No Matter Who Is Elected, More Work Remains On Women's Rights And Indigenous Issues

Camryn Bruno

Elena Olivo for the Apollo Theater

“We are creating our own recipe.”

At the 2019 Women of the World (WOW) Festival in New York, poet Camryn Bruno opened the event’s final day with a poem describing society’s “recipe” for the “perfect woman.” (“Disguise wrongs and tell her they are her rights. Force her to stand for them. Force her to stand. Force her to eat. Force this recipe down her throat. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t like the flavor.”)

This powerful poem summarized the very purpose of the festival: to speak openly about the things that need to change and to come together to help make that change happen.

The third annual WOW Festival hosted by the Apollo Theater is a celebration of activism, bringing together music, art, culture, and conversations around issues pertaining to women.

“The beauty of the festival is that it’s truly a community-driven festival,” says Kamilah Forbes, Executive Producer at the Apollo Theater. As Forbes describes, the festival serves as a response to women’s most burning issues today, ranging from gender parity in the workplace and economic equality around the world to violence against young girls.

“There’s now a very active platform for women’s issues to be heard,” says Forbes. “It’s not just a certain sect of women. And now the world is listening more than ever.”

Here are just a few of the biggest insights from these women’s conversations.

Jude Kelly and Angela Davis

Elena Olivo for the Apollo Theater

1. There’s a lot of power in sharing stories. The entire festival itself was a reminder of the importance of women being able to use their voices to share their experiences with others. Author and activist Linda Kay Klein shared not just her own personal story, but also the countless stories she’s uncovered in her work surrounding the impact of evangelical religious sexual shaming on a generation of young girls. Says Klein, “When we stand alone, they can call us crazy or an anomaly, but when we stand together, they can no longer ignore us.”

In a candid conversation with WOW’s founder, Jude Kelly, the legendary scholar and activist Angela Davis described how women blues artists broke the silence around domestic abuse and sexual violence and created a community so that others wouldn’t feel so alone. As Davis explains it, art and music play a vital role in developing a collective consciousness and driving societal change. Says Davis, “I think the most important work is really done by artists. They’re able to present something to us that we are able to feel before we are able to articulate it.”

2. Your self-worth is your net worth. This is one of my very favorite sayings from finance expert Suze Orman, who gave a rousing talk at the festival. If you’ve ever heard Orman speak, you’ll know that her key message to women is that the end goal isn't having a lot of money--it’s having the financial freedom in order to live a fulfilling, meaningful life. Because, as she says, “It’s important that every decision you make it is one you want to make, not one you have to make."

3. Listen to the naysayers, but don’t compromise your convictions. Early in her career as a computer graphics freelancer, Minerva Tantoco, the former Chief Technology Officer for the City of New York, was offered a high-paying gig for a South African diamond company from a friend at a magazine. The problem: Tantoco was boycotting companies that supported apartheid. So she lost the gig (and the friend) but ended up on the right side of history. “You have to live your beliefs,” says Tantoco. “Don’t think you have to compromise to be successful.”

That said, she’s also found that sometimes the naysayers can be helpful when you understand where they’re coming from. When Tantoco left a tech job at a bank to work in government, many people (including her mom) wondered why anyone would want to give that up. But this pushback turned out to be constructive, helping her think about what was really motivating this decision. Realizing that she was “addicted to impact,” Tantoco started the job with even more conviction and was able to have as much impact as possible during her time there.

4. Use adversity to your advantage. Victoria Flores, the founder of Lux Beauty Club, is part of the 0.3% of Latinas with a patent and a recipient of the 0.2% of venture capital that goes to women of color in this country. She’s also not one bit ashamed to say that she used both her “woman and Mexican cards” to access accelerators for women of color. She also used her Mexican heritage as a point of conversation with investors, after having originally been advised to use her husband’s last name instead. Even after that, she had to pitch more than 120 people in order to get her first yes. Her advice: “Use everything you have to your advantage and just keep going.”

Keisha Sutton-James, Mabel Valdivia, Debbie Kilroy

Elena Olivo for the Apollo Theater

5. We need to keep supporting one another. The themes of support and togetherness were present throughout the festival. (As Minerva Tantoco reminded us, “Men help each other all the time! Don’t buy into the thought that we’re competing against each other.”) In one of the more prominent displays of how women can support one another and help bring about change, on the “Women for Women” panel, leaders from several NGOs shared how they’re making a difference around the world by addressing issues ranging from breaking the cycle of poverty in Haiti to supporting formerly incarcerated Aboriginal and Indigenous women and girls in Australia.

But perhaps the most poignant point was made by Angela Davis, who spoke plainly about the necessity of today’s intersectional feminism: “When I talk about feminism, I’m not just talking about glass ceilings. I’m not talking about the people at the top who just have to shatter the ceiling. I’m talking about the people on the bottom.”

No matter who you are, or where you fit into this conversation, we all have a lot of work to do. And if we’re going to succeed, we’re going to have to do it together. Or as Davis concludes, “When it comes down to it, we’re going to have to change the world. We don’t want to just integrate...into a society that remains the same.”

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Camryn Bruno

Elena Olivo for the Apollo Theater

“We are creating our own recipe.”

At the 2019 Women of the World (WOW) Festival in New York, poet Camryn Bruno opened the event’s final day with a poem describing society’s “recipe” for the “perfect woman.” (“Disguise wrongs and tell her they are her rights. Force her to stand for them. Force her to stand. Force her to eat. Force this recipe down her throat. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t like the flavor.”)

This powerful poem summarized the very purpose of the festival: to speak openly about the things that need to change and to come together to help make that change happen.

The third annual WOW Festival hosted by the Apollo Theater is a celebration of activism, bringing together music, art, culture, and conversations around issues pertaining to women.

“The beauty of the festival is that it’s truly a community-driven festival,” says Kamilah Forbes, Executive Producer at the Apollo Theater. As Forbes describes, the festival serves as a response to women’s most burning issues today, ranging from gender parity in the workplace and economic equality around the world to violence against young girls.

“There’s now a very active platform for women’s issues to be heard,” says Forbes. “It’s not just a certain sect of women. And now the world is listening more than ever.”

Here are just a few of the biggest insights from these women’s conversations.

Jude Kelly and Angela Davis

Elena Olivo for the Apollo Theater

1. There’s a lot of power in sharing stories. The entire festival itself was a reminder of the importance of women being able to use their voices to share their experiences with others. Author and activist Linda Kay Klein shared not just her own personal story, but also the countless stories she’s uncovered in her work surrounding the impact of evangelical religious sexual shaming on a generation of young girls. Says Klein, “When we stand alone, they can call us crazy or an anomaly, but when we stand together, they can no longer ignore us.”

In a candid conversation with WOW’s founder, Jude Kelly, the legendary scholar and activist Angela Davis described how women blues artists broke the silence around domestic abuse and sexual violence and created a community so that others wouldn’t feel so alone. As Davis explains it, art and music play a vital role in developing a collective consciousness and driving societal change. Says Davis, “I think the most important work is really done by artists. They’re able to present something to us that we are able to feel before we are able to articulate it.”

2. Your self-worth is your net worth. This is one of my very favorite sayings from finance expert Suze Orman, who gave a rousing talk at the festival. If you’ve ever heard Orman speak, you’ll know that her key message to women is that the end goal isn't having a lot of money--it’s having the financial freedom in order to live a fulfilling, meaningful life. Because, as she says, “It’s important that every decision you make it is one you want to make, not one you have to make."

3. Listen to the naysayers, but don’t compromise your convictions. Early in her career as a computer graphics freelancer, Minerva Tantoco, the former Chief Technology Officer for the City of New York, was offered a high-paying gig for a South African diamond company from a friend at a magazine. The problem: Tantoco was boycotting companies that supported apartheid. So she lost the gig (and the friend) but ended up on the right side of history. “You have to live your beliefs,” says Tantoco. “Don’t think you have to compromise to be successful.”

That said, she’s also found that sometimes the naysayers can be helpful when you understand where they’re coming from. When Tantoco left a tech job at a bank to work in government, many people (including her mom) wondered why anyone would want to give that up. But this pushback turned out to be constructive, helping her think about what was really motivating this decision. Realizing that she was “addicted to impact,” Tantoco started the job with even more conviction and was able to have as much impact as possible during her time there.

4. Use adversity to your advantage. Victoria Flores, the founder of Lux Beauty Club, is part of the 0.3% of Latinas with a patent and a recipient of the 0.2% of venture capital that goes to women of color in this country. She’s also not one bit ashamed to say that she used both her “woman and Mexican cards” to access accelerators for women of color. She also used her Mexican heritage as a point of conversation with investors, after having originally been advised to use her husband’s last name instead. Even after that, she had to pitch more than 120 people in order to get her first yes. Her advice: “Use everything you have to your advantage and just keep going.”

Keisha Sutton-James, Mabel Valdivia, Debbie Kilroy

Elena Olivo for the Apollo Theater

5. We need to keep supporting one another. The themes of support and togetherness were present throughout the festival. (As Minerva Tantoco reminded us, “Men help each other all the time! Don’t buy into the thought that we’re competing against each other.”) In one of the more prominent displays of how women can support one another and help bring about change, on the “Women for Women” panel, leaders from several NGOs shared how they’re making a difference around the world by addressing issues ranging from breaking the cycle of poverty in Haiti to supporting formerly incarcerated Aboriginal and Indigenous women and girls in Australia.

But perhaps the most poignant point was made by Angela Davis, who spoke plainly about the necessity of today’s intersectional feminism: “When I talk about feminism, I’m not just talking about glass ceilings. I’m not talking about the people at the top who just have to shatter the ceiling. I’m talking about the people on the bottom.”

No matter who you are, or where you fit into this conversation, we all have a lot of work to do. And if we’re going to succeed, we’re going to have to do it together. Or as Davis concludes, “When it comes down to it, we’re going to have to change the world. We don’t want to just integrate...into a society that remains the same.”

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/carriekerpen/2019/04/02/feminism-is-about-more-than-just-breaking-the-glass-ceiling/

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