EGA Institute for Women's Health


Report on International Women's Day 2021

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day was #ChooseToChallenge #iwd2021

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day was #ChooseToChallenge #iwd2021

  • A challenged world is an alert world.
  • Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.
  • We can choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality.
  • We can choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements.
  • Collectively, we can create an inclusive and more gender-equal world.
  • From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.

The Institute for Women’s Health held 5 free, online events for International Women's Day 2021

Sunday 7th March - 7 - 8pm: Your Fertile Years - What you need to know to make informed choices

Joyce Harper promoting 'Your Fertile years' book
Your Fertile Years - zoom screenshot

The event was chaired by Joyce Harper, Professor of Reproductive Science and author of Your Fertile Years, who was joined by a panel of fertility experts to discuss why we need fertility education with a Q and A from the audience. Chairing the event was Dr Larisa Corda, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and a passionate champion of women’s rights and on the panel were Dr Mara Simopoulou, Chair of the Greek MyFertility campaign, Emma Haslett, Journalist and co-host of @bigfatnegative podcast, Mariana Martins, Assistant Professor at Porto University and a Clinical Psychologist and Alexandra Carvalho, a clinical embryologist developing strategies to raise awareness about reproductive health. 

To view the full video of the event pleast go to - Your Fertile Years; what you need to know to make informed choices

Monday 8th March 2021 - 1.00 - 2.15 pm: Panel: Race & Reproduction

race and reproduction screenshot

 At lunchtime on International Women’s Day we held an event titled Race & Reproduction. This event brought together four amazing women from minority backgrounds to discuss baby loss, infertility, female genital mutilation, periods, pain and pelvic floor. The panellists were Le'Nise Brothers, a registered nutritionist who specialises in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle and hosts the Period Story podcast, a programme where she talks to women about their first period and the myths and misconceptions about periods. Seetal Savla, a freelance writer who aims to banish the extra stigma faced by women of colour struggling with infertility. Dr Shema Tariq (Academic and Consultant in HIV/Sexual Health, and Trustee of Tommy's Baby Charity) shared her personal experience of infertility and baby loss. Dr Sohier Elneil a Consultant Urogynaecologist from UCLH and IfWH talked about FGM: addressing the hidden problems of chronic pain and other pelvic floor problems. The event was chaired by Asma Ashraf a nurse who works in HIV/Sexual Health research at UCL’s Institute for Global Health & a member of the UCL Race Equality Steering Group. Joyce Harper was co-chair.

To view the full video of the event pleast go to - Race & Reproduction


Monday 8th March, 8-9.30 pm:  Panel: Women open water swimming.

Decorative image
Open Water Swimming event screenshot

On the evening of International Women’s Day, we held a sold out event on women open water swimming. A growing number of women are turning to open water swimming to enjoy a vibrant community, getting back to nature and the health benefits. We talked to some inspiring women who told us all about it. On the panel were Professor Sasha Roseneil, University College London, Pro-Vice-Provost (Equity and Inclusion), Dean of the Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences and Professor of Interdisciplinary Social Science, Jessica Hepburn, fertility advocate, founder of Fertility Fest, channel swimmer and author of 21 Miles, Dr Heather Massey, University of Portsmouth, a channel swimmer and ice 1km swimmer and currently researching the physiology of cold water swimming and its impacts on physical and mental health, Dr Ruth Williamson, Radiologist and Deputy Chief Medical Officer at University Hospitals Dorset, a channel relay and winter swimmer with research interests in the health benefits and risk management of cold water swimming and Rachel Ashe, founder of Mental Health Swims, a community that empowers people of all body shapes, age, colour, background, gender, sexuality and ability. The event was chaired by Professor Joyce Harper, a novice open water swimmer, who has used open water swimming to keep herself sane during lockdown.

To view the full video of the event please go to - Women open water swimming 


Tuesday 9th March 2021 - 2:00 – 3:30 pm - Performance: Interpreting Ovarian Cancer through Dance

IWD - dance
Ovarian cancer through dance screenshot

Our fourth event was Interpreting Ovarian Cancer through Dance hosted by Anne Lanceley, Aleksandra Gentry-Maharaj  from UCL IfWH and Adeola Olaitan, Consultant Gynaecologist, UCLH and Trustee of The Eve Appeal charity, in conversation with Lea Tirabasso with the screening of Lea’s dance exploring her diagnosis of ovarian cancer. ‘There is the ancient, religious idea that man is the unhappy combination of beast and god: if only we were divine, we would be liberated, immortal spirit; if only we were beast, we could be content in our instinctive ignorance’. Thomas Stern, 'The Human and the Octopus' The Ephemeral Life of an Octopus is absurd and grotesque, playful and liberating. It questions the strangeness of having a body: healthy and vigorous, suffering and damaged, punctured and probed, wild and animalistic. Based on Lea’s personal experience of ovarian cancer, the piece is inspired by studies of the evolution of cancer cells and the lived experience of illness. At once scientific, philosophical and visceral, the piece looks at the dysfunction, chaos and vibrant life force of the body from within and without.



Tuesday 9th March 2021 - 8.00 - 10.00 pm - Film Screening: Picture a Scientist

Decorative image
This independent documentary followed a groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. Featuring geologist Jane Willenbring, chemist Raychelle Burks, and biologist Nancy Hopkins, as well as key social scientists working to understand and reduce gender bias in the sciences, Picture a Scientist brings diversity in science into sharp view at a critical time. The current pandemic is a call to action for scientists to work together globally, with a multitude of different perspectives, to defeat COVID-19. For too long, women and other minorities in science have been left out or driven out, stymied by a system of harassment, discrimination, and general bias. “Any impediment to advancing minorities in science is an impediment to science itself,” says Sharon Shattuck, co-director of Picture a Scientist. The film was 97 minutes long and was followed by a short Q and A chaired by Dr. Rajvinder Karda, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Women’s Health, University College London.