2022 Equity Challenge Day 8: Racial Disparities in Women’s Health

“There’s something inherently wrong with the system that’s not valuing the lives of Black women equally to white women.”

Raegan McDonald-Mosley

Former Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood Federation of America (Current CEO at Power to Decide)

Racial and socioeconomic inequities are seen across all aspects of healthcare, from the difficulties of accessing quality care to delays in diagnosis. This is especially true with regards to the health of women of color. Women often have their symptoms dismissed and are more likely to receive a later health diagnosis in comparison to men. On average, it takes seven years for a woman to be diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition that causes chronic pelvic pain. A Black woman often endures this chronic pain even longer due to misdiagnosis and the medical dismissal of their pain. Until recently, doctors were more likely to associate a Black woman’s pelvic pain with Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, an infection usually caused by sexually transmitted bacteria. 

Black women are three to four times more likely to die from childbirth and have more complications during pregnancy/birth in comparison to white women. Maternal mortality is shown to improve when a Black woman has a Black obstetrician (a doctor specializing in pregnancy and childbirth). Due to a shortage in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) doctors, many women are turning to doulas — professionals trained in holistic care for the mother and child during pregnancy, childbirth and recovery) — to help advocate during their pregnancy and birth. Using a doula is linked to a decrease in C-section rates and an improvement in Black maternal health in pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened outcomes for pregnant women — and women of color in particular — causing significant increases in maternal anxiety and depression and a decrease in prenatal care visits. Today’s materials go into more detail on the racial disparities in women’s maternal health and how services like doulas are working to provide women support.  




View this TedTalk on improving maternal health before and after pregnancy (15 minutes). 


Check out this interactive map showing the overall health of the U.S. with regards to maternal mortality and legislation to decrease mortality rates (5 minutes). 

Reflect And Share

    1. Has a doctor ever dismissed your symptoms or made you feel as though it was “in your head”? How did it make you feel? 
    1. What do you believe the medical community can do to decrease Black maternal mortality and reduce complications during pregnancy and childbirth? 


Start the conversation. Send the tweet. Share your story. Make the Facebook post. Sharing what you learn and experience with your family, friends, and co-workers is the first step toward allyship.

Join thousands in conversation by using hastag #EquityChallenge or #TakeTheEC22