Champion for women’s health research up for 2020 Women of Influence Award

Professor Beverley Lawton, Director of the University’s Te Tātai Hauora o Hine—The Centre for Women’s Health Research, is a finalist in the Innovation, Science & Health category of the awards.

Professor Lawton, nō Ngāti Porou, is an internationally-recognised expert in women’s health whose work addresses health inequity by driving kaupapa Māori (by Māori, with Māori, for Māori) research innovation to transform health services, systems, and policy—with the aim to eliminate preventable harm and death for women and children in New Zealand.

She founded and leads Te Tātai Hauora o Hine—The Centre for Women’s Health Research, which was first established at the University of Otago and joined Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington in 2017.

Her research into women’s and children’s health has led to changes in policy and practice in New Zealand and internationally. It has informed health policy on cervical screening; established the Severe Maternal Morbidity (SMM) monitoring programme in New Zealand; improved systems for maternal health with regards to post-partum contraception, accident, and emergency management of SMM; and contributed to the establishment of a SMM audit in Sri Lanka.

Professor Lawton works alongside iwi and communities, building productive research partnerships that provide responsive and innovative solutions to community health needs. She empowers communities to control their own healthcare pathways by facilitating collaborative approaches and strengthening local research capacity.

She has been working in partnership with Ngāti Pāhauwera for the last six years, developing innovative solutions to address what whānau see as their health needs. Collaborative projects have focused on improving pregnancy care and cervical cancer outcomes for Māori women.

Integral to the partnership are the iwi community leaders who serve as kaumātua for the Centre’s research work. Kaumātua work closely with Professor Lawton and her team to give advice, ensure that the lens being used to examine issues is right for the community, and keeping the researchers culturally safe. Iwi representatives are members of the research team and named as project contributors on the publication of findings from the projects.

Professor Lawton leads a team of 6 research staff, and is committed to preparing and mentoring the next generation of Māori women’s health researchers by providing research positions, training, and professional development opportunities at the Centre.

She was appointed an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit by the Queen for services to women’s health in 2005, made a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal College of General Practice in 2017 and awarded the Australasian Menopause Society Award for contributions to women’s health.