Disparities & Access

Many of the health challenges faced by women are a result of insufficient access to basic prevention information, health services and insurance coverage. In the pharmaceutical and health industries, the gender dimensions of diseases and treatments are often overlooked in setting research priorities and developing new products. The availability and quality of health care may vary according to race, income, ability, geographic location or immigration status. In the U.S., finding affordable health insurance is particularly challenging for women, who often pay higher premiums than men. Many insurance companies fail to cover or provide adequate maternity care or essential reproductive health services. Additionally, women experience more part-time and interrupted jobs and careers due to caregiving and family responsibilities and require portable health plans that provide stable coverage.

Altagracia Dilone Levat

Founded in 1970 as NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, Legal Momentum is the nation's oldest legal advocacy organization dedicated to advancing the rights of women and girls. Legal Momentum is a leader in establishing litigation and public policy strategies to secure equality and justice for women. Its groundbreaking work on behalf of women and girls is currently focused on freedom from violence against women, equal work and equal pay, the health of women and girls, strong families, and strong communities. Its ambitious and wide-ranging legal program is known for its cutting-edge legal theories and as a source of expert assistance to other women's rights attorneys and organizations.

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FAST FACT: Health Care Cost-Prohibitive Even for Insured Women

May 14, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird Last week, the New York Times news:


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Health Scare Underlines Need to Repair Safety Nets

May 1, 2009 posted by Shyama Venkateswar The recent health alert on swine flu has serious implications for those surviving at the margins of society without health care, paid sick leave, or other benefits. Women working in low-skill jobs are particularly vulnerable. Judith Warner's piece in the NYT brings much-needed attention to this issue: how to provide economic security for millions of women, particularly those who are single heads of households, working part-time jobs that are tenuously held at best.


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FAST FACT: New York and Missouri have at least one thing in common…

April 30, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird …they are the only two states where without an advance directive, your doctor is not legally allowed to consult anyone before they make major medical decisions for you (such as whether or not you receive chemotherapy if you've had a stroke and have cancer). An advance directive is your power of attorney and living will combined, stating your wishes for medical care and who you designate to make decisions for you should you become incapacitated.  According to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 86% of New Yorkers visited a medical provider at least once in 2007.


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The Impact of the Global Recession

April 17, 2009 posted by Shyama Venkateswar The Gender Policy Group at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs organized a lively panel discussion on “Gender, Jobs and This Recession” on Monday, April 13, 2009. I was invited to speak on the panel along with Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Wolfe, Subha Barry and Heidi Brown. Here are the main points that I addressed: The current economic crisis is unprecedented in terms of its global reach and impact; here’s what the current economic crisis looks like within the United States.

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that current unemployment stands at 13.2 million.
  • 5.1 million jobs have been lost since December 2007.
  • The subprime lending crisis has particularly hit hard women and people of color because of predatory lending practices. NCRW’s research has shown that African American and Latina women borrowers are most likely to receive sub-prime loans at every income level. Women are 32% more likely than men to receive subprime mortgages.
  • In the financial sector, men’s unemployment in Feb was 6.9% while for women it was 6.6%
  • There have been increased reports of women who were secondary breadwinners in their households having to now become primary wage earner because of layoffs.

At the international level, the picture remains pretty grim as well:


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FAST FACT: One-Third of New Yorkers Face Multiple Hardships

March 26, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird And that was BEFORE the recession hit! This week, I attended an amazing presentation by the Community Service Society and the New York Women’s Foundation, “Raising the Voice of Low-Income Women.” The Community Service Society (CSS) presented its 2009 findings for their annual Unheard Third Survey. According to CSS, "the Unheard Third tracks the concerns and hardships of New York City’s low-income residents and their views on what programs and policies would help them get ahead.”  What they found is quite distressing:

54% of low-income mothers in New York City faced 3 or more hardships in 2008.

Hardships include economic (losing a job), food (skipping meals), health (postponing necessary medical care), and housing (falling behind on rent or mortgage payments). Again, this is before the recession really took hold (CSS collected the data in summer 2008).  We can only speculate what next year’s Unheard Third Survey will find.  Between 2007 and 2008, CSS recorded a dramatic increase in hardships among working moms, especially economic and health hardships.


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FAST FACT: Don’t Forget About Health in the Economic Storm

March 12, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird This week is http://www.lgbthealth.net/awarenessweek09/ ">National LGBT Health Awareness week.  In honor of this important week, I wanted to share with you a stat I found from the Big Five Research: 50 percent of uninsured women have dependent children and half of them (54 percent) are employed. Even as much of our energy has been focused these past few months on the economy, I think it is vital we don’t forget about the importance of health!  Which is why the Council features both economic security and health as part of our Big Five Campaign.


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DIVERSITY WRIT LARGE: A Response to So-Called “Post-Racial” America

March 11, 2009 posted by Delores M. Walters* The disproportionate effects of the seized-up economy on citizens of color whether in housing, employment or educational opportunity soundly refutes the idea that “we can put to rest the myth of racism as a barrier to achievement in this splendid country” as the Wall Street Journal claimed one day after Obama’s election. Others take a more moderate stance: “For all our huge progress, we are not “post-racial,” whatever that means. The world doesn’t change in a day, and the racial frictions that emerged in both the Democratic primary campaign and the general election didn’t end on Nov. 4. As Obama himself said in his great speech on race, liberals couldn’t “purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap” simply by voting for him. Perhaps wealth accumulation is the most convincing indicator of racial disparity in America. As Dalton Conley points out, the net worth of African American families is only one-eighth that of White families which is not due to differences in education, earnings or savings rates, but due to the legacy of racial discrimination. Other groups, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, for example, exhibit wealth accumulation rates that mirror the statistics for Blacks, while Cubans mirror those for Whites.


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New Film—Not Yet Rain—Tells the Stories of Women Who Have Sought Abortion Care

March 11, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird Yesterday, the fantastic international reproductive rights organization, IPAS contacted the Council, announcing the launch of an important new film: Not Yet Rain.  Here’s the scoop:


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ECONOMIC STIMULUS FORUM: Round-Up

March 2, 2009 posted by admin 

Photo Cred: Matt Collins via Society and PoliticsIt is undeniable that we are facing tough economic times.  In January, the unemployment rate registered 7.6% with 11.6 million people lacking jobs.  An additional 7.8 million people are deemed underemployed, that is, working part-time because they cannot find full-time jobs.  And prospects are dimming. According to the Economic Policy Institute , finding a job today is twice as hard as it was when the recession started a year ago.  With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA], however, there is some room for hope. Many of our network members are doing excellent work on the stimulus plan.  The Ms. Foundation held a conference call to discuss the legislative package and how to secure more jobs for women.  The National Women’s Law Center is analyzing the stimulus process and how it affects women and families. Check out their latest breakdown.   In examining the bill, we were particularly struck with provisions regarding small businesses, healthcare, education and, especially, job creation.  Naturally, we had some questions, for example, what other areas are critical for stimulating growth and supporting women and girls, their families and communities? To find the answers, we turned to our experts:


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