2018 Women & Girls Fund Annual Meeting - Powerful Voices: Strengthening the Individual and the Community

Activist Tarana Burke, the 2006 founder of the "me too." Movement, spoke at the Community Fund for Women & Girls 2018 Annual Meeting and Convening

Tarana Burke Brings "me too" Conversation to New Haven

The Community Fund for Women & Girls 2018 Annual Meeting and Convening welcomed guest Tarana Burke, founder of the "me too." Movement and one of Time magazine's 2017 Person of the Year "Silence Breakers." The event, held in collaboration with the Yale Office of Diversity and Inclusion and partners from the New Haven Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Theta Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., brought together a diverse audience of community members and donors.

A senior director of programs at Girls for Gender Equity, Burke has dedicated more than 25 years of her life to social justice and to laying the groundwork for a movement that was initially created to help young women of color who survived sexual abuse and assault.

During her onstage conversation at Yale Law School's Levinson Auditorium with Dr. Khalilah Brown-Dean, vice chair of The Community Foundation's Board of Directors, Burke spoke about her work to help survivors of sexual violence heal and thrive. She also called for using the collective power of the global #MeToo phenomenon to dismantle environments that allow sexual assault to happen.

"me too" Movement founder Tarana Burke speaks about standing up to sexual violence with The Commmunity Foundation Vice Chair Khalilah Brown-Dean at the 2018 Community Fund for Women & Girls Annual Meeting and Convening

What We Heard

Voices of Survivors Are Central

Burke said the movement came out of her work to support and provide resources for young girls of color who were survivors of sexual abuse and assault. When #MeToo went viral on social media, she saw an opportunity to connect the movement to all survivors. "Sexual violence touches every demographic," Burke said. "The people who raised their hands and said 'me too' had a lived experience."

Leadership Development of Young Girls is Key

Burke emphasized the importance of giving young girls, particularly black and brown girls, the tools to fight against sexual violence – especially building a fundamental sense of self-worth, to fuel esteem and leadership development.

Change is the Goal – Not Outing Powerful Men

While the media's coverage of #MeToo has centered on the downfall of famous men, Burke said the focus of the movement is on survivors, not perpetrators. The goal is not to target individuals, but change environments and cultural norms that give rise to sexual violence in the first place. These perpetrators were "in an ecosystem that enabled their behavior," Burke said.

A Message to Men About Complicity

To men concerned about how to act around women since #MeToo, Burke has a simple answer: "Use common sense." Burke also encouraged men to take a more active role in changing the environments that perpetuate the devaluing of women. "Do better," she said. "Don't let the men around you promote rape culture."

What We Can Do

Continue the Conversation

The "me too." Movement includes everyone. Continued conversations on an individual and in a group level – including in men-only spaces, in workplaces and in communities – are needed to change environments that enable sexual violence.

Be an Ally with Awareness

Be inclusive when speaking up against sexual violence. Make sure the voices of the most marginalized and vulnerable people are heard.

Support the Fund for Women & Girls


View the Photo Gallery

Selected images from the June 18 event

Watch the Video

Featuring highlights of the discussion

About the Community Fund For Women & Girls

The Community Fund for Women & Girls is Greater New Haven's only endowment promoting the social and economic advancement of women and girls. Learn more at fundforwomenandgirls.org

Additional Resources

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Special thanks to our partners: the New Haven Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Theta Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappy Alpha Sorority, Yale Office of Diversity and Inclusion and all the volunteers who helped plan this event, including Lourdes Alvarez, Khalilah Brown-Dean, Yolanda Caldera Durant, Anne Godsey, Regina Mullings, Shelly Saczynski, Tressa Spears Jackson, Deborah Stanley-McAulay, Nicole Then and Diane Turner.