The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) is the only national reproductive justice organization dedicated to building Latina power to advance health, dignity, and justice for the 26 million Latinas, their families, and communities in the United States through leadership development, community mobilization, policy advocacy, and strategic communications.
NLIRH is a Social Justice Organization
Latinas face a unique and complex array of reproductive health and rights issues that are exacerbated by poverty, gender, racial and ethnic discrimination and xenophobia. These circumstances make it especially difficult for Latinas to access reproductive health care services, including the full range of available reproductive health technologies and abortion services. We believe that in order to substantially improve the reproductive health of Latinas and protect their rights to exercise reproductive freedom, NLIRH must locate reproductive health and rights issues within a broader social justice framework that seeks to bring an end to poverty and discrimination and affirms human dignity and the right to self-determination.
Strengthening Latina Voices
NLIRH is cognizant that women of color, particularly Latinas, have had very limited access to the institutions and officials responsible for setting and implementing polices that directly affect the lives of many Latinas. For this reason, NLIRH is committed to serving as an advocacy engine or vehicle by which Latinas can voice their concerns and make their demands known, including but not limited to calling for:
- Increased funding and services to eliminate Latina health disparities;
- Dismantling of discriminatory, coercive, punitive or otherwise disempowering policies that infringe upon the rights and ability Latinas to effectively exercise their reproductive freedom and gain access to quality reproductive health services (e.g. challenging family caps, prohibitions to publicly funded abortion services, policies favoring abstinence only funding, court mandated use of Norplant, mandatory HIV testing of pregnant women or newborns, criminalization policies against pregnant, addicted women);
- Greater inclusion of Latina concerns in the broader reproductive rights and health agenda (e.g. promotion of policy initiatives and services aimed at improving health care access for low income, uninsured and immigrant Latinas delivered in a culturally and linguistically competent manner).
Promoting Leadership Development and Community Organizing
In order to effect systemic change, NLIRH must utilize multiple strategies including building a sophisticated, vocal and diverse constituency base with the first hand knowledge and experience necessary to craft NLIRH’s policy positions. Through ongoing dialogue and active participation in NLIRH policy forums, we are committed to fostering open and democratic processes and increasing civic participation among Latinas. Through leadership development and community organizing training, NLIRH seeks to expand the cadre of Latina leaders and activists capable of guiding advocacy campaigns and effecting public policy change at the grassroots, regional and national levels.
A Commitment to Coalition Building
NLIRH understands and celebrates the fact that we are part of a larger advocacy community. Efforts to effect systemic change are most successful when a common vision can be forged and broad based support is cultivated through the development of coalitions. Coalitions create synergy and allow groups to pursue bigger targets on a larger scale, address power inequities, shape public ideology, and build solutions to complex problems together. Thus, NLIRH is committed to fostering principled collaborations and building coalitions within the reproductive health and rights communities as well as across the broader social justice movement.
The History of NLIRH
NLIRH commenced operations as an independent organization in 1994. Its antecedent, the Latina Initiative, had emerged five years earlier under the auspices of Catholics for a Free Choice. The Latina Initiative was created in direct response to the lack of Latina visibility on reproductive rights and health issues. After a successful five year track record at Catholics for Free Choice, the Latina Initiative was renamed NLIRH and opened its doors as the first independent national organization and voice for Latinas on health and reproductive rights issues. In 2003 NLIRH re-opened its doors in New York City. To this day, NLIRH is the only national Latina health and reproductive rights organization representing an increasingly diverse and growing Latina population.