FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Michelle Juralewicz
Suffrage100MA, Our Bodies Ourselves Today and Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement Host
Women’s Equality Day in Boston
Addressing Women’s Health and Maternal Health Crisis for Women of Color
BOSTON, Mass. (August 23, 2023) — Suffrage100MA, in partnership with the Boston Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement (MOWA) and Our Bodies Ourselves Today (OBOS) honored the anniversary of the 19th Amendment with a Women’s Equality Day 2023 commemoration at the Boston Public Garden’s Swan Boats on Tuesday, August 22 This year’s event theme was “Women’s Health and Maternal Health Crisis for Women of Color,” which addressed critical issues in healthcare for women, the pioneering legacy of OBOS spanning more than 50 years and its current critical work, and means of addressing the immediate emergency in maternal health care for women of color.
- Fredie Kay, Founder & President, Suffrage100MA
- Judy Norsigian, Co-Founder, Our Bodies Ourselves
- Norma Swenson, Founding Co-Author, Our Bodies Ourselves
- Laura Prieto, Program Director, Our Bodies Ourselves Today and Co-Director, Mary Eliza Project
- Diana Namumbejja Abwoye, Board Chair, Our Bodies Ourselves
- Cristina Alonso, Board Member, Our Bodies Ourselves
- Mariangely Solis Cervera, Chief of Equity and Inclusion, City of Boston
- Dr. Robert Goldstein, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Public Health
- Dr. Elaine Fitzgerald Lewis, Bureau Director for Family Health and Nutrition, Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Also in attendance: Ed Flynn, President, Boston City Council, as well as the League of Women Voters of MA with a voter registration table.
“Women’s Equality Day commemorates the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the subsequent battle for women of all backgrounds to have their right to vote, and the most pressing issues for women today” said Fredie Kay, Founder & President of Suffrage100MA. “We must continue to fight for equal rights, particularly health care for women and the crucial need to dramatically improve maternal care for women of color here in Massachusetts and across the country.”
“Women’s Equality Day and the history of the suffrage movement is a reminder that we cannot move forward as women if we do not build power together,” said Mariangely Solis Cervera, Chief of Equity and Inclusion, City of Boston. “I am honored to work alongside the Boston Public Health Commission, Women’s Advancement, and so many community members who are dedicated to eliminating disparities in women’s health.”
“Our office is honored to have this opportunity commemorating Women’s Equality Day to promote the health services and opportunities available to women, girls, and non-binary residents in the City of Boston, as we strive to bridge the equality gaps of healthcare,” said Alexandra Valdez, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement. “We are committed to supporting all aspects of women’s health and well-being in Boston, including maternal health, menstrual poverty, reproductive rights and mental health.”
“As we recognize our country’s history of hard-fought achievements in equal rights for women and gender-expansive people, it is also our duty to call out today’s major inequities and injustices in healthcare and reproductive rights, and to work to provide education, advocacy and services for those most in need,” said Diana Namumbejja Abwoye, Our Bodies Ourselves Board chair. “As an active leader in the feminist health movement for more than 50 years, OBOS is proud to continue to expand our work during this challenging period in our history, from right here in Boston and Massachusetts to international locations.”
“The suffrage journey is a critical piece of history in this country for all of us,” said Robbie Goldstein, MD, PhD, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. “The 19th Amendment embodies the idea that women’s voices and perspectives – and their votes – should, and must, be heard and counted to strengthen our nation. Those same principles are at work every day in public health. Everyone should count. Everyone should be heard. Everyone should have a voice. And everyone should have the right to basic services that promote human health and ultimately strengthen our society.”
“Women’s voices are essential for making effective, sustainable system-level changes that will benefit not only women, but their children, families, and our communities,” said Dr. Elaine Fitzgerald Lewis, Director for the Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. “Our work now goes beyond equality. We are fighting for equity and eliminating disparities in maternal health. And we are fighting to ensure women have access to high-quality healthcare. For women are the heart of every community.”
About Women’s Equality Day
August 26 is designated as “Women’s Equality Day” to commemorate the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits denying U.S. citizens the right to vote on the basis of sex. While the 19th Amendment did not discriminate, other laws prevented many Americans from voting, including Black, Native American, and Asian American communities, who would not receive enfranchisement until after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other crucial legal victories.
Suffrage100MA is dedicated to commemorating the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1920, prohibiting the federal and state governments from denying citizens the right to vote on the basis of sex. Suffrage100MA presents events and activities that highlight the history of the women’s suffrage movement and women’s rights, notably the tireless work and essential contributions of women of color, who were often excluded by white women’s suffrage organizations, and whose role in the suffrage movement has been largely overlooked. Suffrage100MA is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan organization, with over 200 non-profit Partners, committed to recognizing the importance of the 19th Amendment, voting rights and access to voting today. Suffrage100MA is transitioning into the Massachusetts Women’s History Center with its flagship program, Massachusetts Women’s Hall of Fame. Learn more at Suffrage100MA.org.
About Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement (MOWA)
The Boston Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement promotes gender equity by empowering women and removing systemic barriers to their advancement. MOWA’s work includes: a first-in-the-nation approach to closing the gender pay gaps, programming for women entrepreneurs, a postpartum support group, and a menstrual product availability program. Boston.gov/Women
About Our Bodies Ourselves Today (OBOS)
Our Bodies Ourselves Today (OBOS) is an initiative of the Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights at Suffolk University. Our Bodies Ourselves is a nonprofit organization that has been active in the feminist health movement since 1969. Together, OBOS educates and advocates for health and reproductive justice for women, girls, and gender-expansive people. OBOS strives to advance the rights of women, girls, and gender-expansive people to health and medical care, to control decisions about our bodies and sexuality, and to have access to research informed by our lived experiences. Our Bodies Ourselves Today is responsible for the health and sexuality information and resources on its website, some of which are updated from the iconic book, Our Bodies, Ourselves. OurBodiesOurselves.org