The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recent ‘Alcohol Action Plan’ seeks to raise awareness of alcohol-related harm, but it has presented itself as disgustingly misogynistic in the process.
WHO’s recent draft stated that drinking should be avoided entirely by “women of childbearing age”, among other groups such as pregnant women and adolescents.
The premise alone suggested by WHO is absolutely shocking, as when roughly considering “childbearing age” to be anywhere between 18 to mid-50s, a huge chunk of the female population is excluded from enjoying alcohol.
WHO’s suggestion implies that women should live their lives under the belief that someday they will get pregnant, and that whatever recreational activities they choose to perform before such a day should always be mindful and considerate of their role as childbearing citizens. It seems to me that this ‘recommendation’ is just another way to control women and our bodies.
The Independent reports the Chief Executive of Abortion Rights Charity BPAS, Clare Murphy, described WHO’s suggestion as a “risk” to “hard-won women’s rights” by “attempting to control their bodies and choices in this way”.
It’s sickening to think that such a large, influential organisation that has a huge impact on public health could suggest such a demeaning, sexist rule which forces half of the human population into the belief that their worth depends only on whether or not they are capable of bearing children.
It becomes even more shocking when you look further into the statistics surrounding alcohol-related harm. For example, alcohol contributed to around 0.7 million female deaths worldwide in 2016, compared to 2.3 million male deaths in the same year (three times more).
Furthermore, it’s easy to infer that WHO’s suggestion is based around other ideals, not just protecting the welfare of women, as men are entirely disregarded when considering how dangerous alcohol consumption can be.
The way in which WHO’s advice seeks to control women sparks a dystopian fear in my heart, as I worry modern society may become more accepting of patriarchal ideals in the name of public health.
If the World Health Organisation truly seeks to raise awareness of alcohol-related harm, they should do this on a level that doesn’t consider gender. As previous statistics show, men are more likely to face death at the hands of alcohol, yet no suggestion has been made for the gender to abstain from alcohol as a whole.
Furthermore, although there is a huge problem surrounding alcohol consumption in modern society, it is a problem for everyone – not just women.