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II Conference on Gender and Health in Global, Transnational and Historical Perspectives

October 14, 2021

In this interdisciplinary and geographically wide-ranging one-day conference, we aim to bring together scholars from public health and the humanities, from the medical sciences and the social sciences, whose areas of research will help us consider past and present relationships of gender and health. 

Few would disagree that gender matters for understanding health, healthcare delivery, and health-related policies, particularly as gender intersects with other social and geopolitical categories in generating inequalities and inequities in disease, mortality, access to health care, and so forth. Most observers are also very aware that gender is critical to understanding the many social and environmental determinants of health, such as economic development, access to clean air and water, the impact of climate change, access to education, among others. Yet we still have much to learn about the relationship between gender and health across varying geographic and temporal contexts, such that we might be able to grapple with the relationships of gender and health within a global or transnational perspective or to understand the historical underpinnings of these relationships. How does gender interact with global political, economic, and social institutions to influence the ways in which individuals access, make choices about, and/or resist healthcare across national borders? How do gender inequities in the balance and use of power in global health institutions and global health policy impact local experiences of physical and mental health and well-being? Why do women constitute the majority of both front-line health workers and domestic care workers in so many areas around the world, and what implications does this have for their own and societies’ health and well-being? How are transnational actors, such as pharmaceutical industries, medical institutions, or political spokespersons, influencing local ideas about what is “natural” for the bodies of men, women, or non-binary people? How best ought we understand and respond to the biopolitics of developing global markets in semen, oocytes, human milk, surrogacy labor, childcare, and so forth?

While the questions posed above offer some food for thought, presentations that contribute to any aspect of the broader goal of understanding gender and health in a global, transnational, and historical perspective are welcome. We encourage talks that examine the intersection of gendered inequalities with other social categories such as race, religion, class, and sexuality and proposals that examine global health crises in relation to the processes of constituting subjectivities in health practices and various understandings of the body, disease, and wellness.

This conference is funded in part by five (5) Title VI National Resource Center grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

9:00 am – Opening Remarks

Mary Gallagher, International Institute Director and Amy and Alan Lowenstein Professor of Democracy, Democratization, and Human Rights, University of Michigan

9:15 - 11:15 AM – Power & Health: Examining Decision-Making


Moniek van Rheenen, Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Michigan


Yun Zhou, Assistant Professor, Sociology, University of Michigan
Of Sex and Stress: Gendered Precarity and Women’s Sexual Decision-making in Contemporary Urban China

Emine Evered, Associate Professor, History, Michigan State University
Syphilis and the State in Early Turkish Republic

Elizabeth J. King, Associate Professor, Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan
Gender & Power: Navigating access to healthcare for women who inject drugs in Russia

Victoria Langland, Director, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies; Associate Professor, History and Portuguese, University of Michigan
Brazil and the Global Turn toward Breastfeeding

12:00 - 2:00 PM – Maternal, Infant, and Child Health in Comparative Perspective


Grace Argo, Doctoral Candidate, History and Women's Studies, University of Michigan


Seema Jayachandran, Professor, Economics, Northwestern University
Son preference and girls' health in India

Cheryl Moyer, Associate Professor, Learning Health Sciences; Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan
Understanding the role of gender in maternal and newborn health research in Ghana

Monica Das Gupta, Research Professor, Sociology, Maryland Population Research Center, University of Maryland
Son preference and “missing girls” in Asia: What drives it, what might help reduce it? Lessons from South Korea

Daniel Iddrisu, MA Student, Masters in International and Regional Studies–African Studies specialization, University of Michigan
Using the Malaria Indicator Survey to Understand the role of Female-Headed Households in Prevention, Care-seeking and Treatment for Malaria among children in Ghana

3:00 - 5:00 PM – Collective and Gendered Bodies: Visualizing Health


Cynthia Gabriel, Lecturer, Women's and Gender Studies; Advisor, Gender & Health, University of Michigan


Tuğçe Kayaal, Assistant Professor, History, Furman University
Making Heteromasculine Subjects: Boy Scout Organizations in the Late Ottoman Empire (1908-1918)

Yiming Wang, MA Student, Masters in International and Regional Studies–Chinese Studies specialization, University of Michigan
Gender, age and bodies: the visibility of aging female bodies in Chinese history

Stephanie Koning, National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein Individual Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern University
Structural violence against women and population health: The histories and futures women’s bodies carry at the Thai-Myanmar border

Kasia Klasa, PhD candidate, Health Services Organization and Policy, University of Michigan
The COVID-19 Pandemic in Central and Eastern Europe