The resilience and strength of Black women are often highlighted and celebrated in society. They must contend with the “superwoman” persona and continuously put the needs of others above their own, both at home and at work.
Research shows that trying to live up to unrealistic standards and experiencing the effects of systemic racism causes greater stress and puts a strain on the whole body. In recent studies, the stress Black women endure over their lifetime has been termed the “weathering effect.” The research delves into the harm to the woman’s health because of repeated experiences with socioeconomic adversity (income-based struggles) and discrimination. The COVID-19 pandemic has of course exacerbated challenges for Black women, making it even more difficult to find time for activities to address stress levels and lessen the risk of poor health outcomes.
As a result, Black women experience disproportionately high rates of adverse health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, and psychological conditions, and face the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.
The Madie M. Smith-Moore Women’s Health Equity Institute (WHEI) is changing course for Black women in Charlotte, NC; and will be a long-awaited resource for Black women to receive health information and services. The WHEI, launched by local Black women leaders, is hosting events and creating a directory of services and trusted health information for Women of Color to navigate healthcare options and services better. The Institute is in the process of creating a strategic action plan to address health disparities experienced by women of color.
September 2023 Convening
September 12-14, 2023