A new public awareness campaign in New York City is positioning the sexual and reproductive rights of women at the center of the fight for gender equality.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene officially launched the campaign last week with a short video to educate NYC residents about a new term: sexual and reproductive justice. According to the video, sexual and reproductive justice is defined as such: “When all people have the power and resources to make decisions about their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction.”
Throughout the video, various individuals share their personal experiences with abortions, reproductive health, contraceptives and sexual assaults and help to explain sexual and reproductive justice to viewers.
“If you’re dealing with issues related to your reproductive health and you’re not seeing your community or your stories reflected in that conversation, you’re all alone,” Alison Park says in the video.
The campaign seeks to create visibility for a diverse array of NYC residents as well as to promote the concept of sexual and reproductive justice as a human right.
“Every human being has the human right to make decisions about conception.”
“Every human being has the human right to make decisions about childbirth.”
“Every human being has the human right to make decisions about one’s body.”
“And every person has the human right to access needed resources.”
The video was created in partnership with the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Community Engagement Group, a coalition of about 60 different activists, nonprofit organizations, and community leaders.
“The health department teamed up with ‘people we never worked with before—who felt concerned that their issues weren’t being brought up, that there wasn’t a safe space to talk about transgender issues, about oppression, and racism, and the effect this could have on sexual reproductive health,’” Deborah Kaplan, the assistant commissioner of the New York City Health Department’s Bureau of Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health, told TakePart in an interview.
Besides simply raising awareness, the health department hopes to work towards reducing reproductive and sexual health disparities and to inspire more people to get involved in the Community Engagement Group. Both the video and the group have been met with positive feedback from residents and from the rest of the nation. The video is relatable and representative of people from a variety of backgrounds and thus, viewers have been eager to engage with the content, sharing it across social media platforms.
Does the video and the campaign’s success mean that everyone in New York City is comfortable having a conversation about sexual and reproductive justice? Of course not. But people are taking note of the fact that the health department is recognizing and talking about social disparities and all of these other difficult issues. The fight for sexual and reproductive justice is an integral part of the overall fight for health equity and social justice. By acknowledging the unfairness and inequity that exists, the NYC community can begin to address these issues in an effective manner.