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"Universities must lead the way on gender equality promotion through knowledge"

University of Alicante President Manuel Palomar presents the Gender Equality Award 2019 to professor of Medicine Rosa Ballester as part of the celebrations of International Women’s Day

 

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Alicante. Thursday 7 March 2019

Today, emeritus professor of History of Science Rosa Ballester Añón has received the University of Alicante’s Gender Equality Award 2019 from UA President Manuel Palomar. The ceremony, also attended by emeritus UA and UMH presidents Antonio Gil Olcina and Jesús Rodríguez Marín, was held in a crowded multimedia room. Among those present to honour Rosa Ballester were many members of the UA Governing Council and Francis Mojica.

The award recipient, who became the University of Alicante’s first ombudsperson in 1995, was described by Manuel Palomar as “a true academic pioneer, as she held relevant academic management positions at a time when the presence of women was minimal and integrated gender studies into health sciences. She was and still is an inspiring example for many generations of professionals in the sector and a model, paving the way for knowledge with a gender perspective in an area key to social development: health.”

In her speech, after being presented with the award by the President, Ballester thanked both the University of Alicante and the “Department of Community Nursing, Preventive Medicine, Public Health and History of Science for the award” and remembered “all those I have worked with over the years, who have allowed me to receive this award today.”

Vice President for Social Responsibility, Inclusion and Gender Equality María José Rodríguez hosted the event and unveiled the manifesto by the Spanish Conference of University Presidents in support of “full equality between Women and Men” on International Women’s Day, emphasising “the major role of universities in instilling values to achieve an ever more tolerant, fair and egalitarian society.” Denouncing that inequalities “lead to a severe loss of talent,” the manifesto stated that “the study of gender inequalities has built up a rigorous body of theoretical knowledge, supported by scientific evidence, which should not be called into question based on purely ideological arguments, as has happened these last few months.”


Rosa Ballester

A graduate and PhD in Medicine from the University of Valencia since 1975, Rosa Ballester has pursued her academic career at several universities, including the University of Alicante, where she became the first-ever professor of History of Science.

At the UA, in addition to working as a lecturer, she held management positions in a context in which women were underrepresented. In 1995 the University Senate appointed her as UA Ombudswoman, the first person and woman ever to hold this position of vital importance to the university community. The first director of the Department of Public Health, she also directed the UA Nursing School and served as secretary of the PhD Committee.

Her commitment to the university has gone hand in hand with her involvement in other academic institutions, both national and international. For instance, she chaired the Spanish Society for the History of Medicine and is currently Vice Chair of the Valencia Region’s Royal Academy of Medicine.

As a researcher, she has six research activity periods recognised and has published six books, over 60 articles in science journals and more than 60 book chapters; highlights include her works on the assessment of systems for retrieving information on historical issues concerning studies on women’s health, such as “Perspectiva histórica de los servicios sanitarios específicos para mujeres” (1998), “La salud de las mujeres: modelos históricos, saberes y prácticas” (2001), “Del ‘regimiento de las preñadas’ a la ciencia obstétrica: las raíces del discurso médico en torno al embarazo” (2010) or “Mujeres y cultura de la paz desde sus claves históricas. Salud y cooperación para el desarrollo” (2015).

However, without forgetting her extensive academic career, the Gender Equality Committee considered that among professor Ballester’s most outstanding achievements were her pioneering efforts, in the 1990s, to integrate gender studies into PhD programmes in public health – indeed, she showed the way in postgraduate programmes and others have gradually followed suit in undergraduate degrees. This is, in the Committee’s view, one of the most relevant aspects of her legacy: decades later, her work is an essential part of what is known today as the inclusion of a gender perspective in university training in general, and in university training in health sciences in particular.

 

 

 

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