Live From SisterSong: Let’s Talk About Sex!

Eesha Pandit

The SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective's second national conference started yesterday; Eesha Pandit shares highlights from the four-day reproductive justice bonanza.

Greetings from SisterSong!

Yesterday was the launch of a four-day reproductive justice bonanza that is expected to bring more than 1,000 people to Chicago for panels, workshops, caucuses, and strategy sessions.

The SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective is a network of local, regional and national grassroots agencies representing five primary ethnic populations/indigenous nations in the United States: African American, Arab American/Middle Eastern, Asian/Pacific Islander, Latina, and Native American/Indigenous. Formed in 1997, the Collective was established to educate women of color and policy makers on reproductive and sexual health and rights, and to work towards the access of health services, information and resources that are culturally and linguistically appropriate. Yesterday was the launch of the second national conference that coinciding with SisterSong's 10th Anniversary. This conference is titled, "Let's Talk About Sex!" and is centered on issues of sexual and reproductive health for woman of color.

I attended several amazing plenaries and workshops yesterday; here are a few highlights:

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From a panel called "Sex Around the World: Global Reproductive Justice," Lelia Husseini from Ipas reminded us that at the rate we're going, "soon it will be easier to get an abortion in Mexico City than in Mississippi," and Dazon Dixon Diallo from Sisterlove Inc, jolted us out of our complacence by asserting that around the world, "the one social, cultural and economic paradigm that most places women at risk of contracting HIV is marriage." We noted that there is an indelible link between HIV and violence against women around the world. Miriam Yeung from the LGBT Community Center in New York forcefully claimed that the right to self-determination and to freely express sexuality is a human right. She pointed out that the movement for LGBT liberation and the movement for reproductive justice share common challenges and enemies as well as common goals and strategies.

On today's agenda is a conversation about new reproductive technologies and workshops on reproductive justice as a platform for the '08 elections, disability rights and reproductive justice, and one on young women's access to abortion. I can't wait.

Stay tuned for more about what happens over the next few days, but I'll leave you with a wonderful message and anthem from the meeting:

"The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love, and to be greater than our suffering."

~ Ben Oki, Nigerian Poet and Novelist.

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Reproductive rights are a public health issue. That's a fact.

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