IRWG Awards Faculty Grants for Research on Women & Global Health


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The University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG) has awarded four Sisters Fund for Global Health grants to support faculty research projects. Established in 2006, the Sisters Fund seeks to enhance activist scholarship or other creative activities that benefit local and global communities experiencing gender-based health disparities.

The 2017 recipients and their projects are:

Rita Chin – History
Invisible Labor: A History of Female Migrant Caregivers in Postcolonial Europe

This book project examines the precarious existence of female labor migrants from former colonies to Great Britain and France after 1945. Paying special attention to women who worked in domestic service – as nannies, private nurses, and more recently, in-home caregivers for the elderly, Professor Chin explores the social effects of a dynamic between the so-called First and Third Worlds, in which impoverished colonial and ex-colonial women migrated to wealthy European countries in order to serve as care providers.

Nesha Z. Haniff – Afroamerican and African Studies; Women’s Studies
The Gender Consciousness Project

The Gender Consciousness Project (GCP) is a grassroots program that builds awareness of the complexities of gender discrimination faced by young women. Utilizing the essential principle of consciousness raising—that women themselves must understand their own oppression and, more importantly, how they themselves participate in their own oppression—the GCP engages high school females in conceptualizing how gender, combined with other aspects of their identity, impact various facets of their lives. In Summer 2016, Professor Haniff launched this dialogue-based discourse with young women, primarily women of color, in the metro-Detroit area. In 2017, additional groups were formed in Kingston, Jamaica. The program consists of curated 90-minute discussions over several months, alongside a final technology-based project. The Sisters Fund award will support the expansion of this project into additional high schools in the Detroit area.

Elizabeth J. King – Department of Health Behavior & Health Education, School of Public Health
Engaging Local Russian HIV Activists in Research and Advocacy: Improving Access to Infant Formula Among HIV-Positive Mothers

Antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV-positive patients are in short supply in Russia. Coverage is tragically low and shortages of medications are common, especially in more provincial locations. Women are often prescribed antiretroviral drugs as preventive treatment for mother-to-child transmission, but not continued treatment. Russian recommendations indicate that HIV-positive mothers should abstain from breastfeeding; however, many women are not able to afford infant formula on their own. This project is designed to build the capacity of regional HIV activists to collect the necessary data in their cities/towns in order to better advocate for the rights of women living with HIV, with an emphasis on access to infant formula for new mothers.

Elizabeth F.S. Roberts – Anthropology; Institute for Social Research
Gendered Environments: Making Global Health Knowledge in Working-Class Mexico City Neighborhoods

In ongoing collaboration with researchers in the School of Public Health, Professor Roberts is conducting a longitudinal environmental health study of six women and their families in Mexico City. The project uses a gender framework to examine pathways that link the effects of chemical exposure to pressing global health concerns, such as lead exposure and adolescent pregnancy. Each year, Professor Roberts conducts fieldwork in Mexico City and trains undergraduate students in her Mexican Exposures Lab at U-M on qualitative research methods. She is also developing a bioethnographic research platform that combines the data derived from these public health and ethnographic research efforts to arrive at a better understanding of the larger histories and gendered environments and life circumstances that shape health, disease and inequality.

Established in 1995, the Institute for Research on Women & Gender (IRWG) is an interdisciplinary unit of the University of Michigan Office of Research, supporting research on women, gender, and sexuality. IRWG’s research vision is interdisciplinary and broadly inclusive of the creative and performing arts as well as the humanities, social sciences, and the sciences. IRWG is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in research and across scholarly communities.

For more information on research and funding opportunities, visit

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