By Genia Kuypers
The 13th World Congress on Endometriosis is taking place in Vancouver today following the Endometriosis Marches last weekend. Winnipeg and Montreal also hosted events to raise awareness about this invisible chronic illness.
Endometriosis affects 176 million women worldwide or 1 in 10 women in the United States. The march in Toronto was held at Mel Lastman Square from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The day kicked off with an ongoing raffle and speakers, all sharing their stories and struggles with endometriosis. Near the end of the day, the group enjoyed performances by Fusion dance group, adorned in yellow to support the cause.
Katie Luciani who helped organize the event with the Endometriosis Network said “We believe that the suffering of women with endometriosis constitutes a major healthcare crisis and that the recognition of this issue is the first step towards creating changes in the healthcare system.”
According to Dr. Sony Sukhbir Singh, associate professor at the University of Ottawa and Vice-Chair of Gynecology at The Ottawa Hospital said the problem with endometriosis awareness is that society still faces taboos around talking about menstruation, female reproductive issues, and pain associated with these challenges. This issue begins in medical schools; the push to educate clinicians is lacking. “Not everyone is willing to fight the system,” Singh said.
Singh believes that not only do we need to change the public discourse but we also need a vast expansion of the use of health technologies and services to provide women with adequate reproductive health care. “We need to change the way in which we accept women’s health issues,” Singh said.
Families and friends spent the day showing support and raising awareness in the hopes of gaining recognition. The Endometriosis Network set up a second booth on Young street distributing pamphlets and flyers to further educate the public.
In addition to the Endometriosis March, the Toronto sign in front of Old City Hall downtown was lit up in yellow in rotation with the multi-colours for the day.