Women's Health Symposium Draws Visitors from around the Globe

Article excerpt

Co-sponsored by the NOW Foundation, Women's Institute on Sport and Education (WISE), and the White House Millennium Council, the Women's International Symposium on Health (WISH) was held Oct. 14-16,2000, in conjunction with the World March of Women in Washington, D.C.

Women and men from 35 countries, including Bangladesh, Sweden, India, Tunisia, Cameroon, Bolivia, Senegal, the Russian Federation, Chad, South Africa and the United States, joined together to discuss improving women's health care from an activist and policy perspective.

NOW Foundation Secretary/Treasurer Karen Johnson believes, "WISH underscored the need for us to share health advocacy information and perspectives."

Topics discussed included reproductive health, tobacco, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and medical research. U.S. Assistant Surgeon General and keynote speaker Susan Blumenthal, MD, presented "Critical Women's Health Issues for the 21 st Century."

NOW Foundation award recipient Vivian Pinn, MD, director of the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women's Health, emphasized that research into prevention-not just treatment-of illnesses such as depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, breast cancer and cervical cancer should be a growing priority.

In addition, Pinn stressed the importance of encouraging more girls to pursue science careers. As an example of barriers women have faced, Pinn described how a male medical student declared she was taking up space a man could have filled and how feminist poetic justice was served when that student dropped out due to academic failure and Pinn graduated.

Expressing another theme of WISH, Marya Grambs, an activist in the fight against domestic violence since 1975, summarized strategies around the globe employed to confront it, including all-- women police stations in Brazil, a women's trade union in Zambia that assists survivors, and a men's organization in South Africa which recognizes men who make strides toward eliminating violence against women at the grassroots level. …