CEO BLOG: An International Women’s Day Message from Jennifer Bernard
At Women’s College Hospital I have the privilege of being surrounded by experts in women’s healthcare and research. It’s shocking how little I knew about my own health and the systemic inequities in the healthcare system before I joined the Foundation. My lack of knowledge was literally life threatening, and I’m not alone. Did you know that most of the drugs we take were not tested on women because women were excluded from most clinical trials until the late 1990s? How about the fact that women have different heart attack symptoms than men? Or that two thirds of the people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are women? What about the fact that black women are diagnosed with chronic diseases decades before other ethnic groups? The list goes on and on.
That’s why I am so proud to work at an institution that leads the way when it comes to creating better health outcomes for women and marginalized communities, fueled by our tireless champions at WCH and a community of supporters that is dedicated to our cause. With the pandemic ever present, issues of equity will continue to plague us as we recover from the greatest healthcare crisis of our time. For organizations like Women’s College Hospital that have been fighting for equity since our inception, we know there are many barriers that need to be broken and those who support equity must choose courage over the status quo every day.
In a way, every day is International Women’s Day at our hospital, but IWD 2021 is special. It’s the 10th anniversary of our Women for Women’s Gala, where our community comes together every year to celebrate each other, educate each other and most importantly raise our voices for each other. It’s not a party, it’s a revolution fueled by the women, allies and supporters that believe that a society that takes care of its women.
My hope is that beyond IWD the hard conversations continue, the dismantling of systemic barriers continues and the work towards creating a more equitable and just society continues. For all those corporate, and individual allies that support women, I hope you look for opportunities beyond IWD to entrench an equity lens on everything you support, all year round. I hope you will join us this IWD and every day after, to learn about the gaps in healthcare, and how you can help every woman, everywhere have access to the healthcare she needs and deserves.
Happy International Women’s Day!