August 24, 2020
As part of Levi Strauss & Co.’s commitment to protecting the rights of marginalized women in the communities where we live and work, the Levi Strauss Foundation is supporting frontline organizations working to ensure women and girls, both domestically and in our supply chain, have continued access to reproductive health services. The effort is especially important in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and in a tenuous political environment that increasingly restricts access.
A worrisome trend has emerged in the U.S to de-prioritize women’s health and reproductive services, creating far-reaching implications for women across the globe – including female apparel workers.
In 2017, the U.S. government reinstated and expanded the “Mexico City Policy” (or “Global Gag Rule”), which banned U.S. federal funding for international organizations that perform, advocate or provide referrals for certain reproductive women’s health services. This loss in critical global funding has resulted in up to 26 million women and girls losing access to contraceptive services and supplies. Coupled with the devastating impacts of COVID-19, experts now estimate that this number could reach 47 million.
“In addition to the widespread impacts of the Global Gag Rule, COVID-19 is limiting access to vital women’s healthcare. In the first six months of 2020, 1.9 million women and girls lost access to our services due to COVID-19,” Marjorie Newman-Williams, President Marie Stopes International United States. “Our providers are moving heaven and earth to keep these life-saving services available, but with the worst effects of the pandemic still to come in many countries, this crisis isn’t over. Women and girls are counting on us; we can’t stop now.”
Additionally, a surge of laws passed in the U.S within recent years at the state-level have been specifically designed to curtail reproductive rights, further hindering organizations and services supporting women’s reproductive health efforts.
“The steady erosion of reproductive health access we’re experiencing has not occurred because of public sentiment – but in spite of it – as public opinion polls show that the majority of people in the United States support reproductive justice,” said Meenakshi Menon, Chief Development Officer for the Groundswell fund. “This chasm exists because the Reproductive Justice Movement has lacked the resources to galvanize the public into a strong grassroots base organized and powerful enough to hold public officials accountable. As the largest funder of the Reproductive Justice Movement, Groundswell is committed to partnering with donors and foundations like the Levi Strauss Foundation to reverse this trend.”
The Levi Strauss Foundation remains steadfast in its support of pioneering organizations that continue to remove barriers and fight the egregious attacks on health care for women and girls. They include the following:
Groundswell Fund supports domestic grassroots organizations in the reproductive justice field. This support will ensure the restoration, protection and expansion of reproductive rights for those most marginalized and withheld from access, including survivors of sexual violence, women of color, transgender and low-income women.
Marie Stopes International delivers life-saving sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning and other sexual and reproductive health care to female apparel workers across Asia and Africa.
International Planned Parenthood Federation promotes sexual and reproductive health and advocates for the right of individuals – including apparel workers in various key LS&Co. sourcing countries – to make their own choices in family planning.
*Main image provided by Allison Joyce for Marie Stopes.