What Lies Ahead for Women’s Reproductive Health and Rights?

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Access to abortion is one of the most hotly contested topics globally, and it is generally admitted that the debate is clouded by misinformation about the true ramifications of restricting access to this healthcare service. According to the Guttmacher Institute (a US-based reproductive health non-profit), the termination of pregnancy rate is 37 per 1,000 people in countries that heavily restrict or prohibit it, and 34 per 1,000 people in countries that broadly allow it—a difference that is not statistically significant. The World Health Organization (WHO) also estimates that 25 million unsafe procedures take place each year, the vast majority of them in developing countries…

On the heels of recent, discordant events—the “Texas Heartbeat Act” that came into effect on Sept. 1st (only to be legally contested by the U.S. Justice Department on Sept. 9), and Mexico’s supreme court ruling declaring criminal penalties for abortion unconstitutional on Sept. 7—Women in Governance (WiG) is honored to welcome five exceptional women from all over the globe to offer you a free panel discussion on the delicate yet essential issue of women’s reproductive health and rights.

WiG is looking forward to host:

  • Dr. Joannie Bewa, Sexual and Reproductive Health Researcher at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, and Founder of the Global Health and International Development Program (GHID) Fellowship;
  • Jill Doctoroff, Executive Director of the National Abortion Federation (NAF) Canada;
  • Marianne Farley, Oscar® nominated director/screenwriter, producer, and actress;
  • Me Anne-France Goldwater LL.P., Constitutional and family attorney, and Founder of Goldwater, Dubé;
  • Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, World-renowned reproductive medecine specialist and activist, and Founder of Women on Waves, Women on Web, and Aid Access.

Thanks to the varied expertise and invaluable insights of our esteemed guests, we will respectfully examine the issue while being mindful of its medical, legal, and social implications. Caroline Codsi ICD.D, WiG’s Founder and Chief Equity Officer will moderate the discussion, as well as the public Q&A session that will follow.

Participants will receive a Zoom link via email with their registration confirmation, as well as an exclusive, temporary link to watch Frimas, Oscar® nominated Marianne Farley’s latest short film. Situated in a dystopian near future where abortions have once again become a criminal offense in Québec, the film will only be available from Thursday, September 16 at noon to Saturday, September 18 at noon.

This virtual panel is a special, hors série event. We look forward to your participation!

About our speakers

Dr. Joannie Bewa is an award-winning physician, researcher, and instructor at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, as well as the Founder of the Global Health and International Development (GHID) Program Fellowship. She chairs the board of Women in Global Health (24 countries, 90 000 supporters) and is a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Afro Expert group on sexual and reproductive health. Dr. Bewa also serves as a Board Member for Merck for Mothers $500 million initiative on maternal health.

Jill Doctoroff is the Executive Director of the National Abortion Federation (NAF) Canada. The bulk of her career has been in the nonprofit sector focusing on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Before joining NAF Canada, Jill was the Executive Director of the Elizabeth Bagshaw Clinic, a community-based facility that provides abortion care. Jill has served on the Boards of Directors for NAF, Canadians for Choice, and Options for Sexual Health.

Marianne Farley is an actress, producer, and Oscar® nominated director and screenwriter. In 2017 she wrote and directed the short film Marguerite; it won 40 prestigious film awards, was selected for over 70 film festivals, and was nominated for Best Live Action Short Film at the 91st Academy Awards in 2019. Marianne’s latest short film entitled Frimas takes place in the near future, following the adoption of an anti-abortion law in Quebec, where Kara has no other choice but to end her pregnancy using an illegal abortion clinic.

Me Anne-France Goldwater LL.P., a TV personality and constitutional & family law attorney from Montreal, founded Goldwater, Dubé in 1981. She has been involved in some very high-profile family law cases—including Hendricks and Leboeuf v. Quebec, the Quebec Superior Court case which legalized same-sex marriage in the province, as well as Lola vs. Eric, a case which resulted in the Quebec Court of Appeal declaring parts of the common-law marriage legislation to be unconstitutional in its denial of alimony and matrimonial regime rights (a decision ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada).

Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, based in Amsterdam, is generally considered the first abortion rights specialist and activist to cross international borders: she is the founder of Women on Waves and Women on Web, providing reproductive health services on a boat in international waters to women from countries where it is prohibited. In 2018, she also founded Aid Access, which operates in the United States. In 2013 and 2014, Dr. Gomperts was included in the BBC’s 100 Women, and she was included in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2020.

Caroline Codsi ICD.D is the Founder and Chief Equity Officer of Women in Governance (WiG), Canada’s preeminent non-profit created in 2010 with mission to help women access decision-making bodies and male dominated fields. A Citizen of the world having lived on three continents, Caroline was born in Beirut and grew up through the civil war. A highly sought-after speaker, Caroline has addressed audiences across the globe, including two TEDx. Widely quoted in national and international media, she is the recipient of numerous awards from prestigious organizations such as the United Nations’ Women’s Committee, the Quebec Business Women Network, The Federation of Chambers of Commerce or the New Delhi Women’s Economic Forum, to name a few. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau nominated Caroline on Canada’s National Gender Equality Committee and Mayor Valérie Plante on the City of Montreal’s Business Committee. She was also recognized as a Top 20 Diversity Leading Figure in Quebec, Top 75 Canadian Immigrant, Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada and Top 100 Entrepreneurs changing the world.

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