Momentum Magazine: The Women’s Movement in the 21st Century

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Momentum Magazine gathers national leaders in the women's movement to reflect on an agenda for the movement in the 21st century.

The latest issue of Momentum Magazine, authored by national leaders in the women’s movement, is now live. Authors include Vivien Labaton, formerly of Atlantic Philanthropies and current Tides Fellow, Ai-jen Poo, one of Times 100 Most Influential people and Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance; Sarita Gupta, ED of Jobs with Justice, Nita Chaudhary and Shaunna Thomas, founders of Ultraviolet; Ellen Bravo, Director of Family Values @ Work; Page Gardner, founder and president of Women’s Voices, Women Vote Action Fund, and The Voter Participation Center; and Gara LaMarche, Senior Tides Fellow. The issue argues that economic equality and rights for women in all areas of work –from elder care to babysitting to corporate America- are core to women’s health and wellbeing and should inform the focus of the women’s movement going forward.

Vivien Labaton, formerly the Director of Strategic Programme Initiatives at Atlantic Philanthropies, reflects on challenges –and opportunities- for the women’s movement today. “I have found that, beyond issues of reproductive rights and justice, many people with whom I spoke—leaders from both within and outside the women’s movement—have a difficult time articulating what a proactive, long-term agenda for the women’s movement looks like. In order to tap into the energy that makes itself apparent at unpredictable moments—like the publication of the Slaughter article, for example—the women’s movement needs to be prepared and ready to harness that energy in service of a proactive agenda that reflects women’s lives and needs today.”

Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and one of Newsweek’s 150 Fearless Women and Time’s 100 Most Influential People in America, writes about shifts in the workplace and the rights of caretakers. “The domestic work industry has been growing in cities and suburbs across the country for years,” Poo writes. “Domestic workers – most of whom are immigrant women of color who work as nannies, housecleaners and elder care providers – now perform the essential and intimate labor of care for hundreds of thousands of families across the nation.”

Sarita Gupta, Executive Director of Jobs with Justice and co-director of the Caring Across Generations campaign, also reflects on caretakers rights and the need to “create good, high quality “care jobs” with real bargaining rights for millions of women workers, and to make care more affordable for families struggling to pay.”

Nita Chaudhary and Shaunna Thomas, co-founders of Ultraviolet, write about the challenges in motivating grassroots campaigns on women’s issues that do not involve health or reproductive rights. “During an election year, when the media is arguably paying more attention to political and policy issues that matter to women than at any other time, almost no resources are being spent on topics ranging from the economy, to fair pay, to violence against women,” they write. “nd we’re seeing the effects of that in our base of activists—we can’t harness the same energy on issues around economic security as we can on health—and therefore it’s harder to successfully run grassroots campaigns and hold leaders accountable.

Ellen Bravo, Director of Family Values @ Work, also writes about structural forces in the workplace that make life particularly difficult for women. “Who takes care of the caretaker’s daughter when the caretaker’s busy taking care?” Bravo writes. “Or for that matter, who cares for the seamstress’s son or the restaurant worker’s mom while the workers scramble to pay the bills? The answer often is no one – or someone, usually female, who takes a financial hit for doing so.”

Page Gardner, founder and president of Women’s Voices, Women Vote Action Fund, and The Voter Participation Center, argues that the current national dialogue around women’s reproductive rights ignores what most women care about most: economic security. “The disconnect between the discourse inside the beltway and what really weighed on these women was stark and revealing – a cause for concern and a valuable clue for civic engagement groups working to increase the participation of this large and fast growing group of women in the 2012 elections.”

Gara LaMarche, Senior Tides Fellow and former President and CEO of The Atlantic Philanthropies, targets the need for affordable child-care in his piece. “Apart from the Family and Medical Leave Act — an important achievement of the Clinton years, to be sure, but one which essentially gives you the right not to be fired, at least for a period of time, if you need time to care for a child, spouse or parent – there is no system, no package of rights addressing the time you want or need to spend caring for your own child before you are ready to return to work or engage someone else to care for him or her.”

Momentum Magazine is a monthly digital publication published by Tides. In keeping with Tides’ mandate to evolve product and service innovation across the sector, Momentum is a quarterly publication that spotlights the world’s leading and emerging social change-makers. Covering issues ranging from the environment, to education, health, and social and racial equity, Momentum seeks to educate, inspire, and motivate activists and organizations to action.

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Kate Byrne
Tides
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