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Category: Health, Media, Reproductive Rights

Moms Who Blog: A Powerful Force for Change in Healthcare

| March 26, 2012

Women are still fighting for equal representation in print. Women’s writing is published roughly half as often as that of men, according to this blog post on articles by female versus male authors at leading creative magazines. At the OpEd project it was reported last month that in the week before, just 16 percent of bylines in the New York Times were from women, while at the Huffington Post the figure was a bit better, at 36 percent.

More than half of US citizens are female, so shouldn’t women’s perspectives color the news stories the country uses to form its opinions more often? Given the assault on women’s health this political season, getting our voices heard now is even more important.

Fortunately, one area of the written media in which women are making a big impact is the blogosphere. Watchdogs noted that bloggers and social networks were the force that changed the direction a powerful organization took in the recent Susan G. Komen controversy. The incident also illustrates the particular power and importance of women online on healthcare. Women are the power users of social media and are the directors of healthcare for most families. And women–and especially mothers–frequently are the ones who have the insight, the blogs and the networks to bring stories about sensitive health issues to the world.

To discuss the trend of moms blogging, tweeting and sharing online as powerful agents of change in healthcare I interviewed Deb Levine, a mother of two and founder of the award-winning online sexual health Q&A site Go Ask Alice. She’s also the recent winner of the White House’s challenge to design an app to help prevent dating violence on college campuses.

“Women are the people who, in bringing health issues to the forefront, are pushing healthcare reform and access while also bringing attention to important issues like maternal mortality,” said Levine.

“A mother will do anything for her children,” she added. Given the growing healthcare challenges in this country, that imperative may be part of what’s fueling more women to advocate online for change.

In a recent article I discussed six moms who are doing work to better healthcare and the health tools available to themselves and their families--and ultimately, to us all.

One of the most notable? Elita Kalma, founder of the Blacktating blog. She shares stories of joys and frustrations she experienced while breastfeeding her son on the blog. In doing so, she’s acting as a critical role model and information source for the black community, where childrens’ breastfeeding rates are about 50 percent lower at birth compared with white children.

Kalma also advocates for moms of color within the mainstream media. For example, she publicly questioned why several articles in major media outlets on Beyonce’s choice to breastfeed failed to even mention the choice’s specific implications for the 12 percent of U.S. citizens who are black. As First Lady Michelle Obama and the Surgeon General have both stressed, breastfeeding can help counter child obesity and can make children better off on a range of health issues--so for women of color, the importance of education as well as role models is great for ensuring a healthy future.

Katie Matlack writes about electronic health record system options and health information technology for Software Advice, a startup based in Austin, Texas. To learn about other moms bringing stories from the grassroots to create real change in healthcare, you can read the original article.