Gender matters in Saskatchewan

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Publication Date: 
Thu, 2011-03-31

Researchers gather in the province to discuss women’s health

by Carla Simon

In January 2011, Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence (PWHCE) hosted two events to celebrate and share women’s health research in Saskatchewan. The proceedings began with an evening Café Scientifique on “Gender and Women’s Health Matters” at Saskatoon’s McNally Robinson bookstore, on Thursday,  Jan. 20. This was followed by a Gender Matters Workshop, on Friday, Jan. 21 at the University of Saskatchewan.

Café Scientifique
Despite cold weather, organizer Yvonne Hanson (Prairie Women’s Researcher and Diversity Education Coordinator), was delighted with a full house at the Café Scientifique, sponsored by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. As featured in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, this public event provided people with a chance to ask questions and discuss answers. It went beyond participants’ expectations in terms of networking, as well as connecting and learning more about specific research methods.

Guest speaker Diane Martz presented her new pilot study on caregiving and health service needs for elderly rural women and men. For the study’s 80 participants, most frequently there is only one son or daughter who still lives nearby, compared to previous generations where several siblings were able to share the responsibility for caregiving. Lil Sabiston, past Chair of PWHCE’s Board, commented “it’s a whole new reality. Sometimes it’s friends and neighbours caring for older people. But an old widower in a small town might not even know his neighbours. It’s becoming like that because land is being bought up by large businesses. The nearest neighbours could be miles away”.

Finding a reason

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Publication Date: 
Thu, 2011-03-31

Exploring  motivational  interviewing as a technique for treating eating disorders

By Stephanie Cassin

Despite the proliferation of research on the treatment of eating disorders and the increased availability of empirically supported treatments in the community (e.g., cognitive behavioural therapy), eating disorders continue to have a reputation as being difficult to treat.  With these advances in mind,  you might be left wondering, “Why do some women develop chronic eating disorders that don’t seem to respond to treatment?” or “Why do some women relapse following apparently successful treatment?”  One potential explanation is that, for a variety of legitimate reasons, not all women who seek treatment for an eating disorder actually feel ready to change.  Motivational interviewing is a brief intervention that was developed with this issue in mind. 

As health care professionals, we often assume that individuals seek treatment because they are: 1) concerned about their physical or mental health, and 2) ready to make a change of some sort that might lead to alleviation of physical or emotional pain.  For example, we might assume that a woman who presents for treatment of anxiety or depression is distressed by her symptoms and is interested in learning some coping skills or taking some medication to improve her anxiety or mood.  With any luck, our assumptions turn out to be correct, treatment proceeds, symptoms are alleviated, and quality of life improves.  With even more luck, these improvements persist over time. 

The treatment of eating disorders can pose some special challenges, in part because the assumptions that we typically hold often turn out to be problematic. 

Assumption #1:

CWHN appoints new executive director

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September 2011 - The Canadian Women's Health Network is delighted to announce the appointment of Anne Rochon Ford as our new Executive Director.

Anne comes to us with a long history of involvement in women’s health. Her most recent position was Co-Director of the National Network on Environments and Women’s Health (NNEWH) at York University, a research centre that conducts policy-based research on the impact of the environment on women’s health. For ten years she served as Coordinator of Women and Health Protection (WHP), a national working group that undertakes research and advocacy work on women and pharmaceuticals. With WHP, she recently published a book entitled, “The Push to Prescribe: Women and Canadian Drug Policy”

Anne’s connection to the CWHN goes back to its earliest days when the network was still a dream of a group of women from across Canada who were passionate about getting it off the ground. In the CWHN’s early years, Anne served on the original Board of Directors and more recently on the Advisory Committee to Network, CWHN’s magazine. She was a founding member of a number of other women’s health organizations including the Toronto Women’s Health Network, the Ontario Women’s Health Network, DES Action Toronto and Willow Breast Cancer Support Services. 

“Anne's extensive experience with the Centres of Excellence for Women’s Health, and her previous relationship to us through the working groups, are an amazing fit.  We're tremendously thrilled to have her on board, and we look forward to exciting, productive and inspiring times ahead,” said Chi Nguyen, Chair of the CWHN Board of Directors. 

Quebec's questionable HPV vaccine campaign

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At the CWHN, we were quite surprised by a Quebec government publicity campaign for the HPV vaccine introduced earlier in September in which the vaccine was proposed as the only alternative to a chastity belt for preventing HPV infection. All the provinces and territories in Canada have publicly-funded HPV vaccine programs, with a range of ages covered by public plans, varying province by province. A few of our colleagues in Quebec have written a thought-provoking editorial about the Quebec government campaign which we have reproduced here. For more on the HPV vaccine, see The HPV Vaccine: Information For Parents and Ten Good Reasons To Be Concerned About The HPV Vaccination Campaign.

A misleading and unethical campaign

The Québec government’s ministry for health and social services recently launched a website to promote vaccination against infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV) (  Its content implies that the vaccine is the only intelligent and modern option for avoiding infection, if not cervical cancer; the alternative outlined is the use of an archaic chastity belt.

CWHN & NEDIC Webinar: Eating disorders, race and gender

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Thursday Sept. 29, 2011
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Eastern (9:00 - 10:00 a.m. a.m. Pacific)

In this webinar, Jill Andrew addresses the growing skin bleaching trend as it relates to women's sense of their bodies. How does the practice complicate traditional assumptions about body image and eating problems? Using anti-racism and class analysis, she speculates on why the public health issue (as she calls it) of skin bleaching hasn't received the attention it deserves. Jill discusses the terms body 'image' and eating 'disorders' and explains why they are problematic, particularly when trying to learn from women of colour and other marginalized women about experiences with their bodies.

Click here for more information and to register.

CWHN webinar - The Myth of Osteoporosis: blowing the whistle on the epidemic

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View the recording here (recorded Thursday Sept. 8, 2011 from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. Eastern)

CWHN welcomes Gillian Sanson, author of The Myth of Osteoporosis: What Every Women Should Know About Creating Bone Health (MCD Century Publications, 2011).
We are told that osteoporosis now afflicts half of all women over the age of 50, making it more widespread than breast cancer, AIDS and heart disease combined. How do we get to such figures, and are they true? Sanson spent months digging through medical journals, asking questions of international experts and investigating the known effects of prescription treatments in her quest to learn more. Her research reveals a very different story from the one we had all accepted.

Get serious about older women’s health!

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While we live in a youth-obsessed culture, the average age of the population is rising in Canada, as it is in most countries of the world. Because of this trend, it is critical for us to understand the health of older people and how the health concerns of older women and men differ.

The numbers alone are telling: women outnumber men and this gap increases with age. Worldwide, there are some 123 women for every 100 men aged 60 and over, and the fastest growing group among older women is the oldest-old (age 80-plus).  The highest proportions of older women are in developed countries such as Canada. And while women outlive men overall, we tend to have worse health in our later years.

We know, too, that our roles as women affect our health as we age. For example, women overall are poorer than men, and we do far more of the caregiving. These social realities have serious health implications for us as we age.

To guide you through the current evidence on women, health and aging, CWHN has created a new primer that links to an array of high quality Canadian and international resources.  We have included resources that address not only specific illnesses of the elderly, but also the social and economic implications of aging.

Check out Aging, Women and Health.

This primer is one of a series covering such topics as housing, mental health, chronic disease, prescription drugs, and more.  Each primer briefly explains the topic, and offers online readings for a deeper grasp of the subject.  See all of our primers on women’s health.

How can housing ruin your health?

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It is getting harder to find rental housing throughout Canada, and the situation is especially bad in cities such as Winnipeg and Regina. So says a new report by Canada Mortagage and Housing, released this June. This housing crisis has serious health implications as housing is known to have major effects on health.  In our new primer, Women, Housing, and Health, we look at how lack of access to safe and affordable housing is affecting women’s health.

The health problems that result from lack of stable housing are many and severe. Poor housing places women at higher risk for chronic and infectious diseases and premature death. Women and girls are often homeless because of a history of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. When pregnant, they aren’t likely to get prenatal care or family planning advice or services. Many suffer from mental health problems and substance abuse disorders. They are three times more likely than men in the same housing conditions to commit suicide, and six times more than women with adequate housing. Homeless women are at extreme risk of being targets of sexual assault and other forms of violence. At the same time, they suffer more from HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, as well as a host of other gynaecological problems.

Check out Women, Housing, and Health

This primer is one of a series covering such topics as aging, mental health, chronic disease, prescription drugs, and more.  Each primer briefly explains the topic, and offers online readings for a deeper grasp of the subject. See all of our primers on women’s health.

Two CWHN webinars in March

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What does health mean to girls and young women?

Click here to watch the recording

Recorded Tuesday March 29, 2011
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Eastern (9:00 – 10 a.m. Pacific)

CWHN hosts a conversation about leadership, empowerment and the role of younger people in advancing women’s health. What health issues matter most to young women? How do younger generations of girls and women become involved, and how are they making their voices heard?

Click here to learn more.


Biomonitoring: measuring the pollution in women’s bodies to build healthier  communities

Click here to watch the recording

Recorded Wednesday March 30, 2011
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Eastern (9:00 – 10 a.m. Pacific)

CWHN and NNEWH welcome Sharyle Patton, who will explore the uses of biomonitoring – the testing of one’s body for chemical exposure. She will look at how the experience of knowing one's body burden (the total amount of chemicals present in the human body at any given time) can help inform personal choice and political engagement.

Click here to learn more.


Production of this event has been made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.

Policies Needed! Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Women’s Health

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A free public forum sponsored by the National Network on Environments and Women's Health

March 30, 2011 at 7pm
Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel, East Ballroom
1201 Boulevard Rene-Levesque West, Montreal
Metro: Station Bonaventure

Geneviève Nadeau, Doctoral Candidate, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa

Lise Parent, Ph. D., Professor, UQAM

Community Perspective:
Rohini Peris, President, EHAQ


  • Breast Cancer Action Montreal
  • CIHR Team in Gender, Environment and Health
  • Environmental Health Association of Quebec
  • Réseau des femmes en environnement
  • Le Réseau québecois d'action pour la santé des femmes

Simultaneous translation services will be available.

Child care available upon request:

Please refrain from wearing perfumes, scented personal care products or tobacco-scented clothing.

Production of this event has been made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.

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