Black women make up 28% of Shelby County, the largest subpopulation in the county.
Yet, black women are not always included as voices of leadership and wisdom in the issues that impact the African American community. A recent report commissioned by the Roosevelt Institute suggests that women of color must be increasingly active at the forefront of movements to address the inequities and injustices among the nation's economic and social systems, including healthcare.
Moreover the needs of black women are high: black women face health disparities in heart disease, breast and cervical cancer, and mental health issues, among others. It is also crucial for black women to be engaged at the highest levels of health advocacy and equity, as community health initiatives are most successful when they are led by people who are representative of the community they serve.
In light of this information, and as a faith-based institution committed to health equity, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare's Center of Excellence in Faith and Health proposes a comprehensive health initiative specifically focused on health disparities of black women, and on connecting and learning from black female leaders representing various communities within Shelby County.
My Sister’s Keeper is committed to the health and well-being of Black women through health education, empowerment and advocacy.
Our goals are:
1. Increase knowledge of accessible, appropriate and affordable health services that positively impact health outcomes for Black women.
2. Assist in building the personal, communal and political power of Black women within the Mid-South region by offering information and workshops on the intersection of faith and health, public policy, organizing/strategizing, and outreach.
3. Expand the capacity of identified and designated black Women leaders from within the faith, non-profit, and social club arenas (e.g., black sororities, Links, National Council of Negro Women, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, etc.).
4. Provide health education and information on strategies to prevent illness and to maintain and restore the health of Black women.
5. Conduct, gather and share research on the history and current challenges and issues of Black women’s health in the Mid-South area, with a particular emphasis on those healthcare concerns identified in MLH’s Community Health Needs Assessment.
The following values, as set forth by the Faith & Health Division of MLH, undergird this initiative:
We believe that good health is physical, spiritual, emotional, mental and financial well-being.
We believe that the faith community should, with assistance from MLH’s Faith & Health Division, play a principle role in constructing healthy communities where black women have the ability and resources to grow stronger and soar higher.
We believe in preventing illness through education, self-empowerment,access, appropriate treatments and interventions, and blending solutions that work for Black women.