Young Women's Health Conference on March 10 features one-day program that teen girls create

February 12, 2004

More than 1,000 teens from San Francisco and San Mateo counties are expected to attend the 4th Annual Young Women’s Health Conference on Wednesday, March 10, in San Francisco.

Focusing on the theme “We inspire! We act! We’re young women—step back!” this year’s event is set for 9:00 am to 3:30 pm at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

The UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health and State Senator Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) co-sponsor the one-day event to help empower young women and connect them to resources in their community.

“When I left the conference I was a different person. I felt confident, strong, empowered and proud to be a bicultural young woman. Now I feel ambitious and capable,” said high-school junior Mily Pasani, who attended the 2002 conference and helped plan last year’s event along with 10 other young women.

Each year a steering committee of teens works together to contribute ideas for speakers and workshops, produce a video, and choose a conference theme.

Sophia Garcia, a junior from Ida B. Wells High School in San Francisco, is one of 30 planners for this year’s conference. “I was shocked to learn that 10 percent of all girls in high school in San Francisco said they were physically hurt on purpose by someone during one recent year. I want to work to find a way to reduce the violence that threatens us,” said Garcia, who worked to ensure that intimate partner violence will be on the conference agenda.

Conference workshops, speakers and exhibitors center on engaging teens in addressing difficult subjects and offering resources and information. This year’s workshops will cover a wide range of topics such as violence, juvenile justice, nutrition, leadership, and choice.

Open mic sessions will encourage young women to speak their minds to an audience of their peers. In the past, open mic presentations have included creative expressions such as spoken word and song.

Speier said, “My goal for this conference is to engage young women in the power of critical thinking and decision-making so that they’re more fully prepared to make choices that strengthen them as they move forward in life.  We will provide resources that offer teens new tools to flourish in leadership roles, to make informed health-care decisions, and to learn violence-prevention skills—in short, to help teenage girls toward self-sufficiency.  Armed with the power of new information, these young women will be better equipped to strive and thrive as they prepare for their futures as empowered adults.”

The goal of the UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health is to address women’s changing health needs throughout their lifespans, according to Nancy Milliken., MD. Milliken is director of the Center of Excellence and vice dean of the UCSF School of Medicine. “This conference begins giving young women the information and tools they need to make informed decisions about their health and life options.  This powerful and unique experience helps young women of the Bay Area to be leaders among their peers and within their communities and to take charge of their lives.”

For more information about the Young Women’s Health Conference, go to www.ywhconline.org.

Note to reporters: Dr. Milliken, Senator Speier, Sophia Garcia and other teen-age event planners are available for interviews.