On March 8, we celebrated International Women’s Day, which coincided with the one year anniversary of the Center’s launch in 2018. We took this opportunity to celebrate the activities and achievements of the past year with a tweetstorm celebrating the amazing women who have worked with the Center—from our team in the field, to the team of Duke undergraduates running our communications strategy, and a lot in between! Check out our twitter feed (@RHatDGHI) to keep up to date on all of students, faculty, residents and fellows who have contributed to the Center this year.

This’s year’s IWD theme, “think equal, build smart and innovate change,” was a call to address the need for truly transformative solutions to advance gender equality and empowerment for women and girls. There is increased recognition that the growing gender divide in STEM fields will continue to hinder innovation and development of the disruptive solutions necessary to address disparities in reproductive health outcomes in the US and globally. The Lancet dedicated an entire issue to examining the state of gender and diversity in medicine and science, and the impact of continued disparities—a must read for everyone working in these fields. Women in Global Health (@WomeninGH) is an organization that strives to achieve gender equality in global health leadership, through advocacy, education and partnerships within government, civil society and academic institutions.

Striving for equity in leadership in global health institutions is just one facet of addressing the gender divide. Questions such as how to we ensure a pipeline that’s representative and inclusive of the populations with whom we work? How do we achieve equal partnership in global health relationships? Are those who achieve positions of leadership doing enough to examine our own biases and consider how the structures we are working in may contribute to continued inequalities? How do we live our values in our day-to-day work and through our broader mission?

As a Center, we continue to think about these issues and reflect upon how we live up to the ideals of equity and partnership in our own work. Last week, DGHI supported a meeting in Nairobi for East African partners and Duke faculty working in Global Mental Health and Maternal Child Health. The meeting happened to fall about one year after the Center’s Symposium on Leadership and Mentorship, during which 13 East African partners came to Duke to work with core Center faculty and other members of the Duke community to explore issues around leadership, mentorship, equity and the importance of race and gender equality in medicine. Participants came away inspired and motivated to continue their work and develop new collaborations. This inaugural event for the Center set the stage for our working relationships, and many of those at the Symposium were able to attend last week’s meeting. It was truly exciting to see the strong network of researchers in East and South Africa, ready to work in partnership with Duke faculty to develop new ideas for projects at the intersection of global mental health and SRH.

We look forward to seeing the outputs of these collaborative research ideas as we continue to grow and develop the Center’s mission. As a Center, we will strive to continue to support the gender transformative and diverse leadership and mentorship necessary to promote opportunities and develop innovative solutions that can impact change in global reproductive health.

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