For those of you who have never played Mexican Loteria, here is a picture of a typical loteria set. We decided to take this traditional game, and spruce it up by changing up old cards and adding new ones like (as pictured here): Vote on Nov. 6; Same sex marriage; a Vagina; a Condom, Birth Control Pills. (more…)
Archive for the ‘LANs’ Category
Posted in civic engagement, LANs, tagged america, LAN, latina, latina advocacy network, latina institute, lucy felix, nlirh, obama, repro rights, reproductive health, romney, soy poderosa, texas, votes, voting on October 5, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Soy poderosa, and my voice matters. That’s the final push from now until Election Day. However, there is more to activism than just voting, and that’s evident in the work being done in Texas led by several poderosas from our Latina Advocacy Network (LAN).
From September 24 to 29 they held various events in Texas, starting with a health fair. It took place in an activist’s home, and over 35 people attended and 9 registered to vote. Can you imagine the energy in the room and the desire to make a difference? Participants learned how critical it is to ensure their voices are heard, whether it is through voting or through speaking with friends or family members about the importance of voting.
After discussing the importance of voting, everyone enjoyed one another’s company by playing lotería, or bingo, and eating a home-cooked meal. These are the moments that matter the most, being able to connect with activist on a personal level and share stories. It’s also fun (duh)! Voting is not a sole person’s decision, or one voice being heard. That person will be voting for thousands who are not being listened to. How can one vote without knowing the issues affecting the community they are representing?
One of the Texas LAN leaders, Lucy Felix (who was featured on our Poderosa profiles), participated in a White House briefing on Wednesday the 25th of September to talk about the work they are doing around the Rio Grande Valley. This was her experience:
The White House briefing was an unforgettable experience! As part of the panel I spoke about the importance of promotoras and all the work being done in the Valley. It was as if all the stories of the women I’ve worked with were united in one, and their challenges and success were expressed through me. For me, it is an honor to be able to speak about how PODEROSAS we are and how privileged I am to work with them! There are no words to express how much potential and desire for change there is every time we get together and successfully execute an event in which we educate others and grow more as leaders. Seeing all these women transform into even bigger fighters that want to create a better society and change many of the broken systems is the best gift God has ever given me! I also want to thank the Latina Institute for allowing us to participate in such amazing events that really highlight how extraordinary all these women are.
And finally, to finish off the week, the Texas LAN held two more community gatherings in which dozens of people participated and registered to vote as well. It’s not enough for politicians to simply say nice things on TV — there are people like Lucy on the ground, making sure that our communities have the information they need to make an informed choice in the voting booth. The Texas LAN will continue to hold more events until Election Day — contact us to get involved!
Regardless of our identities, our voices matter and we have the power to influence those around us. With our actions and stories we are able to change minds and hearts. Texas is pushing hard to not only educate the community, but to lift the voices of Latinas everywhere.
Are you interested in taking part of the Soy Poderosa and my voice matters campaign? There may be an event in your state! Contact us!
The Community Mobilization Team
From July 13-15th, NLIRH’s Community Mobilization team will be heading down to Charlotte, NC, to host its first Southeast Regional Latinas Organizing for Leadership and Advocacy (LOLA) training in Charlotte, NC. We will be convening activists for a weekend of intentional conversations and networking around reproductive justice.
With attacks and attempts by the government to intrude on the private lives of women, this is an especially critical moment to make sure that the voices of Latinas are heard loud and clear, and to ensure that the issues affecting us at the intersections of our identities are not forgotten about. The work we do at NLIRH utilizes an intersectional human rights and social justice framework, incorporating various aspects and issues, including those faced by immigrant and/or LGBT-identified individuals, to get a comprehensive look at the barriers Latinas face when it comes to our reproductive rights, because every part of our identity must be addressed when it comes to reproductive justice. (more…)
As we join the call for Paycheck Fairness, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) recognizes that in the fight to achieve economic justice for all women, we must recognize, elevate, and address the unique challenges faced by Latinas and immigrant women.
According to the White House Council on Women and Girls, women make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns through employment. Yet, for Latinas, this rate is 56 cents on the dollar, which represents the largest wage gap of any other group of working women. What accounts for this widened disparity between men and Latinas, and between white women and Latinas? We know that although Latinas comprise the fastest growing community of color, more than a third do not graduate high school. Latinas experience the highest level of poverty among women in the labor force at 12.1% and have the lowest employment-to-population ratio of women of all racial and ethnic groups. Furthermore, the recession hit Latinas particularly hard as unemployment rates more than doubled for Latinas in the years between 2007 and 2010. Immigrant women and Latinas with limited English proficiency not only face systematic bars on their participation in the labor force, but also discrimination, prejudice, and bias from employers. Latina farmworkers face horrific levels of sexual violence, sexual harassment, and retaliation for reporting abuses from their employers. These factors account for the fact that Latinas are overly represented in low-wage sectors, working at jobs that provide few-to-no benefits like health insurance, paid vacation, and maternity or family leave.
We know that these pay inequities impact Latinas’ access to reproductive health care. Latinas compose the ethnic/racial group with the highest level of health care un-insurance, as they are less likely to have employer-sponsored coverage or to afford costly individual plans. And despite the enormous gains under the Affordable Care Act, or health reform law, undocumented individuals will be barred from purchasing health plans on the state health insurance exchanges and remain ineligible for Medicaid. The federally-imposed 5-year bar on legal permanent residents from accessing benefits under Medicaid blocks Latinas’ access to reproductive and sexual health care, including contraception and important preventive care such as Pap tests – and did we mention that Latinas have the highest incidence of cervical cancer of women of all racial/ethnic groups? On top of this, federal funding bans on abortion care make abortion just as inaccessible as if it were illegal for far too many Latinas.
And while NLIRH celebrates and supports the advances called for in the federal Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced to the House of Representatives by Representative Rosa DeLauro (CO-3) and in the Senate by Senator Barbara Mikulski (MD), we view this legislation as part of a comprehensive solution to economic justice for all women, including Latinas. Utilizing a comprehensive approach means addressing injustice in immigration, health care, education, and employment to reverse the culture of devaluing Latina labor. In recent years, a wave of political and policy developments in states are, instead of seeking to address the wage gap between Latinas and other groups, actively limiting Latinas’ opportunities for a quality education, optimum participation in the workforce, and the comprehensive, quality, and affordable reproductive health care needed to plan their families and their participation in the workforce.
Let’s briefly look at two states- Arizona and Alabama – where the wage rate for Latinas is 53 cents and 41 cents, respectively, for every dollar a white man earns working full-time year-round. Instead of working to elevate the economic status of Latino families, the political classes in Arizona and Alabama have embarked on a radical anti-immigrant agenda aimed directly at limiting the employment and educational opportunities of immigrant and Latino families. HB56, enacted in Alabama in 2011, requires public school boards to attain the immigration status of newly enrolling children and their parents. Section 8 of this law forbids undocumented students from attending public universities and colleges and from receiving financial assistance. And despite the recent special legislative session called by Governor Robert Bentley to address concerns in HB 56, the changes actually tack on more dangerous provisions. Both HB56 and Arizona’s SB1070 forbid employers from hiring undocumented workers, and both work to create a culture of fear and discrimination against those without papers.
At the same time, the two states in our case study here, Arizona and Alabama, have embarked on a dangerous anti-abortion and anti-family planning agenda. In both Arizona and Alabama, 20-week abortion bans disproportionately impact low-income women, including Latinas, who face numerous barriers to full information about their pregnancies, and for whom financial, geographic, and other challenges delay the process of attaining abortion care. Arizona has also put in place a race- and sex-selective abortion ban which appropriates the language of civil rights and gender equity to target the reproductive freedom of women of color. Oh yeah, and in Arizona, you are apparently pregnant two weeks before conception, so this combined with the 20-week abortion ban puts abortion care out of reach for even more Latinas.
Beyond abortion, we are seeing attacks on access to contraception and family planning programs. In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that permits “religiously-affiliated” employers to refuse to include contraception in employee health plans, a form of discrimination that intersects directly with reproductive and economic justice. And this only scratches the surface in terms of the amount roll-backs to reproductive health care access we are seeing in these and other states.
Here at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, we view the attacks on immigrant families and reproductive health as working hand-in-hand to diminish Latina opportunity. Because the question begs being asked, how can Latinas achieve their economic potential when they cannot attend university or work legally? How can Latinas fully participate in the labor force and provide for their families without the ability to space and plan their pregnancies? How can Latinas acheive equality of opportunity in the United States without equal access to health care?
Despite the enormous challenges, Latinas across the country are mobilizing for reproductive justice. Our Latina Advocacy Network in Texas is fighting against dramatic cuts to the Texas Women’s Health Program, a program which has been central to their ability access needed breast and cervical cancer screenings. Our Latina Advocacy Network in Miami is mobilizing to build broad coalitions bridging reproductive justice to other social justice work. Our Latina Advocacy Network in New York recognizes that passage of the DREAM Act, and the ability for undocumented immigrants to attain higher education, is central to the fight for reproductive justice. NLIRH is also an advisory board member of We Belong Together, a coalition united for children and families, which participated in a delegation to Alabama to bear witness to the impact of HB 56 on the lives of Alabama’s families. And through ¡Soy Poderosa!/ I am Powerful!, NLIRH’s civic engagement campaign, we will ignite the political power of all Latinas to advance health, dignity, and reproductive justice.
Together, we can make inroads in the fight for economic and paycheck fairness. However, this work must be intersectional, comprehensive, and take into account the lived experiences of all women, including Latinas. As we work to pass the important Paycheck Fairness Act, let’s also mobilize communities for immigrant rights, reduce barriers to quality and affordable health care, expand opportunities for education and job training, and last, but certainly not least, ensure that all women, including Latinas, have access to quality and affordable reproductive health care.
Everything is bigger in Texas, but does that include community organizing? Last week a few of us went down the Rio Grande Valley to visit our incredible activists who have been working on creating an educated and saavy group of Latin@s in colonias throughout the Valley. The Texas Rio Grande Valley is a place that is often times forgotten about by the rest of the United States. It is only recently that it has been placed on the map because of the work that our Latina Advocacy Network (LAN) has been doing around the Affordable Care Act and the destructive cuts to women’s health services in Texas – our activists are truly incredible, and right when you think they have surpassed any expectations, they do something else to raise the bar, and really push their activists to the next level.
Our leaders hold “juntas comunitarias,” (community meetings) in different colonias on a daily basis. Some of our more developed colonia leaders come to these meetings equipped with a neighbor or family member by their side to get them involved in the LAN; a pen and paper to write down any information they have learned in the meeting, or an assignment(s) they have taken for an event; and an open heart and mind. (more…)
NLIRH’s signature training, Latinas Organizing for Leadership and Advocacy (LOLA), went to two new cities this past year. Our first stop was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in late September where the wonderful people from Proyecto Salud and Planned Parenthood of WI hosted us and co-sponsored the weekend-long training. We kicked off the training with a wonderful reception with keynote speaker, JoCasta Zamarripa, the first Latina to serve in the state legislature representing Assembly District 8 in Milwaukee, WI. A total of 22 participants attended the training, one of which described it to be “more than just an educational training, but a life changing experience”. The fierce women who attended our training did not wait long to organize a mini- LOLA of their own a month later, where they had 35 people attend. We are very excited to continue to see the development of our WI Latina Advocacy Network and expect nothing but more success and fierce activism.
Our second destination brought us back to our roots in NYC, where the first LOLA training was held back in 2005. We were back in NYC for the second time around in order to jumpstart our Latina Advocacy Network back into action. On an early cold December morning we had the privilege to host Part 1 of our LOLA training at Queens Pride House. We had a smaller and more intimate setting in comparison to our WI LOLA, which proved to be instrumental and brought lots of rich dialogue and shared experiences. We look forward to Part 2 of the LOLA training coming up in January to prepare our next generation of activists for our National Advocacy Weekend scheduled for March 2011.
Completing two LOLA trainings in a matter of months was both challenging and rewarding. We provided a space where women could connect with each other and learn that their experiences and voices are valuable. They saw themselves in each other and in NLIRH, creating a sense of community and solidarity for reproductive justice. Salud! Dignidad! Y Justicia!
Every year on March 8th, we celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women – past, present and future. While every day should be International Women’s Day, today marks the day that we celebrate ordinary women as makers of herstory — a “day rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men,” the United Nations says. (more…)
South Florida advocates joined forces to stand up for comprehensive Health Care Reform amidst the deceitful propaganda and town hall meeting distractions opposing it. The South Florida Reproductive Justice Alliance (SFL RJA) unified voices and visited Senator Bill Nelson and Representative Kendrick Meek’s offices on August 25th and 26th. Women from the community shared stories of inaccessibility to vital health care and subsequent hardships for them and their families.
During this critical time in the national health reform debate, the SFL RJA is holding its elected officials accountable for ensuring that health care reform legislation addresses the needs of women of color, low-income women and their families. We asked Sen. Nelson and Rep. Meek to ensure that health coverage include comprehensive reproductive health services; is accessible to all persons residing in the United States; and that is affordable for women of color and their families.
Staff from both offices mentioned that they are bombarded every day with faxes, letters and calls of constituents demanding that Health Care reform be exclusive, not comprehensive, not for all, and exceptionally limited for women and low income families. We need to stand up for comprehensive health reform; let’s not have our voices muffled by the noise of GREED.
The SFL RJA is an activist/community organization based group offering an open forum for meaningful and empowering conversations and actions around Reproductive Justice Issues. It is currently being coordinated by Miami International Latinas Organizing for Leadership and Advocacy (MI LOLA, Inc.). For more information, please contact SFLRJA@yahoo.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jersey Garcia and Erika Cordova, MI-LOLA
A recent New Yorker article by Atul Gawande has been getting a lot of coverage lately–there are even rumors that Obama has made it required reading for his White House Staff. In the piece, Gawande shares an extensive evaluation of the medical system in McAllen, Texas. We at NLIRH know McAllen well, because it is where for over two years we have been working with the women in the video above, the amazing activists affiliated with La Voz Latina and Migrant Health Promotion.
He started by looking at numbers: “In 2006, Medicare spent fifteen thousand dollars per enrollee here, almost twice the national average.” Gawande asked long standing community doctors why the spending rates of Medicare are so high in this area of Texas. They told him: “There is overutilization here, pure and simple.” There is no evidence that the city provides better quality care than any other city, even with it’s up-to-date medical technology. Actually, the health outcomes are worse. Looking outside the community for help analyzing this “Cost Conundrum,” Gawande solicited Jonathan Skinner, a Dartmouth economist, to analyze why the cost of care was so high in McAllen. Skinner also concluded that is was “very simply, the across-the-board overuse of medicine.”
In his analysis of the medical delivery system in McAllen, Gawande did not address many of the concerns of the women we’ve worked with, some of whom are featured in the video above. We know a large portion of the people in this region are undocumented immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Even if they have documents, these immigrants do not qualify for federal programs like Medicare for the first five years they are here. So how do these immigrants get health care? Many reportedly cross the border to Mexico if needing medical attention, or some pay out-of-pocket for services in the area.
Gawande may not be talking about these women, but they are doing their own organizing to address the health care gaps in their communities. We’ve collaborated with them on reproductive justice organizing and advocacy, and it’s amazing to see what they are achieving despite all the barriers they face.
Contributed by Robin Mangini, Research Intern
Lucy Félix, from the fantastic Migrant Health Promotion, is a recipient of the Ms. Foundation’s Women of Vision Award. She will receive the award tonight at the 20th Annual Gloria Awards.
A 2007 LOLA graduate and Houston LAN member, she began her career with Migrant Health Promotion (MHP) as a promotora de salud (health promoter) in 2000. Now, she is the community organizer and lead trainer of MHP’s La Voz Latina. La Voz Latina was initiated in 2001 to address reproductive health disparities within the marginalized and highly neglected communities along the Texan border (also known as colonias) through public education, community organizing and advocacy to increase access and public funding for reproductive healthcare services.
To read more about Lucy and her work, please click here.