Healthy Women and Girls

Healthy women are a cornerstone of healthy families, communities, and economies. Women are often gatekeepers to the health of their children, partners, and aging relatives. Therefore, investing in women’s health, rights, and well-being produces benefits that can serve entire communities.

Currently, women and girls in Central Texas do not have adequate access to the resources they need to care for their health and well-being. This issue is largely due to a fragmented health system, which leads to barriers in obtaining continuous, comprehensive women’s health services.

Women of color especially experience discrimination, both in health settings and in their everyday lives. Black women in particular are disproportionately impacted because they experience the highest rates of toxic stress caused by racism, which a growing body of evidence suggests is a significant factor contributing to the alarming rates of morbidity and maternal mortality among this population.


Women experiencing poverty and women of color across the socioeconomic spectrum.

We recognize that Women’s Health is more than reproductive health. As we enter this new area of work, however, we view the perinatal period as a critical period of vulnerability and opportunity, during which women have specific health needs, such as family planning services, pregnancy-related health care, and maternity care. The vital work in these areas overlaps with our grantmaking efforts in Resilient Children through a two-generational approach to improve both child health and women’s health.

Our Approach

We are committed to listening and learning with our community colleagues and grant partners. As St. David’s Foundation pivots from solely being a charitable grantmaker to a strategic health funder and partner, our work in this area focuses on the following approaches:

  • Establish Central Texas as a women’s health and perinatal safe zone by leading when needed, and joining in a shared community commitment to protect women’s resources, respect, and conditions.
  • Center women of color in our work by listening to them, stepping back while they drive the agenda, including them at key tables, enabling them to tell their own stories, and investing in their leadership.
  • Fill gaps in the fragmented safety net women’s health system by noting them and seeking to fund innovative programs.


Ensure women and girls are supported with the resources, respect, and conditions vital for equitable health and well-being, which means:

  • Women and girls of color experience birth equity including equitable outcomes in perinatal care, maternal morbidity and mortality, and newborn outcomes.
  • Women’s health safety net policies and programs are less fragmented, resulting in continuity of access between primary care, sexual and reproductive health care, and perinatal care.
  • Women and girls can obtain family planning and contraceptive care without burdensome access barriers, including the most effective methods, in clinical and community settings.
  • Communities are empowered to share their own narratives and stories.
  • Alignment with other initiatives and movements relevant to the health of women and girls.

Senior Program Officer

Lourdes Rodríguez, DrPH
Learn more about Lourdes here.

By The Numbers

55% of Texas women reported at least one barrier to accessing reproductive
health care services. 38% of these women reported cost of services as the
primary barrier.

Black women’s pregnancy-related mortality rate in Texas was 2.3 times higher than the rate for Non-Hispanic White women (2011-2012).

Although education level is a health protective factor, a black woman with a
PhD is 2.3x more likely to die from pregnancy related causes than a white
woman with a high school diploma, indicating that even education level does
not protect them from the impact of racism.

83% of Texas schools are teaching abstinence-only or not providing sexual