Good afternoon! I’m back in the UN again (the wifi is AWESOME here). Today, I went to three panels on “Sextortion”, Migration of Rural Women, and Girls as a Tool for Change. As you might guess, all three had different focuses and approaches lead by women and men from around the world. Through the last four days, I’ve seen panels on disaster relief in the Asia Pacific, micro-financing in Sub-Saharan Africa, technology as a tool for change, and reproductive rights in Russia. I’m enjoying attending such a diverse range of panels because I’m realizing the interconnected nature of all of these issues, especially when seen through the lens of health. Coming to CSW 56 I expected to find panels labeled “health issues of rural women”, but I’ve only seen general panels that address health of distinctly female health issues, i.e. sexual and reproductive health and maternal health. These are GREAT health topics to focus on, don’t get me wrong! But where are the panels on obesity, cancer, and diabetes (more “gender neutral” health issues) influencing rural women?
I was so determined to find this elusive health panel the first few days that I got pretty bummed at its absence. However, I’m now realizing that learning about education and land rights of rural women is JUST as important to learn because they are social determinants of health. The World Health Organization defines social determinants of health as the “conditions in which people grow, live, work and age”, i.e. the environment of their lives. For instance, access to a health clinic relies on transportation (can a woman miss work, and who watches the children?), literacy to fill out forms (can the woman read?), and treatment (does she have funding from family or microfinancing to pay for medical bills for herself and/or her family?). CSW is providing me an opportunity to understand the factors that effect the environment of rural women's lives. Seeing the incredible amount of opinions laid out at panels reminds me collaboration will provide these essential perspectives to understand social determinants of health, and only then can I focus on the public health issues that emerge as a result.
I can’t wait to present with the rest of the WomenNC fellows in just three hours! So excited!
Love, Abby Bouchon