A Report on Pennsylvania’s Community Conversations on Women’s Health

Throughout 2017, the Women’s Law Project worked with our partners in the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health to organize and host 12 public conversations in 10 cities and towns across the Commonwealth, so we could do what too many Pennsylvania lawmakers will not: Listen to women.

The conversations focused on a wide range of issues affecting the health and economic well-being of Pennsylvania women and their families. Four of the dozen conversations focused exclusively on the circumstances and needs of Latinx Pennsylvanians, a rising segment of our population who disproportionately experience poverty, face multiple kinds of intersecting discrimination, and have to navigate additional obstacles to accessing healthcare, like the language barrier. (Latinx is a gender-inclusive term for Latinos and Latinas.)

“I want my voice heard. I want the issues important to me and other women to be a priority,” said Safronia Perry of Carlisle. “That’s why I participated in these community conversations, and that’s why other women did, too. We’re united in working together to protect our health care and strengthen our families, and we’re raising our voices to ensure we’re heard.”

We compiled our findings into the first report of its kind, “A Report on Pennsylvania’s Community Conversations on Women’s Health.” We unveiled the report at the state Capitol in January, at an event that featured participants in the conversations speaking directly to lawmakers and media. You can view video of the event here.

This weekend at the Keystone Progress Summit, we presented our findings and connected them with proposed legislative solutions. In partnership with Community Conversation organizer and participant Savannah Thorpe, WLP’s Tara Murtha and Audrey Ann Ross of AccessMatters, we highlighted the voices of women from across Pennsylvania who say they don’t feel represented by elected officials. They are angry that it is so difficult—and expensive—to access affordable, quality healthcare in Pennsylvania.

They are tired of being treated poorly in exam rooms, where they describe an atmosphere of stigma and discrimination. They are tired of lawmakers who tout “the dignity of work” and “family values” while refusing to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage of $7.25 to a livable wage, pass basic workplace protections for pregnant workers, or even ensure infants can continue to drink mother’s milk after a new mother returns to work by passing basic workplace protections.

The Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health recently unveiled our 2018 legislative priorities.

We selected these priorities based on the current status of women’s health and economic security in Pennsylvania, an expert legal analysis of legal loopholes and blind spots in state anti-discrimination laws, and listening to women tell us what they need to become healthy and raise families in economic security. Many of the bills we support have been introduced by lawmakers in the bipartisan Women’s Health Caucus of the Pennsylvania Legislature.

Thank you to all of our partners in the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health and organizers across the state who worked on the Community Conversations throughout 2017.

If you are the member of an organization interested in joining the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, or want to explore partnering with the Campaign to host a Community Conversation on Women’s Health in your area, please contact pa4womenshealth@gmail.com.

To follow our coverage of these issues and our progress, follow the Campaign on Facebook.

The Women’s Law Project is a public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

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About womenslawproject

The Women's Law Project creates a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of all women throughout their lives. To this end, we engage in high-impact litigation, advocacy, and education.
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