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OCON Therapeutics takes the lead in uterine health advocacy with NIH and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The collaboration aims to propose and elevate the focus on unmet needs with a holistic approach to women’s health



OCON Therapeutics, a pioneering women’s health company, is taking the lead in advocating for uterine health, as two key members of its management team, Keren Leshem and Daniela Schardinger, join the esteemed Innovation Equity Forum (IEF) Steering Committee of the NIH and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

This new collaboration aims to propose and elevate the focus on unmet needs by taking a holistic approach to women’s health, and address the lack of progress in this critical area, transcending the traditional emphasis mainly on fertility and childbirth.

A global commitment to uterine health

The leadership of OCON Therapeutics, NIH and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation amongst other leaders and founders in this space, underscores their shared commitment to improving women’s health and its research and offerings on a global scale.

While the foundation has been instrumental in addressing various health challenges, including reproductive health, maternal care, and family planning in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the participation with OCON Therapeutics expands the focus to encompass the unmet needs of women worldwide related to uterine disorders, including uterine bleeding, uterine fibroids and endometriosis.

Holistic approach to uterine disorders

Uterine disorders, such as uterine bleeding, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis, affect millions of women globally and have a profound impact on their quality of life.

OCON Therapeutics recognises the urgency to address these conditions comprehensively, considering the physical, emotional, and social implications they impose.

By advocating a holistic approach, the company aims to promote greater understanding, awareness, and innovation in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of uterine disorders.

Empowering women beyond fertility and childbirth

The inclusion of uterine disorders in the Innovation Equity Forum Steering Committee’s agenda signifies a significant shift in how women’s health is perceived and prioritised.

While fertility and childbirth have traditionally been the main focus, this collaboration acknowledges that women are more than just their reproductive capabilities.

By addressing the unmet needs of uterine health, the aim is to empower women with comprehensive care and support throughout their lives.

Driving innovation for uterine health

One of the critical objectives of this collaboration is to stimulate innovation in the field of uterine health. OCON Therapeutics, with its expertise in women’s health solutions, brings valuable insights and cutting-edge technologies to the table.

By leveraging the foundation’s resources and global reach, the company aims to propel research, development, and commercialisation efforts in the area of uterine disorders.

This collaborative endeavor has the potential to pave the way for groundbreaking advancements, improved treatment options, and enhanced quality of life for women around the world.

Raising awareness and advocacy

To effect real change, raising awareness and advocating for the unmet needs of uterine health are vital. OCON Therapeutics’ team works diligently to amplify the conversation surrounding uterine disorders.

Through educational initiatives, and strategic partnerships, the aim is to drive public discourse, influence policies, and secure support from key stakeholders, ultimately catalysing positive change and promoting equity in women’s healthcare.

By joining the Innovation Equity Forum Steering Committee, OCON Therapeutics’ management members will play a pivotal role in raising awareness and making uterine health a key focus of the foundation.

This collaboration aims to tackle the unmet needs related to uterine disorders globally, transcending geographical boundaries and emphasising the holistic wellbeing of women.

Through innovation, advocacy, and a commitment to comprehensive care, OCON Therapeutics, NIH and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are set to make a lasting impact in the field of women’s health and bring about positive change for women worldwide.


Firm secures US$1.9m grant to support women entrepreneurs in Africa

eha Impact Ventures aims to support women-owned small- and medium-sized enterprises



Evelyn Castle, chief executive officer at eHA Impact Ventures / Source:

The impact investing enterprise eHA Impact Ventures (EIV) has been awarded a US$1.9m grant from the non-profit organisation eHealth Africa (eHA) to support women entrepreneurs in Africa.

eHA’s board of directors approved the donation as part of its effort to “strengthen” healthcare delivery systems and support vulnerable populations.

The grant, the organisation said, will be deployed to “upscale” women-funded companies to improve the health and wealth of African women, their families and their communities.

The donation is hoped to address the US$42bn funding gap for women entrepreneurs in Africa and help female founders have better access to funding opportunities.

In addition, the funds are expected to support health interventions like the pre-screening of cervical cancer and improve delivery of blood and blood products to healthcare facilities.

“The grant will be instrumental in boosting the economic capacity of women across Africa by supporting high-impact women-owned businesses,” said Evelyn Castle, chief executive officer at EIV, who founded the firm in 2021.

“Furthermore, it will [help us] upscale funding, mentorship and training programmes to help women create thriving businesses that drive economic growth in their communities.”

My Le, board executive at eHealth Africa, said: “These donations could not have come at a better time as  women continue to struggle to meet up with both health and economic demands. Thus we are optimistic that the funds will go a mile in bridging fiscal gaps for women and other vulnerable groups to lead healthier lives.

“Supporting women will go a long way in not just improving their societal impact but also contribute immensely to sustainable development especially in the African region.”

Recognising women’s “vital” role in building strong health systems, Atef Fawaz, CEO of eHealth Africa, added: “We acknowledge the profound impact women have in strengthening healthcare systems, aligning with our vision at eHealth Africa.”

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Menstrual product wins innovation award in Switzerland

Egal’s innovation consists of a roll of pads that operates in a similar fashion to a toilet paper roll and comes in its own dispenser



Penelope Finnie, chief executive officer at Egal

Pads on a Roll, a menstrual product that can be dispensed in public stalls similar to a toilet paper roll, has won a prestigious award at the Women’s Health Innovation Summit Europe in Basel. 

Each year the Women’s Health Innovation Summit (WHIS) helps promising start-ups raise their brand awareness and pitch their solutions in front of investors and industry leaders.

Egal, the company behind Pads on a Roll, has been honoured with this year’s Women’s Health Innovation award after the WHIS selection committee recognised the start-up as an innovative company poised to disrupt the European women’s health landscape.

“Egal Pads is so honoured to have been chosen for the Women’s Health Innovation award,” Penelope Finnie, Egal chief executive officer, told Femtech World.

“The other nine finalists were amazing companies run by wonderful people. The whole conference was a testament to the importance of the femtech movement.

“For us, it was particularly exciting as the EU is the next market we are focusing on. We hope that having period products available in stalls just like toilet paper is, will become the norm as it is necessary for equality.

“We also hope that by winning, it brings attention to this easily solved but long ignored issue,” Finnie added.

Egal’s innovation consists of a roll of pads that operates in a similar fashion to a toilet paper roll and comes in its own dispenser.

Egal aims to sell Pads on a Roll to universities and public schools

Each roll contains 40 pads and can be placed directly in stalls, unlike the typical tampon dispensers that often require money to access the products and are located outside the stall.

The pads are less expensive to maintain than products in vending machines because they are easier to refill, and require less space and packaging.

Research shows that 20 percent of girls in the US and UK have missed school due to lack of access to period products, with more than 90 per cent of menstruators having experienced jammed, broken or empty dispensers in public toilets.

Egal aims to solve this issue by selling Pads on a Roll to universities and public schools.

The Boston-based company has done pilots at various universities across the US and is hoping to develop a flushable version of the product in the future.

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‘It’s hard to stay healthy’- experts raise alarm over ‘pervasive’ economic challenges in US

A report highlighting women’s struggle with economic stress in the US has prompted experts to demand change



Experts have raised concerns over the “pervasive” economic and health challenges women in the US are facing, after a damning report exposed significant financial stress.

national survey of women over 25 has found that American women face significant economic stress, with half of women reporting feeling “uncertain” or “worried” when thinking about how to pay for healthcare later in life and low-income and rural women reporting challenges to staying healthy today.

The report, which highlighted financial difficulties among women for the second year in a row, has prompted experts to speak out and demand change.

“The recent findings from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) underscore the pervasive economic and health challenges confronting American women, particularly those from low-income and rural communities,” Georgie Kovacs, women’s health expert and founder of Fempower Health, told Femtech World.

“Many women juggle caregiving responsibilities for their children while managing employment, often in environments that offer limited support.

“The scarcity of healthy food options in low-income areas, coupled with restricted access to essential healthcare services, exacerbates their daily struggles, impacting both their mental and physical health and that of their families.”

Underlining the “profound” impact of the menopause transition, Kovacs said women across the country are in desperate need of enhanced workplace policies and better access to specialised care.

“Our approach to addressing these challenges cannot be piecemeal – we require comprehensive systems that integrate childcare, health services, job security and mental health support, ensuring that no aspect of a woman’s health is overlooked,” she explained.

“It is imperative that we view the economic insecurities faced by women through a holistic lens, recognising the interconnectedness of health, employment and wellbeing.

“It’s time for all stakeholders, including government bodies and private sectors, to unite in crafting and implementing solutions that are as multifaceted as the lives of the women they aim to support.”

Katie Higgins, chief commercial officer at fertility benefits platform Progyny, called on employers to do more to support women, arguing that the pressure of financial uncertainty could “erode” self-esteem, strain relationships and compound parental stress.

“Balancing financial pressures with caregiving responsibilities can heighten feelings of guilt and inadequacy, impacting maternal mental health.

“Employers play a vital role in empowering women to prioritise their health without financial barriers through comprehensive benefits that include family building, fertility, maternal leave and menopause.”

Lois Quam, chief executive officer at sexual and reproductive health organisation Pathfinder International, noted that there is an important connection between health and income, meaning that women with the least financial resources often find themselves unable to access health services and modern innovations.

“From rural areas to the wealthiest cities in the world, women everywhere are being left behind. In the US and globally, they get paid and promoted less than men and leave the workforce at greater numbers to raise their children.

“Closing the gender pay gap could help keep women in the workforce, especially when childcare is so costly and inaccessible,” she told Femtech World.

Author and women’s health expert, Dr Mindy Pelz, encouraged women to “take control” of their health.

“It’s hard to stay healthy, even without the added pressure of economic stress,” she said.

“Many women just can’t rely on the American healthcare system to take care of them. That’s why I’m such an advocate for taking your health into your own hands.

“Simple lifestyle changes like intermittent fasting, meditation, cold exposure, walking 10,000 steps a day, avoiding electronics before bed might seem small on their own, but if you add them together and are consistent with them over time, they can make a huge difference.”

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