Women’s Health: Global Perspectives

Schar School’s Gender and Policy Initiative Addresses Global Dangers to Women in Day-Long Forum

By Wanjiku Wainaina

What are the most urgent global issues facing women’s health that policy-makers need to address?

Leading scholars on women’s health and policy joined Schar School of Policy and Government professors, researchers, and students to discuss this question at a workshop on Women’s Health in Global Perspective on March 7, 2018 at George Mason University’s Founders Hall in Arlington.

The full-day workshop attracted notable experts on women’s health and policy, including U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Beth Collins-Sharp, who delivered the keynote address.

Schar School professor and director of the Master of Public Policy (MPP) program Bonnie Stabile organized the workshop. She noted that the workshop highlighted how the various forms of violence against women critically affect health outcomes and vulnerabilities for many women.

“By considering the unique manifestations of violence against women—including reproductive coercion, genital mutilation, subjection to the risk of HIV, and exposure to sexual violence and harassment in the military and on campuses—we can craft more responsive policy to improve life and health outcomes,” Stabile said.

This year’s workshop followed the success of the 2016 workshop by the same name, which resulted in a special issue and an ongoing series of articles in the World Medical and Health Policy journal highlighting global women’s health issues and their implications for economic, political and social development. Stabile oversees the Journal alongside Schar School professor Arnauld Nicogossian and Otmar Kloiber.

On the growth of women’s health scholarship, Stabile said, “interest in women’s health has transcended traditional categories of reproductive and maternal care. As the topics represented at our workshop attest, it has expanded to include issues like pain management and managing non-communicable disease.”

The Women’s Health in Global Perspective forum included panels on health and wellbeing; contraception and prenatal care; communicable and non-communicable disease; cultural and social determinants of health; maternal health; reproductive technology and family planning; and the health effects of violence against women and campus sexual assault.

This year’s workshop drew participants and panelists from universities across the country and as far as China (Dalian Medical University) and Australia (Griffith University).

The workshop was part of the Schar School’s Gender and Policy initiative led by Stabile and fellow Schar School professor Toni-Michelle Travis.