Here at LILAS, our dedication to women’s health is at the heart of what we do 24/7/365 (or 366 in the case of leap years like this one). Since women’s health is foundational to societal health at-large, it can never be overemphasized. In fact, it is too often overlooked.
Fortunately, National Women’s Health Week, as championed by the Office on Women’s Health, provides a period of productive intentionality in engaging with issues surrounding women’s wellness. Each year starting on Mother’s Day, we can all set aside this constructive time to consider the implications of women’s health on individual and communal levels.
We must be cognizant of the individual level of women’s health because every woman has a unique wellness journey. Though there are general guidelines for health maintenance, a woman’s relationship to her wellness is constantly shaped by her life’s controlled and uncontrollable variables. For example, sexual health looks different for a woman who wants to have children than for one who does not. A healthy and realistic sleep schedule for a college student will be different from one for a mother with a newborn baby. The forms of exercise women participate in naturally evolves in varying ways across different life stages. Suffice to say, women’s health is not a cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all thing. Remembering the importance of individuality allows for each of us to assert agency over our own health decisions.
However, individuality does not insinuate internalization or isolation. All women should feel free to lean on our communities of support.
We must also uphold the communal level of women’s health because our collective action leads to progressive change. We as women and our allies must not shy away from coming together and working towards a shared goal. This does not necessarily require the most radical forms of activism. Some of the largest movements in women’s wellness, from the destigmatization of sexual health to body positivity, can be supported by changing the language we use to talk about such issues. We need to be intentional in expressing empathy and solidarity in community.
With that being said, community does not warrant toxic comparison. That would undermine the significance of individuality and disrupt communal unity in diversity.
In essence, we at LILAS wish you all the best this National Women’s Health Week. Consider taking our survey to help discover what wellness looks like for you. Take the time to check on other women in your life, especially during this uncertain moment in history. We hope to engage with you further as we honor women’s health all year-round.