Empowered Women Empower Women
During the month of March, we are taking a look at the history, progress, and future of women’s health.
This March, we celebrate all women’s contributions to female health, empowerment and everything in between. Those that we should not overlook, however, are the women who never make the headlines. Of all the things the digital age has taught us, one thing stands supreme: when people, specifically, the marginalized and traditionally silenced, are given a platform, given a voice, great change can be made.
Historically, women’s health technologies have been developed by men for women. Although great strides were made on behalf of women, as we look into this new decade, we must ask ourselves: who knows our needs best? At our Center, a similar question is raised: who knows the needs of our partner communities best? The answer is the women and the communities themselves. Those that can make the greatest impact in a community are the community members themselves. That is why our Center leads and sponsors both technological development and community empowerment programs that put women at the center of their own health. We believe that it is not just the responsibility but a mandate for empowered women to empower women.
This empowerment comes in many forms, and we are proud to sponsor health, technological, and educational empowerment cascades for current and future generations of women worldwide.
Priscilla Appiah, clinician and founder of cervical health NGO Pappis Cervical Cancer Initiative, teaching women about the importance of cervical cancer screening
Recognizing the impact empowered women have had on her life and her desire to do the same for others, one of the Center’s post-bacc fellows reflects on her experiences:
“I look back and can list at least 5 women who have shown me through both their words and actions what it means to be an empowered woman. They have taught me to push past perceived boundaries and to be an advocate for myself. Most importantly, though, they have taught me to put others first in my pursuits — to ask myself, ‘how can I use what I have been given, earned, and achieved to benefit those around me without the same privileges?’ To me, this is what Women’s History Month is all about: recognizing the women who take it upon themselves to empower others and to use their voice to amplify others’ voices.”
How are we carrying out this mission?
As Dr. Ramanujam says, “As a researcher and engineer I started working on inequities in cervical cancer. The disease is completely preventable and half of the women affected are in the prime of their life. And, unfortunately, many of these women are women of color, from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, and many of them are from low and middle income countries.”
Women from marginalized, rural, and socio-economically disadvantaged communities need to travel great distances to access services for cervical cancer prevention. Even if they do travel to access medical services, women may not always get effective care. In addition to these structural barriers, the exam itself can make women feel extremely vulnerable, which is a significant deterrent. Our Center’s MacArthur 100&Change proposal, WISH Revolution: Women Inspired Strategies for Health empowers women to get screened for cervical cancer on their own terms, enables them to get treatment by providers from their own communities, and empowers them to advocate for each other to create a multiplier effect that serves more women and saves more lives. Our technological innovations combined with education and empowerment make this a reality, and target one of the most pressing issues in women’s health today — cervical cancer.
A volunteer with WISH Revolution collaborator HOPE Project promoting and disseminating HPV self-testing kits in Ventanilla, Peru
Our WISH Revolution model … serves more women and saves more lives.