This March, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, I think it is important not only to recognize the achievements of women world wide, but to also recognize that the needs of women still aren’t always being met right here in New York City.
Last year, I joined Councilmember Helen Sears in hosting a press conference highlighting the declining mammography rates in New York City and to introduce a mobile mammography program to serve Queens that we had funded through City Council. That press conference, spurred by a single scary statistic, was the jumping off point for a much larger movement.
The idea that women in New York were facing barriers to mammography — either lack of education or access — seemed to me to indicate a larger health issue. Women face major health risks including diabetes, domestic violence, cancer, HIV/AIDS — and need to increase their awareness about those risks. Women also have preventative healthcare options — and need to take those steps. More than anything, women have the power to improve their health — and need to take action. The best way to make sure that our city’s women are healthy and active is by empowering women to take their health into their own hands. We must continue to get the word out, keep an open dialogue convincing our friends and loved ones to make their health a priority.
Women, if they had the proper information, could be their own greatest health care asset! And the “NYC Women First” campaign was created.
The campaign is actually called “NYC Women First: Health Starts with You” because we are asking women to put themselves and their health first, as a major priority. Too often, women prioritize the needs of others first — at home, at work, with family, with friends, and in relationships. This year-long campaign to raise awareness about women’s health issues will provide our city’s women with concrete steps they can take to protect and improve their healthcare.
Every month for 12 months, the council and our partners will focus on one important area of women’s health, will highlight actions that women can take to protect their health and will raise awareness through events around the city.
Since our launch on Oct. 1, we have put signs in dressing rooms in Macy’s stores — the world’s largest department store — reminding women to get regular breast cancer screenings and mammograms. Additionally we have forged a partnership with the Maurer Foundation to bring breast health education to CUNY campuses across the city and to work with the Mayor’s Commission on Women’s Issues to bring the same workshops to New York’s 300,000 city employees.
I look forward to a year of working with organizations throughout the city to help bring the lifesaving message of NYC Women First to women throughout New York City. For more information, including simple and important health care tips as well as a calendar of events, please visit www.NYCwomenfirst.org.