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Who’s your women’s health hero?

Our Bodies, Ourselves has created the Women's Health HeroesAward and is seeking nominations! I'm so excited about this opportunity to celebrate the activists I admire and to learn about the women whose work I'm not yet familiar with.

The original members of the Our Bodies, Ourselves collective would be high on my list of nominations. I wrote my dissertation on the American women's health movement and spent many months poring over their organizational records, so I feel like I know them all personally, having deciphered their handwriting, seen their notes and doodles, and followed their impassioned debates as they created this groundbreaking women's health resource.Their work has changed the world to such an extent, enabling girls and women around the world to feel at home in their bodies, that it's hard to believe even they once felt such alienation from their bodies that they titled their original publication "Women and Their Bodies".

Fwiw, of the twelve incorporating members of Our Bodies,Ourselves, nine were Jewish, including Esther Rome, Paula Doress-Waters, and Nancy Miriam Hawley. I've written elsewhere about some of the reasons Jewish women were disproportionately represented in Second Wave feminism, and somedayI hope to address this same question about Jewish women's health activism in particular. I used to muse about this with Barbara Seaman -- another of my otherwomen's health heroes. As a journalist, she took on the medical establishmentand the pharmaceutical industry, demanding that they take women's reports oftheir symptoms seriously and that they provide patients with complete information about the risks of estrogenic drugs. Her first book, The Doctors' Case Against the Pilllaunched Congressional hearings about the safety of the birth control pill in 1970 and ultimately resulted in an FDA warning to users of the Pill -- thefirst warning label for any prescription drug.

From what I can tell, this new award seems geared towardliving activists, so Seaman is sadly not eligible for nomination. Neither is breast cancer activist Rose Kushner, about whom I've written on this blogbefore. But every woman who speaks out about her disease and demands informed consent in treatment honors Kushner's legacy.

So who would you like to honor? Share their stories in the comments section and nominate them for the Women's Health Heroes award!

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1 Comment

I would like to honor Dr. Beate Davidson Avramoff. She is an important woman in terms of the pioneering days of medicine in Palestine/Israel. She is in her late 90's and lives in Northern Israel. She left Germany in the early 30's, studied medicine in Italy and went to Palestine where she was an advocate for planned parenthood and established some of the first clinics for Arab and Israeli women.

I would like to send you her complete information and some photographs if you are interested in including her in your archive.

Judith Samuel Santa Monica, California

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How to cite this page

Rosenbaum, Judith. "Who’s your women’s health hero?." 2 April 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on January 22, 2018) <>.


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