International Women's Day is March 8, 2018.
The withinUs Team proudly supports charitable organizations within our communities.
For the month of March in recognition of International Women's Day, we are proud to partner with the BC Women's Hospital Foundation Her Health Matters campaign.
We interviewed Genesa Greening, President & CEO of the BC Women's Hospital Foundation. Genesa helps shed an important light on various issues within women's health, and why it is important for women to take control of their own health.
withinUs: What is your role at the BC Women's Hospital Foundation, and how did you become involved?
Genesa: My work has always been rooted in advocacy. I spent a number of years on several social justice initiatives in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside before my career took me down to Oakland, California to work alongside CNN’s Van Jones and his efforts to build what is now The Dream Corps, an organization that is committed to ending mass incarceration, the negative impacts of climate change, and the lack of diversity in the tech sector. I came back to Vancouver to have my son. I learned of an opportunity to apply my feminism to address the inequalities within women’s health. I jumped at the chance to be considered for the position and was thrilled when I was the successful candidate.
w: Why do you think it is important for women to take control of their own health?
G: The data clearly shows that healthy women result in healthy communities. Yet we also know that women are not receiving equitable access to healthcare. Women’s health research is underfunded. Women are underrepresented in research trials. Diagnostics and treatments are often based on the physiology of men. Despite notable physiological differences between men and women far too many prescription dosages are based on a man’s makeup. Women, unlike men, who present with chronic pain, are more likely to be referred to a psychiatrist than a pain clinic. Women are also notorious for putting the health needs of their children, partners and, families first.
If we know that when women thrive, all of society benefits in terms of its overall health, sustainability and economically, it only makes sense that we must advocate for the need to have a gender lens applied to the delivery of clinical care, the prioritization of research, the creation of health policy, and related budgetary decisions on spending. At BCWHF, we invest in the important work of saving the lives of women, improving healthcare and accessibility for women, and advocating for women to have agency over their health to ensure women are healthy, so their families are healthy.
w: How is BC Women's making health care for women more easily accessible?
G: By taking a selfless approach and not worrying about who gets the credit for moving the needle on improving timely and appropriate access to women’s health care. We will work with anyone who is similarly aligned in our relentless pursuit of demanding equity in women’s health care. We aren’t afraid of ruffling feathers, we speak truth, and we believe that by being malleable, nimble and collaborative we can be the connective tissue that brings the right stakeholders together to find creative solutions which make healthcare more accessible, respectful and equitable. We are laser focussed on gender equity in health so that the women of British Columbia have access to the highest quality healthcare when, where, and how they need it.
w: What are some of the most pressing issues in regards to women's health? Are they being properly addressed?
G: Your second question is much easier to answer, so I will start there with a resounding, “no.”
As per the most pressing issues, there is, sadly, a multitude. This is a topic that I am very passionate about and, I could literally take up this entire space regaling you with reams of data, studies, and first-hand accounts of how much work there is to be done in the arena of women’s health, but I will focus instead on just one, because I believe it is where a lot of where we find ourselves today as a society has stemmed from: the lack of investment in women’s health research. The disparity in how women’s health research is funded versus men’s is egregious,
and its roots go back a long way. Historically, clinical research trials excluded women from participating. That meant the results which were garnered were based exclusively on male physiology, and many of the prescriptions and drug therapies still in use today are based off results discovered in studying men. This is despite the fact that women metabolize drugs differently than men. We have smaller kidneys than men. Female hormones affect how drugs are processed by the liver – yet most medications only prescribe dosage based off male physiology. It wasn’t even until the 1990’s that women even started to be included in medical
research studies. Women are decades behind men in terms of the equitable investment in necessary health research funding, and when you understand that, it is actually pretty easy to see how women have been systemically set up to receive the short end of the stick. Our work is cut out for us. There is a lot which needs to change - and we’re going to do it.
w: What is the ultimate goal for the foundation with regards to women's health?
G: While there is a tremendous amount of work to be done alongside our counterparts, we have, essentially, broken down our goals into four key strategic areas of focus that we feel BC Women’s Hospital Foundation can successfully contribute toward by facilitating strategic philanthropic investment in…
1. Capital + Equipment
3. Education + Awareness
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