Culture, income and age all can be factors in whether a person has access to good family planning and reproductive health care.
Recognizing this, the Hewlett Foundation recently announced a cluster of grants totaling more than a million dollars to organizations whose mission is to broaden the base of support for reproductive health care to better include women of color, low-income residents and teenagers.
The recipients are: the Latino Issues Forum, $300,000; Choice USA, $300,000; SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective, $200,000; Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice, $150,000; and the Women’s Policy Institute of the Women’s Foundation of California, $200,000. Each of the grants will be given over two years.
Research shows that the populations these groups serve are significantly affected by health care policy, but often have the least say in its formulation. Yet differences in culture, age and economics each can be a crucial hurdle to extending voluntary family planning and good reproductive health care to everyone, a strategic goal of the Hewlett Foundation’s population program.
In general, women with the least access to services are young, low-income and non-white. For example, low income women comprise less than 40 percent of California’s women of reproductive age, but account for 60 percent of its births. And of the more than one and a half million women in need of state subsidized contraceptive services, well more than a third didn’t get them.
Similarly, the experience of teenagers regarding reproductive health issues also can vary from the general population. For example, while rates of sexually transmitted infections are reaching historic lows, Chlamydia rates in California for youth ages 15 to 19 have increased 45 percent. And, despite declines since 1991, researchers expect birth rates among California teens to accelerate, particularly among Latinas, because of growth in the youth population. Such diversions from the general population occur nationwide.
The foundation grants are designed to address these issues by broadening diversity in the reproductive health movement.
The grant to the San Francisco-based Latino Issues Forum – working in collaboration with California Latinas for Reproductive Justice – will be used to build a network of advocates and public support for reproductive health and rights of Latinas in the state. Latinos are the nation’s fastest growing minority group.
Choice USA, based in Washington D.C., will use its grant for three new programs designed to develop a younger and more diverse base of public support for reproductive health by creating youth clubs, training young activists and reaching out to ethnic youth groups.
The Foundation grant to Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice, in Oakland, California, will be used to increase its organizational ability to educate and mobilize low-income Asian women and girls and their communities throughout the U.S..
In Atlanta, Georgia, the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective will use its grant for multiple projects including convening its 2007 National Conference, “Let’s Talk About Sex.” SisterSong is the only national coalition of women of color working on reproductive health and rights in the country.
The Women’s Policy Institute of the Women’s Foundation of California, in Los Angeles and San Francisco, received its grant to help sponsor approximately six fellowships each year for the next two years, with the goal of training more women in California for leadership roles to advocate for reproductive health.
For further information on individual grantees contact:
Raquel Donoso, associate director, Latino Issues Forum
Telephone: 415-284-7227 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebecca Wiegand, e-organizer, Choice USA.
Telephone: 202-427-7450 Email: email@example.com
Loretta Ross, national coordinator, SisterSong
Telephone: 404-344-9629 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aparna Shah, development director, Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice
Telephone: 510-434-7900 Email: email@example.com
Maya Thornell-Sandifor, senior communications officer, The Women’s Foundation of California
Telephone: 415-837-1113, ext. 303 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org