. Ask them to enact legislation that makes healthy, nutritious food affordably available. Ask them for help in organizing public health campaigns to educate people about the dangers of Type 2 diabetes. Organize round tables where the people in charge of various organizations can brainstorm together, come to a consensus about how to proceed, and implement these and other strategies to combat both types of diabetes throughout the world.
If you can, invite celebrities and well-known people to your events. Have them speak about their experiences. There are famous politicians, beloved actors and actresses and even professional athletes who suffer from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Many of them, such as the late Mary Tyler Moore, have been some of the most outspoken advocates on World Diabetes Day.
If you don’t have diabetes yourself, it’s also important to be mindful of your friends’ personal struggles with the disease and support them in all their endeavors. As with many things in life, mindfulness is crucial for understanding not only your friends’ collective quest but also their individual daily lives.
Continue to connect with people all over the globe to get good ideas about how to move the discussion forward in the future. Above all, never lose hope.
Hands across the sea
The World Diabetes Day website provides you with a map to keep track of all related activities around the world. It highlights all of the events that are part of World Diabetes Day. In 2017, there will be more than 525 events taking place in 72 countries as shown by the map. Most of these are concentrated in Europe, so if you plan to take your advocacy “on the road,” so to speak, touching base with Europeans would be a great idea. There are events taking place on six of the seven continents, so you can be truly multicultural in your approach.
I have made it my life’s work to help others achieve a sense of mindfulness and helpfulness toward others who have different struggles than they themselves do. I want to help the world to be a better place by fostering the concepts of well-being, harmony and peaceful coexistence. To me, it’s all about transformation, whether that transformation refers to your life itself or simply your view of the world.
I would love to hear about your personal story dealing with the challenges of diabetes or how you plan to get involved as an integral part of World Diabetes Day in the comments below.