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The Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) recently released its first national policy agenda on Black women’s health priorities, “Black Women Vote: The 2018 National Health Policy Agenda,” to ensure the health needs of Black women and girls are addressed at the federal and state levels during the 2018 and 2020 election cycles.

The Agenda, which has received endorsements from Planned Parenthood, In Our Own Voice, Healthy Women, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Links, Inc. and other organizations, was released along with a report card on critical health policy priorities that impact women’s health. The report card offers voters an opportunity to assess federal and state candidates’ positions on health policies that impact the health of women of color.

Two panels discussed The Agenda during the recent the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference Health Braintrust Townhall Meeting during the following sessions: U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly’s “CBCF Health Braintrust: Truth and Reconciliation in Health” and U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis’ “Breaking Down Barriers and Closing the Health Care Gap for Black Women.”

“We are excited to release this first-of-its-kind policy agenda, which offers our nation a framework for addressing health inequities for Black women and girls,” said Linda Goler Blount, BWHI president and CEO.

“We want to provide voters with a way to assess candidates for office at all levels on issues that are important to Black women, such as ensuring access to quality health care and protecting an individual’s right to make personal decisions about reproductive health.”

In an effort to educate and empower Black women voters, policymakers and supporters around the country, BWHI will convene a series of “kitchen-table discussions” starting in states including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New York and Tennessee.

“It is imperative that we do more to address growing health disparities for women of color. Doing so is a priority for me as U.S. senator,” said Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama. “I am committed to advancing policies that expand access to health care, reduce maternal mortality rates, and ensure that women of color have a voice in all of our federal health policy debates.”

“It’s been 50 years since Shirley Chisolm urged Black women not to wait for a seat at the table but to bring our own folding chair. BWHI is continuing that civil rights legacy and educating our current and potential policymakers about the barriers Black women still face today,” said Tammy Boyd, BWHI director of policy and legislative affairs.

“There is so much hindering Black women from gaining access to the affordable and quality health care they deserve,  so it is up to us to not only be at the table but to lead it,” she added.

“Black women deserve to have a leadership role at the table because their vote is essential and their health depends on it. It is our hope that Black women, our supporters, policymaker, and others will read the agenda and take action,” Blount added.

“The recommendations in this agenda will help stakeholders demand policies that are informed by the lived experiences of Black women. Come November, we should see a united front calling for meaningful investments in health research, programs and policies for Black women and girls,” she noted.

The policy agenda is available to the public for free on BWHI’s website at bwhi.org and includes a two-page, fill-in report card for voters to assess potential candidates’ policy positions.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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