What We Do
We support innovative, cross-disciplinary scholarship, and generate position papers and policy recommendations. We speak to academic, civic, clinical, women's and media groups on a variety of topics related to women's health and human rights. We provide spaces for people to think through these connections and learn from one another, and we organize conferences, lectures, workshops, and other courses to enhance learning about these issues at Suffolk University and beyond.
We offer workshops, trainings, programming, coaching, consultation, media interviews, guest lectures and expert testimony on a diverse range of topics relevant to women's health and human rights. Our Associates have provided these services to a wide array of organizations in the Boston area on diverse topics related to women's health and human rights including gender equity, the environment, health care policy, diversity, and community development.
Our unique expertise is in the integration of women's health and women's human rights; our specific areas of expertise cluster into five areas:
Women's Health Policy and Politics
- Human Rights of Pregnant and Birthing Women
- Women and Health Care Coverage
- Women, Illness and Incarceration
- The Politics of Breast Cancer
Women's Experiences of Health and Health Care
- Socio-Cultural Aspects of Maternal Health and Well-being
- What Makes Women Sick: Cross-Cultural Insights
- Lesbian Reproduction and Motherhood
- Women and Holistic Healing
Human Rights Implementation
- Barriers and Possibilities for US Ratification of CEDAW, the UN Women's Rights Treaty
- Women's Health and Human Security
- Integrating International Human Rights Standards Into State and Local Policy
- Peace-building with Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security
- Sub-National Possibilities for Advancing Human Rights in the United States
- Torture: The Ultimate Violation of Health and Human Rights
The Arts as a Pathway to Women's Health and Human Rights
- Creative Processes as Vehicles for Women's Empowerment and Healing
- Voices and Visions: Women's Empowerment and Healing Through Art and Poetry
Human Rights Education for Classroom and Community
- Human Rights Documentation and Service Learning
- Using Human Rights in the Classroom
- Human Rights 101: Introduction to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Using Human Rights Documentation to Build Community Awareness
Nurturing Intellectual Inquiry
The Center conducts research, prepares and disseminates research reports, initiates and participates in important conversations, and holds events that elaborate the linkages between women's health and human rights. Recent events sponsored by the CWHHR include:
- Women's Mental Health and Well Being: (How) Does a Human Rights Perspective Help? (conference)
- Uninsured Women in America (brownbag briefing).
- Implementing Human Rights in Massachusetts: Legislative Strategies and Responsibilities (conference)
- Lessons from Katrina: Engaging students in documenting violations of economic human rights in or communities (workshop)
- Baby Steps: How Lesbian Alternative Insemination is Changing the World (brownbag briefing)
- From Our Mothers' Gardens to Rooms of Our Own: Art and Creativity as Women's Human Rights (art exhibit and public discussion)
- The Center prepares and circulates research reports, generates fact sheets and provides briefings on a variety of health and human rights related policy issues.
- The Center educates legislators and other policy makers about the health and human rights impact on women of proposals and policies.
- The Center actively supports the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which created an international bill of rights for women. We provide a home for the Massachusetts CEDAW Project (MassCEDAW), a local initiative to affirm rights of all women, which works to integrate human rights standards into all levels of governance in the Commonwealth.
Providing Resources and Tools for the Community
- The Center provides fact sheets with state-level data that demonstrate how the U.S. link between employment and health care coverage intensifies many of the economic and social disadvantages faced by women.
- The Center offers individually tailored classes, workshops, briefings, trainings, and consultation to teachers, clinicians, criminal justice professionals, women's groups, legislators and policy makers, journalists, and other community groups.
- The Center is committed to the documentation of international women's conferences for use by scholars, activists, and the interested public. To this end, we guided the processing of, and wrote the Finding Aid for, the Mary P. Burke U.N. Women's Conference Collection. The Burke Collection is now housed in the Suffolk University Archives, and searchable on line though the Center's website.
Women and Health Coverage
America’s health insurance crisis does not affect everyone equally. Typically, those who are most in need of health care suffer from having the least access. The link between employment and health care coverage in America intensifies many of the economic and social disadvantages faced by women. The ‘Why is Health Insurance Coverage a Women’s Issue’ Fact Sheets lay out these issues together with state level data, for use by local organizations, teachers, health activists, journalists, and women’s groups. America’s health insurance crisis does not affect everyone equally. Typically, those who are most in need of health care suffer from having the least access.
The link between employment and health care coverage in America intensifies many of the economic and social disadvantages faced by women. Primary responsibilities for caring for young, old, sick, disabled, or dependent family members make it impossible for many women to work at permanent jobs that provide health insurance. Although studies show that intense caregiving responsibilities constitute a health burden, our current system does not provide health care for family caregivers.
Women also may find that they lose health insurance if their marriages end, whether because widowhood or divorce, and even in cases of violence and abuse. Because a married woman is likely to be insured through her husband’s workplace, the end of marriage often means the end of health care, even though the crises that lead to ending a marriage often are associated with an increase in health problems.
Across the board, American women earn lower salaries than men, and are more likely to cluster in low wage jobs that do not provide health benefits in the service sector. Many American women earn salaries that are slightly too high to allow eligibility for public benefits, but far too low to pay for health care.
The cumulative impact of these gendered factors is clear: Uninsured women are significantly less healthy than their insured counterparts.
The ‘Why is Health Insurance Coverage a Women’s Issue’ Fact Sheets lay out these issues together with state level data. The Fact Sheets are intended for use by local organizations, teachers, health activists, journalists, and women’s groups.
Please feel free to download the fact sheets that interest you, and make as many copies as you wish. We encourage you to let us know how you are using the Fact Sheets. This will allow us to shape future fact sheets in the most useful format possible.
- Seven Reasons Why Health Care Reform is a Women’s Issue
- Nine Reasons Why Health Insurance Coverage is a Massachusetts Women's Issue
- Seven Reasons Why Health Insurance Coverage is a Mississippi Women's Issue
- Seven Reasons Why Health Care Coverage is an Illinois Women's Issue
- Six Reasons Why Health Insurance is a Texas Women's Issue
- Six Reasons Why Health Insurance is a Texas Women's Issue (en Español)
The Center for Women's Health and Human Rights
8 Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108