By National Geographic staff.
For more than a decade, Elizabeth McAllister has been the director of research and public policy at the Institute for Women’s Health, a nonprofit that works to promote and strengthen the health and well-being of women and girls worldwide.
Today, the institute is leading a groundbreaking effort to build a more inclusive and equitable world for women, McAllisters says.
That includes the first ever women’s health research institute.
The institute, a collaboration between the Institute of Women’s Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the Institute on Gender, Health and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, will focus on four areas: Women’s health, women’s rights, health and safety, and the environment.
For one of its key goals, McDonis said, the center will work to “ensure women have access to the information they need to make informed decisions about health and wellness.”
“We are going to do all the research we can,” she said.
“We will do all of the analysis that we can, and we will be making the best possible recommendations.”
The institute is also working to improve the quality of care for women and children, and to provide a better alternative to male-dominated medical and healthcare institutions.
McAllis said that, by 2030, there will be more than 3 million female doctors, and an estimated 60% of all primary care physicians in the United States will be women.
The foundation’s director of innovation, Elizabeth Boudreau, said the institute will also work to make women’s healthcare more accessible.
“We need to have a place for women who want to have access,” she explained.
“There is an epidemic of women dying unnecessarily.
There is an urgent need to do better.”
The center’s mission is to create a new paradigm for women’s care and caregiving, and is funded by a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, as well as private foundations.
McAllisters and her colleagues are particularly excited about the work of one of the institute’s co-founders, Elizabeth R. Smith, a professor at the Graduate School of Education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Elizabeth is going to bring in some very smart people to help her with the research,” McAlliss said.
Smith has a Ph.
D. in health policy and economics and is the founding director of the Center for Women in Health Policy and Economics at the Commonwealth Fund.
Her work focuses on the intersection of gender and health.
Smith is also the author of “The Female Body in America,” a book about the ways women and men respond to medical interventions.
“It is going be really exciting to have some of the best and brightest women in the world come in and work with us to change the world,” McInnis said.
For her part, Smith is excited to help McAlluss tackle the research and policy challenges ahead.
“I am so proud of Elizabeth for what she is doing, and so grateful that I have been able to work with her,” she told National Geographic.
Smith said that while there are women and non-binary people among her colleagues, her team is still largely composed of white men.
“For all the work that women have done and for the work I’ve done and the work we’ve done, and I think for the number of people who are in positions of power and privilege, I’m just kind of a bystander,” she added.
“There is a great deal of sexism in the field, and that needs to be addressed.”
The women in our lives have always had their place, and now we have to make sure they have their place as well, said Smith, adding that she hopes that her efforts will lead to greater equity in health care.
“Women in America are making enormous contributions to the health care system, but it’s a slow-growing part of the population,” she noted.
“I think that this is really important, and it’s something that I am committed to.
We’re going to be fighting for.”
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