Strengthening Support for Womxn in Rural Arizona

Everyone knows a woman who has effortlessly taken on a myriad of tasks to care of their family, friends, coworkers and loved ones. They may be a mom, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, nurse, community health worker or even yourself. Women are usually the caregiver or leader in making health choices for their families. Women take on all these different roles, sometimes doing three of them at the same time, so how can we support them?

In rural Arizona, many residents struggle with access to services, transportation, and a living wage job. At the same time, health care providers contend with keeping a vibrant skilled workforce to meet the needs in their community. This policy brief from the National Rural Health Association outlines how rural women face several barriers including lack of health insurance, unemployment, high rates of chronic medical conditions, maternal morbidity and mortality, aging issues and intimate partner violence. As a result, there exists many health disparities among women and their families.

The Arizona Rural Women’s Health Network (AzRWHN or Network) was developed in 2006 to address these issues and support the health care organizations and health workers that provide services to women. The mission of the Network is to build our network partners’ capacity to cultivate and promote innovative policies, practices, and services that improve the health of women in rural Arizona. Our vision is that women in rural Arizona will experience optimal health and wellness. Our Network is comprised of over 22 organizations statewide including Universities, local health departments, non-profits, and health centers. Together we work towards addressing health inequities among women by provide training, education, and support to our members.

Since 2012 the Arizona Rural Women’s Health Network has collaborated on numerous projects, including:

  • Training over 2,400 health care providers in Arizona and conducting over 20 webinars on various health topics.
  • Celebrating our Annual Rural Women's Health Symposium and Awards Ceremony for 5 consecutive years.
  • Training over 200 Community Health Workers on handling sexual violence disclosures through our online curriculum and in-person curriculum in partnership with the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.
  • Supporting and assisting in establishing 2 new rural forensic exam sites in AZ and assisted 3 partner organizations to establish forensic exam sites.
  • Establishing Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment sites in Canyonlands Healthcare sites (health centers) across Northern Arizona.

2019 Rural Women’s Health Symposium

Those are just a few of the items the Network has accomplished and continues to provide. We also enjoy hosting the Annual Rural Women’s Health Symposium which brings together various presenters and health care workers from across the state to share their best practices. Our upcoming 6th Annual Rural Women’s Health Symposium will be held virtually on August 5th and 6th with the theme of Advancing Health Equity for Women.  We invite you to join us during this event to learn about the work being done in rural communities.

As women’s health week approaches, we encourage you to take steps to take care of yourself and support the women health champions in your community. You can find additional resources on our webpage

About the Author

Lorraine Ramirez's picture

Lorraine Ramirez is the Program Manager for Rural Women’s Health & Oral Health at the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers. She has supported the Arizona Rural Women’s Health Network and rural health since 2016.  Lorraine has a Master of Public Health from the University of Arizona, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

Share this