- The World Health Organization is being called sexist for saying women of childbearing age should never drink alcohol.
- This controversial stance is part of the WHO’s draft global alcohol action plan for 2022-2030.
- More culture news here.
The organization is being called “sexist and paternalistic” as it urges countries to pay “appropriate attention should be given to prevention of the initiation of drinking among children and adolescents, prevention of drinking among pregnant women and women of childbearing age.”
Matt Lambert, chief executive of the Portman Group, the social responsibility and regulatory body for alcohol in the UK, lambasted the WHO for its suggestion, reports the Telegraph.
“We are extremely concerned by the WHO calling on countries to prevent drinking among women of childbearing age in their latest action plan,” said Lambert.” As well as being sexist and paternalistic, and potentially restricting the freedoms of most women, it goes well beyond their remit and is not rooted in science.
“It is wrong to scaremonger in this irresponsible way and associate women’s alcohol-related risks with those of children and pregnant people.”
— Portman Group (@PortmanGroup) June 16, 2021
Christopher Snowdon, the head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said about the WHO plan, “This is classic World Health Organization idiocy. Not content with repeatedly dropping the ball on Covid-19 and dishing out awards to politicians for banning vaping, it now thinks most of the world’s women should abstain from alcohol.
“The idea that it is unsafe for women of childbearing age to drink any alcohol is unscientific and absurd. Moreover, it is none of the WHO’s business.”
"This is classic World Health Organisation idiocy… The idea that it is unsafe for women of childbearing age to drink any alcohol is unscientific and absurd"
— IEA (@iealondon) June 17, 2021
Hannah Ord, a researcher at the Adam Smith Institute, called the suggestion “ludicrous and sexist” and could result in women not following other health advice.
Colin Angus, a senior research fellow who specializes in alcohol at Sheffield University, told MailOnline he would be “amazed” if the WHO draft guidance passes.
“The suggestion that we should actively prevent a substantial proportion of women from drinking is completely at odds with the balance of the risks of drinking and restrictions on personal freedom that we see in almost any country in the world,’ said Angus.
“There are specific ethical issues around the fact that drinking in pregnancy has a detrimental effect on somebody other than the drinker — their unborn child.
“And the highest risk period for drinking is in the first few weeks of pregnancy when many women may not yet be aware they are pregnant.”
Richard Piper, chief executive of Alcohol Change UK, said about the WHO’s advice, “Drinking alcohol in the early stages of pregnancy, even before many people realize they’re pregnant, can be very damaging for a fetus.
“It’s important that people understand these risks, but also vital that we balance this against each adult’s right to make informed decisions about what we do with our bodies, no matter our age or sex.”
Many people on social media were no less thrilled than the aforementioned experts regarding the World Health Organization’s stance on women of child-bearing age drinking alcohol.
Hi @WHO could you do a study please on the affect of alcohol on sperm production, size, quantity and the affects of drinking on men's fertility please? Cos apparently it badly affects men's fertility. Are men going to be 'prevented' from drinking too? Or is it just women?
— Karen Mulreid (@beatingblog) June 17, 2021
I've just seen my old employer the WHO has said women of 'childbearing age' shouldn't drink alcohol at all.
What nonsense is this?
This nannying and patronising just has to stop. People can make up their own minds about what is right for them.
— Professor Karol Sikora (@ProfKarolSikora) June 17, 2021
What about men "of the age where they are capable of having children" I don't understand the difference? You need both to create a baby, don't you? 🤔 why come for just the wonem? 🤷🏻♀️— Katie Charles 🌸 (@_katie_c) June 17, 2021
How can we place the burden of effecting alcohol policy change on the individual while simultaneously reducing women to vessels for growing babies, whether they want them or not?— Michelle Nic Liam (@michmochw) June 17, 2021
WHO: hold my beer https://t.co/RTmvyhP8jn
I'd love to see them try and enforce that.— redpilljordan (@redpilljordan) June 17, 2021
“It is extremely disturbing to see the World Health Organization risk hard-won women’s rights by attempting to control their bodies and choices in this way."
— BPAS (@BPAS1968) June 17, 2021
Dag Rekve from the WHO’s Alcohol, Drugs and Addictive Behaviours Unit attempted to clarify their statement to the BBC Woman’s Hour on Thursday.
The World Health Organisation has been criticised for its draft global alcohol action plan which warns against ‘women of child-bearing age’ drinking alcohol. Dag Rekve from @WHO 's Alcohol, Drugs and Addictive Behaviours Unit explains more… https://t.co/X3S6Lxj6e7 pic.twitter.com/eUAEZZK4vq
— BBC Woman's Hour (@BBCWomansHour) June 17, 2021