Women’s Health Issues

A lot of drugs being prescribed at that time for women’s health concerns were Valium or something stronger. So that when you had a problem, this would be prescribed. Most women thought doctors were gods, so they took the drugs. I guess an awful lot at that conference (NSWC’s Women Day of Health) understood that they were taking things that were quite harmful to their bodies.

– Jill Schooley, one of the founding mothers of the NSWC, on the over-prescription of tranquilizers to women in the 70s

Many women in the 70s and 80s felt that women’s health issues were not being addressed. In addition to Abortion/Reproductive Rights, the Women’s Movement tackled issues like the over-prescribing of tranquilizers to women, lack of information on breast and cervical cancer, menopause, addictions, etc.

To help address these problems, several Status of Women Councils and other groups, worked on a number of health projects and issues. For instance, the Newfoundland (later St. John’s) Status of Women Council held a “Women’s Day of Health” in 1975. The Gateway Status of Women Council provided information and support to women who had taken DES (a drug that was later found to have serious side effects) during their pregnancies; and the Gander Status of Women Council chose the theme “R/Evolution in Women’s Health Care” when they hosted the annual Provincial Conference of Status of Women Councils in 1985. Another significant initiative was the four-year Women’s Health Education Project, which started in 1981. Co-sponsored by the Newfoundland Status of Women Council and the Women’s Institutes, the goal of the project was to create a network of women (especially in rural areas) to address health issues.