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Concept Note

1. Introduction

The 10th International Women and Health Meeting (IWHM) will mark nearly two and a half decades of global feminist solidarity on issues that impinge on the health and well being of women. The IWHM has its roots in the global women’s movement and includes a wide range of organizations, networks, and grassroots women’s groups. In a world order where the default settings are always ‘male’, the feminist movement [even if it has developed differently in the different regions and with varying levels of political awareness] has contributed a great deal in creating spaces for women’s perspectives to be heard and incorporated into knowledge building, policy formulation and in program implementation. The debates and agenda setting around issues of development, environment, population, women’s reproductive rights and empowerment generated during the decade of the 1990s around the Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro), ICPD (Cairo), and Women’s Conference in Beijing are major milestones of the movement.

Conceptually a lot of ground has been covered with the positioning of women’s health beyond maternal roles and procreation. It is now widely accepted that health is dependent on age, class, race, caste, ethnicity, culture, location, disability, marital status and sexual orientation; and that itis also intrinsically linked to the production and reproduction roles that women play. Improvements in access and availability of health care services need to go hand in hand with overall reduction and elimination of poverty and all forms of violence, and with the creation of an enabling environment. Hazardous work and living environments, wars, civil strife, global policies that discriminate against countries or segments of populations within nations, especially the resource poor and the indigenous people; are all viewed as detrimental to the health of women along with that of the members of their families and communities. The loss of sustenance, livelihoods and increasing poverty in the period of globalization is seen to have clear gender-specific impacts, bearing on the mental health and sense of well-being of people. This is discernible in the increasing incidences of suicides among farmers, artisans and workers who have lost their jobs and/or are rendered incapable of honoring their financial debts. Several overarching themes need to be spelt out before we proceed to discuss in some detail the focal themes of the 10th IWHM.

1.1 Global Restructuring and Health 1.2 Environmental Concerns and Health
1.3 Population Policies and Health 1.4 Militarism and Health
2. The 10th IWHM Agenda 3. Focal Themes

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