For Immediate Release
AUSTIN MOTHERS CALL INTO QUESTION THE
CITY’S REPUTATION AS FAMILY-FRIENDLY.
They Urge City Leaders to Enact Recommendations
That Will Support Families of Color to Thrive in Austin.
Austin, TX. May 7, 2015: City council will vote on a resolution today at 6:30pm to decide if the city of Austin will implement an Equity Assessment Tool to address racial inequities in the city. Mothers and families will testify during the public hearing.
Leading up to the national Mother’s Day holiday, members of Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman released a report today, Austin – A “Family-Friendly” City: Perspectives and Solutions from Mothers in the City. The group looked at key indicators that affect the health and well-being of families and evaluated the lived experience for low-income families of color in Austin. The report data provide significant insights on the impact of race and class on the quality of Austin families’ survival. “All inequities in Austin impact the health of mothers and their babies,” said Kellee Coleman, Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman Program Coordinator. “This Mother’s Day, we want more than flowers and cards -we want the city of Austin to take action to support the health and wellness of ALL our mothers and babies, and ALL our families.”
Austin – A “Family-Friendly” City offers concrete recommendations to move Austin towards becoming a model city in equitable development:
1) Develop and implement an equity assessment tool, in collaboration with community organizations by and for those directly impacted, to guide all policy-making endeavors of the city; and
2) support demonstration projects that directly address health inequities affecting pregnant women individually and collectively in Austin.
The proposal for a city-wide equity tool is a collaborative initiative among Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, allgo – a statewide queer people of color organization, and Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition (AIRC). “Austin city government should play a proactive role in advancing equity in all aspects of city policies. This type of equity assessment tool is critical in helping the city change the underlying inequalities that exist here. Successful examples are already in place in Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon,” said Priscilla Hale, Director of allgo and lifelong Austin resident. Austin Mayor, Steve Adler agreed, adding, “Persistent health disparities are not solved through healthcare improvements alone. Those of us who are now in city government did not initiate these disparities – they have existed for a very long time – nor did we consciously choose to exacerbate them. Some of us may have directly fought against them. But regardless of intent, the effects of systemic inequalities are here and we must address them head-on now.”
Of particular concern to Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman is the issue of maternal and infant health. Statistics show that Black women in Austin and Travis County have dangerously poor maternal health outcomes and that both Black and Latina women in Austin receive late prenatal care or none at all at rates two and three times that of White women. Even more striking is that Black and Latino infants are far more likely to die within the first year of life than are White infants. This gap is wider in Austin/Travis County than it is in the state of Texas and in the US overall. As Paula X Rojas, community organizer and Midwife with Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, explained, “Austin is known for having an abundance of birth support options and services for childbearing women, but they’re not available to all of our city’s women – especially those women who need them most.”
In response, Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman has developed an innovative pregnancy clinic model that combines health care services with community organizing and uses a culturally congruent model that directly addresses these racial and economic inequities. “The Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman project can effectively increase access to the midwifery model care for working class families, especially families of color, in a culturally appropriate and sustainable way,” according to local midwife Christy Tashjian, CPM, LM, WHNP.
Dell Medical School’s inaugural chair of Women’s Health, Amy Young, offered her support: “Women in Travis County – no matter where they live, where they’re from or what they earn – deserve great health care. That goal is something we all share, and strategies like the two recommendations from the Austin- a “Family-Friendly” City report show it’s achievable. The Dell Medical School shares the goal of making Austin a model healthy city. That simply isn’t possible when some neighborhoods in Austin aren’t as healthy as others.”
Amnesty International USA’s Managing Director of Research, Rachel Ward, commended the report, as a “timely and much needed effort to address the human rights crisis in maternity health care in Austin, Texas.” In addition, the report has received endorsements from national groups MomsRising, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, and the National Perinatal Taskforce.
Implementation of these recommendations can create real change, according to Alejandro Caceres, Executive Director of AIRC. “Austin has the opportunity to become a model city leading the way in equitable development. Growth does not have to equal race- and class-based displacement in the city, and we can ensure that our community values are made real for all residents.”
View this morning’s news conference here: http://austintx.swagit.com/play/05072015-916
Link to full report:https://mamasanaclinic.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/mamasana-book-final.pdf
Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman is a women’s health project of Mamas of Color Rising, a volunteer social justice community organization focused on issues affecting poor and working class mothers of color in Austin founded in 2008. The Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition (AIRC) promotes human rights and dignity, and social and economic justice for immigrants through community organizing, policy advocacy, and public education. allgo envisions a just and equitable society that celebrates and nurtures vibrant queer people of color communities.