I’m an OBGYN and I practice at a jail, where I take care of incarcerated women.

People often ask me, how did you come to work with incarcerated women? I was in the middle of my first year residency, delivering a baby. Everything was very familiar about the delivery scene; the nervousness, wondering if everything was going to be okay, helping the woman to push. But the one thing that was different is that she was shackled to the bed; she was a prisoner. And that moment troubled me so deeply that I developed an interest in learning more about these women.

Women make up a much smaller proportion of the correctional population than men — about 9% of everyone who is incarcerated. And 62% of [those] women are mothers to children who are less than 18 years old. Because women comprise such a small proportion, their gender-specific needs have been neglected. That’s particularly salient when it comes to their healthcare.

In theory, women do have the choice to have an abortion if they learn they are pregnant when they are in prison. There are constitutional guarantees — the 8th and the 14th amendments — and a number of judicial precedents, so it’s very clear that incarcerated women should have access to abortion. However, in practice, the people who are making the decisions have incredible discretion and many women lack access to abortion if they choose it.

About 1400-2000 births occur every year to women who are behind bars, and what they get for prenatal care is highly variable. There are standards that require prisons to have prenatal care onsite, but on the ground, some women have to be transported offsite and some women don’t even get prenatal care.

In labor, they usually get transported to an outside hospital. They can’t have any family support members in the room, and only 15 states have laws restricting the shackling of women in labor and delivery. A woman in labor, shackled, is what inspired me to work with this population. It’s inhumane and unnecessary, and it poses a lot of medical risks to the mother and the fetus. It also interferes with our ability to do emergent interventions if necessary.

People think prisons and jails are far away and we forget about the people who get locked up inside; we think they have nothing to do with us. So I hope I’ve given you some things to consider about what it’s like to be a woman when you’re in the grip of the prison or jail system.

From Dr. Carolyn Sufrin’s talk on incarcerated women and reproductive healthcare. Filmed at TEDxInnerSunset. 

Watch the full talk here »

Hey girl, let’s snuggle and watch feminist TEDx talks together

So, you know all those times when you’re sitting at home and, all of a sudden, you’re struck with the thought, “Oh, no! My date — Feminist Ryan Gosling — is coming over at 7:00, and I have nothing planned for us to do!” Right? Right. We know.

For all your feminist-dream-lover, last-minute-date-planning needs, 3 of our favorite feminist talks (and a dreamy picture we made just for you):

The sexy lie: Caroline Heldman at TEDxYouth@SanDiego

The scene: As you watch Caroline Heldman bust out some A+ feminist theory all over the TEDx stage, Feminist Ryan Gosling will look over at you and say, “The only thing I want to objectify is this moment, so I can carry it with me wherever I go.” Then you’ll get ice cream. Mint chocolate chip.

Inspiring the next generation of female engineers: Debbie Sterling at TEDxPSU

The scene: You and Feminist Ryan Gosling will discuss your shared anger about the disparity between the number of male and female engineers in the US, comparing plans to make STEM fields more inclusive. Over a big slice of vegetarian pizza, he’ll admit that he backed Sterling’s GoldieBlox Kickstarter campaign so his niece will have a toy that she can really believe in. Sigh.

How movies teach manhood: Colin Stokes at TEDxBeaconStreet

The scene: As Colin Stokes discusses the (often depressingly anti-feminist) messages that movies send to young boys and girls, you and Feminist Ryan Gosling will make a batch of banana bread and try to name a movie you’ve both seen that passes the Bechdel Test. Things will get a little weird when you realize it’s The Last Exorcism Part II, but hey, The Notebook did sorta maybe pass.

Want to help prevent domestic violence? Join our live Twitter chat with Jackson Katz

image(whyfeminismstillmatters)

**Want to help prevent domestic violence? Join our live Twitter chat with Jackson Katz on Monday, October 21 at 3pm ET.**


In the US alone, one in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime, and nearly three million men are victims of physical assaults.

Those are staggering figures, and TEDx speaker Jackson Katz is determined to make sure they change. The author, filmmaker (his latest film was just released yesterday!), gender violence prevention educator, and anti-sexism activist is a tough-looking former football player who became the first male to ever receive a women’s studies minor at University of Massachusetts Amherst (true story!), and now works with thousands of people — high school students, Marines, professional athletes, corporate leaders — to help them understand how to put gender violence in its place. That is, away completely.

We got tons of questions after his talk at TEDxFidiWomen last year (we’re still getting them, in fact!), so in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Jackson Katz will answer as many of your questions as he can.

Please join us on MONDAY, OCTOBER 21 at 3pm ET for a live Twitter chat with Jackson Katz. You can follow the conversation with the hashtag #TEDxChat, or check out the @TEDx feed.  

We want your questions, your comments, your ideas — everything you’ve ever wanted to ask a male, anti-sexist, feminist activist about life, culture, and everything in between — so bring ‘em on. What do you want to ask?

This December, TEDWomen and TEDxWomen events explore the stakes for women today

imageWhat does it mean to be a woman in 2013? This winter, more than 100 TEDxWomen events around the world will explore just that — joining TED and the Paley Center for Media in a celebration of the female inventors and designers, thinkers and makers, local problem-solvers and global leaders who are changing the world today.

In San Francisco, TED, partnered with the Paley Center for Media, will present TEDWomen 2013: Invented Here on December 5, bringing a host of speakers to California to explore topics like technology, art, solutions to poverty, approaches to peacemaking, investigations of science, education, and innovation.

In countries and cities worldwide, the conversation sparked at TEDWomen will expand, as TEDxWomen events in places like Belfast, Barcelona, and Belgrade share the TEDWomen livestream and invite local speakers to bring their own ideas to the theme, “Invented Here.” The result? A truly global conversation — from San Francisco to London to Beijing — celebrating strong, enterprising, change-making women everywhere.

Women are so often the creative powerhouses driving progress, and the active force crystallizing change in communities worldwide, and TEDWomen and TEDxWomen events are sure to provide groundbreaking ideas from such innovators. From small, local solutions to global movements, the power of women’s invention is visible in every region, in every field.

The full lineup of TEDWomen speakers is yet to be announced, but follow the TEDWomen Facebook and website for all updates.

To take part in this global conversation yourself, sign up to host a TEDxWomen livestreaming event, or find a TEDxWomen event near you to attend. 

»Be sure to follow TEDxWomen on Facebook or Twitter.»