Women of Yale, Women of the World

March 7, 2018

Special entry by Ms. Marta Moret

I am delighted to have this opportunity to present a special edition of Notes from Woodbridge Hall. Tomorrow we celebrate an important occasion, and I do not mean the start of spring recess. This Thursday, March 8, is International Women’s Day—a day to honor and support the critical work of women around the globe.

This day has special meaning for me as a woman with strong ties to the United States and especially Puerto Rico. In my lifetime, I have known so many strong women—my mother, grandmothers, aunts, professors, mentors, and colleagues. In my work in public health in New Haven and throughout Connecticut, I have met scores of women and girls who are overcoming incredible obstacles. They are making remarkable sacrifices for their families and loved ones. These women inspire me every day. 

I came of age in a time of extraordinary change for women in this country. The women’s rights and civil rights movements opened doors for me, a young woman of Puerto Rican descent. Yet there is still so much more work to do. Women of color, in particular, face significant challenges. 

Take my area of expertise, healthcare: women of color in the United States are much more likely than white women to lack access to health care, leading to higher rates of death for many diseases. For example, black women are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. According to the Centers for Disease Control, black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die of complications in pregnancy and childbirth. The risk of maternal death is twice as high for Native American women as white women. These are urgent issues that demand our serious attention. When women are empowered and supported, the entire society benefits. 

I graduated from the Yale School of Public Health in 1984, not long after meeting my future husband. I am proud to be a woman of Yale, and I feel lucky to belong to this diverse community of students, faculty, alumni, and staff. Over the years, I have been privileged to meet countless Yale graduates who are committed to making their communities—and the world—a better, safer, and more equitable place for all people. Their goodwill and commitment give me hope for the future.

International Women’s Day is a call to action and understanding. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “On International Women’s Day, let us all pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.” I hope you will join me—and so many women and men of Yale, here and around the world—to fulfill this promise.