A few weeks ago world leaders came together for a meeting at the United Nations building in New York to discuss a whole host of issues facing the global community ranging from the proliferation of nuclear weapons to climate change. While, weeks later, the conference still may be most famous for its discussion of mushroom clouds the meeting also yielded a less covered but equally important fallout for the way policy makers address women's issues.
The UN, at the conference, consolidated four separate agencies focussed on women's issues into one much more powerful group, UNIFEM. In addition to improving organizational efficiency, the new über-agency hopes to more quickly and effectively address global issues that disproportionately affect women. Chief among these issues are health concerns. UNIFEM cites, among other statistics that women in sub-Saharan Africa aged 15-24 are 6 times more likely than their male counterparts to test positive for HIV.
UNIFEM, though, is extending its sights far beyond HIV and even beyond addressing sexual assaults, poverty, and political representation, all of which are most certainly on the to-do list. The agency seeks to expose and attack gender inequality issues wherever they exist, whether it be on the battlefield, in the halls of congress, or within the walls of a hospital.
This is, in many ways, an ambition shared by Oncofertility Consortium and The Institute for Women's Health Research. These two organizations have put their full efforts behind expanding clinical trials on women's health issues and improving women's fertility preservation options, already to tremendous success. Whether it's a new international agency, a nationwide collaboration between basic science researchers and clinicians, or as an ever-growing database in the state of Illinois, the potential of this increased attention to women's issues on all levels and in all arenas is should be exciting to women (and men) everywhere.