In conversations about reproductive healthcare access, we often invoke rural women but rarely do we hear from them. Provide is seeking to change this through the introduction of the ‘My Home, My Voice’ Fellowship, which will gather a small cohort of people living in rural counties across the US and support them in giving voice to the reproductive health experiences in their communities. The goal of the Fellowship is to establish rural women as vital participants in discussions of access to reproductive healthcare.
This endeavor is quite different from Provide’s usual focus on educating and supporting health care and social service workers around abortion access, but it helps support our goal of making abortion more accessible in rural communities. We saw that there was a need and, although our work isn’t primarily in communications, we recognized that we were uniquely placed in the community to help develop and amplify rural voices around abortion, reproductive healthcare, and healthcare in general. Much of our best work has come from recognizing a need and seeing if there’s something we can do to help.
This Fellowship is our first dedicated effort to cultivate new leadership among rural women, supporting them to give voice to the experience of accessing reproductive health care. Our vision is to help create a voice for our movement on rural women’s health access that comes from rural women themselves.
We hope to find writers and developing voices who are passionate both about their rural communities and about healthcare access because their voices need to be heard, and we’d like to help them do that. Our goal is not only to give them support in their writing but to support opportunities for them speak up in person as well.
To that end, the Fellowship aims to choose five promising Fellows and to provide them with a space in which to write, introduce them to key figures in the reproductive health movement, and give them access to professional development tools, like a coach, webinars, and conference placement. We want to promote their own goals around communicating about rural health, especially around reproductive and abortion care.
This aligns with Provide’s broader goal of improving abortion access because it will support rural communities to lead the conversation about how best to provide care for those in rural spaces. In conversations about reproductive health, rights and justice, rural voices need hearing.
Provide works to make sure that women have access to abortion, especially those living in low-resource rural and Southern communities. Provide empowers and educates health and social service providers to be able to give the care and support women facing unintended pregnancy need. Our work is rooted in the on-the-ground realities of women’s lives and of the systems and resources that are available to them. It is guided by our conviction that everyone has a role to play in supporting women’s access to abortion.
We believe accessible abortion is one of the essential components of women’s dignity, autonomy, and well being. By empowering health and social service providers to respond to women’s needs in a way that is rooted in patient and client-centered care, instead of abortion’s moral and political controversies, we can help normalize abortion, generate empathy, and build capacity where it is most needed.