Black Maternal Health Week 2024: Taking Concrete Steps Towards Reproductive, Racial and Gender Justice

This week is Black Maternal Health Week, a time spearheaded by our partners at Black Mamas Matter Alliance to amplify the experiences of Black mothers and birthing people in the U.S. and fight for solutions to systemic racism.
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April 11th-17th is Black Maternal Health Week, a time spearheaded by our partners at Black Mamas Matter Alliance to raise awareness, build community, and amplify the experiences of Black mothers and birthing people in the U.S. 

This year’s Black Maternal Health Week is the first we’ll be celebrating with the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act, two landmark federal laws extending the right to accommodations for pregnant, postpartum, and lactating workers nationwide, both fully in effect.

As we have highlighted in events hosted with our partners at Black Mamas Matter and at All In Together’s Black Women Lead Summit last year, these laws represent critical steps towards addressing social determinants of health and promoting maternal and infant health outcomes, especially for Black birthing people, who face startling and unacceptable disparities in health outcomes due to systemic racism. We are thrilled to see these laws making a world of difference in the lives of workers of color who need to access accommodations like break time, light duty, or access to water bottles on the job by ensuring that they aren’t pushed out of the workforce. We remain committed to ensuring workers can understand their rights to pregnancy and lactation accommodations.

The theme of this year’s Black Maternal Health Week is “Our Bodies STILL Belong to Us: Reproductive Justice NOW!” We recognize that ensuring that new and expectant Black mothers can maintain their economic security without having to compromise their health or the health of their pregnancy is a key piece of guaranteeing racial, gender and reproductive justice. 

We are also committed to supporting our partners in the reproductive justice sphere who are working tirelessly to combat attacks on birthing people’s bodily autonomy. Recently we have seen horrifying attacks on reproductive freedoms, particularly in the South, and we know that efforts to criminalize pregnancy outcomes and restrict reproductive healthcare disproportionately harm Black birthing people and those without the financial means necessary to travel out of state and access quality care. 

Along with access to quality and culturally competent health care, expanding access to workplace protections like paid leave and paid sick time is critical to improving health equity and ensuring all birthing people can continue to support their families and communities. We are working to inform workers about their rights in the workplace, before, during, and after pregnancy, including when they experience pregnancy loss as we continue fighting for a federal right to paid family and medical leave and paid sick time for all workers. 

This Black Maternal Health Week, as we celebrate concrete steps towards advancing reproductive justice and ensuring bodily autonomy for Black birthing people, we are committed to fighting for the full spectrum of work-family supports Black mothers and babies need in order to thrive.

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