Think back to history class in grade school. What do you recall? For me, it’s the memory of a specific teacher thoroughly explaining how, throughout history, women weren’t provided equal rights to men. My girlfriends and I were aghast and confused. “What do you mean women couldn’t vote and couldn’t own property? Girls couldn’t play so-called boys’ sports?” I’m appreciative of that teacher for enlightening and emboldening me to continue to fight for the rights of women. And as I think back fondly about all those times I beat some boys at kickball, I always remember just how lucky I am, how lucky we all are.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 1973
In 1973, four female trailblazers established the Ms. Foundation for Women in an effort to elevate women’s voices and create positive change. With the goal of growing awareness about the real challenges modern women face, the nonprofit advocates zealously for national and statewide policy change, and currently supports more than 100 other organizations working to address women’s-equality challenges. As the organization’s website notes, “We are committed. We are motivated. And we will not stop, not until all women enjoy true equality, equity and opportunity.” Amen, sisters!
WOMAN TO WATCH: Teresa Younger, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women
Fast-forward to 2014. It was a banner year for women. Former On The Dot Woman to Watch Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize, and the plight of cyberharassment toward women gained worldwide attention. It was also the year the esteemed Teresa Younger began her tenure as the president and CEO of that lauded organization, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the oldest women’s foundation in the United States.
During Teresa’s time as head boss lady, she’s worked to effect much change. In one such thoughtful effort, she started a fast-growing multimedia campaign, #MyFeminismIs, to help bring a positive light to the word “feminism.” Women and men alike took to social media in droves to express how feminism positively influences their everyday lives.
Teresa has continued the nonprofit’s mission to support research and programming that enacts real change, including funding a groundbreaking report on the sexual-abuse-to-prison pipeline, and joining other women’s foundations in a commitment to fund $100 million toward creating equal opportunities for low-income girls and women.
Perhaps most memorable—and incredibly significant—was Teresa’s influence on the National Football League. She led a campaign that vocalized gender-specific issues within the NFL, particularly violence and sexism against women, and the league’s lack of urgency in addressing such issues.
It’s no easy feat to be the strong voice fighting for a cause so many don’t want to hear about. But Teresa is staunch in her dedication, and never backs down. She’s certainly no stranger to truth telling, and she’s proven her mettle throughout her career. For instance, Teresa was the first African-American and the first woman to serve as executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut, a commendable achievement.
Teresa believes women of color are crucial proponents of change, noting the dedicated actions taken by women during the civil rights movement contributed greatly to the overall women’s movement.
It’s because of tireless women’s advocates like Teresa and the many female fighters who came before her that women in this country are able to let our voices rise above the noise. Thanks, Teresa. We’ll be right by your side as you continue to ignite change, create connections and build movements to make the world a better place for all women!
QUITE THE QUOTE
Let’s close today with a powerful quote from one of our favorite feminists, Gloria Steinem:
“The best way for us to cultivate fearlessness in our daughters and other young women is by example. If they see their mothers and other women in their lives going forward despite fear, they’ll know it’s possible.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.