Changing the Culture: Four Organizations Transforming How We Think about Gender

Launching the Culture Change Fund this year with our partners was one of the highlights of our 2019, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. This year, we saw and have been inspired by countless courageous women, like the US Women’s Soccer Team, Chanel Miller, the activists fighting against abortion bans across the country, and many more, who are speaking out against a toxic culture that marginalizes women. 

By changing our culture, we can create a society that is more open to legislative and political change. We strongly believe that policy and culture change need to go hand in hand in order to create a world where all women and girls can thrive. 

Here in California, the Women’s Foundation is proud to support groups that are organizing for culture change and integrating cultural strategy into their work. Here are four of our grantees who are accelerating shifts in our culture and leading the way in changing how we talk and think about gender.

Center for Cultural Power

The Center for Cultural Power is an initiative led by artists of color who are driving social change by incubating and amplifying artists and storytellers who have long been excluded from mainstream culture. Their work supports other artists of color, immigrant and undocumented artists, disabled artists, transgender artists, indigenous artists, and women artists–important voices from communities that have long been excluded from mainstream culture. And the stories their artists tell range from migration, climate chaos, and gender, racial and cultural justice. 

The mainstream art world may have been dominated for centuries by white, male elites, but the Center for Cultural Power is making sure that our new culture is created by people as diverse as the people who consume it. 

Forward Together

Forward Together builds the courage of leaders – women of color, non-binary people of color, and Indigenous people – to transform the culture of shame and stigma that prevents so many people from claiming their voice and power. They use art, media and storytelling to counter misrepresentation of our communities and unapologetically tell the truths of their own lives. Echoing Ida is one of their programs and it focuses on connecting Black women and non-binary writers to tell overlooked stories and  empower communities.

In addition, their Art as Power program engages an Artist-in-Residence, Micah Bazant, who works with social justice movements to reimagine the world and create art inspired by struggles to decolonize ourselves from white supremacy, patriarchy, ableism and the gender binary.

Equal Rights Advocates

We know that policy and culture must work hand-in-hand to make harmful behaviors not only illegal – but unacceptable. That’s what’s driven the Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) to fight for gender justice in workplaces and schools since 1974. One of their programs, End Sexual Violence in Education, specifically tackles sexual and gender-based violence against college students in the US. Recent studies have shown that more than 1 in 5 women will be the victim of a sexual assault or attempted assault before graduating from college, and sexual violence affects 24% of transgender and nonbinary students.

Through the initiative, ERA has launched the nation’s first network of pro bono attorneys dedicated to helping college student survivors, and they help train and support these volunteer lawyers to assist student survivors with understanding their legal rights, figure out their school’s complaint and investigation policies, and weigh their options.

By shining a light on a critical issue, ERA is empowering survivors and helping to enforce laws that will change campus culture for the better. 

Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project

The Mixteco/Indígena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) is based in Ventura County, which is currently home to about 20,000 Mixtec and indigenous immigrants. Most of them are strawberry farmworkers, and many primarily speak their indigenous language. 

In order to fill a linguistic and informational gap for indigenous Mexicans living and working in Ventura County, MICOP founded Radio Indigena, a radio station that provides the community with a creative outlet. Radio Indigena broadcasts in indigenous languages, providing a voice for a community that too often experiences social isolation and disenfranchisement where they live.

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