A greater awareness of intersectionality and increased participation is necessary in the women’s rights movement, according to panelists during the “Agitate” panel at the OWN IT Summit 2017 on Saturday.
The panel featured Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), Chief of Staff to former first lady Michelle Obama Tina Tchen and Jamia Wilson, a feminist activist and commentator whose writings have appeared in The Washington Post and New York Magazine.
Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women Ambassador Melanne Verveer moderated the panel.
Verveer said women must work to create change to ensure equal rights.
“If we want to see change in the world, we have to be that change,” Verveer said.
According to Wilson, progress toward gender equity must support all women, not just a select few.
“There cannot be liberation for one of us if there is not liberation for all of us,” Wilson said.
Wilson said intersectionality in the ongoing discussion of gender equality is essential.
“Intersectionality recognizes all of the layers of our identities and recognizes that we’re all inexplicably connected, so there cannot be liberation for one of us if there is not liberation for all of us,” Wilson said.
Tchen said change is most effective when it starts at the local, grass-roots level.
“Change doesn’t happen in Washington,” Tchen said. “It really does happen in grass roots. Change happens in people’s living rooms, in people’s schools, on school boards, in state legislatures.”
According to Tchen, both grass-roots movements and political office will require bipartisan cooperation to change pre-existing systems and make progress.
“We’re going to have to make some compromises,” Tchen said. “Compromise is hard to talk about and it’s hard to lead on because it’s so much easier to go to your corners and just stay there. But if everyone’s in their corners, nothing positive is going to happen.”
Murphy said compromise does not mean giving up your voice or opinion.
“Politics is not a zero-sum game.” Murphy said. “If you identify places where you can be bipartisan does not mean that my voice is going to be silenced.”
Murphy said self-care in advocacy efforts is important to ensure success.
“You need to take the time to invest in yourself as well,” Murphy said.
According to Tchen, supporting other women can be an effective form of self-care.
“One of the ways I get a lot of strength and energy back is to be a mentor,” Tchen said.
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