This is sad sad news. The Canadian Women’s Health Network (CWHN), one of the pillars of the women’s health movement in North America, has announced that it is suspending activities due to a lack of funds effective November 14, 2014.
CWHN was founded in 1993 as a national (Canadian) organization to improve the health and lives of women and girls by collecting, producing, and distributing accurate and unbiased information. In its 20+ years, it has participated in important policy debates on major issues of women’s health, provided untold amounts of support and information to individuals and groups, and contributed a reliably independent feminist voice during an era when it has been more and more difficulty to sustain independence from deep pocketed corporate systems.
As a sexuality researcher and activist, I (L.T.) have used the resources of CWHN, especially the network magazine and the opportunity to consult with Madeline Boscoe, Kathleen O’Grady, Susan White, Jane Shulman, Diane Sabil, Harriet Rosenberg, Abby Lippman and the current, and I guess final executive director, Anne Rochon Ford. (I’m sure there are many others whose names have slipped my mind and I apologize.) These dedicated and brilliant women offered the kind of socially contextualized analysis and information that always made me wish I had known them longer and that we lived closer.
CWHN was a supporter of the 2005 conference I organized in Montreal on the medicalization of sexuality and again a friend and supporter of the 2013 Selling Sickness conference in Washington that Kim Witczak and I co-organized. We wanted to have a major Canadian presence to represent the activist energy and lively discussion about disease mongering there is in Canada.
Additionally, I wanted to have a panel on the Women’s Health Movement to make more young activists aware of the history and vital role feminists have contributed to all the current consumer-based, empowered patient, and overtreatment movements.
The U.S. women’s health movement groups such as the National Women’s Health Network, Our Bodies Our Selves, and the Feminist Women’s Health Centers may be better known and appear more frequently in histories of the women’s health movement, but we are all one interconnected sisterhood working for a humanistic healthcare system available to all.
Let us celebrate the contributions of CWHN and never forget them as we move forward.