What Women Want, What the Country Needs:

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Erin Smith esmith@ms.foundation.org 512-203-6206 (mobile)

Ms. Foundation for Women

What Women Want, What the Country Needs:

Grassroots Activists, Journalists and National Leaders Shine Spotlight on Women's Priorities and Community-based Solutions at DNC

DENVER - The
Ms. Foundation for Women
today brings together grassroots
activists, national policy advocates and journalists at the Democratic National
Convention to promote women's community-based solutions to address our
country's most pressing needs.
  

 

On the eve of the 3rd Anniversary of
Hurricane Katrina, Sara K. Gould, President & CEO of the Ms. Foundation, is
hosting a roundtable discussion, "
What
Women Want: Journalists and Activists Connect Stories and Solutions
," in
collaboration with Women's eNews, just blocks away from the convention, at Big
Tent Denver.

 

Panelists, including grassroots activists from New
Orleans, Providence and Denver, and leaders of organizations like the National
Coalition Against Domestic Violence, are addressing the impact of the economy,
post-Katrina recovery and other key issues on women-particularly low-income
women and women of color, who are hardest hit in times of crisis. They are also
offering cutting-edge solutions-grounded in the experiences and expertise of
women themselves.

This is
a rare moment where grassroots women's voices are front and center during the
Democratic National Convention.

 

Sara K.
Gould


of the Ms. Foundation
says,
"In communities across the U.S., women who know first-hand the impacts of
poverty and discrimination are forging unique strategies to meet people's most
basic needs. This is especially true of women who face the multiple barriers of
gender, race
and
class: low-income
women and women of color. But their personal experience confronting these
challenges makes them best positioned to ignite positive change. And when the
priorities of women are met, those of their families and communities are as well."

Grassroots Perspectives

Hurricane
Katrina

put in stark relief why women's leadership is so critical to the health
and well-being of entire communities.
Althea
Francois
, Lead Organizer of
Safe
Streets/Strong Communities
, a Ms. Foundation grantee in
New Orleans
, underscores why support
for women-and women's solutions-are so important. Three years after the storms,
"those who can't come back-who are locked out of the city, really-are women,
especially single mothers and grandmothers, like me." Francois sees this in
cities across the country: "Whether it's a hurricane or a home foreclosure,
women are the first to suffer-and continue to suffer-when things go wrong."

But she's promoting solutions, despite the
challenges she and her family continue to face: "Women like me who have managed
to stay, we're still struggling to survive," says Francois. "But we've got to
stay and fight to make change so that our friends and our families can come
home."

Mary
Kay Harris

of
Direct
Action for Rights and Equality (DARE)
, also a Ms. Foundation grantee, adds,
"New Orleans isn't alone. In Providence, we're facing the same issues that they
are dealing with: gentrification, criminalization, anti-immigrant policies, and
deep poverty. We need to come together because this oppression is everywhere.
It can be a flood; it can be someone losing their home; it can be someone being
snatched away from their job and family-it's all displacement and it all
hurts."

Harris, underscoring the vital importance of her
work, says "Being poor myself, I know that we have to keep fighting for change,
so that everyone can have a chance, all of us."

Women activists such as Francois and Harris and
their organizations are concerned about the debilitating effects of
gentrification and criminalization on their communities and families, and are
collaborating across cities and regions to mobilize for national policy change.

Jacy
Montoya

, Executive Director of Denver-based Ms. Foundation grantee
Colorado Organization for Latina
Opportunity and Reproductive Rights
(COLOR), discusses how COLOR focuses on
engaging Latinas around reproductive health, and also works to encourage their
civic participation on a range of issues. This election cycle, they are
collaborating with the Latina Initiative to promote Latinas' political
engagement in Colorado and to raise the profile of Latina voters nationally.

Focusing
on Women's Challenges, Amplifying Women's Solutions

Media
can play a very important role, says
Rita
Henley-Jensen
,
Editor-in-Chief of
Women's eNews
, in drawing public attention to the policies and solutions
women are pioneering in response to the unique challenges they face. Of the
roundtable, "What Women Want," she says, "Grassroots women leaders, the
true-albeit mostly invisible-innovators of social policy, are joining with
women journalists to deliver the news to some of our country's most innovative
communicators, about exactly what kind of change women have in mind."

Women's
eNews is delivering "The Memo: A Report on the Status of U.S. Women" to
policymakers at both party conventions to emphasize how a number of
issues-wages, barriers to employment, poverty, reproductive health, violence,
and homophobia-take a disproportionate toll on women.

Panelist

Rita Smith, Executive Director of the
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
, speaks to one of these many
intersecting problems: "Violence against women is one of the major issues that
women are concerned about according to recent surveys. It is critical that
candidates develop a strategy on how they will assist in ending this problem
and once elected work on that strategy with as much effort and commitment as
any other campaign issue."

The
roundtable also features
Liz Abzug,
President of the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute
and a prominent national
voice on issues affecting women, addressing homophobia and discrimination.

 

###

The Ms. Foundation builds women's collective power to ignite change by providing strategic support to grassroots and national advocacy and policy organizations in the United States.

Share This Article

More in: