It’s been a good week for women.
Exactly seven days ago TED announced a new lecture series called TEDWomen. Both male and female lectures will be included, but will focus on how women are leading and championing change. Though the list of speakers hasn’t been released, there are hints, one particularly notable for healthcare: “The physician who discovered the life-saving importance of treating men and women differently.”
For some interesting foresight into what this conference might be like, click here.
The TED physician’s idea continues to do good: looking at a healthcare problem from the female perspective lead to the creation of a vaginal microbial gel to protect women against HIV/AIDS.
The results of a small study, published online on Monday by Science magazine, show that women in rural South Africa who use the gel are 39-54 percent less likely to contract HIV than women who used a placebo. Though the gel is not as effective as condoms against the virus, it is the first kind of prevention women can control. It can be applied up to 12 hours in advance, and women can use it discreetly, without the permission of their partners.
The New York Times also reported that another small study found that paying poor girls and their families small sums of money reduced the girls’ HIV infection rate by half. The study took place in Malawi and was funded by the World Bank.
Also this past weekend, The New York Times Magazine feature story covered a decade-long movement to push abortion back into mainstream medicine: “The bold idea at the heart of this effort is to integrate abortion so that it’s a seamless part of health care for women — embraced rather than shunned.”
Not a moment too soon. In April, the Oklahoma Legislature voted to override the governor’s vetoes on two anti-abortion laws, one which requires a woman choosing an abortion to listen to a detailed description of the fetus even if the pregnancy was a result of incest or rape. The second prevents women from suing a doctor who withholds information about birth defects in the fetus. The glimmer of hope in this state’s hostility towards women’s rights? Two days ago an Oklahoma judge granted an injunction against the ultrasound law.
When I first heard about the TEDWomen lecture series, I wasn’t sure we needed to have a separate forum to discuss women, since TED is such a gender-inclusive forum to begin with. Luckily, there are states like Oklahoma to remind me that celebrating women is always a good idea.