Posts Tagged ‘ Avon Foundation for Women ’

What 1 in 3 Women Have in Common (It’s Not Good)

Friday, March 8th, 2013

In her lifetime, 1 in 3 women will be beaten or coerced into sex by her partner or husband, and quite often in her own home. As I type, I wonder how many women reading this are personally affected by domestic violence. If you are, you can get help immediately by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-999-SAFE. There are people ready to help you 24 hours a day, every single day.

The Avon Foundation for Women—which is best known for its work fighting breast cancer—is a major advocate for women suffering from domestic violence. Today is International Women’s Day, and to help commemorate it, yesterday the Foundation held its second Communications Awards ceremony. The Avon Foundation recognized non-governmental organizations from Pakistan, Tanzania, Nepal, Peru, and a governmental organization from the Ukraine, for their innovative communications campaigns that are helping change communities, policies, institutions, and behaviors to end violence against women. The awards were presented at the United Nations Headquarters during the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, and among the impressive list of speakers and presenters was actress Salma Hayek.

“I just presented at the Academy Awards a few weeks ago, and I wasn’t half as nervous or scared as I am now,” she confessed. “But I also wasn’t half as excited.” Domestic violence is a cause very close to Hayek’s heart; she’s been advocating for victims since she was a 17-year-old in Mexico, she explained. And in 2004, she went to Avon with a suggestion: How about printing the National Domestic Violence Hotline number in all of the Avon product catalogs? Avon did that, and much more, and since then the Avon Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program has donated nearly $50 million globally to end violence against women. Hayek got choked up when she said of all of her accomplishments, that simple idea is one of the things she is most proud of in her life.

Among yesterday’s winners was a weekly radio program in Nepal that incorporates the experiences of 12 women “community reporters” who have survived violence themselves and talk about issues that are normally taboo. Another was a campaign from the Government of Ukraine aimed at men, primarily during the 2012 Euro Football Cup, spreading the message that violence against women needs to end. It was incredibly uplifting to be in the presence of these advocates from all over the globe, and to know that there are so many people devoted to making sure that horrendous 1-in-3 statistic is a thing of the past.

If you want to help Avon in its quest, one simple way is to buy the Avon Empowerment Charm Necklace. It’s only $5, and $3.80 of that goes directly to the Foundation’s programs. The charm features the infinity symbol–in part to represent a woman’s infinite possibilities when she lives in a world free of violence.

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What Black Women Need to Know About Breast Cancer

Monday, August 6th, 2012

This guest post is from our friend Marc Hurlbert, Ph.D., executive director of the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade. He shares important research showing how hard it can be for African-American women to reap the benefits of our country’s improved breast cancer survival rates–and advice on what can be done about it.

While medical researchers have made significant advances in improving breast cancer survival rates, the disease remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women worldwide.

Though many advances in surgery and treatment exist, not all women can access these breakthroughs. A recent Avon Foundation for Women-funded study on racial disparities in breast cancer showed the breast cancer mortality rate for black women has remained the same over the last 20 years, but the rate for white women has decreased by almost half because of access to advances in diagnosis and treatment. (The infographic below illustrates this in more detail.)

The outcome of the study is alarming for black women, but because the contributing factors are largely societal, we believe this problem is fixable through education, access to care and treatment. While the causes of breast cancer are still being investigated, there are steps you can take today to help reduce your risk:

  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Watch your weight
  • Know your family history and breast cancer risk
  • If you have a child, breastfeed – experts recommend nursing the baby within an hour of giving birth if possible, not supplementing with formula while in the hospital, and breastfeeding for at least six months
  • For five years after each pregnancy, be especially vigilant of what is normal for your breasts -discuss any changes with your doctor immediately
  • Exercise – sign up for an Avon Walk for Breast Cancer! Three walks remain in 2012: Santa Barbara (Sept. 22-23), New York (Oct. 20-21), and Charlotte (Oct. 27-28). And it’s not too early to sign up for a 2013 Avon Walk. I’m pleased to offer a $10 registration discount for readers. When registering at, just enter the code “WALK2 at checkout to receive the discount.

Visit to help fund life-saving research and programs that ensure access to breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

For more information and resources, visit or

 Top image: Illustration of a smiling African-American woman wearing headscarf and a pink ribbon, via Shutterstock.

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Doing Battle Against Breast Cancer

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Unfortunately I’ve had breast cancer on my mind in a big way this summer. My mom is an 11-year survivor, having been diagnosed at age 47, which is why my gynecologist has been gently pushing me for the past two years to get tested for the breast cancer (BRCA) gene. But then it became clear that it’s really my mother who should be tested for the gene; if she had it, then my three sisters and I definitely would also get the test. For whatever reason, we were all–minus my doctor–taken aback when my mother’s results came back positive. She has the BRCA2 gene (there is also a BRCA1 gene).

You may ask what a lot of people have asked: But what does that mean? It means that her chances of a breast cancer recurrence go up dramatically, as does her risk of developing ovarian cancer. It means that decisions need to be made about how to help prevent a diagnosis, whether through vigilant screening or surgery to remove the risky body parts. It means each of her four daughters have a 50 percent chance of also having the gene.

So we’ve all started the testing process. I don’t have the gene. Neither does my younger sister. Another sister is waiting until the fall to get tested. But my other sister just learned that she does have the gene, and even though she lives in California and we only see each other a few times each year, we happened to have been together when she got the call. I won’t get into details about what that was like, but to say it was painful is an understatement. And now my sister, who is 32 and hasn’t yet had children, is faced with all kinds of big questions about what she should do with this information.

Meanwhile, a childhood friend was diagnosed with breast cancer last month. A mother of three, she will have a double mastectomy this week–she has since learned that she, too, is a carrier of the BRCA gene–and then begin 16 weeks of chemo. And we still have the results of my third sister’s test to get through… not to mention those of my mom’s sister and brothers (yes, men need to be tested too, as their risk of both breast and prostate cancer jumps if they have the gene).

Then there’s the matter of my job. I’m a health editor for a magazine for women and we’re currently producing our October issue. In other words, there’s no shortage of breast cancer-related information swirling around. I think back to a conversation I had earlier this summer with Susan Love, M.D., the president and medical director of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. It was an honor to speak with her; Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book was what everyone in my family consulted when my mom was diagnosed. Hearing her say things like, “We can be the generation that stops breast cancer” was not just inspiring–it was reassuring, coming from someone with her knowledge.

Dr. Love has a mission to discover the cause of breast cancer. And to that end, she’s joined with the Avon Foundation for Women to create an Army of Women. The goal is to recruit 1 million women–those with a connection to breast cancer and those without–who will participate in research that will eventually eradicate the disease. To join the Army, you simply provide some basic information and then wait to be contacted about studies you can participate in. When you’re contacted, you either join the study or not–your call–and you’ll hopefully tell a friend about it so that she may consider joining. I’ve joined the Army and it just feels good to know I’m doing something about this disease that seems to hang over so many of us. If you, too, feel powerless in the face of breast cancer, maybe this is the cause for you. In addition to their web site, you can find the Army of Women on Facebook.

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