In 2015, the United Nations will review the Millennium Development Goals and craft the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which will guide international development for years to come. The challenges facing women have been, and will continue to be, at the forefront of the goal setting agenda. Ebola, Boko Haram, maternal health, and the glass ceiling are just a few of the issues women face in leading healthy and productive lives in all corners of the globe.
International Women’s Day Global Health Symposium
On March 6, 2015, The Chicago Council partnered with 25 organizations to host its third annual Global Health Symposium dedicated to exploring many of the inter-related challenges facing women at the local, national, and international level. More than 400 attended the event in honor of International Women’s Day, where development and health experts and advocates discussed a wide variety of ideas on improving global women’s health.
“Talent is equally distributed, but opportunities sure aren’t”
– Susan Davis, president and CEO, BRAC USA
Healthy Food for a Healthy WorldWhat role does food play in the health of women and children? Notions such as the importance of the first 1,000 days (from conception to a child’s second birthday) are changing our understanding of nutrition. At the same time the food production system is expected to yield more than ever. As populations grow exponentially and more people move to urban areas, delivering ample healthy food to everyone will remain a pressing need.
“For so many Americans, we still think of hunger as a problem in Africa or Asia. . . . The challenge is that many people in this community struggle with basic access to nutritious food on a daily basis.”
– Kate Maehr, Executive Director and CEO, Greater Chicago Food Depository
Health and Safety for Women in the Workplace
The 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh brought to the forefront the conditions that many workers in developing markets endure – and among the most striking revelations were the comprehensive health challenges facing the women working in these factories. How do these women, overcome concerns of occupational safety, mental health, high rates of disease, poor maternal care, and sexual violence?
“In every country, where you live, where you work, where you play should be a structurally sound facility – you shouldn’t have to worry.”
– Jennifer Scanlon, Senior Vice President, USG Corporation and President, International, USG
Elevating Women and Girls
Investing in the health and prosperity of women and girls can affect an entire society. This is true in communities around the world, including Chicago. As many of the most critical health challenges facing the developing world are found in our own backyard, how can a community unite to create long term solutions?
“For far too long we have worked in silence… we firmly believe that women’s health and freedom from violence are intertwined with economic wellbeing and essential for sustaining vibrant communities.”
– K. Sujata, President and CEO, Chicago Foundation for Women
Global Mental HealthMental health disorders contribute substantially to strains on the healthcare system in all corners of the globe, and in every country there is still much work to be done. Cultural stigma, lack of awareness about symptoms and treatments, and little investment create a seemingly insurmountable challenge, yet international support for research and reform in this underserved field is growing.
“Mental health programs for children are really programs for families and that means programs for women… because worldwide caregivers are women.”
– Scott Portman, Senior Technical Advisor, Director of Special Projects, Heartland Alliance International
“Brain connections in early years of life form a foundation for the child’s ability to be healthy and well, learn, and be a productive member of society.”
– Karlee Silver, Vice President, Targeted Challenges, Grand Challenges Canada
Smart Economics: Women’s Reproductive HealthThrough supporting the family, shaping the next generation, and contributing to the economic well-being of a society, mothers have always played a vital role in the community. But what does recent research indicate about the global community’s investment in the health and productivity of mothers?
“About 11% of recent economic growth in low and middle income countries is due to reductions in deaths because of increased investment in health.”
– Priya Agrawal, Executive Director, Merck for Mothers
“The gap between maternal mortality in developing countries as a whole, and developed countries… has been described as the largest disparity existing in public health.”
– Jeni Klugman, Fellow, Women and Public Policy Program,
Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Impact through CollaborationSince the World Health Organization was first created in 1948, much has changed in the priorities of international organizations. As the number of issues considered ‘health-related’ expands and places increasing demands upon the limited resources available, new partnerships and innovative ideas are greatly needed to maximize the impact.
“It’s amazing when you start seeing things happen from the top down to the bottom up. That’s when you start to get huge community change.”
– Douglas Jackson, President and CEO, Project C.U.R.E.
Big Goals and Big DataNatural disasters, disease pandemics, and civil unrest can be difficult to predict, and even harder to respond to if caught unprepared. However, the big data of today offers an unprecedented opportunity to better prioritize when and where the international community invests their resources. How can people, institutions, and governments use it to become better prepared for the crises of tomorrow?
“It’s about collaboration. [At the end of the day] these tools are only as good as the people you bring around the table.”
– Harley Jones, Regional Chief Operating Officer, American Red Cross; Emerging Leader, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
“The dynamic between perceived global risk, interconnection, and rapid response requirements… is going to be one of the critical issues for pandemic preparedness.”
– Dr. Andrew Schroeder, Director of Research and Analysis, Direct Relief
“The potential for using data to do good is found nowhere greater than in the realm of public health.”
– Joan Suchomel, Director and Senior Medical Planner, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Communities on the BrinkWhat happens when public health concerns define a community? Sustainable healthcare can take years to establish, and even longer when issues such as corruption, complicated logistics, and external interests play a role. But in some of the most remote of areas of the world, success stories can be found — and significant lessons learned.
“How is this changing the economies, and the lives of the women in the region? People are left with a lack of income – because the men are just gone – and women are starting to work.”
– Jason Glaser, Cofounder, La Isla Foundation
“We have started a habit of asking the governments around the lake to work together. These are not countries that have the most relaxed international relations. To get them to collaborate for the benefit of the people around the lake is incredibly important.”
– Kate McLean, Chief Program Officer, Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic
The first video features six panels:
"Healthy Food for a Healthy World"
"Elevating Women and Girls"
"Global Mental Health"
"Smart Economics: Women’s Reproductive Health"
"Big Goals and Big Data"
"Health and Safety for Women in the Workplace"
The second video featues two breakout sessions:
“Impact Through Collaboration”
“Communities on the Brink”