The WHO has firmly established the importance of women in improving health across the globe, even describing women as “the backbone” of the health system. Yet, gender inequalities in many regions mean that women have a difficult time accessing the health care that they need. In North America, where women generally enjoy longer lives than men, women are still more likely to have their concerns dismissed by medical professionals, are less likely to receive medication for pain, and often experience the medicalization of a wide range of processes over the life course, including menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, among others. Women employed in healthcare tend to be take up lower paying jobs and are exposed to greater occupational health risks. Yet, women are not complacent in unequal systems, and have produced social change on a number of key health issues by mobilizing their collective power. In this session, we propose to examine and create “circles of conversation” to understand how women come together around health-related issues. We invite scholars to share their research on women’s health collectives (such as support groups, communities of practice, etc.), or any kind of scholarship that examines a context-bound, gendered inquiry into health (e.g. medical experiences, illness narratives, indigenous models of health and healing, ethnomedicine, transgender health, women employed in healthcare, etc.). Our goal is to explore the diversity of gendered “health circles” that exist, and to locate them within contemporary theoretical frameworks. The session will include up to 4 speakers, who are invited to present for up to 15 minutes. A 5-minute question period will follow each talk, and any remaining time will be opened for dialogue.
Organizer: Darryn Wellstead, University of Ottawa