The National Organization for Women (NOW) adopted a resolution for diseases and conditions affecting large numbers of women, including myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), at its conference this past July. The resolution is now live on NOW’s website, read the full resolution below.
The resolution recognizes the need to increase research funding, raise awareness and combat stigma for diseases and conditions affecting large numbers of women, including myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), auto-immune illnesses, fibromyalgia, Lyme, endometriosis, migraine headache and others. ME activist, Bobbi Ausubel, drafted the resolution, which NOW edited and approved.
NOW is the largest organization of feminist activists in the U.S. with 550 chapters across all 50 states.
The resolution resolves that NOW educate its members and raise awareness about these conditions; that its chapters reach out to federal agencies such as the NIH and CDC to urge an increase in funding for research; and that NOW encourage its members to raise congressional awareness about the lack of funding for these diseases and conditions.
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SEXISM IN WOMEN’S HEALTHCARE
WHEREAS, The National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is the largest publicly-supported medical research complex in the U.S., devotes comparatively meager funding toward health conditions and certain diseases that primarily affect women; and
WHEREAS, the NIH is negligent in researching health conditions and diseases that predominantly affect women, such as autoimmune illnesses, myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, endometriosis, migraine headache and others, which causes a lack of proper diagnosis and effective treatments for these conditions and diseases; and
WHEREAS, many health care professionals, due to lack of research and education, are not knowledgeable and are ill-equipped to diagnose these illnesses, so that often persons have to search for months or years to get a useful diagnosis; and
WHEREAS, if these conditions and diseases were diagnosed in early stages, needless suffering and even deaths of patients could be reduced;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women educate its members and raise awareness about these conditions and diseases, including about the delays and misdiagnoses that are caused, in part, by sexism;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW supports the increase of culturally-responsive research on autoimmune disease in women of color, who are disproportionately misdiagnosed and under-diagnosed; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW encourage its chapters to contact the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration as well as medical schools, medical residency centers, and the American Medical Association to request that they support an increase in funding for research of these health conditions and diseases predominantly affecting women;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW activists urge scientists and medical professionals to avoid stereotypes and misconceptions about health conditions and diseases which predominantly affect women and which have caused doctors to believe women’s pain is “all in their heads”; also, to urge healthcare professionals to post accurate and up-to-date information on their websites; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW encourage and offer directions for chapter leaders and members to contact their State elected officials and Congressional delegation to build support for hearings and legislation authorizing adequate funding for research to advance diagnosis and treatments of these health conditions and diseases that predominantly affect women.
Submitted by Petition by Bobbi Ausubel, Contra Costa NOW, CA