Suffolk U. Center Promotes Women's Health & Human Rights

4/12/2004

BOSTON, MA - The protection and promotion of human rights can improve women’s health “as powerfully as a vaccine,” according to the World Health Organization. The mission of Suffolk University’s Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights, founded in 2003, is to further the human rights and dignity of women and girls everywhere through research, teaching, networking and advocacy, Professor Amy Agigian, the Center’s founder and director, believes it is the first academic institute in the United States to focus on women’s health and human rights in the humanities and social sciences.

“Women have particular challenges to their health and well-being, and, historically, their concerns have been neglected,” said Agigian, a medical sociologist. “Especially in the current political climate, this is an excellent time to refresh our understanding of human rights and how they can enhance women’s health.”

The Center is a collaborative entity developing partnerships among academics, advocates and service providers.

Innovative, cross-disciplinary research is a core activity of the Center as it works to increase the visibility of issues related to women’s health and human rights. With three Ph.D.-level visiting scholars, the Center is poised to generate research that will form the basis for position papers, policy recommendations, working papers, editorials and opinion pieces to directly advocate for women’s health and human rights.

The Center supports a variety of seminars and events, from its co-sponsorship of Boston’s International Human Rights Day events in December, focused on "Working Together to End Violence Against Women: Human Rights in Action" to developing workshops on the local implementation of CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women), the U.N. women’s rights treaty.

This year’s visiting scholar is Laura Roskos, PhD, and Elena Stone, PhD, is the visiting artist. Susan Sered, Ph.D., will join the Center in June after a four-year term as director of the Harvard Divinity School’s Program on Religion and Healing.

Roskos is conducting research for a book that explores the evolution of municipal and state initiatives implementing international human rights treaties (with a focus on CEDAW) in the absence of U.S. Senate ratification.

Stone is working on a series of paintings on themes of spirituality, women and human rights.

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