Women are getting proactive about their health needs and rights. The financial downturn has made it crystal clear that women’s economic status is intertwined with the health care equation.
On April 1st and 2nd in New York City, a National Women’s Speakout for Action on Health Reform, combined with a Strategy Conference, was held. Sponsored by Raising Women’s Voices, the first day dealt with how to amplify women’s concerns and integrate their opinions into the health care discussion, building from the grassroots level up. A workshop was devoted to developing the appropriate skills for eliciting personal stories from women, which could be introduced into the larger conversation. The strategies of new media and social networking were referenced as tools that could exponentially expand the efforts to influence public policy. Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News Medical Editor, moderated a two-hour speak- out for action. The focus was to bring the modalities learned for organizational outreach back to the community.
Day two featured a host of top speakers sharing their insights on how to jumpstart reform in a way that puts women’s interests squarely in the middle of the health care landscape. Individual presenters parsed varying agendas, with each pointing out inequities in the existing formula.
Deborah Reid, a staff attorney in the Washington D.C. office of the National Health Law Program addressed “systems issues” and the disparity in the distribution of services. She emphasized that health care should “not be seen as a commodity, but as a public good.” She pointed to data on the low birth rate — under 5 pounds — of babies born to women of color (13 per cent for African-Americans; 6.4 per cent for Latinas). Reid identified the wall of silence facing the LGBT community explaining, “People don’t want to talk about it.”