March 7, 2018

Janet Hélène Zanin, CSIH MentorNet Co-Director

International Women’s Day is here. Although it is only officially the 43rd UN Celebration, #IWD has been around for 107 years. Much like the fight for women’s equity, IWD has been rising in the past decades with a fierce and outspoken rallying cry. Particularly in the past year, we have seen a cultural phenomenon in Western media with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements bringing more awareness to the issues affecting gender parity in 2018.

The United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2018 is #PressforProgress - progress on challenging stereotypes, increasing visibility, and creating more inclusive environments. CSIH MentorNet is proud that over 70% of our student-young-professionals are young women navigating the global health sphere. Many of our mentors are also women, who are taking the lessons that they have learned all over the globe and passing them on to the next generation.

But we must not forget that the #PressforProgress should become more than a desire for gender equity policy. A social movement that acknowledges the unique challenges women face in a world where it is still advantageous in many places to present as a man is necessary. This includes a global lens that examines issues of fundamental human rights, such as sex trafficking, lack of education and freedom of movement; but also the internal biases that even the most equitable societies hold about women – that they should ‘lean in’ or try to ‘have it all.’

CSIH MentorNet uses some of our unique modules and personal networks from around the globe to raise awareness and give young women education and guidance throughout the year. Modules on issues like female genital mutilation give our student-young professionals and mentors awareness of harmful practices that women still endure in some parts of the world; and modules like our work-life balance discussion helps our mentors pass on wisdom for how to define a life well lived. We are continuing this work in 2018 with our dynamic team, and we are proud to #PressforProgress today, and for the rest of this year.