Inspired by her own experience with a lack of reproductive-health support, Boma Brown founded Support Network for Indigenous Women & Women of Colour (SNIWWOC) after recognizing a need for non-judgmental, culturally sensitive and comprehensive sexual and reproductive-health services for BIPOC women.
Boma found that behind the curtain of healthcare, the reality is that racism and cultural bias act as a barrier to the access of equitable treatment for Indigenous women and women of colour in Canada. Statistically, both groups experience a disproportionately high rate of sexually transmitted infections, teenage pregnancies and sexual violence. The bottom line is that Boma seeks to empower racialized women and their experiences with healthcare.
By joining forces with local advocates and other non-profit organizations, her group brings communities together to tackle systemic issues affecting women’s health and collaboratively develop solutions. A distinct trailblazer in her community, Boma was also a recipient of the Emerging Leader Award at the B.C. Multiculturalism and Anti-racism Awards in 2020.
Originating in Victoria, B.C., in 2014, Support Network for Indigenous Women & Women of Colour (SNIWWOC) grew out of a need to empower racialized women by addressing barriers that limit access to reproductive health care and reproductive justice. The initiative recognizes that interconnected factors, including systemic racism, sexism and economic status, vastly impact a woman’s experience with the health-care system and the quality of care she receives.
Through a holistic and integrated model, SNIWWOC offers a range of services, such as one-on-one counselling, peer support for mental and reproductive health crises, and advocacy support during medical appointments that assist over 2,000 individuals a year. Currently operating through staff and volunteers situated in three Canadian cities, the initiative promptly moved services online with the demand of COVID-19 restrictions in 2020.
Throughout the year, the organization hosted numerous successful virtual events and seminars, including a four-week workshop during Domestic Violence Awareness Month on gender-based violence, which has increased during the pandemic. With plans to utilize digital tools in order to expand its reach among BIPOC women, two-spirit and non-binary individuals and share their stories, SNIWWOC is set to launch a health-care app and podcast in 2021.