FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2016 NEW YORK — Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA), announces the launch of the Coalition for Women's Health Equity, which will work to address inequities in quality of care, funding and support, and gaps in women's health awareness, according to Hadassah National President Ellen Hershkin. The inaugural members of the Coalition include: American Association of University Women; American Heart Association; Black Women's Health Imperative; Breast Cancer Fund; Institute for Women's Health and Leadership of Drexel University College of Medicine; Jewish Women International; National Council of Jewish Women; National Organization for Women; National Partnership for Women & Families; National Women's Political Caucus; Society for Women's Health Research; Vision 2020; WomenAgainstAlzheimer's and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.
Hadassah has convened this coalition in response to pervasive gender disparities throughout the healthcare system, with the mission to create a well-coordinated and unified force to advocate for women's health equity—from prevention and diagnosis, to treatment and cure. Coalition members represent a wide variety of the nation's most prominent organizations including those working towards female empowerment, equitable healthcare access, civil rights, and more. Membership in the Coalition is open and will continue to grow.
Ellen Hershkin states, "This new collaborative effort amplifies our collective impact—combining the strength of Hadassah's 330,000 members, Associates and supporters with the heightened power of women's voices from around the country. For over a century, Hadassah—in the U.S. and Israel—has advocated for, as well as provided, the highest quality healthcare for women. Hadassah is thrilled to partner with such influential organizations that have long-standing reputations of expertise and service in women's issues. By engaging in direct advocacy, grassroots mobilization and the sharing of resources, the Coalition will make a lasting and powerful difference for women's health equity."
Women and men often present different symptoms for the same diseases and react differently to certain drugs, medical devices, and treatments. Gender disparities in medicine—among research subjects, and in health care access and delivery—put women at risk for misdiagnoses, ineffective treatments and compromised care.
Heart disease, for example, is the number one killer of women, and yet only one third of cardiac research subjects are women. Studies also show that medical providers are more likely to ascribe women's pain symptoms to stress or psychological causes, and men's symptoms to physical or neurological conditions.
A lack of women's health equity not only impacts the well-being of the American woman now, but for generations to come. The Coalition for Women's Health Equity will publicly promote policies in support of gender equity in medical prevention, research and treatment, and raise awareness about how that lack of equity adversely affects women and families throughout the United States.
According to the inaugural Coalition for Women's Health Equity member organizations:
American Association of University Women (AAUW) - Lisa Maatz, Vice President of Government Relations
"Gender disparity in healthcare not only negatively impacts women's physical wellbeing, it can affect their financial security as well. AAUW and its members nationwide are proud to join this coalition of advocates dedicated to the existence of health equity for women everywhere."
American Heart Association – Nancy Brown, CEO
"Inequities for American women is an issue that deserves our urgent attention. For more than a decade, the association's Go Red For Women has been focused on addressing the disparities women face with respect to heart disease, their No. 1 killer. We are pleased to be joined by such esteemed partners in this effort. The reality is that many women — and their health care providers — don't realize gender differences play an important role in prevention, diagnosis and treatment, particularly for cardiovascular disease. We look forward to working with the coalition to close those knowledge gaps and break down barriers that will improve the state of women's heart health and health care overall."
Black Women's Health Imperative - Linda Goler Blount, President and CEO
"The inequities in women's healthcare can only be eliminated if women work together to demand – and create – change. We are honored to be among the inaugural members of this coalition and look forward to working with these committed and dynamic organizations to improve the lives of women across the country."
Breast Cancer Fund – Janet Nudelman, Director of Program and Policy
"The Breast Cancer Fund is delighted to support the Coalition for Women's Health Equity, and the many like-minded organizations committed to ensuring that women receive equal treatment in medicine. We have examined the evidence of our exposure to toxic chemicals, yet women's reactions to cancer-causing agents have historically been studied less thoroughly than men's. With equity in prevention, research and treatment, we hope to remedy these medical gender disparities."
Institute for Women's Health and Leadership & Vision 2020 – Lynn Yeakel, Director and Betty A. Cohen Chair in Women's Health; Founder and President, Vision 2020
"Vision 2020 and the Institute for Women's Health and Leadership are very pleased to join Hadassah in this important coalition. Our shared values and combined efforts will provide the strength in numbers to make positive changes in women's health."
Jewish Women International – Lori Weinstein, CEO
"JWI advocates for women in all areas of their lives – at home, at work, and in the doctor's office. Access to safe, affordable, and equitable healthcare is crucial for every woman. Yet for too long, medicine has lagged behind in researching, identifying, and treating women's health concerns, from reproductive care to medical responses to domestic violence, and more. The time for change is now. JWI is committed to working for every woman's ability to live a safe, healthy, and empowered life, and is proud to serve as an inaugural member of the Coalition for Women's Health Equity."
National Council of Jewish Women – Nancy Kaufman, CEO
"For more than a century, the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) has been at the forefront of social change — championing the needs of women, children, and families. Today, we continue this important work by endorsing and resolving to work for comprehensive, accessible, quality services for women's health supported by equitable and sufficient research and funding. As such, we could not be more thrilled to join this diverse and timely coalition to address disparities in women's health equity."
National Organization of Women – Terry O'Neil, President
"It's hard to believe: 2016 and women are still fighting for equal and affordable access to health care services. By working together in the Coalition for Women's Health Equity we can multiply our voices and our power to end gender and gender-race disparities in all aspects of health care."
National Partnership for Women & Families – Debra L. Ness, President
"Discrimination in health care results in lower quality care and higher costs, which jeopardizes women's health – so it is imperative that we come together to end all forms of gender bias in health care. We are proud to be joining with such esteemed allies to advance gender equity throughout the health care system, from research and education to access to care to the delivery and payment systems. It is long past time we drive discrimination out of our health care system and make women's health the priority it should be."
National Women's Political Caucus – Donna Lent, President
"Political and economic opportunity begins with access to healthcare. If a woman is not receiving appropriate treatment and relevant preventative services, her ability to engage in her community becomes extremely limited. So we are proud to join as inaugural members of the Coalition for Women's Health Equity and be a part of the fight for women's health."
Society for Women's Health Research – Phyllis Greenberger, President
"We know that sex and gender differences have an impact on health and healthcare. For over 25 years, the Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR®) has been the thought-leader in promoting research on biological differences in disease, and how these differences influence women's health. We look forward to working with the Coalition for Women's Health Equity to bring much-needed attention to the disparities that continue to exist in medical research and healthcare."
WomenAgainstAlzheimer's - Trish Vradenburg, Founder
"My grandmother, mother, daughter and I have all been proud lifetime members of Hadassah. As an adolescent I remember meetings being held in my living room. My grandmother and mother both succumbed to Alzheimer's disease and so my husband and I started WomenAgainstAlzheimer's in their memory. To stop this trajectory. Two thirds of the 5.4 million people with Alzheimer's and two thirds of the 15 million caregivers are women. All of us at WomenAgainstALzheimer's are honored to join Hadassah's Coalition for Health Equality. Our network was born out of a desire to unite women to raise their voices on behalf of the millions who suffer. Addressing gender equity is a critical component to driving change in many diseases and we applaud Hadassah's leadership in this effort."
WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease - Mary McGowan, CEO
"We look forward to working with the Coalition to address gender disparities in women's health. The coalition's focus on heart disease will increase awareness and demand action in the fight against heart disease – the number one killer of women."