Monday 23rd May 2022 marked the first ever European Hormone Day, a joint initiative of the European Society of Endocrinology (ESE) and the ESE Foundation. This May, a new network was also launched for European Women in Endocrinology (EUWIN), to promote the professional development of women.

The new European Hormone Day will broadcast the importance of hormones and our endocrine health to a wide audience. “The main aim of the European Hormone Day is to become an annual anchor point to remind politicians about the importance of hormonal health in European health policies and build awareness among the public at large,” says Martin Reincke, current president of the ESE. Under the tagline “because hormones matter”, these objectives were supported by an information campaign and The Milano 2022 declaration1. This declaration called for “the inclusion of the endocrine health perspective as an integral part of European health policies”.

Policies enacted by governments affect every aspect of our lives. The ESE has already worked to raise political awareness of the importance of endocrine health with its White Paper on hormones in European Health Policies, published in 2021 (ref.2). This paper called on policy makers in Europe to recognise the importance of endocrinology. Four key policy areas were identified: obesity, rare endocrine diseases, endocrine cancer and endocrine disrupting chemicals. The Milano 2022 declaration builds on this paper and is endorsed by 45 national and partner endocrine societies, 15 patient advocacy groups and nine members of European Parliament. “A change in health and research policies can have a strong and positive impact on our European society,” says Reincke.

Moving forward, perhaps there is potential to work towards a World Hormone Day. “Compared with existing specific disease awareness days, the European Hormone Day aims to provide an ‘umbrella’ approach to the role of hormones in general,” says Andrea Giustina, former ESE president and current president of the ESE Foundation. “A further engagement with the international like-minded societies and partners of ESE and the ESE Foundation is a logical next step towards more global attention to the statement: because hormones matter.”

EUWIN was founded by Jenny Visser (Erasmus MC, the Netherlands), Wiebke Arlt (University of Birmingham, UK) and Cynthia Andoniadou (King’s College London, UK) in order to improve opportunities for women in European endocrinology and within the ESE. “Through EUWIN we aim to develop dedicated mentoring schemes for the support and career advancement of female members, to increase the representation of women on leadership committees across European endocrinology initiatives, as well as increased representation of women in nominations for honours and awards,” says Andoniadou.

Many barriers still exist for women, including those working in endocrinology. “For example, more women than men in Europe are still experiencing difficulties with juggling caring responsibilities, with a wide geographical variation in access to shared parental leave and career re-entry support,” says Arlt. These and other barriers translate into a lack of women in high profile positions. In NHS England in 2017, 53% of higher specialist trainees and 34% of consultants in the specialty of diabetes and endocrinology were female, whereas 85% of national clinical directors were male3. “Amongst principal investigators, professors, clinical leads, grant winners and award recipients, women are still in the minority in endocrinology, though they now represent the majority of those active in endocrine research and clinical practice,” says Arlt.

Hopefully, in the future, EUWIN will grow into a supportive and interactive network for all women in endocrinology working in Europe, with the potential for a global network in the future. “Several countries, such as the USA and Australia, have very active networks for women in endocrinology,” says Visser. “However, the core issues experienced by women in endocrinology and support they would benefit from are globally aligned.”

“these European initiatives should have a positive impact on endocrine health and endocrinologists in Europe”

Together, these European initiatives should have a positive impact on endocrine health and endocrinologists in Europe.