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Article

Height, Dorothy I.  

Sunny Sinha

Dorothy Irene Height (1912–2010) was best known for her leadership positions with National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and Young Women’s Christian Association’s (YWCA), as she was instrumental in directing the efforts of both these organizations to address the issues of racial justice and gender equality.

Article

Terrell, Mary Eliza Church  

Wilma Peebles-Wilkins

Mary Church Terrell (1863–1954) was an educator and social reformer best known for her professional lecture tours and writings on race relations and women's rights. In 1904 she represented black women at the International Congress of Women in Berlin.

Article

Truth, Sojourner  

Wilma Peebles-Wilkins

Sojourner Truth (1797–1883) was a reformer and evangelist who was active in the abolitionist movement. In 1843 she began speaking tours to advocate for the abolition of slavery and for women's suffrage.

Article

Women: Practice Interventions and Macro Practice  

Cheryl A. Hyde

Macro social work practice with women encompasses women as practitioners in organizational, community, and policy arenas, and issues of particular concern to women including violence against women, reproductive rights, family health and well-being, and economic equity. It recognizes that women, as a group, are more likely to be marginalized, subordinated, and oppressed compared to men, as a group. Further, there is awareness of the diversity within the category of “woman.” This article provides an overview of women as macro practitioners, issues central to the lives of women, feminist activism and its influence on macro social work, and examples of macro practice centered on the lived experiences of women. Given the gender inequities and discrimination that women and girls contend with daily, macro social work needs to embrace these issues and strive to dismantle gender-based oppression if the profession’s social justice mission is to be realized in full.

Article

Women: Health Care  

Marian A. Aguilar

This entry provides an abbreviated version of the status of women's health in the United States, highlighting health care utilization, health care expenditures, policy issues, barriers to health care, and the impact on populations at risk. The findings accentuate the importance of moving the women's health care agenda forward because of the persistence of health disparities not just among women of color but among women with disabilities, adolescents, women in violent relationships, women with AIDS, women who are incarcerated, women who are homeless, older low-income women, women on welfare, and lesbian women.

Article

Jeffers, Audrey Layne  

Karene-Anne Nathaniel

Audrey Layne Jeffers (1898–1968) was an early feminist of African descent with a commitment to the advancement of Black women, education of girls, services to children with disabilities, and government responsibility for social welfare. She mobilized young women to form the Coterie of Social Workers in Trinidad that began a meal program for underprivileged school children in the 1920s, which shaped the National School Feeding Program that today offers free meals to all school students. This led to the establishment of other similar facilities in other parts of the country, as well as the opening of homes for dispossessed young women, the elderly, and the blind, and daycare facilities to help working women. These facilities form the backdrop for the practice of social work in the Caribbean. She was instrumental in the hosting of the first women’s conference which made numerous recommendations including equal opportunities for women and women in the police service. She was the first woman to be elected to local government, and later nominated to the legislative council by the governor. Jeffers was a champion for disadvantaged women and girls, but notably opened the door for women in politics in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Article

Jackson, Mae  

Vijayan K. Pillai and Julie Nagoshi

Dr. Mae Allison Johnson Jackson, a social worker and activist, overcame discrimination and segregation to become the first African American woman mayor of Waco, Texas. She fought for equality, worked with the National Council of Negro Women, and participated in civil rights programs. Dr. Jackson’s impact on several aspects of development in Waco was still felt almost 20 years later.

Article

Black Women and Maternal Death  

Valire C. Copeland and Betty Braxter

The upward trend in the number of Black maternal deaths between 2005 and 2020 warrants an in-depth assessment of risk factors associated with the increased maternal mortality rate in the United States for this subgroup population. The risk factors are multifactorial and, in part, have been organized into several categories: demographics, social determinants of health (SDOH), medical conditions, and the quality-of-care interventions by health systems providers. In addition, the overall trends, causes, and solutions to decrease maternal mortality current rates reflect the social inequities in our society. Black maternal deaths have been rising in recent years due to complex causes which stem from structural and systemic health inequities. In part, unvaccinated pregnant women were at greater risk of severe illness and hospitalization and even death if they were diagnosed with COVID-19. While Black Americans were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, the disparities in maternal mortality predate and extend beyond the pandemic. In part, and together, the leading causes of pregnancy-related deaths include cardiovascular disease, other medical conditions and infections, cardiomyopathy, blood clots in the lung hypertensive disorders related to pregnancy, adverse pregnancy outcomes, racial bias of providers, and perceived racial discrimination from patients. In addition, an overview of nonmedical factors referred to as SDOH, which intersect with health status outcomes, will be discussed. An overview of Black women’s maternal mortality and morbidity, factors contributing to poor maternal health status outcomes, and intervention strategies at the provider, health systems, and policy levels are provided. Social workers in health care systems function as health care providers and clinicians. Therefore, contributing medical and nonmedical issues are factors to consider for a holistic perspective during engagement, assessment, and intervention. The terms Black women and Black birthing persons are used interchangeably.

Article

Weeks, Margaret (Wendy)  

Bob Pease

Wendy Weeks (1943–2004) was a social work educator, scholar, and activist who made a significant contribution to feminist social work and women’s services in both Canada and Australia. Wendy provided outstanding leadership in social work and social work education over several decades.

Article

Hunter, Mary “Ski”  

Catheleen Jordan and David Cory

Mary “Ski” Hunter (1937–2015) was an award-winning teacher, author, and advocate for women’s issues, especially in the LGBT population. She was passionate about dispelling myths, misogyny, and homophobia, and she wrote and lectured about empowerment strategies for social workers.

Article

Humphreys, Nancy A.  

Sadye L. M. Logan

Nancy A. Humphreys (1938–2019) was Dean of the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and founder and director of the Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work. She was a pioneer who served with distinction, and left a rich legacy in advocating for women rights, social justice, and the development of political social work.

Article

Sexual Harassment  

Sondra J. Fogel and Doris A. Boateng

Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination as well as a complex social issue with psychological implications for both those who are harassed and those who perpetrate the harassment. Women continue to be primary targets, although men, youths, and sexual minorities are increasingly pursued. Legally prohibited in the workplace and educational institutions, sexual harassment persists in personal interactions as well as by electronic means despite prevention efforts such as education programs and zero-tolerance policies. This entry will define sexual harassment, provide an overview of its prevalence, and describe approaches for its remedy.

Article

Maternal and Child Health  

Valire Carr Copeland and Daniel Hyung Jik Lee

Social reform efforts of the settlement-house movement have provided, in part, the foundation for today’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s policies, programs, and services. Planning, implementing, and evaluating policies and programs that affect the health and well-being of mothers and children require a multidisciplinary approach. Social workers, whose skills encompass direct services, advocacy, planning and research, community development, and administration, have a critical role to play in improving the health outcomes of maternal and child populations.

Article

Attaining Sustainable Development Goals  

Shanta Pandey

At its 2015 General Assembly, the United Nations formulated the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to emergize its Member nations and social workers practicing in these countries to engage in environmentally sustainable social and economic development leaving no one behind. At the core of SDGs is the conviction that protecting planet Earth is possible by working collectively and ensuring that all human beings are able to realize their full potentials. The charges include solving a wide range of environmental, economic, and social problems including poverty, hunger, violence, and discrimination by 2030. The SDGs are inclusive of all people; they have galvanized all Member countries and their policy makers and practitioners, including social workers, to strive toward the common goals. Progress has been made from previous initiatives, but there are still challenges ahead. The first five SDGs are particularly relevant to social workers, who have an important role to play in alleviating poverty, promoting health and education, and empowering women and girls.

Article

Feminist Macro Social Work Practice  

Cheryl A. Hyde

Feminist macro practice is based on principles derived from the political and social analyses of women’s movements in the United States and abroad. As a practice approach, feminism emphasizes gendered analyses and solutions, democratized structures and processes, diversity and inclusivity, linking personal situations with political solutions, and transformative actions. Feminist practice is in concert with a multisystemic approach; it complements and extends strength-based social work. It requires that the practitioner be relational and open to other ways of knowing and understanding.

Article

Patterson, Sybil Agatha  

Dionne V. Frank

Sybil Agatha Patterson—AA (July 9, 1924–December 5, 2017) was a Guyanese social work pioneer known across the Anglophone Caribbean region for her contributions to social work education, community development, and women’s rights activism. In 1986, the Government of Guyana awarded her the Golden Arrow of Achievement (AA) for her contributions to social work, women’s research studies, and women’s development programs. Sybil Patterson was also a scholar and an adviser on social development to governments, the region’s nongovernmental sector, and international organizations. Her noble contributions to social work education and practice in Guyana impacted many professionals, who resultantly called her the matriarch of social work.

Article

African American Social Welfare History  

Iris Carlton-LaNey

This article discusses the African American social welfare system that began to develop during the early 20th century. This social welfare system, designed by African Americans to serve African Americans, addressed needs that were not being met by any other formal social services while the nascent social work profession was emerging. The myriad programs included settlement houses, boys and girls programs, training schools, and day nurseries. The women’s club movement played a critical role in the development of this social welfare system and provided much of the impetus for change and inclusion. Through formal organizations, including the National Urban League (NUL) and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), and an array of clubs and social groups, social services were extended to urban and rural communities throughout the United States.

Article

Chisholm, Shirley  

Tanya Smith Brice

Shirley Chisholm (1924–2005) was a political leader and activist best known as the first African American woman elected to the US House of Representatives and the first African American to seek the Democratic Party nomination for US President.

Article

Brown, W. Gertrude  

Sadye L. M. Logan

Willie G. Brown, later known as W. Gertrude Brown (1888–1939), was a phenomenal woman and an activist for racial justice and the rights of women and children.

Article

Maathai, Wangari M.  

Sunny Sinha

Wangari Muta Maathai (1940–2011) was an environmentalist and human rights activist, internationally recognized as the founder of Green Belt Movement in Kenya. She was also the first black woman and first environmentalist to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.