The Unite for Sight Global Health and Innovation conference was a fantastic experience – I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to attend it. I was extremely fascinated with the variety of topics and issues that were addressed. Of particular interest to me were the topics dedicated to women’s health and ethical clinical practices. I appreciated the talks on women’s health as they focused on issues that I have always been interested in. I have a long-standing fascination with gender theory and with assessing sources of inequity – such as a power differential seen between men and women.
Women continue to suffer health, economic, and social disparities compared to their male counterpart. Attending the Maternal and Child Health series on the first day of the conference, truly gave me insight into how current health strategies are seeking to target, and address gender inequity, especially in the developing world where women, at times, can be seen as significantly lesser than men. An example of this can be seen through the efforts of Yet Asfaw, who, at the conference, provided us with an overview of how her organization, EngenderHealth, is seeking to advance women’s rights by promoting rights-based maternity care, contraceptive choice, and the opportunity to make free and informed reproductive health decisions. Women in developing countries who want to delay or avoid pregnancy generally lack access to contraception and adequate sexual counselling. Access to contraception saves lives and empowers women to take control of their future. When women are able to plan if or when they become pregnant, they are more likely to survive childbirth and have healthier babies. And with access to contraception, women can go further in school, earn more, and have healthier children (if they want them).
As a health science student, this conference furthered my exposure to the fields in which I hope to one day work – alongside marginalized communities, seeking new ways to empower them and increase access to health services and health information. As for future steps, I am currently facing a dark abyss in terms of my future. While waiting to hear back from graduate school is a frustrating and scary time, as mentioned, this conference has strengthened my resolve to work in public health. If I cannot gain entry into this field directly from a Masters in Public Health, I definitely see myself taking a more active role In my community and volunteering for organizations like EngenderHealth who are making a real and tangible difference.