What will it take to make lasting change for women’s rights? The gut punch of last summer’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and the subsequent wave of state anti-abortion bans — on the heels of a difficult pandemic that disproportionately affected women — raises a critically important question: how do we safeguard the fundamental rights of women at home, in the workplace, and in society at large?

Practitioners addressing gender-based harassment and discrimination, reproductive rights, domestic violence prevention, and more, experienced increased attention and engagement in our work from funders, community leaders, and the media in the years since #metoo went viral in late 2017.

But after a few years of meaningful progress to advance visibility, access, and opportunities for women and people of all genders, we now find ourselves challenged by a wave of thought pieces, articles, and private conversations casting doubt on efforts to advance positive culture change: doubt about whether our workplaces, communal spaces, and society actually have an issue with gender or with a lack of safety, respect, and equity at all.

Many of us are experiencing a building pressure — from ourselves, our boards, peers, and funders — to demonstrate how we made change with this increased attention and investment over the recent period. We also are being asked to make the case for how positive change is still possible in this divided, complex time.

It is a natural and healthy impulse to reflect, take stock, and use our data to fine tune strategies and approaches for moving forward toward greater equity. And it is simultaneously important to recognize the high stakes of this current collective moment of reflection, which is not happening in a vacuum. Instead, it is occurring in the context of (and perhaps in response to) a complicated socio-cultural moment, that observers are alternately describing as “backlash,” “the pendulum swinging the other way,” or “a correction,” depending on your perspective. Nevertheless, we must persist. This work is too important. We must stay focused and effective in our work to advance women’s rights and safety, respect, and equity for all.

Read the full article about making lasting change for women’s rights by
Elana Wien at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.