I Have No Idea What It Will Take to End Violence Against Girls and Women
I have no idea what it will take to end violence against women and girls.
I cannot wrap my head around what we must collectively do so that it would be unthinkable for Indian student Jyoti Singh Pandey to be gang-raped by six men inside a moving Delhi bus, or for 25 year old San Francisco Bayview resident and mother of three, Starr Lamare to be doused in gasoline and set on fire by her boyfriend, or for high school athletes in Steubenville, Ohio, to carry an unconscious 16-year-old girl from one party to another and sexually assault her while countless peers snapped video and photos and tweeted while it was happening, or for the employers of Andrea, a domestic worker from Southern California, to be made to work 18 hours a day while only being paid for eight and sexually harassed on the job by her male employer simply because she lived and worked in his home.
What must we do so that women and girls are no longer seen as disposable?
As a new member of the NoVo Foundation’s Move to End Violence second cohort of Movement Makers, it is both humbling and terrifying to say that I do not have a clue what it will actually take to create the world that women and girls deserve. I have deep respect for the countless generations of women and men before me who have worked for gender equality and an end to violence. I know as I follow in their footsteps just how much love and faith they poured into their efforts. And while so much progress has been made, we simply haven’t come far enough. So I ask myself who are we to think we can do more or do it better?
And yet, we must. Because I believe with utter conviction and passion that the change we hope for – a world where ALL women and girls are valued, powerful, respected, and able to fulfill our potential – cannot be achieved without creating a stronger movement than what we have now.
I cannot see the end result of this movement we must build or exactly how our work together will result in the revolutionary changes we need. But I am witness to its beginnings. I see our movement growing every day in the offices of Mujeres Unidas y Activas, as immigrant women – mostly all domestic workers – proudly lift up their heads, proclaim their strengths, and say ya basta to the violence in their homes, the exploitation in their workplaces, and the negation of their humanity by our country’s broken and racist approach to immigration policy. I encounter movement in hundreds of fearless pockets around the world, where women and girls come together to hold one another up, learn about our rights, and organize for change. And I felt it in Tarrytown, New York in early December when over one hundred leaders from across the country came together for the first Move to End Violence movement building convening. Looking around that room, I was so thankful for the people who do this work with love and faith, each day making a difference in the lives of so many, and gradually transforming our homes, workplaces, and communities into places of liberation, healing, and power.
Every day, we heal, build, and create change from a place of profound love.
Yet we need to reach within ourselves and find even deeper reserves of love for the work ahead.
We buoy ourselves with faith that the transformation we seek is not just possible but imminent.
Yet we struggle to ensure that the daily abuse and disregard for women’s and girls’ bodies and humanity does not shake this faith.
We are already so many.
Yet we need to grow to be more.
And so we will.