It’s 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning and women from all over the country are making their way into the United #StateofWomen conference--with Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” filling the room. 5,000 women (and a few men) convening together to address the State of Women, celebrating how far we’ve come, and discussing how far we have to go. As I’m a survivor, I’m gonna make it, I will survive, keep on surviving played, I had yet to fully comprehend the diverse experiences, voices, and personalities that were in the room.
The day was inspiring, emotional, and eye-opening. As an activist, I sometimes get too head down in sexual and reproductive health issues. Tuesday allowed me to lift my head up, and to reflect on the reality that when it comes to women, whether it’s sexual health, equal pay, or domestic violence, all the issues are interconnected. Until we as women are treated as equals, until we are freed from stereotypes and stigmas, the challenges we currently face will continue to plague us.
Here were my 5 favorite quotes of wisdom from the day:
- "We need to stop punishing girls for being sexual while patting men on the back for it." --Barack Obama. Yes, that’s the President of the United States being a champion for everything I’m fighting for.
- “As Maya (Angelou) said, You make me proud to spell my name: W-O-M-A-N." --those would be Oprah’s last words to Michelle Obama.
- “I love this!” --Wendy Davis, a critical advocate for women’s reproductive rights, to me when I handed her a pack of Sustain condoms.
- “If we free women, we free men, we free everyone." --Joe Biden. This man is fighting to end violence against women, has been for a while now, but damn, he is a true warrior. Obama may be by favorite (male) Feminist, but Joe Biden is a serious close second.
- “We have nothing to lose but our chains.” --This strong reminder was repeated over and over again by many. Without controversy, without pushing boundaries, nothing will ever change.
As a millennial woman, I often think there’s so much more to do in the feminist fight, but my experience in D.C. reminded me how it’s equally important to celebrate how hard women before me have worked to make sure my life is easier, my rights are broader, and my future is brighter than theirs.
There’s still a lot of work to do, but as I was reminded yesterday, we got this.