Senator’s Op-Ed: CUNY SPH’s Hub For Sexual And Reproductive Justice Gains Funding From NY State

May 7, 2024

The Sexual and Reproductive Justice (SRJ) Hub at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) has received $500,000.

The $500,00 in the New York State enacted FY2025 budget, providing new and necessary support for its educational, scholarly, and advocacy efforts.

The SRJ Hub at CUNY SPH represents the first coordinated effort in New York State, and one of few nationwide, to advance SRJ through a centralized academic unit that emphasizes not only scholarship but also leadership development and advocacy. The SRJ Hub aims to take an innovative approach to SRJ through solutions-oriented scholarship, leadership training, and evidence-based advocacy that centers the lived experiences of women of color and elevates and funds their and other marginalized people’s work.

SRJ is a longstanding framework that embodies the idea that the health and well-being of all girls, women, and people who can become pregnant are intrinsically linked to a variety of intersecting factors, including socioeconomic inequities, environmental justice, abortion rights, and access to sexual and reproductive health services. The work underway at the SRJ Hub reflects this holistic vision through its research training and advocacy efforts. This work has become even more urgent since the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the subsequent erosion of reproductive autonomy and the rise of reproductive health injustices that disproportionately burden people of color and marginalized populations.

Over the course of her political career, Governor Hochul has time and again championed programs and policies that protect reproductive freedom and address the crisis in maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, particularly among women and children of color. She visited CUNY SPH on Monday and reaffirmed her commitment to investing in the health and well-being of women and children in New York.

“The outcomes for Black women and Black babies are devastating, especially in a great state like New York, and I am fully committed to research and advocacy efforts that will help us turn the tide,” said Governor Kathy Hochul. “Reproductive health is a cornerstone of public health, and the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy is the right place for us to invest in this critical work.”

“In these post-Roe times, we cannot stand by and witness the steady disintegration of women’s bodily autonomy and the calamitous impact on maternal health outcomes,” said NYS Senator Cordell Cleare. “CUNY SPH’s SRJ Hub is already hard at work on education and advocacy efforts to raise awareness and address the roots of reproductive health disparities in New York.”

“When we invest in sexual and reproductive justice, we are supporting health and socioeconomic stability across the board,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-

Rojas. “And in centering the rights, healthcare, and well-being of all girls, women, and people who can become pregnant, we can benefit society as a whole and address inequities facing people of color.”

“Resolving the health inequities facing LGBTQ individuals and women and girls of color in New York State is a top priority,” said Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick. “We are ready to do all we can to ensure the rights of our constituents to health, safety, and bodily freedom.”

“The erosion of policies that protect sexual and reproductive freedom is an increasingly urgent but too often overlooked matter of public health, and one that magnifies longstanding racial, gender and socioeconomic inequities,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “New York State’s funding for CUNY SPH and the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Hub will greatly aid the school’s mission-driven commitment to exposing and mitigating these impacts. CUNY thanks Governor Hochul for her consistent support of this University and investment in the health of all New Yorkers.”

“Support for the establishment of the SRJ hub at CUNY SPH in Harlem is a bold move by the NYS Governor that will allow us to cultivate the next generation of public health leaders committed to ensuring the human right to bodily autonomy and reproductive justice for all New Yorkers, especially the most minoritized and marginalized women, femmes and girls,” said Lynn Roberts, CUNY SPH associate dean for student affairs and SRJ Hub founding faculty member.

“The generous support from Governor Hochul in this state budget will empower us to grow our SRJ curriculum, hire staff, provide seed funding for sexual and reproductive justice-focused research, organize events, and expand our capacity for enabling social media and other communications mechanisms on these critical issues,” said CUNY SPH Senior Associate Dean and SRJ founding faculty member Terry McGovern. “With these funds, we are committed to promoting reproductive autonomy, combating health disparities, and fostering a future where every person has the right to make informed decisions about their own bodies and lives.”

“Our heartfelt thanks to Governor Hochul, and the many members of the legislature including Senator Cleare, and Assemblymembers González-Rojas and Glick who have been ardent supporters of CUNY SPH’s efforts to advance sexual and reproductive justice,” said CUNY SPH Dean Ayman El-Mohandes. “Kudos to Senior Associate Dean Terry McGovern and Associate Dean Lynn Roberts for leading the launch of our SRJ Hub which aligns perfectly with our school’s social justice and health equity mission.”

Cordell Cleare

New York State Senator Cordell Cleare was raised in Harlem and her family has lived there for four generations.   Cleare is a product of the New York City public schools, including Brooklyn Technical High School.  Today, she is best known for her fight for Reparations, Truly Affordable Housing, Quality Schools & Equitable Education, Access to Healthy Foods as well as Economic, Environmental, Restorative and Racial Justice. She entered the New York State Senate on an express train from Upper Manhattan, bringing fresh ideas and legislative proposals to make New York, the state of the whole people.

Photo credit: HWM.

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