Initiative on Global Women's Health

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Human dignity belongs to all, including women, whether as a daughter, wife, mother, or sister. Human dignity is  honored when healthcare, research, and education are provided without discrimination. Healthy girls and women are foundational to healthy families and communities. Caring for them throughout their lifetime is a positive investment in the well-being of children, adults, and society.

Sadly, there are a number of threats to girls and women being treated as equal participants in the image of God. Girls are discriminated against through gendercide in the womb and infancy. In childhood, girls are subject to unequal treatment in healthcare. Furthermore, the hypersexualization of the female body reduces girls and women to merely their physical qualities, treating them as objects. Women’s bodies are commodified for reproductive purposes, whether as egg donor or surrogate, as well as by being trafficked for sex. Maternal mortality remains unacceptably high in some countries, women are denied safe delivery, and the health of children is jeopardized by the death of their mother.

Once past her childbearing years, a woman is often treated as a second-class citizen, in disregard of her equal dignity. Furthermore, significant disparities exist in healthcare access and outcomes. First, women’s health is often at the bottom of the list of a country’s health priorities; it can be conflated with children’s health needs as a “maternal-child health” issue. Girls and women may be seen as less deserving of scarce healthcare services. Disparities are revealed in the negative impact of clinical research bias and inadequacy of comparative information related to the unique impact of standard treatments and procedures and disease modeling upon the female body. Other considerations include issues related to informed consent in diverse global contexts.

As a result, children, husbands, families, and communities suffer.

The Center's initiative on global women's health engages the broad spectrum of women's health issues with particular emphasis upon a consistent view of human dignity across the entire lifespan of girls and women from conception through death. A key aspect of this initiative is Her Dignity Network

Her Dignity Network

Her Dignity Network is a global network of men and women, individuals and organizations, committed to the broader health needs of girls and women as essential aspects of both her individual dignity and our common humanity. The Network connects a global network of people and organizations who share two basic ideas: first, that women’s dignity is ultimately about human dignity, and, second, that female bodies and health are essential aspects of both her dignity and our common humanity.

For more information about Her Dignity Network, visit HerDignity.net.

What Is Unique about this Initiative?

Within the church, inadequate attention has been paid to the implications of a theological grounding of women’s dignity as rooted in her creation in the image of God. Women’s dignity is human dignity. The intersection of bioethical concerns with female bodies and health are essential aspects of both dignity and our common humanity. While energies in the church are appropriately being directed to issues of abortion and sex trafficking, the broader needs of girls and women are often overlooked or neglected. A proper understanding of women’s dignity that is fundamentally rooted in her creation in the image of God offers an alternative vision, one that is coherent, holistic, and consistent with how women understand themselves and their relationships. Most women do not understand themselves in isolation as bearers of radical autonomy rights. Girls and women are human beings, to be welcomed in life and protected in law from conception through death.

A full-orbed understanding of women’s dignity also includes caring for her as a spiritual being. Spiritual care and support, which can be expressed in a delightful diversity of ways, are essential to expressing God’s love for her through the actions of other people.

 

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