Written by Katie Crowder, administrative assistant, Global Health Center and Kim Furlow, communications manager for the Institute for Public Health
The Women in Global Health – Midwest Chapter works year-round to achieve gender equality in Global Health by advocating for gender transformative leadership. We recently checked in with the chapter’s organizational team. As summer rounds the corner, they have special reflections from the past few months’ collaboration and exciting plans ahead.
Jeanie Bryant – Coordinator
Through my participation in the WGH-Midwest Chapter, I’ve become aware that it takes a concerted effort, a global effort if you will, and the leadership of women, to bring about change in gender equity and gender inequality in the healthcare workforce. Over these past several years, I learned how the pandemic exacerbated these disparities, e.g., the ill-fitting Medical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) designed for men’s bodies. And even though women comprise 70% of health workers, they often work in lower paid and unpaid, lower status jobs. I’ve also utilized resources that were shared as part of the speaker series, including Dr. Juliet Iwelunmor’s presentation that referenced to Chinua Achebe’s There was a Country. But most importantly, I’ve come to understand that global health is local and it involves telling stories that resonate and create trust. So since global health can be local, my personal global-health related summer plan is to help with foot clinics for the homeless population at Trinity Episcopal Church in the Central West End neighborhood in St. Louis. The many miles we travel to the river or to a local shelter can become easier to bear with proper foot care.
Maya Kovacevic – Advocacy Coordinator
As advocacy coordinator for the Midwest Chapter, I’ve most enjoyed meeting the amazing leaders of gender equity in global health. Starting with my colleagues on the chapter’s leadership team, to the chairs of Women in Global Health (WGH), and more. Our speaker series this spring has also allowed for many enlightening conversations with exemplary leaders – Matifadza Hlatshwayo Davis, MD and Lori DiPrete Brown, to name a few. Each of them uniquely contributes to advancing gender equity, and I’m honored to be a part of an organization that unifies such work to champion the progress of our shared cause. Continuing my work this summer, I’m excited to share that I’m partnering with the main chapter of Women in Global Health as a Policy Volunteer. Outside of WGH, I also work in the Gordon Laboratory at the WashU School of Medicine, which focuses on better understanding the microbiome of severely undernourished global communities.
Geetika Kanaparti – Project Coordinator
As one of two project coordinators for the WGH-Midwest Chapter, I have been responsible for such activities as planning the speaker series, creating marketing materials to spread awareness, planning for future projects, etc. We have been so fortunate to get to work with such amazing speakers and I am very excited for future events to come, like the Mix-n-Mingle: Reaching Gender Equity in Global Health: It’s Everyone’s Business (see more below)! Being a part of the WGH team has helped me to not be afraid to speak up and raise my voice about issues that are important to me. I feel I have really become an advocate for things I didn’t think I could affect before joining the team! It has given me the confidence to serve as a voice for those who may not feel that they have one, and I have learned how to help create a space for people to speak up about issues in global health, especially those that are gender-based. I believe I am on my way to becoming a leader in healthcare that is collaborative, inclusive and cognizant of how people can work together to strengthen our own organizations on a local level, which is a big piece of global health! As for my summer plans, I will be working with the University of Chicago Institute for Population and Precision Health on a research study that looks at the scarce availability of resources (healthcare, food, etc.) on low-income individuals and its impact in the greater Chicago area. I am currently in training with the National Institute of Health (NIH) to work on the study, which will conclude in August.
Cassandre Krier – Membership & Social Media Coordinator
WGH has provided me with insight into new avenues and conversations for discussion on gender equity, medical education, and healthcare leadership. By participating in webinars and lecture series, WGH has allowed me to be more culturally sensitive with patients and have a greater understanding of social determinants of health. Specific to the WGH-Midwest Chapter, I have been able to expand my network with amazing physicians, administrators, and organizational leaders, who all share the same values regarding empowering and educating women for the future. This summer, I will be starting my final year of medical school while completing my acting internships and preparing for ERAS/Match 2023. I hope to remain active with WGH-Midwest by participating in our summer Mix-n-Mingle, assisting with meetings, and circulating chapter events to my home institution (the Medical College of Wisconsin).
Women in Global Health (WGH) is an international network aiming to achieve gender equality in global health by advocating for gender transformative leadership. With support from then Provost Holden Thorp and William G. Powderly, MD, the Larry J. Shapiro Director of the Institute for Public Health, the Midwest Chapter of WGH was launched in December, 2018. Interested future members can apply here.