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

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Dear Friends of the CWHN,

We’re still here! And doing our best to keep the Canadian Women’s Health Network alive and thriving! We’re slowly winding down our office at the beloved Women’s Health Clinic in Winnipeg and hope to transition to a new office in Toronto. We’ve hired a fundraiser, and we’re looking for funds, for sponsorship opportunities, for partnerships and direct donations. If you can help in any way, or lead us to promising possibilities, please contact us at After twenty years, we won’t go down without a good fight! 

There’s been a lot in the news lately about violence against women, and in particular the connection to women’s health. The World Health Organization just released a critical report on the health implications of violence against women, and a research study led by a team of orthopaedic specialists at McMaster University in Hamilton found that one in six women coming in to fracture clinics have been abused by their partners in the last year. One in six. Staggering. Kudos to this team for working to raise awareness among their specialty about this issue. Check out the links to these two publications on our web page devoted to issues of domestic violence and women’s health.

Although we have had to significantly scale back our webinar series since our funding cuts, we were pleased to be able to produce another one in June with Pat Armstrong and her research team at York U. on the subject of nurses at risk. Pat and researchers Judith MacDonnell and Jacqueline Choiniere shared their findings from research with nurses working in mental health services, and the disturbing increase in workplace health and safety problems including racist behaviour exhibited against them. The webinar recording “Nurses at risk” is available on line.

If all this disturbing news is giving you a headache, you may want to check out a feature article we’ve just posted on migraine headaches and complementary approaches to dealing with them, written by Mary-Louise Leidl. Are they on the increase? It sure seems to us that they are, especially among younger women. Something in the environment, and in the environments we live and work in? Let us know what you think.

Elsewhere on our site, we have just posted a book review of the provocatively titled “Vagina: A New Biography” by Naomi Wolf. Colleen MacQuarrie finds the book useful in some ways, lacking in others. Read her review.

And our resident sexual health blogger, Lyba Spring, this month brings us an overview of Pap testing. Lyba unpacks some of the confusion around the Canadian Medical Association’s new guidelines on Pap testing, which advocate less frequent testing for some age groups (This seemed contradictory to many of us who have always pushed for more Pap testing, but she will walk you through it!)

This will be our last Brigit’s Notes for the summer. Hoping to see you back here in the fall. Wishing you all a safe summer with all the down-time you long for!

-          Anne Rochon Ford