On January 27th, a group of motivated and influential women gathered together for a virtual panel discussion surrounding the launch of the Rhode Island Women’s Well-Being Index, a data-driven, collaborative effort led by the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island. The index is the first of its kind in Rhode Island aimed at truly capturing the unique data necessary to further understand women’s well-being on a multi-faceted level. Intending to dive deeper into women-specific issues, the Index covers five distinct areas: Health, Personal Safety, Employment & Earnings, Economic Security, and Political Empowerment.
The index takes a closer look at each city and town in Rhode Island to allow for some shockingly stark contrasts. National averages are presented as a backdrop for these RI-specific numbers. Some are encouraging and many are not. Policy recommendations are also laid out within each data set, detailing a strategy for reducing these inequities.
On January 27th, Merck for Mothers, Merck & Co.’s $500 million global initiative with the sole purpose to “create a world where no woman has to die while giving life,” announced this year’s cohort of grant designations. These grants total an impressive $9 million allocated to their Safer Childbirth Cities program, the community-action coalition fighting the rising rates of preventable maternal death in the US.
After requesting a second round of grant proposals in June of 2020, Merck for Mothers narrowed down the proposals depending on their eligibility and proposed initiatives for addressing the maternal health disparities within their cities. The chosen communities will be provided with up to $1 million in funding to apply their own evidence-based interventions. On top of the 10 cities from the first cohort of grants released to Safer Childbirth Cities in 2019, cities included in the newly accepted grant proposals are Brooklyn, NY; Detroit, MI; Norfolk, VA; San Francisco, CA; St. Louis, MO; Tampa, FL; Tulsa, OK; Trenton, NJ; and Washington D.C.
Women-led governmental progress toward ending period poverty is happening, finally. Yet, the US federal legislation still lags so far behind these human rights efforts, regardless of the valiant progress by countless charities, non-profits, and individuals.
On November 24, 2020, Scotland became the first country in the world to make period products free by law. The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill was brought forth by Monica Lennon, a fierce advocate for ending health disparities in her home country, and was unanimously approved. To summarize, the bill ensures anyone who needs menstruation products can get them for no cost, all educational institutions must have free period products in their restroom facilities, and, to top it off, the Scottish government now holds the power to enforce other public institutions to follow suit.