Ever since I started writing for EmpowHER, I’ve been excited for today, anticipating the tremendous article I’d be able to submit after attending the Wisconsin Women’s Health Policy Summit. I thought this event would provide plenty of material for me; a conference that brought together almost 300 policy-makers, advocates, health professionals, organization representatives and passionate individuals to discuss the status of women’s health, hear the perspectives of people from many different backgrounds, and work together to create a comprehensive health policy agenda that will address the needs of every woman at every stage of life.
The summit embodied many of my personal beliefs about women’s health and empowerment: a holistic, life-cycle approach to care, the power of grassroots advocacy to make systemic changes, connections between health, education, community development and policy, and the inspiration that individual women’s voices can provide. I assumed this would make it easy to write about.
Wrong! Now that I am sitting down to recount the tremendous success that yesterday was, I cannot find the words to express my experience.
Perhaps this is because the Summit is too much to summarize in 450 words. From 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. our agenda was packed with a fantastically diverse group of speakers and panelists from around the state. They were not only experts or policy-makers in the field of women’s health, but also individuals who survived sexual assault, faced cancer, or dealt with discrimination on a daily basis. Their stories and unique perspectives framed our discussions throughout the day, illustrating the need for new health policies that focus on the life course model and culturally competent care for every woman and community.
Often, I felt overwhelmed with the amount of passion and power present in the room. All around me were women dedicated to making social improvements in the same ways I hope to; essentially, through holistic empowerment. I felt satisfied that with so many people working for the same changes I hope to work for, significant progress is inevitable.