The South is flooded with a constant onslaught of abortion restrictions and other policies that curtail women’s human right to guide our own reproductive lives. SisterSong formed the Southern RJ Network in 2010 to unify Southern RJ organizers into a single force with the strength to defend marginalized women and trans* people. When the Network paused for our 2012 leadership transition, the Groundswell Fund filled the gap by creating the Southern RJ Cohort. As the first leader in the Cohort’s rotating leadership plan, SisterSong is actively recruiting new women-of-color-led organizations and individual women of color leaders as members, and we are facilitating the group to collaborate on the Southern RJ Policy Initiative.
To address the Southern RJ Cohort’s top federal and state policy priorities influencing Southern RJ access, the Southern RJ Policy Initiative mobilizes women of color across the South to join collaborative strategies to impact policy. Our goals are to quickly quash proposed policies that strip away women’s human rights, and to advance proactive policies that prevent harmful policies from being introduced, and that directly protect the human rights of women of color and marginalized women in the South. We are building the collective power of Southern women of color and we are a force to be reckoned with.
To learn more or join the Southern RJ Cohort, contact us.
The US is the only technologically advanced nation where maternal mortality is actually rising. The reason? Too many low income women and women of color can’t access quality healthcare. Southern black women face the greatest danger. Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.1 In some Mississippi counties, black women are more likely to die in childbirth than women in Sub-Saharan Africa,2 and Texas now has the highest maternal mortality rate in the “developed” world.3
SisterSong, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health wrote a shadow report bringing this dire issue directly to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and they adopted all of our recommendations. SisterSong and the Center for Reproductive Rights now co-lead Black Mamas Matter, a collaboration of Southern black women’s organizations and individual black women leaders who are raising awareness and recruiting activists and organizations to join us in pushing for policy changes like Medicaid expansion, which can help keep Southern black women safe.
To join our work, please download the Black Mamas Matter toolkit on the Center for Reproductive Rights website, and contact us for any questions or to join our planning group.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System; Tucker MJ, Berg CJ, Callaghan WM, Hsia J. The black–white disparity in pregnancy-related mortality from 5 conditions: differences in prevalence and case-fatality rates. Am J Pub Health. 2007;97:247–251.
SisterSong mobilizes a vast base of supporters in rapid response organizing to protect the rights of women of color and other marginalized women and trans* people in the South. We organize huge marches, rallies, petitions, and social media campaigns that attract the attention of key decision-makers and the media. Issues include abortion and contraception access, the criminalization of women of color for miscarriage, abortion, or protecting their families, and more.