Jan Shanthosh: International Women's Day 2019 Profile

Jan Shanthosh is a public health lawyer who works at the intersection of health systems and human rights, including Indigenous health, community health worker rights, and non-communicable disease prevention. She joined The George Institute for Global Health five years ago and holds a concurrent position as Academic Lead of the health and human rights research program at The Australian Human Rights Institute, UNSW.

Jan is passionate about using the law to strengthen health systems and shape healthy, more equitable environments. Her work involves developing and experimenting with research tools to evaluate public health law and inform the design of legislative reform.

“I’m motivated by the knowledge that there are some kinds of change only law and regulation can make happen." 

I hope that in developing my skill set as a lawyer and a public health researcher, I can contribute to breaking down some of the structural barriers that stand in the way of women’s economic empowerment, effective labour laws, protection from discrimination, and greater access to medicines and high-quality care.”

“My hope is that by doing so, we address these extremely pervasive health inequities and move closer towards every human being able to enjoy their right to the highest attainable standard of health.”  

Jan’s future career goals are firmly fixed on improving the lives of women all over the world.

“My ambition is to contribute to the development of an internationally renowned program that generates high-quality research evidence about effective regulatory strategies to lift women out of poverty, support their economic empowerment and offer protections from violence in all its forms.”

“This will involve facilitating the meaningful participation of women in decisions that affect them, building capacity to expeditiously evaluate and test regulatory strategies, and strengthening advocacy for the rights of women and girls at domestic and international levels.”

Jan would like to see greater recognition of the role law can play in improving health on a global scale and intervening when poorly designed laws have negative consequences for already vulnerable populations. 

“I would like to see health framed in our research agenda more often as a consequence of the social determinants of health, for example education, income, employment and working conditions, and physical environments, not just as the consequence of consuming healthcare services.”

Reflecting on this year’s International Women’s Day, #Balanceforbetter, Jan says having the freedom to balance her own ideas and career objectives with those of the organisations she has worked for has contributed significantly to her successes so far. 

“I’m grateful to have had incredible mentors and members of leadership that have encouraged my sense of creativity, and I’ve tried to honour that trust and support with a strong research output.”

Read more from Jan on Twitter at @JanShanthosh