21 October 2009

Hundreds of Women of Color Discuss Health Reform with the White House

Yesterday, Ms. grantee Women of Color United for Health Reform hosted a tremendously successful call that connected hundreds of women nationwide with the White House! See excerpts from yesterday's press release issued by Women of Color United co-founder, National Asian Pacific Women's Forum:
Today, Women of Color United for Health Reform, a national coalition led by the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and the Black Women's Health Imperative, hosted a conference call on the needs of women of color in health reform with Senior White House officials.

Representing the Obama Administration were Tina Tchen, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Executive Director for the White House Council on Women and Girls and Caya Lewis, Outreach Director for the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Health Reform and former health staffer for Senator Edward Kennedy. More than 400 people from 31 states and the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands who are ready to engage their elected leaders on the issue of reform, were on the call to discuss the impact of health reform for women and communities of color.

"The tremendous turn-out on today's call is further evidence of the incredible stake women of color have in health reform," said Miriam Yeung, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum. "Women of color are more likely than their white or male counterparts to be uninsured or underinsured. As the pillar of our communities, we are organizing to demand health care that works for us as hard as we work for this country."

Ms. Tchen gave an overview of the President's approach and the impact of health reform on women. Ms. Lewis discussed many of the specifics of the Administration's health care reform effort including health disparities. Then the participants on today's call - who represented women working and involved in health care, academia, the private sector, and faith-based communities - asked questions of the Administration officials. Participants' questions delved into critical issues, including culturally competent care and the need to ensure that all women of color - including immigrants - have access to affordable and quality care.

On the heels of this call, Women of Color United for Health Reform is organizing a national Congressional call-in day on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 to tell Congress that women of color are demanding and organizing for real reform now. They are also working with activists across the country to bring media attention to this issue. For more information about the coalition and its activities, visit www.womenofcolorunited.net.

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis Presents Award to Domestic Workers United

Congratulations to Ms. Foundation grantee Domestic Workers United! On October 15, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis Presented Domestic Workers United (DWU) with the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

DWU is a grassroots organization of Caribbean, Latina and African nannies, housekeepers and elderly caregivers which has led the groundbreaking campaign for a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in New York and is at the forefront of a national movement for domestic workers' rights. In presenting the award to DWU, Secretary Solis revealed her own connection to this critical labor rights struggle: “My mother first came to this country as a nanny for a family." She congratulated the group on their accomplishments and noted the importance of visibility for the workforce.

DWU was honored alongside La Mesa Nacional Frente a la Minería Metálica en El Salvador (the National Roundtable on Mining in El Salvador) which successfully mobilized to press El Salvador to become the first country in the world to ban gold mining, decried for its devastating impact on rural communities and the environment.

Each year, IPS honors fallen colleagues and recognizes new champions of human rights in the United States and Latin America in the name of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and American Ronni Karpen Moffitt. Letelier and Moffitt were killed by a car bomb set off by agents of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on September 21, 1976 in Washington, DC.

20 October 2009

Ms. Foundation Health Care Grantees On the Move

Ms. Foundation grantees Raising Women's Voices and the Women of Color United for Health Reform continue to work collectively to mobilize women nationwide on behalf of health care reform and lift up women's support and solutions for change in Washington, D.C. and at rallies, town halls and on airwaves across the U.S. These two groups received support from the Ms. Foundation in August for a last-minute push to ensure the voices of women--especially low-income women and women of color--are amplified in the health care debate.

Today, in an unprecedented call organized by Women of Color United (a coalition headed up by the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and the Black Women's Health Imperative), over 400 women of color activists discussed the need for just and inclusive reform in a conversation with Tina Tchen, Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison and Executive Director for the White House Council on Women and Girls and Caya Lewis, Outreach Director for the Health and Human Services Office of Health Reform and Former Health Staffer for Senator Edward Kennedy.

Recently, RWV co-founder Lois Uttley did a series of interviews with radio stations around the country on stations like WBAI in New York City; WHON in Richmond, Indiana; WIZM in La Crosse, Wisconsin; WGCV in Columbia, South Carolina; KXCI in Tucson, Arizona; KSFR in Santa Fe, NM; and on the Bev Smith show which airs in major cities nationwide. Last week, Women of Color United organized 28 activists in eight key states (AK, AR, FL, IN, ME, NC, ND, SD) to help place op-eds in their local papers.

Both groups have just released valuable new resources. Women of Color United issued "Health Reform Imperatives for Women and Communities of Color" and a fact sheet about women of color and the need for reform. RWV issued "What Women Want vs. What Women Get," a quick and easy analysis of the health care bills on the table and eight straightforward talking points for key improvements. The talking points are below and online [pdf]; there's also a longer version [pdf] with more detail -- check them out, pass them along, and RAISE YOUR VOICE for just and inclusive health care reform!

Raising Women's Voices
From Our Kitchen Table
What Women Want: The Health Reform Edition

1. Health coverage should start at birth and end at death, with no interruptions. We shouldn’t lose it when we change jobs, get divorced or move from one state to another.

2. Make it affordable. Use a sliding scale. Everybody should pay something, but some of us can pay more than others. Offer subsidies for those who can’t pay very much.

3. Make it fair. Don’t charge women more than men. Don’t let insurance companies refuse to cover people because they have diabetes, cancer, asthma or any other “pre-existing condition.”

4. Make it simple. Tell insurance companies to stop tricking us into buying policies that don’t cover the care we need. There should be no hidden clauses or surprises.

5. Make it better. Give us the high quality care that this country is capable of delivering, instead of extra tests and unneeded services that feed the bottom-line for drug companies or for-profit hospitals and medical systems at our expense. And fix the system so that poor people, people of color, people with disabilities and LGBT people get high quality care too.

6. Keep politics, politicians and ideology out of the decisions about which benefits should be included. This is health care, people!

7. Cover everybody! Stop arguing about whether we should cover undocumented immigrants or force legal immigrants to wait five years to be eligible. If they are living here as our neighbors, we want them to be healthy. Fixing the immigration system is a separate issue.

8. This should be a wellness system, not a sickness system. Sure, we want to have medical care when we get sick, but better preventive care and stronger public health measures in our own communities can help us stay healthy.

Learn more and find out how to add your voice to the debate on the Raising Women's Voices and Women of Color United websites.

01 October 2009

Support Reproductive Health, Justice and Reform

The Ms. Foundation for Women has long supported women of color and those with low income to advocate for policies that improve their lives and those of their families and communities. Today, as the health care reform debate poses new threats to reproductive health care coverage, please join us in committing to the reproductive justice movement, which works to ensure that all women across race and class can exercise their reproductive rights. Any gift you make to the Ms. Foundation for Women before November 15th will be worth twice as much, thanks to a generous $100,000 challenge grant.

Help create more policy wins like these of our grantee partners:

  • ACCESS/Women's Health Rights Coalition, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, the Dolores Huerta Foundation and ACT for Women and Girls defeated Proposition 4, a parental notification initiative, on the California ballot in November 2008.

  • During the 2009 legislative session, West Virginia Free ensured that none of more than 40 anti-choice laws were passed by the state legislature.

  • Since 2008, Migrant Health Promotion has secured access to public transportation for several rural, isolated immigrant communities in South Texas, enabling hundreds of women farmworkers to access reproductive health and family planning services.

Make a gift today and double your support for reproductive justice for low-income women and women of color.