The Network Celebrates 40th Anniversary at the Barbara Seaman Awards Benefit: A History of Accomplishments, A Force for Change

Taken from the January/February 2016 issue of the Women's Health Activist Newsletter.

Zipatly Mendoza, Chair of the Network’s Board of Directors, served as the emcee for the event, and welcomed members from all across the country. She noted, “When we leave this space tonight, the eagerness and enthusiasm for change cannot stop. We must remember the feeling we have today at this moment: of gratitude, pride and hope,”

The Network’s Executive Director, Cindy Pearson, joined Zipatly in welcoming guests to the Awards Benefit. She commented that, “At anniversaries we are prone to look back and bask in accomplishments, but I also want to inspire our members about our plans for the future.” “With your support, we launched a new web site, expanded our communications and outreach efforts, and hosted house parties in cities across the country. The coming year, we hope to do even more.”

Network Board Member Dazon Dixon Diallo presented the Award for Activism in Women’s Health to Loretta Ross, co-founder of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective. Dazon commented, “Loretta’s work is groundbreaking to those of us who remember a time when we there wasn’t a seat at the table for women, women of color, or other disenfranchised communities. It is important that we recognize this progress, appreciate it, demonstrate gratitude for it — but never stop our efforts to evolve further.”

In accepting her award, Loretta recalled her experience as one of the women prescribed the Dalkon Shield and, subsequently, the first African American woman to sue the manufacturer after it made her sterile. In her comments, Loretta recognized many of the other women in the room. Former colleagues included women who worked with her at City Wide Housing Coalition in DC, such as Nkenge Touré, and women with whom she organized the March for Women’s Lives in the late 1980s, such as Eleanor Smeal and Alice Cohan.

Charlea Massion, another Network Board member, presented the Emerging Activist Award to Laura Kirkpatrick for her work as the Chapter Leader of the Class of 2017’s Medical Students for Choice chapter organized by students at Georgetown University. Charlea commented that “Laura is part of the next generation of medical doctors who demonstrate both altruism and empathy, specifically seek to work with communities of color, and are cognizant of the intersection between physical and mental health when accessing care.”

In accepting her award, Laura reiterated the vital importance of organizations working to provide abortion training to physicians — as Medical Students for Choice does — to ensure that women can access reproductive health care.

The evening culminated with a keynote by renowned and beloved author, Judy Norsigian. As a cofounder — and later Executive Director — of the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, Judy led the organization in its efforts to ensure that Our Bodies, Ourselves (known to most as “OBOS”) is in the hands of woman worldwide.

Network members and guests took part in the Network’s “Pass on the Pink Pill” social media campaign to warn women about the dangers of the new drug targeted at women, Addyi. Photos from the event were also posted on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks to our generous sponsors, the Network raised more than $55,000 to further our work. These funds will support all of our advocacy campaigns, including Raising Women’s Voices and will help fund a Spanish language translation of My Health My Voice: A Woman’s Step-by-Step Guide to Using Health Insurance.

We look forward to celebrating with all of you in 2016!