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December 19, 2023

50 Years of the Ms. Foundation: Rinku Sen

by Rinku Sen

Throughout our 50th anniversary year, we’re telling the stories of leaders who have worked with the Ms. Foundation during different periods of the organization’s history. This Q&A was written by Rinku Sen, executive director at Narrative Initiative and Ms. Foundation board member. 

Tell us about your relationship with the Ms. Foundation:

My relationship with the Ms. Foundation started in 1995 when Tani Takagi invited me to join a delegation to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. There, I reconnected to the feminist roots of my activism and organizing. 

The Center for Third World Organizing, where I worked at the time, then became a Ms. Foundation grantee partner as we integrated a gender analysis and feminist perspective with the racial justice work we were already supporting. My biggest collaboration with the foundation came out of the funding we received through the economic justice cohort. The foundation commissioned me to produce a manual of lessons learned from this work, featuring examples and case studies from the grantee partners. That manual became the book Stir It Up: Lessons in Community Organizing and Advocacy. It was published in 2003. Twenty years later I get the greatest joy every time a young woman of color approaches me to tell me that her mentor recommended the book, and that she used it to build an effective organization, or chapter, or campaign. This is partly how our generation made feminism core to racial and economic justice organizing. 

What is one thing you’re proud of in your work with the Ms. Foundation?

It’s been my honor to serve as a Ms. Foundation board member. I think of it as a way to give a little bit back to this community that has held me so tightly as I have done my work. I have watched our strategy evolve over nearly 30 years and I love how we’ve landed at this place of power. Here’s to the next 50.