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session 2 Speakers

Kathryn Grace

Maternal and reproductive health and climate change

Climate and weather conditions can impact reproductive and maternal health in significant ways.  In subsistence farming communities in sub-Saharan Africa women may face food security, heat stress, droughts, and flooding with significant impacts on their health outcomes. In many settings, environmental conditions vary dramatically over space and time, requiring the use of complex climate and weather data for quantitatively analyzing climate-health linkages. Furthermore, individual risks and vulnerabilities vary over space and time and reflect household- and individual-level factors.In this presentation I explore the use of micro-level survey data combined with remotely sensed based climate/weather data to capture the linkages between climate and reproductive/maternal health in sub-Saharan Africa.  The results of the analyses highlight the significant impact of temperature extremes on birth outcomes and indicate that rainfall conditions (unless associated with disease) may have a less significant impact on health outcomes.

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Associate Professor of Geography, Environment & Society.  Dr. Grace has extensive expertise in analysis of climate-health linkages using quantitative climate and health survey data.  This research is funded by the Gates Foundation, NSF, NASA, DFID, and NIH. She researches the role of context in various aspects related to maternal and child health—primarily reproductive health and family planning decision-making. She strives to bring an alternative perspective to issues related to women’s health and development through the use of a quantitative, mixed-disciplinary approach to the examination of the way that individual, family, or household outcomes are conditioned by place; including both the culture and the natural environment. She spends a considerable amount of time exploring underlying theories of development, resource use and access, building on her own personal experiences and observations from time spent in poor countries and communities.

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Liliana Andriano

The effects of growing-season drought on young adult women’s life course transitions in a sub-Saharan context

In spite of the vast importance of weather shocks for population processes, there is limited work that investigates the micro-level processes through which weather shocks influence the transition into adulthood in low-income contexts.  This paper provides a conceptual overview and empirical investigation of how weather shocks impact the timing, sequencing, and characteristics of young adult women’s life course transitions in low-income rural settings.  Drawing on the case of Malawi, we combine repeated cross-sections of georeferenced Demographic and Health Survey data with georeferenced climate and calendar crop data to assess how drought shocks affect young women’s life course transitions.  Discrete-time event history analyses indicate that in this context, exposure to growing-season drought in adolescence has an accelerating effect on young adult women’s transitions into first unions—including both marriage and cohabitation—and an accelerating effect on transitions into first births within union.  

Liliana is a postdoctoral researcher at the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science in the Department of Sociology at the University of Oxford. Liliana recently completed her DPhil in Sociology at Nuffield College at the University of Oxford and worked as a researcher on the John Fell-funded project “Mapping women’s empowerment in sub-Saharan Africa” within the Department of Sociology at the University of Oxford. Liliana also holds graduate degrees in Economics from Bocconi University and Demography from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and Warsaw School of Economics.


Liliana’s research includes investigating the impacts of expanded female education on social and demographic outcomes, examining the social and demographic implications of climate change, as well as exploring the spatial and temporal variations in gender inequality in sub-Saharan Africa. In her work, Liliana applies econometric and demographic methods and combines micro data on child mortality, female education and empowerment, and family dynamics with spatial weather and climate data. Her research on the impacts of maternal education on child mortality in Malawi and Uganda has been published in Demography. Her subsequent project on the effects of drought on life course transitions among young adult women in Malawi is forthcoming in Population Studies. She has also published in Population and Development Review and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Murylo Batista

Originally from São Paulo, Murylo Batista, MSc CIP, is a public health researcher, advocate, and activist. Having studied geography at Dartmouth College and demography at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Murylo is a specialist in social science methodology with experience in using quantitative, qualitative, spatial, visual, and participatory approaches to conduct original and evaluation research. In the past eight years, he has been dedicated to preventing relationship/sexual violence and the promotion of relationship/sexual health with projects in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, and Africa. Murylo is also a certified ethics review board and human research protections administrator. He is committed to prioritizing low-income and racialized groups and to advancing a decolonizing agenda to health.

Social-Environmental Vulnerability to Climate Change and Unmet Family Planning Need in the Dominican Republic and Haiti

Background: Climate change is of special concern for tropical island nations, which have experienced increased temperature and droughts and reduced rainfall and vegetation in recent decades. Providing health services to women living in environmentally vulnerable areas will be particularly challenging. Women with less education and wealth or who are single mothers may struggle to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis. Unmet family planning needs are strong indicators of poor reproductive, sexual, and maternal health and should be viewed as a priority for women’s rights under climate change. Identifying locations with high unmet family planning needs and high social-environmental vulnerability provides the next step in figuring out which communities deserve immediate attention.

Methods: This project proposes to identify locations with high unmet family planning need and high social-environmental vulnerability using the latest Demographic and Health Survey and GPS data for the Dominican Republic (2013) and Haiti (2016). The primary outcome under investigation is women’s unmet family planning need. The exposures will include women’s social characteristics (wealth, education, marriage, number of children) and environmental factors of the household clusters as informed by past and present conditions (proximity to water, vegetation, temperature, precipitation). The exposures will be composed into an index. Modern cartographic and geovisualization techniques along with site selection analysis will be applied to map the unmet need based on index variability and identify locations for potential interventions.

Expected Contribution: The expected results will be a series of maps displaying the spatial distribution of unmet family planning need, the social-environmental vulnerability index, and locations with high need and vulnerability. Any differences observed between the two countries on the same island may point to differences in governance and preparedness. Geography is useful in assisting activists, health services, and policymakers in prioritizing places that require additional support in the coming decade.

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Valeria Urbina Cordano

Valeria Urbina Cordana, Specialist in the Amazon Program. She has a Masters in Public Administration and International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public affairs at the University of Syracuse. She graduated in Political Science and Government from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP). She has experience in the design and implementation of public policies, socio-environmental management, interculturality and inter-institutional collaboration. She currently works in the Amazon program as a researcher on gender issues and women's rights in extractive contexts, and provides technical assistance to indigenous organizations in the Amazon Basin.

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Gender and extractive industries in Latin America

This presentation will aim to present the principal findings from a recent collaborative report between Law, Environment and Natural Resources (DAR) and the Foundation for Due Process (DPLF) entitled “Gender and extractive industries in LAtin America: state measures against differentiated impacts on women”


Within this framework, the main trends at the regional level in terms of the differentiated impacts of extractive activities on women will be addressed, with a look at physical, economic and decision-making autonomy. Within the scope of physical autonomy, particular emphasis will be placed on analysing the differentiated impacts on health, in particular, women’s sexual and reproductive health. How these trends are exacerbated in the case of defenders of land, territory and the environment (particularly vulnerable groups in these contexts) will also be discussed. 


In addition, the issue of including a gender approach in the regulatory and public policy areas relevant to extractive industries will be addressed, focusing on whether the gender approach has been included in the environmental certification and/or licensing processes, with particular emphasis on the EIA and whether the right of women to participate in prior, free and informed consultations on equal terms is guaranteed.

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Ileana Rojas

“Bringing interculturality to maternal-neonatal health”. Towards a policy for the generation and strengthening of intercultural competences of indigenous maternal-neonatal health personnel who care for indigenous women in Junín, Peru

In Peru, obstetric violence is institutionalised violence, but it also has its own face: the maternal-neonatal health personnel who care for indigenous women. The problem of the absence or deficiency of their training in intercultural competence must be observed in a systematic way, because it is an entire system that allows the perpetuation of deeply rooted discriminatory practices in Peruvian society in general. This is reflected in the innumerable episodes of obstetric violence against indiegneous women, which violate their fundamental rights to intercultural health.


These practices have been causing high rates of maternal-neonatal mortality and morbidity, greatly discouraging many indigenous women from continuing to use public health services. But not only for fear for their lives, but also because the service provided (if they receive it) does not correspond to their own ancestral practices and indigenous ways of life and development. For this reason, it becomes necessary to urgently invest efforts towards the generation of intercultural competences amongst maternal-neonatal health personnel that care for indigenous women in order to fundamentally improve this historic chronic inequity and vulnerability.


Hence, the intention of this intervention project is to generate and strengthen intercultural competencies for maternal-neonatal health personnel, but not as has been done so far with isolated initiatives with a weak intercultural approach and lack of impact, but rather through a more systematic and long-term initiative, forged from the “subalternity” itself, recognising the pre-existence of an unequal power relationship between indigenous peoples and the Peruvian state as well as with other citizens. This is so that, from the perspective of critical interculturality, a more effective and respectful intervention can be built where indigenous women’s rights deserve special attention and are respected.

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Ileana Rojas has a masters degree with honours in public and social policy from the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain. She also has a degree in law from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, graduating with a thesis on indigenous state institutions (which was awarded an outstanding classification). 

She has 10 years of professional experience in public and private institutions, both nationally and internationally. She also specialises in:


✔️Public policy, institutions, public administration and management, governance, democracy and participation, human rights. 

✔️Indigenous peoples, interculturality, environments, socio-environmental conflicts, gender, LGBTQI+, sexual and reproductive rights, and intersectional and decolonial feminism,

✔️ Legal anthropology and sociology, as well as legal research and teaching.


Ileana has worked in sensitive human rights cases both nationally and in the inter-American and universal system. She has also worked directly with Indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon and with migrant women in Barcelona. She has been working as a legal specialist for the Biodiversity and Indigenous Peoples Program of the Peruvian Society of Environmental Law (SPDA)  since 2019.

Amanda Veile

Globalization, urbanization, and women’s reproductive health in Latin American indigenous communities

Latin American indigenous populations experience negative health outcomes due to post-colonial policies, racism, globalization, impoverished socioeconomic and environmental conditions, and increasingly, climate change. Poor maternal-child outcomes persist despite valiant efforts to improve health care access and increase epidemiologic surveillance of pregnancy and birth. To understand this phenomenon from a biosocial lens, my research has linked variation in child immuno-nutritional development and women’s reproductive health outcomes to nutritional, epidemiologic, and socioecological conditions.  This talk will draw mainly from my recent projects, which monitor maternal-child health in indigenous communities in Peru (Quechua farmers and urban migrants) and Mexico (Yucatec Maya farmers), each with different exposures to globalization, urbanization, and modernizing influences.  Globalization refers to the growing interconnectedness of world economies, cultures, and populations, and often facilitates the transfer of biomedical practices and health care (and to a lesser extent sanitary systems) from high to lower-income settings, which can have unpredictable effects on marginalized populations. In many Latin American countries, for example, the recent widespread implementation of new health programs often reduces the role of traditional midwifery, increasingly exposes rural indigenous women to highly medicalized birthing practices and cesarean deliveries, and can erode women’s autonomy through reproductive coercion and obstetric violence.  I will specifically discuss how nutritional, epidemiologic, and political transitions intersect and shape indigenous women’s birthing practices, breastfeeding patterns, and metabolic health outcomes in these transitioning communities.  This research examines several mechanisms of human biology in response to environmental conditions, and illuminates biosocial processes that underlie global health inequalities.

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Amanda Veile is an Assistant Professor of Biological Anthropology, director of the Laboratory for Behavior, Ontogeny and Reproduction (LABOR), and affiliate of the Department of Public Health at Purdue University in Indiana, U.S.A. She previously earned her doctorate in Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of New Mexico (U.S.A.) and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University (U.S.A.). Veile has worked on Latin American indigenous health projects for >15 years and specializes in reproductive and behavioral ecology, immuno-nutritional development of infants and children, lactation and evolutionary obstetrics, and maternal-child health. Veile currently directs two research projects: 1) Causes and Consequences of Rising Cesarean Delivery Rates in the Yucatec Maya (Mexico), and 2) Urbanization, Migration and Indigenous Health (Peru). The projects include collaborations with scientists from the Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico (CINVESTAV, Mérida, Mexico) and the Universidad Nacional Hermilio Valdizán (UNHEVAL, Huánuco, Peru). Veile has published her research in Social Science and Medicine, Journal of Human Lactation, Physiology and Behavior, American Journal of Human Biology, Current Psychology, and several interdisciplinary anthologies. She recently (2019) co-guest edited a special issue of the American Journal of Human Biology entitled "The Evolutionary and Biocultural Causes and Consequences of Rising Cesarean Birth Rates."

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