Several million people in several hundred U.S. cities marched on January 21, 2017 in what has been called the largest single-day protest in the nation’s history. But the Women’s March wasn’t confined to the U.S. — demonstrators in 81 other countries across all seven continents participated. Nor was this a one-day tour de force to promote women’s rights. By the end of the year, an international movement known in the U.S. as #MeToo was empowering women, girls and their supporters to speak out and take action against mistreatment and for equal rights.
Significant work lies ahead. “Closing the Gender Gap,” a 2015 report by the Fielding School-based WORLD Policy Analysis Center, revealed that more than 170 countries had legal barriers preventing women and girls from experiencing the same rights, protections and liberties as men and boys. More than 150 countries lacked protections critical to ensuring women’s economic participation. The U.S. isn’t immune to these concerns. The FSPH-based California Health Interview Survey has found that women in the state are significantly more likely to have felt discrimination in accessing health care than men (34 vs. 25 percent), for example.
The Fielding School has long recognized the inextricable link between women’s rights and women’s health. This issue provides a sampling of the powerful efforts of FSPH faculty, students, staff and alumni to improve women’s health through a wide array of approaches, including increasing access to health services, addressing social conditions, and promoting empowerment for women and girls up and down California, across the U.S., and around the world. At this historic moment, there is unprecedented opportunity to close the gender gap, thereby setting all countries and their residents in the direction of a healthy and prosperous future.