Women's Health Equity Symposium March March 23, 2023

Roosevelt University recently honored Women’s History Month with the engaging Women’s Health Equity Symposium. Hosted by the University’s Women’s Leadership Council in the Ida B. Wells Lounge, the event addressed systemic inequity in the global healthcare system and presented ways for female-identifying individuals to access essential care.

Panelists included Dr. Amy Whitaker, a clinical associate professor in the University of Chicago’s department of obstetrics and gynecology; Dr. Yue Li, an assistant professor of psychology at Roosevelt; Sharmili Majmudar, the executive vice president of policy, programs & research at Women Employed; and Dr. Maureen Benjamins, a senior research fellow at Sinai Urban Health Institute. The panel was moderated by Dr. Sadhana Jackson, the principal investigator and NIH Distinguished Scholar at the National Institutes of Health.

Topics included abortion access, family leave policy and socioeconomic systems that currently limit women’s access to health services.

“We don’t believe that you can separate economic equity from health equity, particularly in the United States,” said Majmudar. “Over the past 50 years, the pay gap has only improved by pennies, and women disproportionately shoulder the responsibility of caregiving, which exponentially affects career prospects and access to services in an American system that ties healthcare to employment.”

Panelists also discussed community-based solutions. Dr. Whitaker, who is also the chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, discussed how placing clinics in underserved areas can create a “bridge” to prenatal care and integrate low-income women and women of color into the wider system. “Traveling for care usually falls on marginalized patients who are already balancing inflexible job schedules and less reliable public transportation options, so offering care in convenient locations can help minimize the equity loss and provide childcare options that minimize cost.”

Following the panel, attendees discussed how to advance health equity through legislation and everyday action, and they were given a copy of Jane Against the World: Roe V. Wade and the Fight for Reproductive Rights by Karen Blumenthal, which has been selected as the Women’s Leadership Council’s spring book read. 

You can view the panel discussion on YouTube.

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