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Advocating for Black women & girls

The people you elect as your state, local and federal government officials have the power to pass policies, regulations and laws that can help — or harm — your health.

That’s why our policy and advocacy team serves as your voice – evaluates and develops national and state policies to hold elected officials accountable for addressing issues most critical to Black women’s health, especially regarding: breast and cervical cancers, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, intimate partner violence and sexual assault, maternal health and reproductive health.

We are also leading the effort to create the first National Health Policy Agenda for Black women.

Young Woman testifying in Congress

Our Policy Priorities

Access to quality, affordable, and innovative approaches to provide comprehensive health care for Black women and girls.

Equitable and adequate response for public health emergencies.

Sufficient diversity in clinical research.

Sustained financial support for HBCUs.


This report was released in collaboration with the Clean Water for All Coalition, PolicyLink and the National Resource Defense Council. It offers insight as to why low-income communities and African Americans carry the disproportionate burden of climate change and deteriorating water infrastructure.

Download the Report

How to Advocate for Your Health

  • Speak to your employer about health care services to cover in insurance plans
  • Talk about health care issues you care about on social media
  • Tell your story! Have you overcome a health challenge or want politicians and others to know how an illness have impacted you or your family, let us know. We’d love to share your story.

Policies impacting Black women

Health care coverage:

Policies to repeal the ACA will result in Black women losing access to affordable, quality maternity care, preventative services, and other essential health benefits. These policies could result in more Black women dying or suffering from avoidable diseases and conditions, going without necessary health care, or incurring significant medical debt.

Maternal Health

Policies to improve the maternal health outcomes experienced by Black women. Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications and 3-4 times more likely to suffer from severe disability resulting from childbirth compared to White women. These policies will improve the preconception health of Black women, as well as prevent the avoidable deaths of thousands of pregnant Black women.


Breast Cancer
New York State and Texas private insurers must cover 3-D mammograms with no out-of-pocket costs (regulationA. 5677, HB 1036).

  • New York State regulation: (February 2017) Insurers must cover medically necessary 3-D mammograms without co-pays, coinsurance or deductibles.
  • • Nationally, 6,063 Black women died from breast cancer in 2013. Black women have a 43% higher breast cancer death rate, are diagnosed at a much later stage, have a higher incidence of more aggressive breast cancers, and lower breast cancer survival rates.
  • Black women tend to have dense breast tissue, which poses a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Dense breast tissue also makes it more difficult to detect breast cancer using traditional, older screening technology.
  • 3-D mammograms can more accurately detect breast cancer in women with dense breast tissue, reducing unnecessary callbacks for more tests and late diagnoses, which are stressful for patients and increase health care costs.

Reproductive Health

New York State private insurers must cover the ACA’s 10 Essential Health Benefits, “medically necessary” abortions, and the dispensing of up to 12 months of a contraceptive without a co-payment (regulations).

  • • Black women are more likely than their White counterparts to experience an unintended pregnancy because they are more likely to have difficulty paying for and accessing contraceptives and abortion services.
  • When Black women have access to affordable abortion services and contraceptives, they can achieve higher levels of educational and career advancement, and reduce the likelihood of economic insecurity by the prevention of unintended pregnancies.

Policy Statements

BWHI Response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address and His Commitment to Women’s Health
A Call to Action: Policy Initiatives to End HIV Among Black Women
An Open Letter on Health Disparities to President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Members of Your National Health Care Team
BWHI Statement on Delayed Vote and FBI Investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh
BWHI Statement on Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court
Black Women’s Health Imperative Expresses Concern Over Supreme Court Nominees
BWHI President and CEO speaks of “Year of the Black Woman” and Announces BWHI’s First National Black Women’s Health Agenda at Summit21 Conference
Black Women Will Suffer Costs of Senate Tax Bill
Suffering in Silence