Remarks at 2021 Concordia Summit (New York, NY)

The following introductory remarks were delivered for Steve MacMillan, President & CEO of Hologic. It prefaced a panel discussion focused on “Women’s Health: Gaps Between Policy and Reality.”


Remarks for Nancy Brinker

September 21, 2021

Good afternoon, I am so happy to be here participating in the Concordia Summit.  Thank you to Matt Swift for inviting me.

Throughout the day, we’ve heard from global leaders on the importance of working together to solve the world’s problems and support our communities—especially women and girls.  No one has championed this more than former First Lady Laura Bush.  Congratulations, Mrs. Bush, once again on the recognition for your leadership and dedication.  The First Lady said it best: “We must choose between a world of fear and a world of progress. We cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather.”

And we are now, more than ever, at a crossroads for humans to come together and act as we face unprecedented dangers.

One of the greatest of these faced by women around the world is increased mortality.  While women’s health has been on the back burner for policymakers even before COVID-19, the facts are that women and girls have been severely impacted by the virus and its effects – such as higher unemployment, poverty and missed preventative care.  This “second pandemic” is concerning not only for women, but for all of us.

Take breast cancer as one example.  Screenings were down by as much as 98% in the United States alone among historically-disadvantaged populations.             

The World Health Organization estimates that reducing global breast cancer mortality by 2.5% per year would avert 25% of breast cancer deaths by 2030 and 40% by 2040 among women under 70 years of age – and that early detection and regular screenings are two of the three pillars to achieve this.  Saving the lives of 2.5 million women per year means more income, stronger families and thriving societies.

But these are numbers, however shocking, and breast cancer is an intensely personal disease that affects individuals, families and societies.  Mrs. Bush’s mother was a breast cancer survivor. And, when I started Susan G. Komen 40 years ago, after my sister died at the age of 36, Mrs. Bush was one of our first volunteers.

I founded Susan G. Komen and now the Promise Fund of Florida because I saw close-up how bravely my sister fought this battle, and how it affected those who loved her.  Even saving one life with more focus, more attention, and greater care will have an impact on so many.

How do we start to face these dangers together? Without clear data and an understanding of the factors that can help leaders address and improve women’s health, where do we begin?

My good friend, Steve Macmillan, President and CEO of Hologic, has not only recognized this issue but has found a way to close this gap. With Hologic’s more than 30 years’ experience in women’s health, and Steve’s own deeply-driven personal dedication, he has partnered with Gallup to create the Hologic Global Women’s Health Index – a multiyear study of women around the world identifying gaps, but also a way forward to help women live longer and better.

The partnership with the private sector to confront these dangers cannot be underestimated.  We cannot improve what we cannot measure – and we are long-overdue to improve the health and well-being of women everywhere.  I am proud to introduce Steve to tell you more about how we can put data and science to work and help make a difference for women everywhere.

 Thank you.