ORWH was the first Public Health Service office dedicated specifically to women's health. The Office was established at the NIH on September 10, 1990. The Office was reaffirmed by statute in congressional legislation by the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 to serve as the focal point for women's health research at the NIH, reporting directly to the NIH Director, and working in a collaborative partnership with the Institutes, Centers, and Offices. Congress assigned a far-reaching leadership role to the ORWH Director by mandating that the Director be responsible for the following:

  1. Advise the NIH Director and staff on matters relating to research on women's health
  2. Strengthen and enhance research related to diseases, disorders, and conditions that affect women
  3. Ensure that research conducted and supported by NIH adequately addresses issues regarding women's health
  4. Ensure that women are appropriately represented in biomedical and biobehavioral research studies supported by the NIH
  5. Develop opportunities and support for recruitment, retention, re-entry, and advancement of women in biomedical careers
  6. Support research on women's health issues