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Women’s Equality Day: Better gender equality leads to higher cognitive scores in older women, says study

Discrimination against women is widespread and can be seen in developing as well as developed countries. While most countries recognize the fact that both men and women should enjoy equal rights and many have created resolutions and programs intended to fight this discrimination, there is a host of evidence to prove that women continue to suffer gender disparities both at the workplace and at home.

In 1971, the United States Congress designated Aug. 26, as Women’s Equality Day to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. A major landmark in the women’s rights movement in the U.S., the day also calls attention to women’s rights and their continuing efforts towards full equality in all sectors.

Though much has been said and done about the social and economic implications of gender equality, not much is known about the role it plays in women’s health. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers have discovered that a woman’s cognitive functioning, in the later part of her life, may be affected by the degree of gender equality practiced in the country in which she resides.

Women perform better in gender-equal countries

The study looked at older men and women since they would have had the maximum exposure to the social structure of the country in which they reside. According to the researchers, older women performed better in gender-equal countries.

Eric Bonsang, chief researcher from Columbia University, and his colleagues analyzed data from individuals (aged 50 years and above) from 27 countries to arrive at the findings.

During the study, participants were administered two cognitive tests. In the first test, conducted to assess the participants’ episodic memory, he/she was given a list of 10 words and asked to recall them immediately. In the second test, that looked at the efficiency of the executive function of the brain, the participants were asked to name as many animals as they remembered in a span of 60 seconds. Additionally, the study participants were also asked their level of agreement with the statement, “When jobs are scarce, men should have more right to a job than women,” to gauze their own idea about gender equality. The researchers then compared the participants’ performances with the countries where they lived along with the nations’ history of gender equality and women’s rights.

A variation in results, basis the countries, was observed. Women from Northern European countries outperformed men in memory tests while men from Southern European countries outperformed women, in the same. While Sweden scored the most in terms of women performing better than men in cognitive functions, the male advantage was the highest in Ghana. “These findings reinforce the need for policies aiming at reducing gender inequalities as we show that consequences go beyond the labor market and income inequalities. It also shows how important it is to consider seemingly intangible influences, such as cultural attitudes and values, when trying to understand cognitive aging,” said Bonsang referring to the importance of the study.

Cognitive remediation builds mental fitness

The brain is the most important organ in our body. It is responsible for our thoughts, actions, behaviors, speech, and emotions. It is also responsible for our cognitive abilities and the proper functioning of our bodies. At Sovereign Health, we offer cognitive rehabilitation therapy, which includes several cognitive exercises and rehabilitation programs specifically aimed to improve cognitive functions including short-term memory, attention, and processing speed.

Celebrating womanhood and respecting their needs, the women’s only facility of Sovereign Health in Chandler, Arizona offers highest quality care for substance addiction, mental health disorders, and co-occurring conditions, in addition to cognitive remediation, in a safe and supportive environment. For more information about our evidence-based mental health treatment and addiction treatment programs or to know about our events, call our 24/7 helpline number 855-969-5557. Remember, Sovereign Health offers women the opportunity, through its rehab programs, to rebuild their lives in the strongest way possible.

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