Focus on Women

Women Need to Be Part of Afghanistan’s Solution

June 30th, 2011 . by Cathy Standiford

With the recent focus on President Obama’s plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, I can’t stop thinking about what will happen to the women if they are not allowed to participate in discussions about their country’s future.  Women and girls are more dramatically impacted by war and conflict, and their voices and representation are critically important.  Research shows that when women are allowed to participate in peace negotiations, peace is more likely to occur in a sustainable way.

Women in Afghanistan want to be part of the solution.  They remember well what happened the last time there was a leadership vacuum in their country–the Taliban took control.  Read about their concerns and their desire to be part of the peace process in this article from the Daily Beast.

Wrinkles Could Be a Bad Thing

June 21st, 2011 . by Cathy Standiford

As a middle-aged woman, I like to believe that I’ve earned my wrinkles–each line reflecting a memory of laughter or sadness.   But as it turns out, wrinkles may not be such a good thing.  A recent Yale University study suggests that the deeper a middle-aged woman’s wrinkles appear, the more likely she is to have osteoporosis.

The theory is that both firm skin (i.e., fewer wrinkles) and strong bones are related to collagen, a protein that diminishes in our bodies as we get older.  The more wrinkled your face is, the more likely you are to have osteoporosis, even if you have been diligent in taking vitamins, getting the right amount of sun, and avoiding smoking.  But as with any study, there are always caveats.  The bottom line:  if you are over 50 and have deep wrinkles, be sure to get a bone density test.  For more information on the study and what it might mean, click here:

The Decline in Women’s Health

June 15th, 2011 . by Cathy Standiford

As great as our medical research is, as advanced as our drug regimens are, as accessible as our health care is (compared to health care access in many parts of the developing world), you would think that life expectancies for women would be increasing, not decreasing.  And you would be wrong.

Life expectancy for women in some regions of the US has declined in several regions of our country.  More troubling, life expectancies have declined at a rate not seen in our country since the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918.    “Who’s to blame,” you ask?  We are.  It’s our own, darn fault.  The biggest contributors to the decline in women’s health are obesity and smoking, both of which are mostly preventable.

For more information about the study which measured life expectancies and what it found, click here:,0,6790340.story

Then go take a walk.  It will be good for your health, and consequently, good for you.

Cheers to the 14-Year Old Girl Who Can Spell!

June 3rd, 2011 . by Cathy Standiford

Before today, I didn’t know what being cymotrichous meant, much less how to spell it (or pronounce it).  But 14-year old Sukanya Roy from South Abington Township in Pennsylvania sure did.  She won this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee by spelling it correctly.  It’s kind of thrilling to have a girl win such a prestigious competition.  To read more about Sukanya and how she prepared for the Spelling Bee, click here.

To honor her, I think we should all try to use cymotrichous in a sentence, and commit to expanding our own vocabulary.  (By the way, my hair is by no means cymotrichous!)