February 21, 2024

How SWHR is Driving its 2023-2024 Policy Agenda Priorities

In 2023, the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) launched its 2023-2024 Federal Legislative Agenda, outlining key areas for SWHR engagement in the legislative and regulatory arenas. The activities are categorized into Core Leadership Activities, Key Policy Priorities and Areas of Active Engagement, and Other Areas for Potential Engagement.  

As we enter the second year of the 2023-2024 agenda, we reflect on how our policy activities and engagement are meeting the priorities identified in the agenda, and how the Society is poised to continue to prioritize efforts in 2024.  

SWHR’s Core Leadership Activities represent the areas where SWHR plays a leadership role and are directly aligned to SWHR’s mission and scope. If achieved, success could have tremendous bearing on women’s health and women’s health research. These priorities include securing federal research funding for women’s health research, supporting federal programs and initiatives related to women’s health, ensuring sufficient representation of diverse populations of women in clinical trials, facilitating appropriate access to health care and research, and supporting the representation of women across all levels of science. Over the past year, many of SWHR’s policy efforts have supported these goals:  

At the beginning of the year, the Society engaged in the fiscal year (FY) 2024 appropriations process to try to achieve funding increases for federal research and public health agencies that predominately fund and support women’s health research, including the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH). SWHR submitted outside witness testimony to the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee outlining the Society’s FY 2024 funding requests and led two Friends of ORWH FY 2024 funding request letters to appropriators seeking support for ORWH. 

SWHR submitted comments in response to a Request for Information from Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chair Bill Cassidy about ways to reform the National Institutes of Health (NIH), proposing ways NIH may better prioritize women’s health research across the agency. Through SWHR’s and others’ engagement, the Biden Administration announced the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research in November 2023. SWHR  participated in stakeholder meetings and sent a letter to the administration detailing SWHR’s recommendations for achieving meaningful progress in women’s health research at the federal level through this Initiative.   

Aligning with SWHR’s goal to increase the representation of diverse populations of women in research, the Society at the beginning of the year submitted comments to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Request for Information about how to enhance the U.S. clinical research infrastructure and emergency clinical trials. Additionally, SWHR—through its role as a member and administrative home of the Coalition to Advance Maternal Therapeutics (CAMT)—advocated for the Advancing Safe Medications for Moms and Babies Act of 2023, the provisions of which would increase the inclusion of pregnant and lactating populations in clinical trials. The CAMT also hosted two congressional briefings in 2023 to educate policymakers about issues related to the appropriate inclusion of pregnant and lactating populations in clinical trials.  

Beyond SWHR’s Core Leadership Activities, the Society identified Key Policy Priorities and Areas of Active Engagement. Some of SWHR’s activities in this area included the following:  

This coming year brings with it even greater opportunities – and challenges – for women’s health policy. While election years can often stall policy action, the White House Initiative for Women’s Health Research has the potential to elevate women’s health research to an unprecedented level, spurring innovation and closing critical gaps in knowledge. SWHR’s highest priority is ensuring that the recommendations put forth by federal agencies and the women’s health community are elevated and implemented, with the ultimate goal of driving advancements in women’s health research and improving health and quality of life outcomes for women across the country.  

If you have questions about SWHR’s policy efforts, please email SWHR’s policy team