By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
While working as a teacher in Newark, New Jersey Jade Kearney got pregnant with her first daughter. As a Black woman, Kearney was acutely concerned about her labor because of the long history of poor maternal health outcomes.
Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. They also often face racial bias in pain assessment and treatment, making them less likely to be prescribed pain medication or receiving lower doses of medicine when it is prescribed.
“Throughout my pregnancy I was so afraid to have a baby as a Black woman because of the epidemic of Black maternal mortality and infant mortality, so I was in constant worry,” said Kearney.” After having my daughter, I just decided to do something about it because I certainly wasn’t the only person who was experiencing this kind of distress and this kind of invisibility in healthcare.”
Kearney, along with Marguerite Pierce, founded She Matters in 2020 as a digital health platform designed to support Black women who experience postpartum comorbidities like depression, anxiety disorders, hemorrhaging and preeclampsia.
The company collaborates with hospital networks to train healthcare providers in cultural competence so they can better treat and support Black women patients.
It also provides women with community through virtual and live events with other Black mothers, various postpartum resources, culturally-competent therapy and “The Pink Book,” an interactive map that marks the safest hospitals across 14 states with the largest African-American populations.
Since its launch, She Matters has grown from 25 women in its maternal ecosystem to over 10,000 women. Hospitals have also increasingly looked to the company to glean guidance on improving Black maternal morbidities within their institutions, which Kearney said has been the most rewarding part of this work.
“Black women often suffer in silence, so
] is a place for them to have community and really to validate their diverse experiences as Black mothers,” said Kearney.
As a Black female tech founder, Kearney battled to earn respect and acknowledgment from venture capital firms and other White founders. She didn’t want other Black female founders to experience this contempt, so she created Black Girl’s Tech Day last October to expose them to professional resources, other founders, mentorship and funding opportunities.
This year’s Black Girl’s Tech Day will take place on July 23 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Kearney intends to hold the event in different major cities across the world to reach more Black women across the diaspora.
At the end of the summer, Kearney will launch We Matter as a parent company for She Matters, as well as the soon-to-be established Ella Importa for Hispanic women.
Then, over the next three years, Kearney will also create platforms for Native American women and LGBTQ+ women.
“I want people to know that I am all about my community,” said Kearney.
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