The Center for Global Studies (CGS) sponsored a Workshop on Women’s Health in Global Perspective at the School of Policy, Government and International Affairs (SPGIA) at George Mason University on March 3, 2016. The workshop featured a full day of panels highlighting various areas of interest to women’s health, including “Maternal and Child Well-being,” “Violence Against Women,” “Accessibility of Contraception and Prenatal Care” and “Accounting for the Role of Gender Disparities.” Presenters included scholars from several nations around the world who came from all over the United States to share their research, supported in part by travel stipends from CGS. Professors Naoru Koizumi and Bonnie Stabile of SPGIA coordinated the day’s events.
The keynote address that kicked off the event was given by Nancy Lee, MD, Director of the Office on Women’s Health (OAH), in the United States (US) Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Lee highlighted the state of women’s health in the US relative to other countries, and also offered a comparative perspective among US counties, noting disparities in health outcomes between women and men. She outlined several areas in which OAH efforts are currently concentrated, including Violence Against Women, Female Genital Cutting (FGC), and HIV/AIDS.
A panel on “Cross-Border Concerns” explored a number of topics that arise in the international arena as people travel among states where variations in custom, law and policy can complicate, and sometimes compromise, health and life outcomes for women. Cases discussed included transnational surrogacy, trafficking in women and girls, and women’s rights in cross-border reproductive care.
Two full panels were concerned with the topic of violence against women. The first examined recent trends in attitudes towards female genital mutilation; presented a systematic review of reproductive coercion in international settings; and grappled with the risk of HIV infections among women in the African diaspora and survivors of domestic violence in Tobago. The second considered the problem of violence against women in multiple venues, from the US military to prisons in Peru, to multiple sites of post-disaster settings, where women have proven to be particularly vulnerable to attack.
Panels were chaired by faculty from across George Mason University and beyond, representing the Departments of Health Administration and Policy; Philosophy, as well as the Schools of Policy, Government and International Affairs; and Conflict Analysis and Resolution.
Organized in cooperation with World Medical & Health Policy, the workshop’s goals were to contribute to understanding and improve policy related to women’s health and wellbeing. Papers presented have been submitted to the journal for peer review and eventual publication in a special issue of the journal on Women’s Health in Global Perspective. Given the volume of strong scholarship presented, it is expected that the workshop will yield more than one full issue on this important topic. Further, while the published articles will appear in the journal’s online format, an edited volume of selected articles is also planned, and will be published by Westphalia Press in 2017 (an imprint of the Policy Studies Organization).
Both the quality of the scholarship and the collegiality of the participants led workshop coordinators to plan for a follow on workshop in 2017, with the hope of creating an ongoing annual event to focus on Women’s Health in Global Perspective.