Feminism: The Common Denominator

Feminism: The Common Denominator

The Community Fund for Women & Girls 2017 Annual Meeting. 

Our Annual Meeting in June was an enthusiastic conversation with feminists Linda Sarsour, activist and co-chair of the Women’s March, and Rebecca Traister, author of All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation

The two, moderated by The Community Foundation’s Board Chair Kica Matos, examined the current status of the feminist movement and what needs to be done to make feminism a core value in political and social change within our nation.

“The circumstances we’re living in are so perilous; so many are vulnerable,” Traister said, asserting that this is the latest cycle of progress and backlashes that have occurred in the United States for generations.

Fortunately, the commitment to advancing the status of the most vulnerable women and girls in our community has never been stronger.

When announcing the Fund’s 2017 grant recipients, Advisory Board Chair Janna Wagner said, “We are delighted to see so many organizations approaching their work through a gender justice lens and we know that their work will improve the wellbeing of our entire community.” In total, the fund awarded  $130,950 to ten local nonprofits advancing gender equity in Greater New Haven.

Sarsour and Traister agreed that local activism, supporting women and women-led organizations in our neighborhoods, towns and regions can be the most productive and powerful. This support also needs to transcend issues that tend to divide us, such as reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, religious freedoms and criminal justice concerns.

“Often times, we are not self-reflective in the way we do organizing in the feminist movement,” Sarsour commented. “It not only puts people in the margins, but it makes us feel like we’re saving other people who may not asked us to save them. We actually take away
the agency of other women because, apparently, when we have more rights than other women, we are superior to those women.”

The takeaways from this inspirational event were simple:

  • Make an effort to meet and know your neighbors;
  • Learn and remember what this movement is about and what it stands for, not just against; and
  • Take care to ensure that women of color are represented and vocal.

“My call to you is to keep making the conversation better and stronger, “ Traister said. “Stay aware when the women around you are being told to quiet down, to keep pushing each other to be better at making this conversation smarter.”

“I think there are different ways to build power and running for office is definitely one of them,” Sarsour said, after an audience member asked if she would consider running for President. “There has been a lot of progress; I think we will definitely see a lot more women of color running for office.”

“It’s very important that we think about, with compassion and empathy, people who don’t agree with us,” Traister said. “I think that, in part, it’s not just thinking about what you are against, but making robust, humane and empathetic cases about what you are for. Telling the story of what you believe and why, making a positive case for your own story, knowing that people are going to disagree. Maybe we don’t agree, but communication doesn’t have to be so hard, because it doesn’t have to be combat.”

Learn more about the grants awarded and see a video of the event at www.fundforwomenandgirls.org.

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