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WASHINGTON — In response to the Biden-Harris administration’s release of the new “National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality,” In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda President and CEO Marcela Howell issued the following statement:
“We commend President Biden and Vice President Harris for introducing a comprehensive new strategy for gender equity and equality. Like the lives we live, the administration’s new strategy is intersectional, addressing longstanding and deeply rooted systemic barriers to equity, equality and justice — especially those faced by Black women, femmes, girls and gender-expansive people.
“As we work to recover from COVID-19, we have the opportunity to lay the foundation for economic security and a more equitable future by building an economy that works for all women and their families. All women — but especially women of color — have been hard hit by pandemic-related job loss and economic downturn. In order to begin to regain the progress that was lost, we must ensure equal access to good jobs and remove barriers that stand in the way of equal educational opportunity.
“The strategy outlines many of the priorities 30 Black women’s organizations and Reproductive Justice advocates included in the National Black Reproductive Justice Policy Agenda. We are encouraged by the intersectional approach to gender discrimination. The inclusion of economic security, health, human rights and equality under law, and democracy, participation and leadership as priorities is especially important to Black women and communities. These issues are at the core of rising attacks on Black women’s and people’s rights; it is imperative to address them head-on and to simultaneously dismantle racism and other discrimination along with sexism.
“We commend the Biden-Harris administration for stating what Reproductive Justice advocates already know to be true: Health care is a right — not a privilege. We must continue to fight until all people of all races and genders are able to access affordable, quality health care by building on the Affordable Care Act to expand, improve and protect health care access as a human right. This means defending the rights of all people to safe, legal abortion care and dismantling barriers to access. It also means taking real action to address the life-and-death consequences of health inequity, including by improving and expanding access to affordable, high-quality and culturally competent health care for Black women, particularly regarding heart disease, breast cancer and maternal mortality.
“Dismantling gender inequality in our public policies and government is only truly possible by ensuring equal representation as well as participation for women and girls in our democracy. It is critical that women are at the seats of power not only to write the laws that guarantee our rights on paper — but also to ensure that those laws are being implemented and protected, and all people can freely and equally exercise these rights. To achieve this, it is essential that our voting rights be protected, our voices and leadership be represented in all levels of government decision-making power, and that we continue to fight to ensure women leaders receive the respect they deserve.
“However, for Black women, femmes, girls and gender-expansive people, we know that to truly eliminate barriers to gender and racial equity and equality, this country must also address the historical and present-day role that white supremacy plays in racial and gender discrimination.
“We look forward to working with the administration to put this national strategy into action and to ensure that Black women’s voices are heard and our needs are addressed as the nation works to end gender and racial discrimination.”
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda is a national-state partnership focused on lifting up the voices of Black women leaders at the national and regional levels in our fight to secure reproductive justice for all women, femmes and girls. Our eight strategic partners are Black Women for Wellness, Black Women’s Health Imperative, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, SisterLove, Inc. SisterReach, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, The Afiya Center and Women With A Vision.