Gender Researchers Present at 11th InWomen’s Conference in San Antonio, Texas

July 1, 2019


On Friday, June 14, 2019, the International Women’s and Children’s Health and Gender (InWomen’s) Group, Chaired by RTI Global Gender Center Director, Dr. Wendee Wechsberg, hosted their 11th conference in San Antonio, Texas at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa. The InWomen’s Conference is a multidisciplinary forum held annually in conjunction with CPDD  and the NIDA International Forum to address varying issues of substance use among women, children, youth, and LGBT+ individuals. This year’s conference featured research conducted by RTI Global Gender Center affiliates, Drs. Courtney Peasant Bonner and Jennifer Lorvick during the panel sessions, as well as RTI GGC affiliated-research during the poster session.

InWomen’s Mission and Vision

The InWomen’s mission and vision is to share new and significant findings about the consequences of substance use, abuse, and risk behaviors; identify and promote innovative research that helps to empower women across the lifespan; foster gender-based analyses in research; raise awareness about the need for sensitivity in research to family, culture, sexual orientation, and equity within an international context; promote the benefits of prevention, intervention, and treatment; and forge new collaborations and develop research agendas.

The theme of the 11th InWomen’s Conference was how the global opioid epidemic is affecting women and their families, and global trends in teenage marijuana use. Dr. Redonna Chandler, Director of the AIDS Research Program and HEALing Communities Study at NIDA, moderated the first panel session which covered opioid addiction and myths among women in the Middle-East, gender differences in prescription opioid use among community members in North Central Florida, gender related aspects of the opioid epidemic among females in the United States, the stigma women who use opioids experience and its impact on access and retention in harm reduction services and interactions with child welfare, and the development of a model of care to manage women with substance use disorders in pregnancy and parenting in Sydney, Australia.  Panel members included Amal Alyusuf, MD, Mirsada Serdarevic, PhD, Jennifer Lorvick, DrPH, Rose Schmidt, MPH, and Maja Moensted, PhD.

Moderated by Dr. Richard A. Jenkins of the NIDA Prevention Research Branch, the second panel session focused on trends in teenage marijuana use. Researchers presented on trends in marijuana use among South African teens, female teens in Thailand, marijuana and vaping shifts among teens from the U.S. National Youth Survey, and youth cannabis tendencies within the overall context of cannabis use in Europe. Courtney Peasant Bonner, PhD, Usaneya Perngparn, PhD, Omar El-Shahawy, MD, MPH, PhD, and Paul Griffiths, MSc, provided their expertise as panel members. Each panel session encouraged audience participation by offering Q&A sessions.

In between the panel sessions, a wide range of research, policy, and program posters were displayed. The central theme of each poster aligned with the InWomen’s mission. The InWomen’s Conference offered 22 peer-reviewed and competitive travel awards to a select number of students and new investigators from 11 different countries who submitted poster abstracts. To promote networking among attendees, discussion tables were held during the conference’s lunch period. Discussion table topics included new psychoactive substances and their emerging trends among women, research targeting women and youth at the intersection of forced migration, substance use, mental health, tobacco and contingency management in pregnant women, mHealth and substance use treatment in pregnant women, how research and practice address intersectional substance use, interpersonal violence, and HIV, criminal justice involvement among adolescents and women who use drugs, and NIDA funding priorities.

In true Texan style, a line dancing lesson break was held in between sessions to encourage movement and energize the atmosphere among attendees. The InWomen’s Conference also provided a platform for strong women survivors who overcame addiction and trafficking to share their remarkable stories. Monica Anderson, a survivor and advocate for those at risk of sexual exploitation, and Nadia Gibb, a mother who has conquered the lifelong challenges of addiction and mental illness, shared their personal testimonials on the life changing impact of the research that the InWomen’s Conference promotes.

The engaging and uniquely intimate platform InWomen’s offers enables global leaders to expand their knowledge and awareness for gender issues while collaborating with other research professionals. The 11th InWomen’s Conference successfully forged new connections among professionals, revolutionized awareness for gender issues, and expanded substance use research agendas.

To learn more about the InWomen’s Conference visit their blog InWomen’s will return on June 19, 2020 in Hollywood, Florida!