2018 Women's Health Empowerment Summit Recap

On May 16, 2018, the Coalition for Women's Health Equity — convened by Hadassah — hosted its second annual Women's Health Empowerment Summit at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC. The event brought together hundreds of policymakers, thought leaders, and women's health champions during National Women's Health Week (May 13-18) to build momentum and strategize action steps to further women's health equity.

The Summit featured National Women's Law Center President & CEO Fatima Goss Graves — whose organization administers the TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund — and Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36). Samantha Abrams, Executive Director of the March on Washington Film Festival, served as the summit emcee. In addition to lead sponsor Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc., the American Heart Association, WomenAgainstAlzheimer's, and the Shane Foundation sponsored several timely panels. The Summit Planning Committee also included HealthyWomen, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health, and WomenHeart. The Summit's bipartisan Honorary Host Committee included 40 Members of Congress.

Watch video clips of our inspiring speakers and read a full event recap below, then spread the word about #HealthEquity4Her.

Raul Ruiz
Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36)

“Now, we are at the greatest assault on women’s health in our nation’s history. That’s why your conversation is so important, not only to understand the ideological frameworks on why health is a human right, why health equity should be attained by all.”

Joyce Beatty
Rep. Joyce Beatty (OH-3)

“When women succeed, America succeeds. When women succeed, families succeed. When women succeed, we get things done. All the things we are fighting for, we do it because of our collective strength.”

Brenda Lawrence
Rep. Brenda Lawrence (MI-14)

“We are going to have to step up and make sure we are demanding that they do clinical trials and look at the medications that affect us and our quality of life. This is our time to stand up get involved, and stay involved.”

Call To Action Thumb
A Call to Action - Ellen Hershkin

"Women's health doesn't advance itself. We must do all we can to protect women's health in the short term. At the same time, we must hold tight to our long-term goal: full health equity for all women."

Panel 1 thumb
Women's Health Today: Next Steps for Policy & Advocacy

A briefing on the current legislative landscape for women's health, followed by a nurse practitioner testimonial. Moderator: Susan Wood; Speakers: Gretchen Borchelt, Mary McGowan, Jessi Leigh Swenson, Lynne T. Braun.

Panel 2 Thumb
Women's Health For All Ages: New Trends & Perspectives

Conversation on women’s health at all ages with women leaders in government, health care, nonprofit and advocacy. Moderator: Gay Johnson; Speakers: Mary Worstell, Jill Lesser, Athena Cross- Edge, Susan Hoffstetter, Lynn Yeakel.

A Patient Story Thumb
A Patient Story

Testimonial by Malia Litman, lawyer, nurse, stem cell activist and MS patient at the Hadassah Medical Organization.

Heart to Heart Thumb
Heart to Heart

One on one with Dr. Nanette Wenger, women's health pioneer and renowned cardiologist, and CNN political commentator Maria Cardona.

Closing Remarks Thumb
Closing Remarks - Janice Weinman

"The prevalence of this discrimination is truly shocking. Every single woman, and her family, is impacted. Our work is about ensuring that women's health - at every age - receives the attention and respect it deserves."


Summit Recap
Hadassah's National President Ellen Hershkin and Executive Director / CEO Janice Weinman opened the event, proclaiming that women's health could only be advanced if the advocates in the room continue to fight for it. Hershkin connected the work of the Hadassah Medical Organization — like the Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Institute for Women — to Hadassah's reasons for founding the Coalition for Women's Health Equity. Weinman outlined the policies and regulations moving the dial on women's health, including the recently reintroduced Health Equity and Accountability Act and the RAISE Family Caregivers Act signed into law earlier this year.

Announcing plans to introduce a new health equity bill that would address the gender health gap and ensure that no woman falls through the cracks, Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) touched on the lack of public health outreach and preventative services for women as well as the lack of women in the healthcare profession and research studies.

Keynote speaker Fatima Goss Graves, President & CEO of the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) recounted the public lessons of #MeToo in the workplace and throughout the healthcare system and spoke about the female patient cases that the TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund — which NWLC administers — is handling. Despite the onslaught of sexual harassment and violence claims, she assured attendees, that "in this moment, we will win and we will heal."

Leading experts, from best-selling authors and veterans of women's health policy to experienced physicians, led spirited discussions about women's health disparities in caregiving, mental health, and clinical trials:

The Summit also featured the real-life stories of women who experienced the dangerous effect of inequities first-hand. Kathryn Fox, a Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) patient and advocate, urged the audience to reach out to Congress and request a greater focus on the disease which affects between 1 to 2.5 million people in the U.S. Patient advocate Starr Mirza, who had a heart attack at age 23 due to a condition that had been misdiagnosed for years, delivered a powerful message and rallying cry for women everywhere: "Listen to your body. You know your body better than anyone. You're not a faker. You are not dramatic. And, you are not alone."

See the Summit Agenda and Speaker Bios >

Special thanks to the Women's Health Empowerment Summit's bipartisan Honorary Host Committee:
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA); U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY); U.S. Senator Ed Markey (MA); U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK); U.S. Senator Patty Murray (WA); U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA); U.S. Representative Joyce Beatty (OH-03); U.S. Representative Don Beyer (VA-08); U.S. Representative Kenneth “Ken” Buck (CO-04); U.S. Representative David Cicilline (RI-01); U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05); U.S. Representative Gerald Connolly (VA-11); U.S. Representative Jim Cooper (TN-05); U.S. Representative Lou Correa (CA-46); U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings (MD-07); U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene (WA-01); U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (MI-12)l; U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (TX-35); U.S. Representative Lois Frankel (FL-21); U.S. Representative Andy Harris (MD-01); U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07); U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy (MA-04); U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06); U.S. Representative Ann Kuster (NH-01); U.S. Representative Brenda Lawrence (MI-14); U.S. Representative Alan Lowenthal (CA-47); U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01); U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney (NY-12); U.S. Representative Jim McGovern (MA-02); U.S. Representative Grace Meng (NY-06); U.S. Representative Seth Moulton (MA-06); U.S. Representative Stephanie Murphy (FL-07); U.S. Representative Donald Norcross (NJ-01); U.S. Representative Scott Peters (CA-52); U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-01); U.S. Representative Raul Ruiz (CA-36); U.S. Representative Linda Sanchez (CA-38); U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL-09); U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (CA-28); and U.S. Representative Dina Titus (NV-01).

Post Summit Actions to Advance Women's Health Equity:

Stay tuned for updates from the Coalition for Women's Health Equity. With your help, we can raise the visibility and urgency for the broad umbrella of women's health equity issues! Contact us to learn how you can support and get involved with our work.

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