By Ford Foundation*
As Women’s History month draws to a close, we reflect on the collective power of women and their role in building a more just world. This month, we honored women who challenge the status quo, tackling injustice in their communities and beyond.
Migrant women in the United States face unjust working conditions and sexual harassment, and Monica Ramirez is their backbone, tirelessly fighting for workers’ rights and building a broader movement to support them.
The morass that hampered recovery in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria didn’t hold Glenisse Pagan-Ortiz back. Instead, she mobilized—and transformed—philanthropy to rebuild her homeland.
In Brazil, Black people, women and girls in particular, face an increase in racism. Benilda Regina Paiva de Brito works to protect them from rising police violence and care for families who have lost children to this epidemic. Adriana Barbosa saw that Black artists and entrepreneurs lacked opportunity and recognition, and created one of the largest platforms for them in Latin America. Bianca Santana uses the power of the written word to speak truth even when forces of oppression try to silence Black people.
Amplifying voices—and fighting stereotypes—are essential in the fight for justice. Alice Wong was recognized as a changemaker in Marie Claire for sharing over 500 disability stories through the Disability Visibility Project. And People lifted up Crystal Echo Hawk for taking back the story of her own Native American people and winning the fight to change the racist name of Washington’s football team.
Artist Amy Sherald honored Breonna Taylor on the anniversary of her death by creating a program of higher education focused on social justice. The Smithsonian and Kentucky’s Speed Museum jointly purchased Sherald’s painting of Taylor through a $1-million donation from Ford, which Sherald will use to fund her new venture.
Whether sweeping and systemic or local and immediate, change happens when women have the opportunity and the means to lead.
“Black feminists are changing the world and we deserve resourcing that matches the boldness of our visions,” said Hakima Abbas, who founded the Black Feminist Fund with Tynesha McHarris and Amina Doherty. Announced this month, it is the first global fund by and for Black feminists and will support Black women, girls, trans, intersex and gender non-conforming people in Europe, Africa, Latin America and beyond. We’re proud to help launch the fund with a $15-million seed investment.
But the work to elevate and celebrate women who #choosetochallenge convention continues—for everyone, including men. Building a just and equal world is a shared responsibility and a long journey but, around the world, women have us well on our way. Let’s follow and support them.