“I’m a DREAM Act eligible youth, also queer, and I’m thinking this was an amazing experience for me. It was a concrete way I could link Reproductive Justice to the work I do in immigration.” -Felipe Matos
Felipe’s testimony about the training we piloted in Miami on LGBTQ issues as a matter of reproductive justice is just one example of the strides National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) made in 2011. No doubt the past 12 months were also wrought with non-stop attacks on low-income and immigrant women’s comprehensive health care and access. But December is a time of celebration. We hope you will join us in reflecting on a few of the many milestones that, with your help, we marked over the year.
We shared an important win with our reproductive health and justice colleagues when the Department of Health and Human Services decided to eliminate co-pays for birth control services under health care reform. Speaking to the needs of low-income Latinas, LGBTQ and immigrant women, we educated legislators, wrote and submitted comments to the Administration and dropped off thousands of letters from our activists through the Nuestra Salud, Nuestra Prevención campaign.
Along with Reproductive Health Technologies Project (RHTP) we rallied new reproductive health champions with a Tri-Caucus (Caucuses for Asian and Pacific Islander, Hispanic and Black Members of Congress) briefing on abortion restrictions. At the briefing, we used new data from the most comprehensive poll ever conducted on Latino views on abortion – another huge undertaking we accomplished with our friends at RHTP and Lake Research.
We worked to forge alliances with a wide variety of players in the civil rights arena: this fall we partnered with the National Council of La Raza for a call on Latina health and we recently joined the Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights.
We published a pioneering document about LGBTQ Latin@s and reproductive justice, drawing a tangible connection between two fields of work that too often do not connect. We presented our findings from this document at several conferences, shifting engagement in both the reproductive justice and LGBTQ movements by laying out shared issues and providing a platform for engagement. We also piloted a training on LGBTQ issues as a matter of reproductive justice for activists in Miami. Our Miami partners loved the training, and we are excited to take it to folks in other parts of the country soon.
In addition to the LGBTQ training, we led a number of important efforts this year that helped to mobilize thousands of people. In March, 35 activists from all over the country came to Washington, D.C for a weekend of training and Hill advocacy during our third National Advocacy Weekend. Replicating this model on a smaller and more local scale, in November, NLIRH held our first ever local advocacy week in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.
We have also been hard at work building the leadership of young Latinas, with our first-ever E-LOLA trainings, our What’s the Real Problem? campaign focusing on the needs of young pregnant and parenting Latinas, and keeping our former interns connected to us through an alumni network. We were also proud to hold a meeting of stakeholders in New York City regarding young pregnant and parenting Latinas, and are excited for the possibilities that may arise from that.
The second annual Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice highlighted our advocacy for Latina reproductive health and justice in immigration policy. The theme: Caminamos: Justice for Immigrant Women brought together activists for events held around the country, twibbon on Facebook and Twitter, and a blog carnival with more than 30 posts and 57 organizational co-sponsors. Our timing couldn’t have been better. Just as the Latina Week of Action was wrapping up, the Department of Homeland Security announced they would be voiding the state contracts involved in the Secure Communities program, which effectively removed the right of states to opt out. We know how harmful this program is for immigrant women, which is why we’ve been urging you to take action and demand that Secretary Napolitano halt the program.
We also went to Georgia as part of the We Belong Together delegation to speak out against immigration enforcement and SB1070 copycats, and we continued to work for the improvement and passage of the DREAM Act. We have also increased the membership and online presence of the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights, which we co-lead with the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.
Welcomes and goodbyes. We said goodbye to the inimitable Silvia Henriquez after she led eight years of organizational growth. Though we were sad to see her go, we were also thrilled to welcome the fresh vision of our new Executive Director, Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas. In addition to leadership changes, we said goodbye to Manager of Development, Samantha E. Erskine and Policy Analyst Rebecca Pleitez, and Danielle Hawkes completed her one-year Law Students for Reproductive Justice Fellowship (LSRJ) with NLIRH. We welcomed our newest LSRJ Fellow, Anjela Jenkins, and Kimberly Inez McGuire joined our team as our newest Policy Analyst. We continued our practice of training and developing the Latina leaders of tomorrow through the additions of former interns Natalie D. Camastra, Stephanie Rodriguez, and Rosario Quiroz (RJ Public Policy Fellow, Operations Manager, and Community Mobilization Fellow, respectively), in whom we saw exceptional leadership and potential.
It was an exciting 2011 and we thank you for your participation throughout – we couldn’t have done it without you! And if 2011 seemed busy, wait until you see what we have for you in 2012. We plan to pilot our LGBTQ Latin@s and Reproductive Justice instructional module in Spanish, expand our Latina Advocacy Networks by doing regional trainings, and expand our Right to Liberty, Right to Family campaign for immigrant rights with an accompanying report that promises to be groundbreaking. We also have an exciting civic engagement campaign brewing that will be the focus of our 2012 Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice, the further development of our social media strategy and exciting activities in January for cervical cancer awareness month. In short, we will continue to fight for salud, dignidad y justicia for Latinas, our families, and our communities. Stay tuned – it’s going to be a good one!
[written by Verónica Bayetti Flores]