Meet Iris Kim: The President of the McGill Women's Health Advocacy Club

The Women's Health Advocacy Club (WHAC) here at McGill works to raise awareness surrounding different aspect's of women's health and help female students learn and become more knowledgeable about it. Iris Kim, the current president of WHAC, explains to us what WHAC does and how you can get involved and continue the discussion. 

Warning: This article does briefly discuss health topics such as sexual violence. All opinions are the interviewee’s own.

 

Kelsey Smolash for Her Campus McGill (HC McGill): Firstly, tell us a little bit about yourself and your position in WHAC.

Iris Kim (IK): I’m Iris and I’m in my final year at McGill, majoring in Physiology and minoring in Philosophy. I’m the president of the Women’s Health Advocacy Club.

 

HC McGill: What inspired you to join?

IK: I’m studying physiology and I hope to work in the health-care field in the future, so health, health-care and health-related research are all areas I am interested in and am passionate about. I also strongly believe that good health is fundamental to a good life in general. Along with many other women, I am also painfully aware of progress that needs to be made in our patriarchal society for women-identifying folk to truly be treated as equals. Although there are many amazing clubs at McGill focusing specifically on health-related issues, as well as clubs focusing on women’s rights, I felt that we didn’t really have one focusing on the ways in which they intersect, and how the women’s rights movement is also needed in health-related fields. Women’s health advocacy includes everything from reproductive rights, fair representation in research, as well as awareness of differential symptomology in diseases, and I felt that given the breadth and the complexity of the topic, it deserved a club on its own. So when this club was founded at the end of my first year here, it was a no-brainer for me to apply to be on the founding executive team, and the rest is history!

 

HC McGill: What is WHAC and how are you involved on campus and in the community?

IK: The Women’s Health Advocacy Club is a student-run club here at McGill aiming to raise awareness about gender-specific issues in health, health-care, health-related research and more, as well as the variety of ways in which women’s health issues intersect with other aspects of their lives! One of our biggest event of the year is our annual speaker series. In March, we invite professors, researchers, professionals, and other community members to come speak about their expertise, work, experience or insight into a specific topic in women’s health. We welcome and encourage attendance and participation from both McGill students and other Montreal community members! Through events such as this, as well as other initiatives and fundraisers, we hope to achieve our goal of advocating for the health of all women-identifying folk!

 

HC McGill: You have yearly themes, each focusing on a different aspect of women’s health. What is this year’s theme and what has WHAC been doing to bring awareness to it?

IK: This year, we have decided to focus on women’s mental health. We’re especially looking to highlight intersectional perspectives on the topic! We have held and will continue to hold a variety of events and fundraisers throughout the year to bring awareness to this multifaceted topic. One example is our letter writing campaign that we held last month. Sexual violence affects women’s health on so many different levels; it is of no question that mental health is one of the aspects of women’s health that is negatively affected as well. That’s why we felt that we had to do something in response to the U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Kavanaugh. We collaborated with the Office of Sexual Violence Response, Support and Education to provide a space for anyone who wanted to write a letter to public figures such as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Professor Anita Hill, Andrea Constand, thanking them for their bravery in coming forward. The Office provided active listeners for the evening, so that survivors could even write letters to themselves as a part of the healing process.

HC McGill: Any future plans for events or volunteering opportunities?

IK: Yes! Our next event is coming up very soon- we’re having our very first consciousness raising group on Monday, November 26th! This is an initiative we’re starting this year to open up a space for all women-identifying folk to come discuss and share their insights and experiences on a specific topic.  As our theme for the year is mental health, that will be our topic for our first consciousness raising group! In terms of volunteering opportunities, we have set up a partnership with Le Chainon, which is an organization here in Montreal, providing accommodation and other forms of support and services for any woman 18 and over. We are setting up groups of students to volunteer at the thrift store, Magasin Du Chainon, which is the main source of funding for Le Chainon. We were very excited to receive an overwhelmingly positive response from the student body in the amount of interest shown in this initiative, and are planning on setting up a regular schedule starting in January!

 

HC McGill: How can other students get involved if this is a subject they are interested in?

IK: First, come out to our events! The easiest way to keep up with our initiatives is by following our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MWHAC/). You can also support our club by coming by to our fundraisers or helping out with them! Our next one is a samosa sale at 688 Sherbrooke on Wednesday, November 21st! You can message us on our Facebook page, or email us at [email protected], if you want to get involved in any of our initiatives, such as volunteering or helping out with fundraisers, or if you have any feedback or suggestions for how we can make our advocacy better!

 

 

Images obtained from:

Cover Image provided by the interviewee

https://www.facebook.com/MWHAC/photos/p.1888003354641135/1888003354641135/?type=1&theater