June 1, 2020
GLORIA STEINEM, SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN, VALERIE JARRETT, TINA TCHEN, AND MORE CELEBRATE THE MS. FOUNDATION FOR WOMEN’S FEMINIST BLOCK PARTY
Nation’s First and Oldest Women’s Foundation Celebrates 46th Anniversary of Fighting for Gender Equity with Digital Event and Dance Party to Support Women on the Frontlines of Change
Pabitra Khati Benjamin, Jessica González-Rojas, Mónica Ramírez, and Tokata Iron Eyes Recognized for Their Leadership in Activism and Community Organizing
NEW YORK, NY, MAY 21, 2020 – Last night, the Ms. Foundation for Women hosted Roar for Women: A Feminist Block Party, an unticketed digital celebration and dance party celebrating the impact of nonprofit and grassroots organizations across the country that are led by women of color. The online event raised $170,000 in critical funding needed right now by nonprofits and community organizations run by women of color in the nation’s most impacted communities.
The 60-minute livestream, the first event of its kind dedicated entirely to celebrating women during the COVID-19 pandemic, featured appearances from Ms. Foundation Founding Mothers Gloria Steinem, Marlo Thomas, and Marie C. Wilson, Ms. Foundation President & CEO Teresa C. Younger, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Co-Chair of United State of Women and Former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama Valerie Jarrett, TIME’S UP CEO Tina Tchen, and performances from Toshi Reagon, Aubrie Sellers, Staceyann Chin, and BETTY. Madame Gandhi and Spinderella dee-jayed the dance party on Instagram Live.
Gloria Steinem, Ms. Foundation Founding Mother, kicked off the evening with a heartfelt dedication to those joining in from home and assuring everyone that the mission is clearer than ever:
“Right now, we know that everyone has been impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks across this country. But no communities have been more impacted than communities of color, particularly black and indigenous communities, and particularly women within those communities. And that’s why it’s important that the Ms. Foundation for Women continues the work of supporting these women and the community organizations that are fighting to make the change that we all, all need.”
“Whether it’s pay equity or maternal health, or safety at home or on the streets, one measure by which we can evaluate the success of our movement is the lived experience of those who are most challenged by the threats we are fighting. Our collective power as women is only maximized when total freedom and total equity are experienced by women and girls of color. We at the Ms. Foundation will not stop fighting until we are all free. Until we are all free, no one is free.”
Teresa C. Younger, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, addressed the viewers and urged those who are able to support the organizations that critically need funds during the pandemic:
“As the nation continues to social distance and self quarantine, tens of thousands of women are on the frontlines. Doctors, nurses, postal workers, grocery store workers, and community organizers are joining and fighting every single day for their communities, themselves, their families, and their lives. They not only need but deserve our support.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren also joined in to celebrate women by delivering a rousing speech about the steps needed amidst this crisis to rebuild our societal structures consciously and inclusively:
“I am thrilled to join tonight’s Feminist Block Party to sing, and dance, and affirm the unshakable truth that joy is an act of resistance, even in a time of crisis…As we put in place the tools to recover from this crisis, we need to make big structural changes that will help us build back better. And yes, that means putting women and women-led organizations in positions of power to fight for a fairer, more equal, and more just America.”
“At a time when marginalized communities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, we need to center and empower diverse voices. And here’s why – putting more women in positions of power leads to progress. If we’re going to emerge from this crisis stronger, more resilient, and more just, we need to empower women – women of color, LGBTQ women, women with diverse backgrounds -because it gives us a better chance to make the right decisions. We have a long road ahead of us in this crisis, but here’s what I know for sure: if we stand together we fight together, if we persist together then we will see each other through to the other side.”
Valerie Jarrett, Co-Chair of United State of Women and Former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, in support for the organization’s work stated:
“The Ms. Foundation has been such a force for good in our country, ensuring that women and girls of color are supported and that we are lifting up the voices of grassroots leaders for justice and for equity. During this unprecedented time when there are so many unknowns, and there’s devastation between our communities, it is vitally important that we recognize those on the frontlines for their work, making sure that women and girls are safe, healthy, and thriving.”
Each year, the Ms. Foundation for Women honors Women of Vision — grassroots leaders, influencers and philanthropists — who have made an indelible impact on the movement for gender equity at the local, state, and national level. The Ms. Foundation both honored and heard from their 2020 Women of Vision honorees during the online event, including grantee-partners Pabitra Khati Benjamin, Executive Director of Adhikaar, and Jessica González-Rojas, Former Executive Director at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. Mónica Ramírez, President of Justice for Migrant Women and the Gender Justice Campaigns Director for National Domestic Workers Alliance, was this year’s Marie C. Wilson Award recipient, named after the former CEO and President of the Foundation to recognize young, trailblazing feminists, and indigenous feminist and climate activist Tokata Iron Eyes received the Peggy C. Charren Free to Be You and Me Award.
Pabitra Khati Benjamin, “We hope you will join us to fight for immigrants and communities of color left out of stimulus measures. To call your Senators to make sure they don’t comprise our lives. That we respect domestic workers, and janitors, and delivery people as much as health care professionals. And you donate to organizations like ours that are fighting for our communities’ lives.”
Jessica González-Rojas, “Reproductive justice is not simply the fight for the legal right to an abortion or birth control. The fight for reproductive justice is intersectional and interconnected. The fight for reproductive justice is deeply connected to the fight for immigration, racial justice, LGBTQIA liberation, criminal justice, and disability rights.
Mónica Ramírez, “For far too long, women working low-paid jobs, like those who work in agriculture, as caretakers, and domestic workers have been undervalued despite the fact that they do the work that keeps our world turning. This devaluation has led to their mistreatment, dehumanization, and denial of respect, and so much more…I call on each of us to commit to lifting these women up as essential everyday, and to work our hardest to ensure that they and their work are fully appreciated, now and in the future. They are and always have been heroes among us.”
Since 1973, the Ms. Foundation has invested over $65 million to build grassroots movements fighting for gender equity, particularly women of color around the country. The Ms. Foundation is determined to center the voices of women of color on the frontlines and bolster them through grantmaking, capacity building, policy and advocacy, leadership development, strategic communications, and political organizing.
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.