Maggie Daley recognized the importance of women’s health

As the City of Chicago and the nation mourns the death of former first lady of Chicago, Maggie Daley, I reflect on a lesser known aspect of  this remarkable woman.  Yes, she is well known for her strong support of the city’s school children and the importance of bringing the Arts into their lives.   She was also a supporter of breast cancer causes even before she faced her own diagnosis and she participated in many of the events sponsored by the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, founded and based in Chicago.

But not everyone knows that in 1993, she spearheaded the development of a Task Force on Women’s Health that resulted in the June 1994 release of an “Urban Women’s Health Agenda” in partnership with the Chicago Department of Health.  I was privileged to be a member of this Task Force along with an amazing diverse group of women who advocated for better health for ALL women in Chicago.  Today, I looked through a copy of that report and realized how visionary it was.  The report’s themes are still important and include:

  • Improving women’s health means improving girls’ self esteem
  • Health policy must consider community based institutions and families
  • Health care must integrate at the systemic and community level
  • More women should be encouraged and supported to enter health careers
  • The role of violence as a health determinant must be addressed
  • Research studies must include more women and look for sex differences
  • Primary care is critical to promoting healthy behaviors.

The comprehensive approach to improved healthcare for all that is found in this report is worth visiting as we struggle with the current health care debate.   Maggie was always about people and she recognized how diverse we are as a city and a nation.     Let’s remember this as we continue to seek a better health care system.