MS. FOUNDATION FOR WOMEN ANNOUNCES 2020 WOMEN OF VISION HONOREES
Grantee-Partners Pabitra Khati Benjamin, Executive Director of Adhikaar, and Jessica González-Rojas, Former Executive Director at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, to be Recognized for Making Unparalleled Impact for Women’s Movement
Mónica Ramírez, President of Justice for Migrant Women and the Gender Justice Campaigns Director for National Domestic Workers Alliance, to Receive Marie C. Wilson Award
NEW YORK, APRIL 9, 2020 – Today, the Ms. Foundation for Women announced the 2020 Women of Vision honorees, recognizing feminist leaders who have made an indelible impact on the gender justice movement at the local, state, and national level.
Ms. Foundation grantee-partners Pabitra Khati Benjamin, Executive Director of Adhikaar, and Jessica González-Rojas, former Executive Director at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, are being recognized for their work igniting changes in their communities to ensure equity and opportunity for all women.
Khati Benjamin blends an intersectional approach to race, class, caste, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity, as well as a holistic approach to leadership to the New York-based non-profit organization focused on promoting human rights and social justice for all in the Nepali-speaking community.
González-Rojas led the only national reproductive justice organization that specifically works to advance reproductive health, rights and justice for the 28 million Latinas in the United States from 2011 to 2019, forging connections between reproductive health, gender, immigration, LGBTQ liberation, and labor and Latino civil rights.
Additionally, Mónica Ramírez, President of Justice for Migrant Women and the Gender Justice Campaigns Director for National Domestic Workers Alliance, will receive the Marie C. Wilson Award, named after the former CEO and President of the Ms. Foundation to recognize young, trailblazing feminists. As a long-time advocate, organizer, and attorney fighting to eliminate gender-based violence and promote gender equity, she founded Justice for Migrant Women in 2014 to focus on the eradication of workplace sexual violence against migrant women workers, as well as to promote the human rights of migrant women and their families, and recently launched a new initiative called The Latinx House at Sundance Film Festival 2020 with filmmaker and activist Alexandra Martinez Kondracke, and Mexican actress, producer, entrepreneur and activist Olga Segura to create gathering spaces to celebrate the best in Latinx culture and bring important societal issues to the forefront.
Indigenous feminist and climate activist Tokata Iron Eyes will receive the Peggy C. Charren Free to Be You and Me Award. A member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, she has been confronting injustice since she was nine years old, when she testified against a uranium mine in the sacred Black Hills, and now travels around the world to lift the collective consciousness in response to the human-caused climate crisis.
“We are thrilled to announce all of this year’s honorees,” said Teresa C. Younger, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation. “Pabitra, Jessica, Mónica and Tokata are leaders in activism and community organizing and we are honored to recognize their work in the fight for gender equity, breaking down barriers between movements in order to build collective grassroots action and implement change.”
Since 1973, the Ms. Foundation has invested over $65 million to build grassroots movements fighting for gender equity for women, particularly women of color around the country. They are committed to investing in and strengthening the capacity of women-of-color-led movements and their strategic plan intentionally and inclusively centers women and girls of color in a bold and unapologetic approach to building power and advancing democracy.
Previous Women of Vision honorees include former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Academy Award-nominated director Ava DuVernay, former Editor-In-Chief of Teen Vogue Elaine Welteroth, filmmaker and activist dream hampton, the co-chairs of the Women’s March on Washington, fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg, Sheila Nevins of HBO Documentary Films, Suzanne Lerner of Michael Stars, and Jennifer and Peter Buffett on behalf of the NoVo Foundation.
For more information about the Ms. Foundation, please visit forwomen.org.
For 45 years, the Ms. Foundation for Women has worked to build women’s collective power in the U.S. to advance equity and justice for all. The Ms. Foundation invests in, and strengthens the capacity of women led movements to advance meaningful social, cultural, and economic change in the lives of women. With equity and inclusion as the cornerstones of true democracy, the Ms. Foundation works to create a world in which the worth and dignity of every person are valued, and power and possibility are not limited by gender, race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or age.
ABOUT THE HONOREES
Pabitra Khati Benjamin is a builder, an organizer, a parent and a lover of diverse cuisines. Pabitra immigrated to the US from Nepal with her parents when she was 7 and has lived in various states since then. Growing up in a working-class household, her passions for community organizing grew out of this experience. Pabitra’s life and work are rooted in community. She began as a youth activist in Wisconsin, building community collaborations on issues of “diversity” and advocating for LGBTQ rights in the 90s. At the University of Wisconsin, eager to learn about how to shift power, she was trained as a student organizer through the United States Student Association. A supporter of Adhikaar since 2010, Pabitra was elected and has served as an active board member to the organization since 2015, demonstrating a strong commitment to facilitating leadership development as well as pressing us to deepen our political analysis and strategies. She began as Executive Director in 2017 and brings to Adhikaar strong and diverse alliances, seasoned and developed over the last two decades of her life, blending an intersectional approach to race, class, caste, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity. Pabitra also brings a holistic approach to leadership, believing that by nurturing relationships among staff and all stakeholders, we stand stronger and more united in creating the change we seek. During her career, Pabitra has served in leading organizing efforts, with Amnesty International USA, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, the Rights Working Group, Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote and Fair Wisconsin/Action WI Education Fund.
Jessica González-Rojas served as the Executive Director at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health from 2011 to 2019, the only national reproductive justice organization that specifically works to advance reproductive health, rights and justice for the 28 million Latinas in the United States. As a leader in progressive movements for two decades, she has successfully forged connections between reproductive health, gender, immigration, LGBTQ liberation, labor and Latino civil rights, breaking down barriers between movements and building a strong Latina grassroots presence. She is a frequent contributor to outlets such as MSNBC, The Hill, El Diario/La Prensa and Huffington Post on pressing reproductive health issues in the Latina community, as well as a regular media voice in local and national platforms. Jessica’s writing has been published in several anthologies, including Latinas: An Anthology of Struggles & Protests in the 21st Century USA and Together We March: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard Around the World. Jessica served as Vice Chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, chairing the Latina Task Force and the Health Committee, and serves in an advisory role with the Anna Julia Cooper Center’s Intersectional Research Agenda, If/When/How (formerly Law Students for Reproductive Justice) and Emily’s List. She was also a member of the Steering Committee for the New York City Council’s Young Women’s Initiative and a 2016-17 fellow with the Rockwood Leadership Institute’s National Leading from the Inside Out Fellowship. Jessica and NLIRH have been honored by several outlets and organizations, including the National Women’s Law Center, Emily’s List, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Cosmo for Latinas, National Council of Jewish Women, LATISM, New Immigrant Community Empowerment and El Diario/La Prensa.
Jessica is an Adjunct Professor at the New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and of Latino and Latin American Studies at the City University of New York, and has taught courses on race, reproductive rights, gender and sexuality. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and a certificate from the Institute for Not-for-Profit Management at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.
Mónica Ramírez is a long-time advocate, organizer, and attorney fighting to eliminate gender-based violence and promote gender equity. In 2003, Mónica created the first legal project in the United States specifically focused on addressing gender discrimination against farmworker women, which she later expanded in 2006 when she founded Esperanza: The Immigrant Women’s Legal Initiative of the Southern Poverty Law Center. In 2011, she co-founded Alianza Nacional de Campesinas. In her role as Alianza’s Board President, Mónica wrote the “Dear Sisters” letter to women in the entertainment industry that was published in TIME magazine on November 10, 2017. This letter has been credited with helping to spark the launch of TIME’S UP.
In 2014 she founded Justice for Migrant Women to focus on the eradication of workplace sexual violence against migrant women workers, as well as to promote the human rights of migrant women and their families. She currently serves as the President of Justice for Migrant Women and the Gender Justice Campaigns Director for National Domestic Workers Alliance.
Ramirez launched a new initiative called The Latinx House at Sundance Film Festival 2020 with filmmaker and activist Alexandra Martinez Kondracke, and Mexican actress, producer, entrepreneur and activist Olga Segura. The Latinx House, which is a project within Ramirez’s organization Justice for Migrant Women, aims to create gathering spaces to celebrate the best in Latinx culture and bring important societal issues to the forefront.
Mónica has received numerous awards for her leadership, including Harvard Kennedy School’s first Gender Equity Changemaker Award, Feminist Majority’s Global Women’s Rights Award, the Smithsonian’s Ingenuity Award and Forbes Mexico named her among the100 Most Powerful Women in 2018. Mónica was born, raised and lives in Fremont, Ohio. She is married to Scott Derome. Mónica and Scott are the parents to an inquisitive, kind and energetic son.
Tokata (Future) Iron Eyes is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and has been confronting injustice since she was 9, testifying against a uranium mine in the sacred Black Hills. Now as a college student, she continues to demonstrate her commitment to compelling the world to listen to Indigenous Nations — from the NODAPL movement at Standing Rock to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women across the U.S. — she understands the power of media and utilizes her voice to evoke change in complacent hearts. She travels all over the world lifting the collective consciousness in response to the human-caused climate crisis.
Growing up on the Standing Rock and Pine Ridge reservations she has received both Western and Indigenous teachings, giving her the natural ability to relate to multitudes and share an uncensored perspective on the uncomfortable truths of colonization and capitalism. Tokata was recently featured on the Marvel Hero Project on Disney+, a series shining light on young people who are changing the world. She is also a singer, songwriter and recently began attending college in January 2020. Tokata hopes to inspire more youth from indigenous communities as well as around the world to use their voice and confront injustice.