How I’ll Fight for a Healthier Boston: Annissa Essaibi-George
By Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts | Oct. 10, 2015, 3:53 p.m.
The Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund is proud to endorse Annissa Essaibi-George for Boston City Council At-Large! We asked her a few questions so you could hear directly from her about her dedication to reproductive rights, comprehensive sexuality education, and a healthier future for the city of Boston.
Why are reproductive rights and access to women’s health care important to you?
As a mom, a high school teacher, and the oldest of three sisters in my family, I know how crucial it is to give women adequate access to the health care necessary to live a safe and fulfilling life. I believe that all women, regardless of their sexual identity, age, race, or class should have access to high quality health care. But for far too long, we see politicians try to intervene and restrict that access. We’re seeing it right now – both here in Massachusetts and on Capitol Hill.
I have benefited from reproductive medicine, and I am well aware of the advances in women’s health that have given people like me the ability to have a family. Without these advancements in women’s health, I would not have my four beautiful sons.
You’ve been a Boston Public School teacher for the past 13 years. Why do you think Boston’s young people need access to comprehensive and inclusive sexuality education – and what will you do to increase access as a Boston City Councilor?
As a BPS high school teacher at East Boston High School, I have seen firsthand the need for young people to have increased access to education and services that will allow them to live safer and healthier lives. Many of my students are immigrants, come from single-parent households, or live in poverty. It is of the utmost importance that the Boston Public Schools educates our young people holistically so that they will be able to become healthy and well-educated adults. On the City Council, Councilor Ayanna Pressley has done incredible work to advance these goals, and I am excited to work with her and other allies to make sure all of our students have age-appropriate, sexual health education.
How will you tackle health disparities in the city of Boston and better ensure all of its residents have the resources they need to stay healthy?
Addressing racial and ethnic health disparities in Boston is crucial to making our city a better place to live for all of our residents. First, we need to prioritize funding for programs that are proven effective. This includes, but is not limited to, ensuring that every school is equipped with a social worker and nurse (or other health care professional). We need to expand education and outreach to our most at-risk populations and focus more on direct community outreach, including adequate outreach to non-English speaking communities. The City must also increasingly look to partnerships with the tremendous resource of Boston’s community health centers, hospitals and non-profit organizations. While prevention is crucial to addressing these disparities, we also must ensure that those who are impacted by teen pregnancy, STI’s, lack of healthy food options, and more, are given a wealth of resources so they can have access to educational opportunities and social mobility.
Any last thoughts you want to share with potential Boston voters?
There is a lot at stake in this year’s Boston City Council election. More than half of all Bostonians are women, yet only two out of thirteen Boston City Councilors are women (that’s 15% of the Council). This year, we have the historic opportunity to double women’s representation on the City Council. As a teacher in the Boston Public Schools, the owner of a small business called The Stitch House, and a mom raising four boys in the City, I will bring a unique perspective to City government. I am also the daughter of immigrants from North Africa and Eastern Europe, and I think that government is strengthened when elected officials bring different life experiences to the table. I hope to earn your vote on November 3rd so I can get to work on the issues that matter most to us as Bostonians.