Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Who’s Meeting in Canberra? International Leaders in Women’s Health Issues

Developing leadership opportunities for women in health systems around the world will be the focus of a three-day international meeting in Canberra this week, which has drawn together health professionals from around the world to focus on the role of women as leaders.

Federal Health Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge, and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women, Senator Amanda Vanstone, today welcomed the start of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Centre for Health Development (Kobe, Japan) meeting being held at the University of Canberra from 4 – 6 April.

“The Kobe Meeting underlines the significant role leadership plays in improving women’s health,” Dr Wooldridge said

“Encouraging more women to take up leadership roles in the health system is a very effective way of engaging women, their families and their communities in all areas of the health sector.”

Dr Wooldridge said the fact that WHO Kobe has chosen Australia for this meeting was an endorsement of the leadership opportunities the Howard Government was working to develop for women in the Australian health system.

“The Government is actively building women’s leadership capacity in the medical and nursing profession as well as other professions – by encouraging women into primary health care, and more specifically over the past few years, into General Practice.

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women, Senator Amanda Vanstone agreed: “Women are playing an increasingly important role in leadership positions in all sectors – government, business, cultural and community – including senior positions within the health system.

“Leaders are people who inspire, motivate and challenge us to think about hard issues and to seize opportunities to make improvements – this meeting will provide opportunities to share information and develop partnerships to further develop women leaders in health.

“The Australian Government has introduced a number of initiatives to promote women and leadership at all levels – including measures to increase the number of women on Commonwealth Boards and the Honouring Women network of Ambassadors to promote recognition of women’s achievements,” Senator Vanstone said.

This is the second International Meeting on Women and Health: Maximising Women’s Capacities and Leadership convened by WHO Kobe, a centre for health development based in Japan, to deal with issues surrounding women and health. It is the first international meeting of its kind ever to be held in Australia.

Participants come from South Africa, Tanzania, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, the United States, Egypt, the Russian Federation, Switzerland, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Samoa.

Some of the presentations will include:

  • Maximising women’s capacities and resources in Asia Pacific Regions – Dr Lorraine Corner, UNIFEM, Thailand
  • Women’s role in HIV/AIDS – Ms Marina Mahathir, President of Malaysia AIDS Council
  • Reproductive rights in the Middle East and North Africa region – Dr Fatma Khafagy, UNICEF, Egypt
  • Highlights of global vision and regional practice – Dr Rita Thapa, Nepal.

“I welcome all the delegates of the Kobe Women and Leadership Meeting to Canberra and value the opportunity to share ideas and knowledge, as well as establish important global links, with all our international guests,” Dr Wooldridge said.