June 28th, 2018
Written by Shani Ealey, Communications Manager, WFC
This month, we have seen egregious attacks on the basic rights of people living across the US. We have seen families torn apart as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and the continued detention of immigrant families. We have also witnessed continued efforts across the nation to restrict women’s access to abortion care and reproductive health services. These types of restrictive and exclusionary policies are completely unnecessary and serve as a salient reminder that we still have so much work to do. We have to remain vigilant in our work to break down the systems, institutions and powers that continue to marginalize and discriminate against others simply because of difference. We are reminded, now more than ever, that advancing gender justice must be a priority.
Slowly, but surely this is happening. And it is because of women, young folks, queer and trans folks, women of color, immigrants, low-wage folks, those who are differently abled, those of us who are mothers and caregivers. We are speaking out. We are demanding change. We are demanding equity. We are demanding justice.
Women of color, queer and trans folks and young folks have always dedicated their gifts and experiences to address societal injustices. Now is no different. Earlier this month we saw women make significant gains during the state primary elections. According to NBC News, 59 U.S. women political candidates won big in the primary races that took place on June 5th. Ms Magazine reported that a historic number of women (about 600) are running or have said they’ll run for governor, House or Senate this year. From London Breed, the first African American woman to be elected to mayor for San Francisco, to Deb Haaland (Democratic primary winner for New Mexico) who, if she wins, would become the first Native American woman in Congress—women are affirmatively taking up space in an arena historically dominated by cisgender, heterosexual white men. And let’s not forget about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who unexpectedly ousted 10-term Congressman, Democrat Joe Crowley and could be the youngest woman elected to congress. Women across the nation are walking in the footsteps of those who’ve come before us and using our political voice to create and advocate for policies that empower and strengthen our communities.
There is no question about it. Now is our time!
From those running for office to community-based efforts to get people involved with the voting process, women are amplifying their voices and asserting their political agency. One of the most effective ways to to get people engaged in the political process is through Integrated Voter Engagement (IVE). Our grant partners ACT for Women and Girls, Black Women for Wellness and, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice have been training young community members to reach out to their peers in a continuous ongoing effort to register people to vote, educate potential voters on election issues. These young leaders also work to ensure that misinformation and intimidation don’t stop people from voting.
ACT for Women and Girls, is committed to eradicating the oppression that lies deep in the roots of Tulare County and the surrounding Central Valley area. According to youth leader Vivian Sanchez, voting “is important because women will be able to have a say in their life. We will be able to have control over our body. We can handle our body without someone telling us how to take care of it. It is important that we get to choose the life that we want to live.” For the past year, ACT for Women and Girls has actively engaged in mobilizing their community to address the issues impacting the Central Valley community. Strengthening the leadership of women and girls so that they are able to make decisions for themselves is critical to their work. By bringing in new voters from underrepresented communities and keeping them engaged beyond election cycles, our grant partners and their allies are advancing and changing the political climate throughout California, making new policy changes possible.
We are not going to stand for xenophobic and exclusionary policies that prevent families from staying together. We are not going to stand for restrictive policies that strip away one’s ability to decide what to do with their bodies. Collectively women, girls, mothers, women of color, immigrants and queer and trans folks are asserting that we will not stand for the status quo. We will not settle for what has been historically normalized. We are standing together, committed to fighting for gender justice and working toward building a world where we are all healthy, safe and economically secure.