New York, NY

Thank you, Lynn. You lead this organization always looking to the future – for the next opportunity that will change our world. And today is just another example of that. I’m honored you invited me to be a part of the Women’s Health Summit’s second year. 

It was an ordinary Saturday in an extraordinary life. I was in my office in the East Wing doing what community college teachers do on weekends – especially on a weekend so late in the semester: I was grading papers. Just like right now.

It was late April last year. Earlier that morning, I’d read in the New York Times that our country loses $1.8 billion in working time every year to the menopause symptoms that upend women’s lives.

It struck me – I’d experienced those kinds of symptoms too, so had many of my friends, but, I thought, that’s the way life is, isn’t it?

And then, that afternoon, Maria Shriver, the former First Lady of California, came in for a meeting. 

She wanted to talk about women’s health. She told me that it’s not just menopause symptoms that don’t have enough treatment options. It’s all of women’s health – for our whole bodies, for our whole lives.

It’s a problem that’s so simple – yet often ignored: women’s health is understudied and research is underfunded. As a result, too many of our medications, treatments, health products, and medical school textbooks are based on men.

This has created gaps in our understanding of conditions that mostly affect women, only affect women, or affect women and men differently, leaving women seeking health care in a medical world largely designed for men.

Women’s health is about understanding those conditions. And the discoveries we make will give us insight into all of human biology and experience. 

It was one of those moments that happen in life, where you learn something and you can never see the world the same way again.

Suddenly, the problem felt so familiar – because we all know it.

If you ask any woman in America about her health care, she probably has a story to tell. You know her.

She’s the woman who gets debilitating migraines, but doesn’t know why, and can’t find treatment options that work for her.

She’s the woman going through menopause, who visits her doctor and leaves with more questions than answers, even though half the country will go through menopause at some point in their lives.

She’s the woman whose heart attack isn’t recognized because her symptoms don’t look like a man’s, even as heart disease is the leading cause of death among women.

She’s the woman who needs treatments, and affordable and easy-to-use products that help her stay healthy or feel better when health needs arise.

Over the last few months, I’ve visited research centers and universities, and I’ve spoken with doctors and scientists to understand the research questions we need to ask – and the answers they could find if we invest in women’s health.

All of you know that potential: In 2021, the Boston Consulting Group estimated that the size of the women’s health market would grow from $9 billion to $29 billion in just eight years.

But those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Because there’s a cost to inaction.

Women spend more years of their lives in “poor health” than men. Time spent negotiating health conditions for which we need to find more answers. Time away from loved ones, time not spent following their dreams, or pursuing their careers.

We can change this. We can give hours and days and years back to women, and to the families who love them. Making it so women don’t have to leave their careers because of treatable conditions. And it could add a trillion dollars annually to the world economy by 2040.

We have to invest in women’s health. We can’t afford not to.

That’s why my husband, President Biden, is fundamentally changing how our nation approaches and funds women’s health research. Last year, Joe and I launched the first-ever White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research.

We’re helping close the research gaps in women’s health, so we can understand the science behind the conditions that so many women experience, building the knowledge that will create life-changing products and fuel innovation.

During his State of the Union, Joe called on Congress to make a bold investment to do just that – with $12 billion. And he signed an Executive Order to make sure that when the government funds studies, they include women from the beginning.

Earlier this year, ARPA-H – the agency Joe created to pursue health breakthroughs with lightning speed – launched its first-ever Sprint for Women’s Health. Over this year, we will invest $100 million to fund transformative research and development.

We’re “de-risking” investments in big ideas  from researchers and start-ups – the ones that could revolutionize women’s health – so that answers can get to the women who need them, quickly.

President Biden is taking a leap toward the future – making a change today that will open up all the possibilities of tomorrow with an all-of-government effort.

Investing in women’s health matters to Joe – and to me. But we can’t do this alone. We need industry to look ahead with that same vision.

The private sector – from entrepreneurs and investors, to companies like yours – is essential to bringing these discoveries to the marketplace, reaching millions of women who need solutions.

Thanks to leaders in this room, the momentum behind women’s health feels unstoppable.

Thank you for being a part of this. We can’t let this moment pass us by.

And together, we will build a health care system where women aren’t an after-thought, but a first-thought. Where we leave doctors’ offices with more answers than questions. Where we don’t have to miss days of work or life for treatable conditions. Where no woman or girl has to hear, “it’s all in your head,” or, “it’s just stress,” ever again. Where women don’t just survive, they lead long, healthy, and happy lives.

Thank you.


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