UW to host global conference on health equity

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UW to host global conference on health equity

April 4-6: More than 60 speakers lined up for event; keynote by social science researcher from Uganda
Bobbi Nodell

As the repression of sexual minorities in many nations around the world becomes visible, the call for social justice and equality is also gaining strength.

"Uncensored: Gender, Sexuality & Social Movements in Global Health,” is the topic of the upcoming University of Washington 11th Annual Western Regional International Health Conference, to be held  April 4-6.

Stella Nyanzi, a social science researcher and anthropologist in Uganda, will be keynote speaker.
picture of Stella Nyanzi speaking

More than 40 universities and community groups are sponsoring the conference, including the Greater Seattle Business Association, University of California-San Francisco, University of Colorado, Global Good, Simon Fraser University, University of Oregon, Oregon Health & Science University, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and the Washington Global Health Alliance.

“This conference should interest anyone concerned with health equity,” said King Holmes, chairman of the UW Department of Global Health. The department is organizing the event with the Western Regional International Health Conference Student Committee and the UW chapter of Globe Med.

Student organizers have recruited more than 60 speakers from all over the world. Keynote speaker Stella Nyanzi is a social science researcher and anthropologist at Makerere University in Uganda.

That nation's anti-homosexual law will have huge consequences for all Ugandans, Nyanzi said.

“Landlords, family members, priests, hoteliers and other people in authority will be required to report on individuals known to be homosexual, or else risk facing penalties,”  she said.

Additionally, she said, service providers such as teachers, counselors, journals and public health workers could be prosecuted for providing HIV prevention, treatment, and care for men who have sex with men or transgender women.

Student coordinator Mariel Boyarsky said the conference is meant to look at issues usually relegated to the margins of meetings. “We want to look at topics that have previously been overlooked, invisibilized and even censored,” she said.

The conference will frame the key themes of gender, sexuality and social movements in six tracks:                                                                                                                             

  • Voices & Visibility: Power, Media and the Arts in Global Health
  • Seeking Justice for Vulnerable Populations
  • Celebrating Gender, Sexuality & Social Movements
  • The People United: Advocacy, Activism & Social Movements in Global Health
  • Perceptions Unmasked: Societal Elements that Shape Our Lives
  • Modernization of Sexual Health: The Impact of Technological & Clinical Advancements on the Developing World

The conference will host expert speakers from diverse fields and organizations, including:

  • Danielle Asking, medical social worker and trans* activist based in Seattle and Stockholm; founding executive director, Gender Justice League – a trans* activist collective in Seattle, and creator of Trans* Pride Seattle
  • Sutapa Basu, executive director, UW Women's Center; co-chair of its Task Force against Human Trafficking
  • Stephen Bezruchka senior lecturer, UW School of Public Health; recipient of the 2002 Outstanding Teacher Award and 2008 Faculty Community Service Award
  • Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take the Lead, which seeks to propel women to leadership parity by 2025; former CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  • Walter G. Flores, Ph.D., director of Centro de Estudios para la Equidad y Gobernanza en Sistemas de Salud (Center for the Study of Equity and Governance in Health Systems), and global coordinator, Community Practitioners on Accountability and Social Action in Health
  • Daniel Peplow, a co-director of the Suriname Indigenous Health Fund
  • Adalid Martinez Perdomo, a professor at Universidad Pedagogica Nacional, Francisco Morazan, Honduras
  • Delaney Ruston, physician and a Fulbright Scholar Fellowship in India, now a filmmaker and nationally recognized mental health advocate
  • Jessica Stern, executive director, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
  • Grace Poore, Asia regional coordinator, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, from Malaysia; research director and co-author of The Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Violence Project to be released May 2014
  • Marc Weinblatt, founder and co-director of the Mandala Center for Change, recently named “Cultural Envoy” by the U.S. State Department for his work in the Congo in spring 2010


Editors: For details on the conference, contact Bobbi Nodell at 206.543.7129 or bnodell@uw.edu.