The Women’s Health Activist: A Reliable Source for Information in a Changing World

During the last few weeks, I’ve had a chance to talk to several members about the Network’s newsletter. Some wanted to tell me that they liked the new look. (We do, too!) Others had compliments or criticisms about a specific article that ran in a recent issue. Mostly, though, people had suggestions about topics they’d like us to cover in the newsletter. I always enjoy hearing feedback about the newsletter — even if the feedback is critical — because its such an important communication tool for us, and I’m impressed by how attached Network members are to this publication.

Over the years, readers have told me that they look to the newsletter to learn about cutting-edge issues and to get an alternative perspective on heavily promoted tests and treatments.  Members tell me that they count on the newsletter’s reliable information and often put it to use in their own lives.  I often hear “I took your newsletter to the doctor’s office with me!”

The first issue of the Network News appeared in October 1976, less than a year after the Network was publicly launched. The women who came together to found the Network knew women’s health information was badly needed. Back then, there weren’t many female physicians, and even fewer nurse practitioners. There was one great book about women’s health (you know the name!) and several wonderful feminist clinics. But, there were no reliable periodicals providing accurate and up-to-date information about women’s health. The Network made a commitment back in 1976 to address this need — and we’ve done so ever since.

Thirty-nine years later, the landscape of women’s health information is very different.  Information is everywhere — mainstream media frequently cover women’s health topics; there are lots of great books about women’s health; special health magazines aimed at teens, moms, and women of all ages are on display in waiting rooms; and the Internet makes it easy to get questions answered 24/7.  Nowadays, the problem isn’t finding information, it’s sorting out the truly independent and reliable information from advertisements that masquerade as information.

But, one thing hasn’t changed: you can count on the Network. We will always bring you reliable information and challenging perspectives on important topics.

This issue of the Women’s Health Activist is a good example of our approach.  It includes articles that span the gamut from drug safety to diabetes, and from childbirth to abortion.  Christina Cherel takes an in depth look at the newest weight loss drug; Coco Jervis debunks false claims that the FDA is biased against sex drugs for women; Dr. Victoria Kavanaugh shares an insider’s view about using a “federal safety board” approach to investigating women who died during or after childbirth to save other women from the same fate; and Dr. Gilbert Friedell and J. Isaac Joyner call for applying community solutions to the Type 2 Diabetes epidemic. We also welcome a new contributor in this issue: Laura Kaplan has written a thought-provoking essay about the unintended consequences of de-politicizing the language we use to talk about women’s health.

We’re already at work on upcoming newsletter issues and plan to publish articles on some of the issues members have suggested to us. We rely on your support and appreciate your feedback.  Let us hear from you!

This article was written by: Cindy Pearson

Cindy Pearson was the NWHN’s Executive Director from 1996 to 2021. One of the nation’s leading advocates for women’s health, Cindy often testified before Congress,  NIH and the FDA and was frequently featured in the news as a consumer expert on women’s health issues. When she retired, Cindy received a Congressional Resolution in honor of her outstanding contributions to the health of women and girls.