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Achieving gender equity was the theme of Burnet Institute board member Helen Evans’ inspirational keynote address at a special luncheon to celebrate 2016 International Women’s Day.
Associate Professor Evans, a former Deputy CEO of GAVI Alliance, a public-private global health partnership committed to increasing access to immunisation in poor countries, singled out health and education as fundamental to improvements in the status of women.
While there have been many advances in areas such as maternal mortality and access to family planning over the past 20 years, she said a number of key challenges remain.
IMAGE: Burnet HMHB Patron Dame Carol Kidu DBE and Burnet Engagement Committee member Ms Chloe Bryce Shorten.
“Achieving gender equality in health isn’t only about medical treatment and technological solutions, although they’re absolutely critical and make a huge difference,” Associate Professor Evans told supporters.
“It’s also about addressing cultural and social issues at the same time, and this is why the strong voice of women at all levels of society and internationally is really essential.”
Associate Professor Evans highlighted the ways and means by which women, in particular, could benefit from the fight against malaria, and warned of the threat posed by multidrug-resistant strains of the disease in the Greater Mekong sub-region.
IMAGE: Master of Ceremonies, Elaine Canty AM.
“As is the case for most marginalised groups, the burden of disease due to malaria rests disproportionately on poor women and their children, who often also have limited education and are not aware of the possible consequences of malaria or how to protect themselves,” she said.
“And this is tragic, because it is largely preventable and treatable.
“We do have a looming emergency in our region with multi-drug resistant malaria, and I would like to think that a lesson from Ebola is that we need to respond swiftly and effectively early on to ensure that this doesn’t get out of hand.”
There were presentations also from Burnet researchers Dr Freya Fowkes, Ms Vashti Irani, Ms Lisa Davidson and Associate Professor Heidi Drummer, who gave an overview of Burnet’s mission and work on behalf of the Women of Burnet.
International Women’s Day was honoured for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March 1911.
More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination.
IMAGE: Burnet researchers Dr Sarah Charnaud and Associate Professor Melissa Churchill.
IWD has grown to become a day of recognition and celebration across the world.