Let’s continue to raise our voices

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Cassandra Welchlin

By Cassandra Welchin

Jackson Advocate Guest Writer

With recent wins in Mississippi legislation for women’s health, the transition from Black History Month to Women’s History Month is a moment to lift up important conversation around the well-being of Black women in our state. 

We recognize the legislature in fulfilling their elected duty to represent their citizens by passing presumptive Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women, and grateful to community advocates for raising their voices on the serious impact of our state’s health care coverage gap. 

Mississippi has prevalent health care deserts and one of the highest rates of maternal death in the country, especially for Black moms. Presumptive eligibility will help address those issues and give mothers and pregnant people coverage for vital prenatal services and emergency care if needed.

While this represents a momentous step, we know that much work remains to eliminate other systemic issues that obstruct our progress. Black women are often breadwinners in their families, yet due to stagnant wages and discrimination on both race and gender, they struggle with economic security.

In the case of healthcare coverage, there are women working at call centers to enroll people into Medicaid, yet they themselves can’t afford it. There are restaurant workers who work all day but, due to Mississippi’s sub-minimum wage, don’t make enough to afford coverage. Economic security, fair pay, and anti-discrimination laws still need to be created and implemented to sustainably move Mississippi forward. We elect our leaders to go to the Mississippi legislature to enact laws that benefit our communities.

As we continue to navigate the state legislative session and the looming presidential election cycle in our nation, remember that influencing policy decisions is not beyond the reach of everyday Mississippians. The power for change lies within us. Your participation, your voice, and your power are necessary to drive change in our state.

Cassandra Welchlin is executive director of the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable (MSBWR).

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Let’s continue to raise our voices

By Jackson Advocate News Service
March 11, 2024