Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Movement

Student Global Health Conference Inspires Advocacy and Action

When citizens think about movements they generally recall the women’s suffrage, civil rights, and anti war movements. However, the world has shrunken with the advent of the internet, increased travel, and evermore accessible telecommunications. This has created the ability for larger movements but also allows for some to get lost in the fray. Facebook causes, mass emails, blogs, and twitters have created an overwhelming abundance of information and myriad issues to track. At times what is missing is the commitment to action – arguably the most important step.

It was in this spirit of expanding upon a movement that the Students for Global Health Conference (SGHC) achieved its objectives – increase attention, focus advocacy efforts, and commit to action. Held at Boston University School of Public Health the day after the Partners in Health (PIH) symposium, the conference offered a chance to both students and young professionals to network, learn, and be inspired at what can be achieved together.

The conference began as an idea by a group of PIH interns to run after their positions ended. The small and dedicated group planned, programmed, and ran the conference as students and young professionals volunteering for a cause they believe in. With over 200 students pre-registered and speakers from PIH, Harvard’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, and Physicians for Human Rights the days event were beneficial to all in attendance.

The final piece of the conference saw small groups of students coming together based on issues and producing tangible commitments in the given field. My group (Women’s Health Equity) chose to raise funds and awareness for (a highly effective and popular microfinance organization) and start a letter campaign to promote full appropriations for the PEPFAR reauthorization bill. Eleven students from seven schools can hopefully create a network that achieves what I call the AAA: attention, advocacy, and action.

Curtis Peterson, the conference leader, had much to smile about at the end. The conference proved yet again to him that the commitment and investment from people is out there. Movements require masses of people from all walks of life working in concert toward a common cause and goal. What I might add is that we are in the midst of the next great movement – rights based healthcare – and weekends like these have helped and continue to help rally different paths to the same goal.

If you would like to join our group (SWEET= Students for Women's Economic Equity Today) on, make a small microfinance loan, or simply view our goal - click here. Thank you

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