Three black congresswomen announced the formation of a functioning political body that will work to diminish and the socioeconomic hardships that disproportionately affect black women and girls. The Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls is the first caucus of its kind and was recently confirmed by U.S. Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.) in a press release, according to the Root

“Black women and girls are disproportionately affected by myriad [of] socioeconomic issues that diminish their quality of life and threaten the well-being of their families and communities,” Rep. Kelly said in the release. “The Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls gives black women a seat at the table for the crucial discussion on the policies that impact them while also providing a framework for creating opportunities and eliminating barriers to success for black women.”

Providing a voice that speaks for black women when policy is being formed, and not afterwards when the issues have already arisen, will be important in accomplishing the caucus’ mission.

“Black women deserve a voice in a policy making process that frequently minimizes, or altogether ignores the systemic challenges they face,” Rep. Watson Coleman said in the release. “This caucus will speak up for them.”

Huffington Post Black Voices reports that the introduction of the caucus came after a petition was started by an activist group called the #SheWoke committee, which is completely comprised of black women. Among the members of the committee are Ifeoma Ike, Nakisha M. Lewis, Tiffany D. Hightower, Shambulia Gadsden Sams, Sharisse Stancil-Ashford, Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever and Sharon Cooper, sister of the late Sandra Bland, who died in police custody in July 2015.

“March 22nd will undoubtedly be an emotionally charged day for my family,” said Cooper in the release. “Brian Encinia, the officer charged with perjury in my sister Sandra’s case, will be arraigned in a Texas court the same day. Sandra’s case has served as the reverberating wake up call that we cannot treat these situations as one-offs or isolated incidents.”

While noticeable strides have been taken to provide a voice to the black community overall – with an emphasis on the male population like in the My Brother’s Keeper initiative – many felt that black women weren’t given enough significance.

“We want to get everyone, including our sisters, aware of where we statistically fall within these issues. Knowledge is definitely power,” Ike told The Huffington Post. “We’re looking at this space as one of idea-sharing and policy creation. We’re making sure we’re included as a demographic that deserves to be addressed.”


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