Healthy women are a cornerstone of healthy families, communities, and economies. Not only do women make up half the adult population, but they are gatekeepers to the health of their children, partners, and aging relatives. They lead family health decisions, behaviors, and care seeking, and have been known to put the needs of others before their own.
A fragmented set of women’s health systems in Central Texas means underserved women often struggle to access continuous, comprehensive women’s services, including reproductive health care and their contraceptive method of preference. Access to services is shaped by the individual, community and systemic factors.
Women of color experience alarming perinatal health inequities in access and outcomes. In addition, they harbor higher rates of morbidity and mortality over their life courses. Many women’s health inequities persist even after controlling for income and education. Inequities in the social determinants of health contribute to women’s health inequities.
Our goals are twofold:
St. David’s Foundation’s Women’s Health work focuses on low-income women as well as women of color across the socioeconomic spectrum. Many of these women live in the eastern crescent of Travis County and in central Texas’ rural areas.
St. David’s Foundation maintains a Teen Pregnancy Prevention focus area serving adolescents up to age 18 with crossovers into our Women’s Health work, which serves women 19 and over.
With some of the Foundation’s community investments, we will improve child health as we improve women’s health and vice versa. While leveraging two-generational impact is desired, for alignment, women’s health proposals should have a clear women’s health outcome. If women are a vehicle to improve child health without a strong women’s health benefit, the work may be a better fit under a different focus area.
As a new women’s health funder, our approach is evolving as we are learning. Our initial investments include:
Elizabeth Krause, Senior Program Officer
“I decided to steer my career toward public health when I took a women’s medical issues class at my women’s college where I was also a peer health educator – what we now might call a community health worker. Years later, the opportunity and responsibility to build St. David’s Foundation’s new women’s health focus has renewed my sense of professional purpose. To me, women’s health is fundamentally about empowering women, families, and communities.”