For the past two years, primarily due to support from The California Wellness Foundation, we’ve had the opportunity to work with an amazing group of women — our Women’s Health Advisory Committee. Our major initiatives have focused on developing recommendations to promote women’s health at our 2013 and 2014 Women’s Policy Summits. We’ve also worked to encourage the Office of Health Equity at the California Department of Public Health to have a more visible and strategic focus on the health of women and girls.
In writing a grant proposal this week, we had the opportunity to pull together a list of our work on women’s health — which turned out to be a valuable retrospective. Who would have guessed that writing a grant proposal would lead to a moment of deep appreciation for our funders and partners?
Here’s a summary of our work with our amazing partners to move women’s health agendas forward:
In 2013, we:
- worked with two dozen women’s health advocates to conduct a survey and then develop and release recommendations to help the newly created Office of Health Equity (OHE) use a gender lens in its research, policy, practice, and projects;
- organized the opening plenary at the 2013 Women’s Policy Summit to focus on women and health care reform, which included recommendations about using a gender lens at OHE;
- regularly convened the Women’s Health Advisory Committee, comprised primarily of members of the group that formerly advised the California Office of Women’s Health;
- hosted a Retreat for the Women’s Health Advisory Committee;
- organized a meeting of the Women’s Health Advisory Committee and the director of the California Department of Public Health and his deputies that work with the Office of Health Equity;
- conducted education and outreach calling for “gender” to be included in the list of variables that Medi-Cal Managed Care plans would need to assess for quality assurance (AB 411); and
- sustained ongoing dialogue with OHE for inclusion of women’s health-related priorities.
Following the 2013 Summit and in the first half of 2014, we have:
- continued to convene and support our Women’s Health Advisory Committee to advocate for OHE to include a stronger focus on women’s and girls’ health;
- worked with a broad array of women’s health leaders to develop best practice materials to help communities reach out to women’s health and social service networks to ensure that women and their families are enrolled in expanded Medi-Cal or Covered California;
- organized a plenary session at the 2014 Women’s Policy Summit to release and present these health care reform materials;
- used these materials to launch a partnership with leaders in one of California’s poorest counties to pilot a women-centered approach to the implementation of health care reform;
- facilitated dialogue on the need to add a focus on women and girls in the important work on health disparities in California, and organized a panel at the 2014 Women’s Policy Summit to provide a platform for leaders to present perspectives and next steps;
- to increase opportunities for girls and young women to increase their physical activity, launched the California Title IX Coalition to design and implement a new, collaborative approach to assessing compliance with this ground-breaking federal law (companion legislation has also been introduced and a legislative informational hearing is planned);
- produced, with partners, a short film that documents for the first time the advocacy history of reproductive health services in California (we have a draft “in the can” but have decided to do extra filming!);
- convened partners through the Women’s Policy Summit to renew attention to the backlog of rape kits in California (a major piece of legislation is now moving forward, designated by the Legislative Women’s Caucus as a top priority); and
- organized an effort to educate policymakers about the need for designated OHE staff funded through the state budget, comparable to the state support provided for initiatives like Health in All Policies.
Talk about the power of partnership!! Thank you for incredible focus, perseverance and commitment.