Amplifying Voices On The Path To Equity
Women make up more than half of Canada’s population. Yet, health issues unique to women continue to be under-researched, under-funded, and therefore, highly misunderstood. We at the Alberta Women’s Health Foundation, together with our committed donors and partners, are working to break the silence that has long persisted around women’s health issues. And our collective efforts are gaining momentum.
In early 2023, AWHF released its second-ever thought leadership report, “Surveying the Silence: Exploring the Impact of Taboos in Women’s Health.“
In it, we focused on the topics our culture leads many of us to avoid, the questions we do not know to ask, and the conditions about which little is known. In particular, the report focused on illuminating menopause and perimenopause, endometriosis, painful periods and premenstrual dysmorphic disorder (PMDD), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), pelvic floor issues, and more.
Over 2,200 people in Alberta helped us break some of the culture of silence that exists around pressing women’s health topics. Their voices, and those of the millions of women across Canada, continue to be amplified—the Surveying the Silence report serving as a megaphone for change.
To share findings from the report and feature key researchers and resources, the AWHF launched a five-week campaign culminating with a special video message being shared on International Women’s Day 2023–also marking and celebrating the AWHF’s three-year anniversary. The community responded with an outpouring of support for the report and the need for more research and attention toward women’s health. Beyond the many online engagements, the campaign also earned the most media attention of any campaign in the AWHF’s history.
More importantly, key decision makers are also hearing the calls.
Following the report’s release, AWHF’s President and CEO Sharlene Rutherford was invited to share the findings with national leaders. She presented at the Women’s Health Policy Roundtable, a national summit organized by Organon Canada, a dedicated supporter of AWHF and sponsor of the report. This summit, held at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, brought together leaders from across the nation under the banner of progress in women’s health equity.
And in July 2023, in a mandate letter from Premier Smith to Minister LaGrange, it was asked that the Minister of Health provide “the Alberta Women’s Health Foundation Legacy Grant – a one-time $10-million investment to support women-focused research, advocacy, and care.”
We look forward to continuing the AWHF’s all-important work to advance women’s health research and improve the lives of the many women and families in our communities.
Change is happening. Supportive people are making a difference. And the amplification of women’s voices and needs in healthcare is far from over. Together, we will continue to build on the foundation we have established and create pathways that impact women of all ages in all stages of life.