Women’s Health Week debuts at Geneseo

In an initiative spearheaded by Geneseo Healthguards, numerous organizations have collaborated under the Division of Student & Campus Life to bring Women’s Health Week to Geneseo from Tuesday March 1–Sunday March 7. It’s a cause that is usually recognized nationally in May, but because school will be out by then, they chose to celebrate it on campus this week.

Along with Healthguards, Voices for Planned Parenthood, Geneseo Pathways, Minority Association of Pre-Health Students, Community Health Alliance and Lauderdale Center for Student Health & Counseling worked to plan the events in order to spread education and awareness about why women generally experience more health issues and obstacles than men and what can be done about it. They also ensured not to exclude men, however, emphasizing how problems surrounding women’s health also impact men.

Topics covered at the various events include the Zika Virus, healthy relationships, nutrition and hormones, food as medicine, medical anthropology, reproductive health, yoga for female energy, stress management and more.

Healthguard Special Projects intern senior Allie Peraino was largely responsible for coordinating the event as one of her projects within the internship, which she has held for three years. Peraino explained that her goal is to spread knowledge not only about the difficulties women encounter regarding their personal health, but also relevant institutional complications and impediments within legislature.

“As a gender which faces inequality, women suffer more health issues around the globe and are continually unsupported by institutions,” Peraino said. “Women know the issues they face, so it is our job to invite men into the conversation to facilitate change and awareness.”

Another objective is to promote body positivity. In a culture obsessed with people’s appearances—and especially critical toward women—the groups involved hope to aid in generating more reflection on social values and their consequences and to create an understanding of everyone’s uniqueness as something to be cherished.

“We want to inform people to think differently about aspects of women’s health in ways they didn’t consider before and also to encourage women to feel celebrated for having the bodies and minds they do,” Peraino said.

Healthguards teamed up with VOX to table in the MacVittie College Union throughout the week. They are offering free information in the form of brochures about topics like sexual assault hotlines, an after-abortion talk line, gynecological exams, contraception choices and general facts about Planned Parenthood. Additionally, they’re giving out free resources such as tampons and pads, condoms—both male and female—dental dams, lubricant and more.

“Awareness is one of the biggest goals,” VOX president junior Stephanie Gerspacher said. “I think student response has been pretty good; we have a lot of people coming up to the table asking questions or taking advantage of the resources we have available.”

Gerspacher was instrumental in bringing speaker Vice President of Health Services at Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York Melinda DuBois to campus for the seminar “A Vagina Dialogue” on Wednesday March 2.

“She talked about reproductive justice and reproductive rights and what that looks like right now,” Gerspacher said.

This is the first year that Geneseo is dedicating a week to women’s health and it seems to have been well-received by the student body. With great turnout at the events that have taken place and positive feedback to the organizations involved, this may become an annual affair.

Peraino expressed her excitement at having the opportunity to bring such a week to campus. She noted that she hopes it brings issues that are sometimes ignored or forgotten about to the forefront of personal and public consideration within the community.