The Resilient Sisterhood Project’s mission is to educate and empower women of African descent regarding common yet rarely discussed diseases of the reproductive system that disproportionately affect them. We approach these diseases and associated issues through a cultural and social justice lens—as we believe that poor knowledge of reproductive health is primarily related to health, racial, and socioeconomic disparities.
Transforming communities to engage in conversations in regards to diseases of the reproductive system and other reproductive health conditions that disproportionally affect Black women.
The Resilient Sisterhood Project (RSP), founded in 2012, is a non-profit based in Boston raising awareness and empowering women and young adults of African descent affected by diseases of the reproductive system.
RSP works in partnership with—rather than on behalf of black women and young adults in our communities as we mobilize to address deeply-rooted racial discrimination and internalized racism, health and medical inequities, oppressive cultural and gender norms, environmental and food injustice, and other social determinants of health that perpetuate the silence, secrecy, and inaction surrounding these diseases. We make a conscious decision to bring a unique social and cultural approach to the discourse of these diseases.
Our educational programs represent a venue of support for advocacy, activism, and empowerment. We organize both structured and informal dialogue to provide a culturally sensitive safe space where women of African descent can speak freely and gain knowledge about their reproductive health.
RSP brings an expansive definition to and understanding of the word “women” to include transgender women, cisgender women, gender queer, and gender non-conforming people who have a female reproductive system.
Our founder, Lilly Marcelin chose the bamboo plant as a symbol and a metaphor for RSP. In many cultures, bamboo serves as a symbol of strength, flexibility, and resiliency. When a storm comes, bamboos bend with the wind and when the storm stops, they resume their up-right position. Their ability to cope with adversity is inspirational.
Our Core Educational Programs for Workshops and Trainings
Community Education and Outreach
This core program provides trainings including, but not limited to, equitable access to reproductive health care, in-depth education on the aforementioned diseases, under-diagnosis and treatment, the impact of chronic stress and racism (“weathering”), high rates of morbidity and mortality in pregnant Black women, medical practices discounting Black women’s pain levels and concerns, the rise of diseases associated with environmental and chemical toxins, the early onset of puberty, food injustice, and gender-based violence.
Sisterhood Empowerment Circle
Black women are the backbones of their families and communities. This program mobilizes Black women and their allies on a quarterly basis to critically examine structural inequalities that make us and our young girls more vulnerable to chronic diseases of the reproductive system as we simultaneously explore our resiliency and strengths.
Environmental Justice and Reproductive Health
U.S. women of African descent have persistently higher rates of hormone-related diseases and risk factors. This program educates community members about the historical legacy of environmental injustice and the link between exposure to environmental toxins, endocrine disrupting chemicals, and their deleterious effects on women’s reproductive health.
Incarceration and Reproductive Health
Prisons are sites of reproductive violence. This program examines reproductive health needs of current and formerly incarcerated women in the U.S. prison system. Increasing numbers of women and girls represent a growing proportion of incarcerated people in the U.S. correctional system. Most of the women are of reproductive age and largely come from disadvantaged communities.
Reproductive Health and Immigration
The goal of this program is to address harsh anti-immigration policies and the many challenges that documented and undocumented immigrant women often face accessing reproductive health care services which can lead to significant health disparities and adverse health outcomes.