The United States is the only wealthy country in which rates of illness and death during pregnancy are on the rise. Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. For decades, policy makers have paid little attention to this human rights crisis. We can do better.

The Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) is a Black women-led cross-sectoral alliance. We center Black mamas to advocate, drive research, build power, and shift culture for Black maternal health, rights, and justice.

We envision a world where Black mamas have the rights, respect, and resources to thrive before, during, and after pregnancy.

As an alliance, BMMA aims to:

  • Change policy: introduce and advance policy grounded in the human rights framework that addresses Black maternal health inequity and improves Black maternal health outcomes
  • Cultivate research: leverage the talent and knowledge that exists in Black communities and cultivate innovative research methods to inform the policy agenda to improve Black maternal health
  • Advance care for Black mamas: explore, introduce, and enhance holistic and comprehensive approaches to Black mamas’ care
  • Shift culture: redirect and reframe the conversation on Black maternal health and amplify the voices of Black mamas
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The Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) is led by a five-member steering committee of leaders in the fields of maternal health, human rights, and reproductive justice. The alliance is anchored by SisterSong Reproductive Justice collective, and the Center for Reproductive Rights is a key strategic partner. The two organizations co-founded Black Mamas Matter in June 2015 following their collaboration on a human rights report, Reproductive Injustice: Racial and Gender Discrimination in U.S. Health Care, and a convening of experts on maternal health in Atlanta, Georgia.

BMMA formalized its alliance and steering committee structure in November 2016.

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We Believe Black Mamas Matter
We value Black women’s lives, knowledge, and leadership. We trust Black women and prioritize Black women’s voices. We recognize, celebrate, and support Black mamas – those who care for and mother our families and communities – whether they are trans, cis, or gender non-conforming. We stand in solidarity with all Black mamas.

We Fight for Racial Justice
We center the people and communities that are most affected by poor maternal health outcomes. We acknowledge the role of race and racism in maternal health outcomes, care, and policy. We work for racial equity and the empowerment of Black people within and beyond the health system.

We Demand Reproductive Justice
We align with the reproductive justice movement, which centers women of color in the struggle to recognize the human rights of every woman to: decide whether, when, and under which conditions she will reproduce; have a baby or end a pregnancy; and parent the children she has with the necessary social supports in safe environments and healthy communities, without fear of discrimination or violence.

We Recognize Intersectional Oppression
We recognize that people live at the intersections of race, gender, and class and experience multiple forms of discrimination as a result of their individual context. We believe that racialized, gendered, environmental, and economic experiences influence maternal health outcomes, and that to improve maternal health we have to address all axes of oppression.

We Demand Government Accountability and Policy Change
We hold our government accountable at every level — global, federal, state, and local — as we pursue policy change to improve Black maternal health, rights, and justice. We believe that Black people must be active participants in the policy decisions that impact their lives.

We Foster Collaboration
We encourage cross-sectoral collaboration to address racial disparities in maternal health and to implement a vision of maternal health that respects, protects, and fulfills Black women’s human rights. We recognize that the challenges we face are multiple and complex, and we strive to be inclusive of diverse stakeholders and viewpoints. We recognize the value of sharing information across disciplines and geographies, and of working together toward shared goals of health, equity, dignity, and bodily autonomy in maternal health.

We Respect Community Knowledge and Leadership
We support community mobilization, community-building, and community-driven solutions. Too often, Black women are not recognized for the work they are doing to improve the health and well-being of our communities. We celebrate Black women’s ingenuity and resourcefulness. We acknowledge black women’s traditional, cultural, and historical contributions to maternal health and birthing practices. We also recognize and respect differences between contexts and within communities, as well as the need for locally-tailored strategies.

We Lead with Love & Generosity
We love Black mamas and approach this work with generosity towards all who are working for Black maternal health, rights, and justice. There is much to do; we need many voices and perspectives at the table.

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The Black Mamas Matter toolkit is a resource for advocates who are concerned about the health and well-being of black women and girls. It takes a human rights based approach to maternal health, identifying the rights of pregnant and birthing women and the corresponding role of government to ensure safe and respectful maternal health care for all. Released in June 2016, the toolkit was produced by the Center for Reproductive Rights in partnership with members of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance.

Download all PDF components (.zip file) or preview individually:

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In partnership with members of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, the Center for Reproductive Rights produced fact sheets on Black women’s maternal health in specific Southern states. Contact us for information about how to use these fact sheets, or with requests to produce resources on a particular state, sub-population, or emerging policy area of maternal health.