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  History

The Young Women's Health Conference (YWHC) began as a partnership between California State Senator Jackie Speier (now US Representative, D-CA, 12th District) and Dr. Nancy Milliken, Director of the UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women's Health. The YWHC was the first conference of its kind designed for young women, by young women.

This partnership was developed to address health needs of young women. As the two partnering organizations began to meet and discuss topics that could be covered at the YWHC, it became clear that young women today face serious challenges. Far too many young women are victims of domestic violence, are infected with sexually transmitted infections, and suffer from low self-esteem or depression. The YWHC focuses on empowering and inspiring young women with resources and knowledge so they have the information and support to combat many of these issues.

The Young Women's Health Conference has launched a movement of young women coming together to learn about their health and life options. It was recognized in the local media as the "First Major San Francisco Teen Health Conference To Shed Light on Topics that Impact Young Women" (Sun Reporter, September 21, 2000). The YWHC remains the only conference of its size in the Bay Area for young women.

The 1st YWHC was held at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on October 17, 2000 and close to 1,000 young women from San Francisco and Northern San Mateo counties filled the halls of the auditorium. The theme "Healthy Hearts, Healthy Lives, Young Women on the Rise".

The 2nd YWHC, held on November 14, 2001, was entitled "Rejoice, Unite, Nurture, Fight". We saw the power of the conference grow as one open-mic performer demonstrated as she spoke to the crowd of her peers, "Gay, straight, black, white, brown, yellow; we shakin' the city up like Jello."

The 3rd YWHC, February 26, 2003, embraced the theme, "Be Strong, Be Heard, Be You", as the young women were encouraged to pursue their passions and take charge of their lives. Keynote speakers shared stories of perseverance and inspired the young women to be true to themselves and learn from experiences as they move towards their future.

The 4th Annual on March 10, 2004 was entitled "We inspire, We act, We're Young Women - Step Back!". The conference was a call to the young women to take action and affect change. As one Youth Steering Committee member voiced, "today is a wake-up call … watch out world and step back! Here we are, we're young women - we're powerful and unstoppable!"

The 5th YWHC, March 9, 2005 was entitled "A Day to Inspire A Lifetime: Strong, Proud, United". This year the program asked young women to "shake off all the double standards, judgments, and pressures society has placed upon [their] shoulders" to develop the means to be empowered young women.

The 6th Young Women's Health Conference, "Beyond Looks, Beyond Words: Stand Up, Stand Out!" took place on Thursday March 9, 2006. The day was filled with fabulous speakers and events, including Senator (now U.S. Representative) Jackie Speier, Dr. Nancy Milliken of UCSF, a movement session with Rachel Fleischman of Dancing Your Bliss Morning and a performance by writer, performer Aya de Leòn among others. The day was filled out with workshop sessions and an Exhibit Hall.

The 7th Young Women's Health Leadership Summit, "Strive, Struggle, Succeed: Bring out the Somethin' in You!", took place on March 25, 2009. The event included a panel of inspirational speakers, performance art, an open mic session where the young women raised their voices in self-expression, and a keynote speaker that encouraged them toward community action. “Finding that special something in you is what allows you to find your way in this world,” said Nancy Milliken, MD, Vice Dean of the School of Medicine and director of the UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health. “All of us are here today to support that journey.”

The 8th Young Women's Health Leadership Summit, "Unleasing Our Potential, Reaching For The Stars!" took place on Thursday March 29, 2010. The summit brought together young women from 20 schools for a day to discuss issues most important to them. Topics ranged from building self-esteem, avoiding substance abuse and teen pregnancy to offering a glimpse of college life. This year—to prolong the enthusiasm and knowledge gained during the summit—the CoE and SFUSD announced that five teams of San Francisco high school students were awarded a total of $7,850 in grant money to create and implement projects that promote women's health and wellness within their schools.

The 9th Young Women's Health Leadership Summit, “Woman in the Mirror: Kindle Your Fire, Dream and Inspire!”, took place on March 2, 2011. The event allowed the young women to explore issues that impact their health and goals -- including how to deal with stress, relationship violence, sexuality and birth control, and how to evolve into future leaders. This year's "Innovations in Young Women's Health Award" winning projects ranged from plays that confront transgender phobia to deejaying workshops meant to encourage self expression. Student leaders gave a brief presentation on their projects at the conference.

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