series event

Grandmothers and public health

Photo credit: Rainer Kwiotek
Photo credit: Rainer Kwiotek

Unlocking the potential of older women in improving child, adolescent and maternal health

Rebecca Sear and Anushé Hassan are organising an interdisciplinary workshop on May 14 at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, supported by the British Society for Population Studies and LSHTM’s MARCH and Global Mental Health Centres.

Research in demography and anthropology has demonstrated the importance of grandmothers in influencing child and maternal outcomes, such as improving child health and survival rates. Yet few public health initiatives have recognised the potential impact of recruiting grandmothers into their interventions to improve health. The aim of this workshop is to bring together researchers in demography, anthropology, public health and related disciplines to discuss the potential for incorporating grandmothers into public health initiatives to improve child, adolescent and maternal health.

Speakers include Dixon Chibanda, who will talk about Friendship Benches, his initiative of bringing grandmothers into mental health interventions, a rare but very successful example of how older women can improve public health; Abbey Page, who will present detailed data from a low income context on grandmaternal care of young children; and Emily Emmott, who will discuss her research in high income contexts. This will be followed by a public keynote lecture by Judi Aubel, Executive Director of The Grandmother Project – Change through Culture, whose mission is to promote the health, well-being and rights of women and children in developing countries through grandmother-inclusive and intergenerational programs.

To conclude the workshop, there will be a panel discussion, providing an opportunity for speakers and audience to bring their work and experiences together in a discussion on the inclusion of grandmothers in public health initiatives.

Workshop programme

14:30 Rebecca Sear & Anushé Hassan: “What do we know about the impact of grandmothers on health?”

14:45 Dixon Chibanda, LSHTM: “Grandmothers on the Friendship Bench: a source of wisdom”

15:30 Abbey Page, LSHTM: “Grandmothers and childcare in hunter-gatherer societies: the role of demography and mobility”

16:00 Emily Emmott, UCL: “Investigating the associations between grandmother support and parenting behaviours in the UK”

16:30 Coffee break

17:00 Judi Aubel, The Grandmother Project – Change through Culture

18:00 Panel discussion

18:45 Wine reception in the South Courtyard Café

You may register for the entire event or choose to attend only one part: either the afternoon talks followed by coffee or the key-note lecture, panel discussion and wine reception. Please contact Anushé Hassan for further info on registration. 

This workshop will be live-streamed and recorded - accessible to both internal and external audience

Session 1 (14.30 - 16.30)

Session 2 (17.00 - 18.45) 


The event is free but registration is required. To register, please contact Anushe Hassan at