Women's Health Care Week
Women's Health Care Week is a weeklong initiative organized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health. It takes place May 13 through May 19 and serves to bring together communities, businesses, government, health organizations, and other groups in an effort to promote women's health. The theme for 2012 is "It's Your Time," and the campaign encourages women to make health a top priority in their lives. In honor of the month, SBAI is featuring important women in the field of health care. You can learn more about the initiative at womenshealth.gov.
In 2002, the United States government (under the Bush Administration) withdrew $34 million in funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) This meant that the UNFPA would have $34 million less to provide family planning services worldwide. Lois Abraham and Jane Roberts were livid with the United States’ decision and began independent email campaigns encouraging Americans to donate to UNFPA. Abraham and Roberts joined efforts to form 34 Million Friends of UNFPA with the goal of finding 34 million people to donate $1 or more to make up for the missing monetary contribution from the United States. Besides raising more than $4 million for UNFPA, 34 Million Friends has spread awareness about the goals of UNFPA and health care for women all around the world. Roberts was the keynote speaker for the 2012 Susan B. Anthony Institute Undergraduate Conference in Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Rochester.
Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881, motivated by her experiences tending to wounded soldiers in the American Civil War and helping prepare hospitals for the Franco-Prussian War. Barton began lobbying for support of the American Red Cross in 1873, arguing that it would be of assistance in times of peace as well as in war-time. In 1896, Barton was able to open the first American International Red Cross in Turkey after the Hamidian Massacres. The American Red Cross continues to be active and aids in domestic disaster relief, blood donation and collections, military services, community health education efforts, international relief programs, and other services for those in need.
Robin Lim, colloquially referred to as “Mother Robin,” founded Yayasan Bumi Sehat (Healthy Mother Earth Foundation) after complications in her sister’s pregnancy lead to the death of both her sister and the child in 2003. Lim moved to Indonesia to open up a clinic in order to provide midwife services and free prenatal care to low-income women. By public vote on CNN News Network’s website, Lim was awarded the CNN Hero of the Year award in 2011 and given $250,000 to continue to work. The Healthy Mother Earth Foundation has help thousands of Indonesian women go through pregnancy and give birth safely.
In 1916, when contraception was illegal in the United States, Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic. She was arrested for passing out information on contraceptives, yet to the authorities’ chagrin her court case brought attention and support to Sanger’s cause. Sanger formed the American Birth Control League in 1921, which would eventually become the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She wanted to eliminate unsafe back-alley abortions and allow women to have more control over and more opportunities in their life. Sanger continued to advocate for birth control and formed the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control in 1929 to aid in lobbying. Sanger is credited with founding the birth control movement.
Eve Ensler is widely known as the writer of the The Vagina Monologues. Ensler helped begin the anti-violence movement V-Day in 1998. V-Day’s mission calls for the end of violence against women: “rape, incest, battery, genital mutilation and sexual slavery must end now.” The movement works raises money through benefit performances of Ensler’s play, to advocate for the implementation of educational campaigns and legislation to stop the abuse of women.