International Women's Health

The International Council on Women’s Health Issues (ICOWHI) is an international nonprofit association dedicated to the goal of promoting health, health care, and well-being of women throughout the world through participation, empowerment, advocacy, education, and research.

We are a multidisciplinary network of women’s health providers, planners, and advocates from all over the globe.

We constitute an international professional and lay network of those committed to improving women’s health and quality of life.


ICOWHI’s mission is to enhance empowerment, decrease inequity, and promote the health and well-being of women worldwide by facilitating and supporting communication and networking among researchers, clinicians, educators, and community advocates.

The important niche and differentiating factor of ICOWHI is the emphasis on the role of education and facilitating of nurturing networks that interface between policy, practice and research.

Strategic Goals

  1. Increase the impact of members (individually and collectively) through improving the health and well-being of women internationally
  2. Contribute to reducing violence and its impact on vulnerable women across their life span in health and illness
  3. Develop worldwide partnerships and coalitions for the purpose of decreasing risks affecting the health and well-being of women
  4. Create a culture of mentorship within ICOWHI
  5. Increase and expand the scope of membership in ICOWHI


ICOWHI was conceived in 1983 by Phyllis Stern who at that time was at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. Stern recognised the lack of scientific research, publications and organizations devoted to women’s health, particularly on issues outside of reproductive health and gynaecological problems.

Although ICOWHI held its first congress in 1983, it wasn’t until the second congress that its founders realized the need to form an international organization. The original purpose of establishing ICOWHI was to provide a forum for exchange of information and support, to provide a mechanism for the publication and retrieval of congress materials, to organize the activities of future congress sessions, to establish a center for the study of women’s health issues in Halifax. It was during the second congress that by laws were voted on and officers were elected.

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