21 August 2013

Infographics for Change: Elizabeth Blasi and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice

This summer, Ms. launched its inaugural fellowship program with New York City’s Parsons The New School for Design, pairing three Parsons MFA design students and graduates with three different Ms. grantees working in reproductive justice. With an eye on serving economically, racially and geographically marginalized women in particular, the partnerships will produce public education campaigns and interactive tools to better equip women and girls in the fight for their right to accessible, comprehensive health care. 

By Contessa Gayles, Ms. Foundation intern and graduate student in journalism at NYU

Committed to “discovering ways that design can enhance educational engagement, encourage civic participation and motivate people to exercise their capacity to impact their own community,” 23-year-old Elizabeth Blasi will be entering her second year at Parsons’ Transdisciplinary Design MFA program this fall. “My personal connection to women’s health and reproductive justice stems from being raised in a strong Catholic, and often financially impaired, household,” Blasi tells Ms. She explains how, in her experience, being raised Catholic meant discussions about contraception were never on the table. The cultural, economic, racial and policy barriers that adversely impact women’s ability to make appropriate health decisions for themselves and their families, and the significant disparities in health that result, have inspired Blasi to  put her design skills to use for the advancement of all women’s right to health.

For her fellowship, Blasi is working with California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ), a statewide policy and advocacy organization for the advancement of the reproductive health and rights of California Latinas, in the state that is home to the nation’s largest Latino population. Latinas in the U.S. face the most significant health disparities when it comes to insurance coverage among women. An average of 37% of nonelderly Latina women are uninsured, compared to 13% of white women. Given this statistic, it should come as no surprise that a 2011 report from the Guttmacher Institute identified Latina women as having the highest unintended birth rate in the country: over double the rate of their white counterparts. Another study from the institute that same year identified California as the state with the second-largest unintended pregnancy rate in the country, behind only Mississippi.

With attention to the challenges that intergenerational, cross-cultural and cross-linguistic communications present, Blasi is designing a series of infographics to visually illustrate Latinas’ experiences and perspectives on reproductive health. The data presented will focus on barriers to health care access, dispelling common misconceptions and the intersection of immigration reform and the Affordable Care Act. Blasi will also develop a crowd-sourced platform for Latinas to share their personal reproductive justice stories to be disseminated over social and digital media platforms.

Here's more from the series on Ms.' 2013 Parsons fellows: A Tool to Teach Health Literacy: Paweena Prachanronarong and Young Women United and Mapping ACA Insurance Enrollment: Lauren Slowik and West Virginia FREE.

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