Women’s rights was the unsurprising theme across Forbes Power Women’s Summit in New York this week. But one issue above all others was prevalent across three sessions: women’s health, including reproductive access and rights.
“On this planet, 80 million are having their period at the exact same time,” Karla Welch, The Period Abundance Foundation cofounder and The Period Company cofounder and CEO, stated during her spotlight session. She added that “30 million of those people don’t have access to period products and it’s not in faraway lands.”
For those 30 million people, period products are the first household expense people will give up, Welch added.
Half of the world’s population struggles to access menstruation care, a natural cycle integral to reproduction. Founders of global fertility care platform Carrot Fertility and feminine care company The Honey Pot Company furthered the conversation by sharing their perspectives as founders in a separate section of women’s health and care.
Both leaders encouraged investors to invest not only in female-founded companies, but in the future of women’s healthcare.
Carrot Fertility cofounder and chief medical officer Dr. Asima Ahmad and The Honey Pot Company CEO, cofounder and chief innovation officer Beatrice Dixon shared the stories of how they created their companies, stemming from issues they as women faced in their own experiences and what they’re looking for in the products they use.
“Clean and organic is the new conventional,” Dixon said. “I think that that actually does something for the medical system because it helps you to take control of your health.”
Ahmad called out the maternity deserts and the lack of maternity care and fertility care resources among women who believe processes such as freezing eggs are untenable because of the expense tied to it.
Fertility and reproductive rights have been at the forefront of political contention the past few years, namely in the repeal of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and the subsequent state-by-state legislation targeting abortion access.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund president and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson addressed the turmoil in conversation with Academy award-winning actress and activist Ariana DeBose.
“We know the next year is going to be so critical for people who believe in reproductive freedom to show up,” Johnson said. “We know we’re going to keep fighting state-by-state regardless, ballot-by-ballot. We know that we have a long way to go to get our rights back into the Constitution that was overturned last year when the court said to us we are no longer free and equal.”
In light of the ongoing legislation, Johnson and DeBose highlighted the purpose and power of speaking up against increasing limitations and supporting the people and organizations fighting for those rights.
Specifically, Johnson underscored the importance of the relationship between corporations and democracy, being the voice in the ear of the “old white men” in power.
“It cuts across demographics, it cuts across gender, across parties,” Johnson said. “What we have to do is own the fact that this is a majoritarian issue with a very small minority of largely old white men who are making these decisions.”
While many celebrities are vocal about their support for or against controversially deemed issues such as abortion, DeBose shared that her personal reason for speaking up as a public figure is rooted in speaking her truth — something she’s never regretted doing.
“You have to do more. You have to leverage what is actually practical. You have to care. You have to try and you have to ask questions,” DeBose shared. “If I want to safeguard my own rights I need to care about the rights of others.”
This article originally appeared on PRWeek US.