Brigit's Notes, April 2013, Letter from the Executive Director

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Dear Friends of the CWHN,

You’ve been hearing from us for months that our federal funding is coming to an end. That day has come. Effective April 1, we will no longer receive funding from the Women’s Health Contribution Program (WHCP), a program Health Canada set up in 1995 to provide the federal government with policy advice related to women’s health. Those were the days!

The CWHN existed prior to being funded by the WHCP and it will continue to exist as long as we can find ways to keep ourselves sustainable. One of the main roles we have played for the past 18 years has been as the networking and communications arm of the Centres of Excellence for Women’s Health. Sadly they, too, are all losing their federal funding.  This means that the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health in Halifax and the Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence in Winnipeg will be closing down operations completely. The two other centres – the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health in Vancouver and the National Network on Environments and Women’s Health in Toronto – will remain open for a while, in the hope of finding other sources of funding. Ditto for the Réseau québécois d’action pour la santé des femmes in Montréal which has also been a recipient of the WHCP. We will miss working with all these terrific women who gave so much to further the pursuit of research in women’s health. Farewell, sister centres.


You’ll notice a number of new additions on our website this month with the common theme of the hypersexualization of young girls. Our March webinar on this theme was with Lilia Goldfarb of Montréal; the podcast – filled with images that will leave you shaking your head – is available on our website, along with more than twenty past webinars on a range of fascinating topics. Network magazine this month features an article about the subject – Sexy girls:  Too much, too soon – written by our resident blogger on sexual health issues, Lyba Spring. And rounding off this theme is a primer on the same topic, written by Alex Merrill, Hypersexualization of young girls: Why should we care?

While you’re on the Network page, be sure to check out Abby Lippman’s thoughtful and provocative piece on INTERdependence. Beginning with the assertion that, “living fully "independently" is actually likely to be something no one old or young ever really does”, Abby builds the case for interdependence as we age – a lesson learned hard this winter after a tough fall – and of the need for radical co-housing arrangements within “communities of care”.

Related to our on-going work on girls, women and alcohol (on which we held a successful National Roundtable in Toronto on March 8th – see Toronto Star coverage here), Lyba Spring’s blog this month looks at the issue of substance abuse and multiple sex partners. She notes that risky behaviour does not exist in a vacuum and always we must consider early histories of trauma, and social determinants of health. 

Finally, in recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21, we posted a series of book reviews by the CWHN’s soon-to-retire Assistant Executive Director Susan White on the theme of women’s health and racism. Check out this terrific compendium.

- Anne Rochon Ford