California Black Woman’s Health Policy Summit

Description of the Summit by Eunice Muthengi

Four doctoral students from the UCLA Community Health Sciences Department attended the California Black Women’s Health Project (CABWHP) Policy Summit on February 23, 2006, in Sacramento. The students—Typhanye Penniman, Taigy Thomas, Connie Gewa, and Eunice Muthengi—were sponsored by the Bixby Program in Population and Reproductive Health.

This was CABWHP’s 6 th annual summit. The theme for 2006 was “Taking Control of Our Bodies and Minds.” Participants included Black health service providers, policy advocates, grassroots leaders, and a small number of students from local universities.

Belle Taylor McGee, the Executive Director of Pharmacy Access Partnership, spoke about “Emergency Contraception and Reproductive Justice.” She discussed the organization’s commitment to ensuring access to EC through a comprehensive approach including legislative action and pharmaceutical training. Throughout the presentation, she stressed that, “A woman knows best what is best for herself and her family.”

Robyn McGee, author of the book “Hungry for More,” gave a presentation on “Healthy Weight and Body Image: Advocacy & Action.” She emphasized the importance of focusing on good body image and health rather than on losing weight and extreme surgeries.

Following a lunchtime panel discussing several legislative issues, Tiombe Preston, the CABWHP Program Manager, presented the organization’s Mental Health Initiative, which includes a PSA campaign aimed at raising awareness about mental health in the Black community. Participants were then divided into three working groups on body image, sexual violence, and EC. Each group engaged in dialogue and strategic planning about the specific actions that can be taken to address the issue in the Black community.

SPH students who attended the Policy Summit agreed that it was a stimulating and educational experience, as well as an excellent opportunity for networking