March 21, 2019

The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) will honor philanthropist and outgoing board chair Marlene Hess and Argentine activist Marta Alanis for their tireless commitment to sexual and reproductive health and rights. The awards will be presented at IWHC’s annual gala in New York on April 10, 2019 with introductions by Diana L. Taylor and Glenn D. Lowry.

Marlene Hess, who has served as IWHC’s board chair for the last six years, will be presented with the IWHC Visionary Leadership Award, recognizing her extraordinary work to champion the health and rights of women and girls globally. Marta Alanis, a leading activist for abortion rights in Argentina, will receive the Joan B. Dunlop award, which celebrates the legacy of IWHC’s founder and first president by acknowledging outstanding leadership in advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights in the Global South.

“Marlene Hess is unwavering in her commitment to the rights of women and girls,” said IWHC President Françoise Girard. “She has played an integral role in expanding and enriching the IWHC community and helping us attain the largest organizational budget in our 35-year history.”

An influential philanthropist, Marlene Hess has dedicated her life to the betterment of others. In addition to serving as board chair for IWHC, Hess is the board vice chair of the Museum of Modern Art, Rockefeller University, and Lincoln Center Theater. She also serves on the boards of the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Opera, and Sesame Street Workshop. She is the former Managing Director of Global Philanthropic Services at J.P. Morgan Private Bank, where she formed the award-winning “Child Vaccination Program” in collaboration with the Children’s Defense Fund and the New York City Department of Health.

Joan B. Dunlop awardee Marta Alanis has advocated for social justice and women’s rights in Argentina for nearly three decades. She is a well-respected leader of the feminist movement and a founder of IWHC grantee partner Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (CDD-Argentina) and La Campaña Nacional por el Derecho al Aborto Legal, Seguro y Gratuito (the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion), a national network of over 300 organizations that work to advance abortion rights. Her decades of activism culminated in summer 2018 when the world was captivated by images of Argentine women forming a “green wave” in demand of abortion rights. Though the bill to decriminalize abortion was narrowly defeated in the Senate, the work of Alanis and her allies forever changed the landscape of women’s rights in the country.

“Marta Alanis has been at the forefront of Argentina’s women’s movement for decades and has been integral in women’s quest for abortion rights,” said Girard. “We are proud to honor her and celebrate the unstoppable momentum of Argentina’s green wave.”

IWHC’s gala will celebrate the contributions of these two fearless women to the global feminist movement.

Note to Editors:

The IWHC 2019 Annual Dinner will be held on April 10, 2019 at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City. Awardees and IWHC experts are available for interviews prior to the dinner. The dinner is open for press coverage to a limited number of journalists. For interview requests, to express interest in covering the event, or to request high-resolution images, please contact:

Visit our Annual Dinner page for tickets and more information. 

Photo: Fotografías Emergentes