Do you believe you are a feminist?
Does the word “feminist” have a bad connotation to you?
Here’s the definition of feminist:
“Of relating to, supporting, or compatible with feminism. feminist theory. the feminist movement. The act of speaking is a way women come to power, telling our stories, sharing history, engaging in feminist discussion.”
This may sound funny, but even though I run this podcast and am a leadership and career coach for women, I didn’t self-identify as a feminist. Why? I have no idea. Maybe I didn’t think what I was doing was “big” enough. “Important” enough. Not a “big” enough platform.
My guest today, Latanya Mapp Frett, the President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, set me straight. She told me during our conversation that I am absolutely a feminist. In fact, I fit her definition of an everyday feminist.
And why is this important? Because after all the recent struggles during COVID-19, with the millions of women deciding to or being forced from their jobs because of childcare or care for a sick or elderly family member, because there are still so many employers that don’t give a hoot about flexibility and other important benefits. This is why it is critical that we all stand up and do our part as everyday feminists.
I believe that by taking this stand, we will improve our work environments. We will help our sons and daughters. And we will be acting in the very definition of what it means to be a brave woman at work.
During our discussion, Latanya discussed:
- What motivated Latanya to write her book, The Everyday Feminist: The Key to Sustainable Social Impact- Driving Movements We Need More Than Ever.
- What an everyday feminist is and why you or many women you know could fit into that category.
- Why Latanya believes that feminists are the key to driving social impact.
- Examples of movements we need movement in more than ever.
- If being an everyday feminist is a young professional woman’s game, or if you can be an everyday feminist in middle or even late career.
- And how we can support the work of other everyday feminists.
Listen to the podcast here
The Everyday Feminist: The Key Drivers Of Social Impact With Latanya Mapp Frett
I’m so glad you’re here. Everyone, how are you doing out there? Let’s start with this question, do you believe you are a feminist? Does the word feminist have a bad connotation to you? Here’s the definition of the word feminist. Relating to supporting or compatible with feminism, feminist theory, or the feminist movement. The act of speaking in a way women come to power, telling our stories, sharing history, and engaging in feminist discussion.
This may sound funny but even though I run this show, I’m a leadership and career coach for women, an overall champion for women getting through hard times and taking braver and bolder action in their careers, I didn’t necessarily identify as a feminist. Why? I have no idea. I don’t have a bad connotation around the word feminist. I don’t feel that it’s wrong. I never considered myself a feminist.
I asked myself, “Dig deeper. Why? You have to have an answer.” I didn’t think I was doing big enough things or maybe important enough things or I didn’t have a big enough platform, etc. to compare and despair. My guest for this episode, Latanya Mapp Frett, who is the President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women set me straight. I asked her, “Do you think that I’m a feminist?” She said, during our conversation, that I am absolutely a feminist, which I’m proud of.
In fact, I fit her definition of an everyday grassroots feminist. Let’s ask in a wider context why is this important. Here’s my rant for you. Here’s my little soapbox. Being a feminist is important, especially after our recent struggles with COVID-19. It’s because a staggering amount of women still have not returned or have not returned to the same level in the workforce.
They decided to get out of the workforce because they were forced of childcare, tough decisions with sick care, or elderly family care. They just didn’t return and we lost so much knowledge and future dreams. We lost so much professionally. What a loss for our US economy, our population, and our worldwide economy, depending on how your country was affected. The sad part is there are still so many employers that don’t give a hoot about flexibility and other important benefits for women or working parents.
The show mainly focused on feminism and women. Although men can be feminists as well, so I don’t want to ignore the men that might be reading. This is why I believe it is critical that we stand up and do our part as everyday feminists. I believe that by taking a stand, we’re going to improve our work environments. We’re going to help our daughters and our sons and we’re going to be acting in the very definition of what it means to be brave women at work or brave people at work.
During my discussion with Latanya, we chatted about what motivated Latanya to write her book, The Everyday Feminist: The Key to Sustainable Social Impact – Driving Movements We Need Now More Than Ever. We also discussed what an everyday grassroots feminist is, and why you or many women you know can or are possibly fitting into that category. We also discuss why Latanya believes that feminists are the key to driving social change and examples of movements we need more than ever. If being an everyday feminist is a young woman’s game, or if you can be an everyday feminist in middle or even late-career or late stages of your life and how we can support the causes of other everyday feminists.
Here’s more about Latanya. Latanya Mapp Frett is the President and CEO of Global Fund for Women and serves on the board of directors for Global Fund for Women and Global Fund for Women UK. As a feminist fund, Global Fund for Women offers flexible support to a diverse group of partners, more than 5,000 groups across 175 countries so far to create meaningful change that will last beyond our lifetimes.
Previously, she was the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Global, the international arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America with regional and country offices in Africa and Latin America. She quadrupled the size of the program in four years to become one of the most innovative and sustainable global health organizations in the field. She also worked for years as a Human Rights Officer for the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, and for ten years with the United States Agency for International Development.
She also served as a delegate for the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 and continues to fight for the human rights of women. As an attorney by trade, she began her career at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in Washington, DC. She has received many honors and awards including two Esteem Honor Awards from the US Government and the highest honor in civil service, the Superior Honor Award from the US State Department.
Latanya was 1 of 30 Foreign Service Officers honored with the Colin Powell Fellowship by then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Latanya serves on the Board of Directors at Oxfam America and Management Sciences for Health and is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and the author of four UN human rights reports and manuals. She also is a Returned Peace Corps volunteer and alum of the ICAP. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government and Politics, a Master’s in Public Policy, and a JD from the University of Maryland.
I sincerely appreciate that Latanya made time to have this conversation. Before we get started, if you’re enjoying the show, please make sure to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. If you’ve already left a rating and review, I thank you so much. Your support of the show means the absolute world to me.
I always say you can also share the show with your friends, family members, or colleagues on your social media feeds. Last but not least, I wanted to say a big Happy Mother’s Day. If it’s passed or right before, I thank you for everything that you’re doing out there, you brave and wonderful women. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you. Let’s welcome Latanya to the show.
Latanya, welcome to the show. How are you?
I’m wonderful, Jen. Thanks so much for the invitation to speak with you.
We’re happy to have you. Everyone knows I love women’s stories. I get up in bed in the morning to hear women’s stories of motivation, overcoming resilience, grit, and things like that. I know that you have your own story. I cheated, Latanya. I read your bio on your website. I’m just so excited for people to hear about you. Why don’t you tell us a bit about your back story and how you’ve gotten to where you are now?
It’s been interesting with the book. Printing your story is so different than just telling it. Sometimes it’s been a journey. I come from the US and a very unequal country. I know now a very unequal world. I grew up in Inner City Philadelphia, and figured that was the normal life. I had lived in an abusive home before my parents divorced, but yet both of them championed my thirst for learning, equality, and helping people.
Even since I was five, I’ve always said I wanted to be a lawyer. That probably had to do with the fact that my heroes were Harriet Tubman and Thurgood Marshall. Coupled with that, my brother was in and out of the juvenile system. That attention to the criminal justice system and quite frankly, the unfairness of the system for boys like my brother had me very early leaning in the direction of working around justice.
I went to college, and I was with students who organized to divest my university from the South African apartheid government at that time and that started my organizing and movement work. In law school, I did two programs overseas. One in Kenya to study International Public Law with this whole UN system and all its branches.
The other one, I did an externship as they called it in South Africa as apartheid was ending. I had this incredible experience to work and see a new government come into place in that country. It set all of the equality and justice that I had been feeling and wanting to do. It came together in South Africa. After I finished law school, I went to the Peace Corps where I worked on child protection and women’s rights issues.
I had all these amazing opportunities, including serving as a delegate to the Beijing Conference, which is the United Nations Women’s Conference on gender equality in 1995. I was struck at that time by how many differences there were among us, even among Black women that were there. We were all so different speaking different languages but yet, we had this one rallying call that women’s rights are human rights. It affected me to this day to be able to see that it didn’t matter the differences if we were focused on what we wanted to achieve together.
The rest of my career followed in that direction. Every job I took was with the intention of trying to make sure that I could be in service to the future that we all wanted and that we all still do want. That’s my backstory and how I got to where I am. There are a couple of things that happened there. I got married, had kids, and got divorced. Life happened as well but it has been an amazing opportunity to stay on this course where supporting social justice work around the world. It has been my goal, my pleasure, and my privilege.
One of the things I noticed is the places you’ve lived in. You talked about Kenya and Africa twice. You’ve lived all over the world. How many countries have you lived in or visited or been around?
We were counting because of the book. I lived in 15 countries but I have worked and been responsible for programs in 52 countries. Most of them are in Sub-Saharan Africa, but also I served in Egypt and North Africa, Iraq, Pakistan, and the list goes on. When I went to Planned Parenthood, I had a huge program in Latin America. It was a privilege to be able to work with the feminist movements in those countries as well. It’s very eye-opening. I’ve lived in a lot of places. I’ve seen a lot and that’s why I can tell you that we think we have a lot of differences but I think we’re more alike than we know sometimes.We think we have a lot of differences, but we're more alike than we know. Click To Tweet
You would be an authority on that. You’ve lived in 15 countries and been touching 52 countries. That’s pretty amazing. As a roundabout, are you back in the Philadelphia area or where do you call home now?
I call home San Francisco. That’s where the Global Fund for Women is posted, where we’ve been based since 1987. Although now we live in a very virtual world. My staff is all over the world and there are less folks in the Bay Area. A lot of folks moved even during COVID because we weren’t in an office. Now we have little offices and installations around both the country and the world and less so the big landing office in San Francisco. This is still where I call home. My daughter is in the San Francisco School of the Arts so I am planted here.
You are rooted even though you’re a citizen of parts of the world. I wanted to tell you a big congratulations on the book, The Everyday Feminist: The Key to Sustainable Social Impact – Driving Movements We Need Now More Than Ever. You’ve had an amazing, many different ebbs and flows, and a huge arc in your career. Why put the book out now? Why did you decide to do this?
I started at the United Nations after Peace Corps. I worked for UNICEF for almost a decade. I became a US Foreign Service Officer, so a diplomat with USAID. I did that for almost fifteen years then I moved to a large NGO, which is Planned Parenthood Global work that I did. Now I’m at a public foundation. I’ve had this opportunity to see, especially work on women’s issues from so many different angles. When I got to Global Fund for Women, I thought about the story of this organization and how so many amazing women have been showing up for gender justice and social equality.
In every single one of these countries, I met a woman who I’m calling an everyday feminist in this book, who befriended me, took me under their wing, taught me, and helped me learn and find my own power. I felt like now is the time to put that into a book that would both celebrate these women and also celebrate the work that I do at Global Fund for Women. When I came in as the CEO of the organization, I was also sitting on boards of other organizations like Oxfam, International Management Sciences for Health, and others.
I serve on all these committees in these high-level commissions and I’m like, “All of these opportunities at the highest level are great but they would not be real if I don’t talk about who taught me to be who I am now.” I had this unique vantage point over the decades and I value the everyday feminists. Not because of the book but because I’ve spoken to them. I’ve lived with them. I’ve helped set strategy on their issues and watched up close the long-term impact. What happened to me in Kenya years ago is I got to see what that work turned into. I watch up close with the communities and the nations as they grow, develop, and thrive.
When I come across an everyday feminist now in my work, I don’t take it for granted because they do. They show up in my social media feed, at my office, and in all of the things that we’re reading online. There are these women who are doing this incredible work. As my grandmother told me, “If I need to look any further, I look in the mirror to find an everyday feminist,” because I need to be reminded every day that the work we’re doing is important and that the work they’re doing is God’s work, honestly.
I’m feeling goosebumps. I’m feeling all motivated. Thank you, Latanya. There’s one thing that I wanted to comment on here when I was introduced to you. I was excited because when I read your bio, maybe this is the compare and despair. I’m looking at your background and you are an absolute feminist and all the work you’ve done is amazing. I then think about me and I’m like, “Am I a feminist?” As I was reading your material and reading into your book, I’m like, “Yes, I am in my own right. I am with this show and the work that I do.”
I want women that are reading to understand that they too can be an everyday feminist. They don’t have to be on boards or they can be on boards. They don’t have to be CEOs or presidents of organizations in their corners of the world. Whatever facet or job type they have, they can be a feminist. Do you agree with that, first of all? Hopefully, you do. What do you believe an everyday feminist is?
I agree and without a doubt know that you are an everyday feminist. I was watching Dave Chappelle, the comedian, and he was talking about he is a feminist. I’m sure it was a joke but he’s a very profound guy. He was talking about why he calls himself a feminist. I will go as far as to say an everyday feminist because, in my opinion, an everyday feminist represents their communities and the struggles for justice, equality, and quite frankly, transformational social change.
They use their voice and their other resources in this effort. That’s why I can easily say you are. That’s why I agree when Dave Chappelle says he is. Why I named the book, The Everyday Feminist, is because I wanted to take away and dispel some of the myths that’s behind what a feminist was and what she or he looks like.
I remember my grandmother growing up. She was like, “She’s no feminist. She’s a feminist or rich White woman who has time to worry about their gender.” That’s how I grew up but my grandmother was probably the quintessential everyday feminist that I talk about in this book. They’re relatable and perfectly imperfect in a way that makes them human. I’m not here talking about this once-in-a-generation lightning bolt, charismatic leader, the Jacinda’s of New Zealand, or the Kamala’s, our vice president. I’m more talking about the ordinary women with these extraordinary passions and commitments to working towards lasting change. They can be from any sex or any sector and they could be doing almost any job and you’ll find them.
Maybe you’ve already hit on this but when we find, as you said, “I see them and I know when I see them,” are there characteristics? I know you are but when I meet everyday feminists in other places like on the train, the bus, in a meeting, or whatever, I’m like, “There are my people. There’s another one.”
That’s great because, in the book, I give a long list. You can’t check every box. When you first meet someone, you got to know them and what they’re doing. I would say that women in particular because they can be men too and I have a whole chapter about it, are fighting inequality and keeping the system accountable. You know that these are people that are also very generous with their time. I always talk about the nurses that are taking care of the elderly or the head of the PTA. These are the women or the men that’s running the food kitchen. These are the people that you know they collaborate with. They’re also very bold. Quite frankly, they have this narrow focus on what’s right and what’s fair. That is, in my opinion, how you can quickly tell an everyday feminist when you meet them somewhere.
The list goes on because it also talks about how they’re curious and looking for approaches and solutions to problems. They’re also quite transparent. They’re usually comfortable with what they think and what they feel and not afraid to say it in a big group. We can come back to some of those things but again, this is what makes an everyday feminist quite powerful.
That makes total sense to me. One thing that I read on your site or maybe throughout the book is you have a strong belief that feminists are the key or a key to driving social impact. I wanted to ask you why that is.
I think it’s the key. We’ve done a lot of research on this at the Global Fund for Women. When we talk about social change and how social movements then show up in order to support that change, that’s where you see these everyday feminists. They are showing up, pushing forward, and they’re not afraid to get the hard stuff done.
In fact, I try to give some examples in the book about how they’re the backbone of modern social movements. Martin Luther King is the head of the Civil Rights Movement War was behind him. I talk about the Black Panther Party and how that whole movement was driven by so many women, these everyday feminists, in the communities. Again, they can be of any gender but you look at any modern social movement and you’ll see there’s a woman there who is driving the actual community engagement and the relationship building. In Black Lives Matter, it was three young Black women who started that.When you look at any modern social movement, you'll see there's a woman there who is driving the actual community engagement. Click To Tweet
You start to dig and scratch the surface and you’ll see these everyday feminists showing up in places even when they’re not the center of the conversation. In fact, I go on to say that so many of them are overlooked and they don’t get credit for what they’re doing. We hear from Tarana Burke in the book from Me Too. The hashtag went wild and it was wonderful but she still had to struggle to get support and resources for the work that she was doing for the survivors. It wasn’t just about the grass tops. It was always about the grassroots and getting women who needed that support in their communities and their homes. This is the reason that I talk about driving social impact as the key and that these feminists being the reason that we’re able to push forward and have these conversations now.
Do you think that these feminists and I know this is a big question are the balance of power? It feels like the balance of power. We’re trying so hard with feminine energy to shift that balance because we see so many men that are in leadership positions. I interviewed an author. Her name is Jenna Fisher and she wrote a book called To the Top. She’s talking about women rising and why aren’t more women in that CEO spot in S&P 500 companies. I’m wondering if you also are seeing women being silent in the background. Are there silent everyday feminists? As you said, they’re using their voice and they’re trying to get into positions of power and more visible rather than being behind the scenes. Are you seeing a shift in that in the world?
I see both of them because I don’t want to put the onus on women to have to rise higher or make decisions that they may not be comfortable with in order to be at a certain level or position to be seen and heard. What I’m doing with both, Global Fund for Women and the book, is trying to make our society comfortable with what drawing women driving an agenda. One thing for all of these women in this book that I talk about is pushing.
They’re pushing to make sure their issues are on the table, to change the system, and they’re in a position of power to have their voices heard but it can’t just be them. It can’t be them doing that and trying to break the glass ceiling. We have to have a society full of people who respect these everyday feminists as much as they respect the White male who runs the CFO and CEO who lives in these C-suites.We have to have a society full of people who respect everyday feminists as much as they respect the White male who lives in the C-suite. Click To Tweet
We have to know that it has to be us being able to receive them as leaders and being able to see them as worthy of support. Sometimes I call it the mama effect. I think there was something written about this not too long ago. We grow up expecting our mothers to do all of this. There was something written about the amount of domestic work we do in the house and the numbers. You can imagine how much more hours we spend doing things like cleaning, laundry, and all of these kinds of things. Compared to our males who use the differential time on doing things that bring them joy and help their community.
We’re doing all of these things and it’s time for us to put some value to that, give credit where credit is due, and quite frankly, resource these women to continue at least doing what they’re doing. It’s one thing for them to try to keep pushing through and to be seen and heard in positions of leadership and power. If the rest of the community is like, “They’re supposed to do that. They shouldn’t get paid for doing that. They shouldn’t even get paid as much as their male counterparts for doing that.” Those are the things that I want to change. I want to make it so common that we think about over-resourcing these women than under-resourcing them.
It’s a yes, and. It’s not just about the women that are trying to get into those top spots. It’s about everyone supporting them from a society perspective. Correct?
You got it.
I got you now. I don’t know if we want to touch on all of these or even a couple of examples but there are some movements that you mentioned in the book that we need more than ever. Can you give some examples that you share in the book or that you believe strongly that we need to put that effort behind, not just these female leaders but all everyday feminists around?
I’ll start by touching on Miriam Miranda. She’s the head of an organization in Honduras for the Garifuna people whose land many of us know had been used for banana plantation. It had been taken and confiscated by the government and by the companies, I believe Dole, over some years. She’s been in this fight for a long time. This is part of the characteristics of an everyday feminist.
She’s now more focused on the climate justice movement. How she has pivoted from land rights for indigenous people into climate justice because it’s all the same. It’s the abuse of our land for profit that has now led us to where we are in the climate crisis that we’re living through. You can read in the book how she makes this leap from the work that she does in caring about justice and equality to then, of course, naturally, she’s going to have to work for the climate issue.
She’s going to have to come up with solutions now for a land that has been quite frankly raped and how we’re going to survive. In her case, as a community, to make sure that this land can continue to feed us and that it’s used for the people. That’s one of the movements but there are so many. The reason why I thought it was important to make sure that people understood the issue of how women have to be agile and pivot in their work, to take care of themselves, their communities, and the Earth.
We at Global Fund for Women are seeing so many requests for support around climate justice. While the rest of the UN and the big world can be worried about emissions in 2050 and how we get there, these women are the seawalls are breaking and the seas are rising, especially in the small island states in the Pacific and the Caribbean. We do a lot of partnering there to make sure there’s an adaptation, communities can move, and kids will have schools.
These are the very real things that are often siloed in conversations but it’s one thing. The climate is changing. These people are deeply impacted. In many geographies, they don’t have a plan and it’s not gender-neutral. Women are suffering far more from these floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and cyclones. All of these things are where women are more likely to die. In many cases, twice as likely.
There needs to be a heightened understanding of what the risk is so that we can help these everyday feminists change things to be able to adapt, mitigate, and support communities. For me, the climate crisis is so important. I’m part of a campaign called Dandelion, where women around the world call themselves Connected Women Leaders and are trying to talk about these issues much more. It’s not the big C.
We got it. We’re confident and we know corporations and governments need to be focused on the big C and making sure that we get to our goals. There’s also the, “What’s happening now? What’s happening in communities? How do we help them support their immediate needs and find solutions?” These everyday feminists are doing it. We just need to support it.
That’s a good example. This is maybe even to the point of ignorance but in my corner of the world. I’m from the Chicago area. You’re from Philly, so you know what the winters used to be like but I know the weather has been insane in certain parts of California and this isn’t laughable. This is weird and probably not seasonal on some of the rain, the weather, and things.
On the opposite, I would say that our Chicago winter has been so mild. We’ve had days like in February that is 50. Not that we’re complaining but that’s not Midwest winter. I signed up to be here and this is not the winter of my youth. We’re seeing this struggle and the need for this movement everywhere. Every corner of the world is seeing it.
It’s so true, Jen. I moved to San Francisco Bay Area in 2019. It was so dry. They were going through droughts. I don’t know if you remember the fires that we were having every year to now when you’re seeing the flooding and the intense snow that has happened in the Northern part. I don’t know how anybody can deny that we’re going through a climate crisis. I know that we need to be much more focused and centered on how we get out of this crisis, how we evolve, and how we support innovation that’s going to be different.
Most importantly, how do we protect communities? It is going to be the everyday feminists that do this. Global Fund for Women sees from all over the world, 176 countries. There’s some version of the story that you gave about Chicago. We’re all in this. We’re all experiencing these challenges. In Chicago’s case, it might be, “A warmer winter might not be so bad,” but it’s what’s happening around the country, how we have to change, how we farm and make food. It’s so much that we can’t hesitate.
We can’t wait to support these everyday feminists because they are always the ones that show up. We know we’re in a situation where people are going to be displaced, experiencing abuses and violations because of the climate circumstance. Let’s get in front of that and support these women. For me, it’s going to be very simple. It’s like, “Let’s instead of thinking that they’re supposed to show up in a crisis. Let’s get ahead of that and start thinking about when they show up in the crisis, and how we’re supporting and resourcing the work that they need to get done.”
It’s not easy but it sounds like it makes sense to me. Before we move on, you’ve also made me think very differently. We think from our corner of the world again. A Chicagoan like me could think, “What a blessing. It’s 50 degrees here in February.” We’re not thinking about the ripple effect that’s having in the Caribbean, California, or in other places where there could be devastation or the area like Texas, for example. With some of the ice storms and the weather they’ve had, they’re not even prepared for it. I’m sure California was very similar and the Caribbean and other parts of the world. You made me think it’s not about your community. It’s about all of us as one global community together.
I love that, Jen, because having lived in all of these countries, we are more connected than we often realize. We have to show up not just for our immediate needs but also for where all of the needs are around the world. Quite frankly, in communities that we care about and love and all of us have them. It’s our community but it’s also the people that come from different parts of the world that we have grown close to. We’re closer now than we’ve ever been. I do think that it’s important. It’s a characteristic of the everyday feminist and a case in point. You also are always learning and thinking about what is happening around the world. I appreciate that comment.
Let’s talk about the action piece. I help women take action. I’m a coach by trade as well. Let’s talk about two things. The first thing is, how are these everyday feminists gaining traction or how can we support them to gain traction? What I mean by that is someone might be reading and going, “This is all great that we’re talking about it but what can I do to support these women or be this woman? Let’s start with the support like a baby step. What can we do to support everyday feminists?
Let me start again by restating because it’s so important. I’m convinced. If we don’t support them, we’re going to lose the drivers of social change in any possibility for accountability and any chance for change in our society. In the book, I’m allowed to dream a little bit of a world where we fund everyday feminists and we give them tools for their activism instead of starving them.If we don't support the everyday feminists, we're going to lose the drivers of social change any possibility for accountability and any chance for change in our society. Click To Tweet
I put three checklists in the book. One is more for philanthropists, one is for governments, and the other one is for more corporate and ESG-minded folks. I talk specifically to everyday feminists but let me give you some quick examples. I asked philanthropy, both foundations and individuals because we see that together, especially in our country, to embrace and value the slow path to real lasting change.
Especially in our funding, we want to see change happen overnight. We want to see it go from A to Z immediately so that we can write up reports and show instant gratification but this is the slow game that these folks are doing. Everyday feminists are having to look at the long game. Ten years probably being the minimum before you see the real systemic change that you’re trying to get to. Embracing that slow path, lasting change, and sticking with everyday feminists through what are the natural ups and downs of movement work is going to be important.
I say to governments, including bilateral but also multilateral funding that happens in the world. I ask that they protect everyday feminists who are serving as human rights defenders everywhere. What’s happening is that in some countries where there’s a lot of pushback and where gender equality is dangerous to talk about, you see that there is femicide going on. We saw it in Iran and look at Afghanistan. We need to be stronger in order to protect them and have a no-tolerance policy for countries that don’t comply.
We need to put sanctions on countries where women are killed because they’re seeking justice. We have problems here in our own country, and you know that. If our values are such that we care about these issues and the conversation of social justice and gender justice, then we have to show that. We have to protect these individuals.
I say for corporations and businesses that clarifying the values of both the leadership and the board and even staff to ensure that they listen to and partner with these social movements including everyday feminists is going to be super important. I could talk a little bit about that later but it is very important that corporations and private companies show up for their communities. That means then resourcing everyday feminists and what’s important to the communities where they have their markets.
For everybody reading, I hear things like if you’re fired up by this, you’re like, “What can I do?” A lot of the women, Latanya, that I serve are in a corporate position for a 9:00 to 5:00 job of some sort. If your company is of any size, how can you open your mouth and talk about this to your leadership? Maybe they are not privy to this or they’re ignoring this. How do you raise your hand and say, “What about this?” It sounds like personally, whatever you can, if you feel so moved to contribute to these movements with time, volunteerism, or financially, however you can contribute in those ways. Is that correct?
That’s correct. At Global Fund for Women, we talk a lot about the voice being sometimes as powerful as the check that you write. We’ll take the check and we’ll get it to the right people but we also know the power of standing up and defending the work that’s happening. Much of what we saw even during the previous administration was people sitting back in shock at what was happening.
We, of course, expressed our voice in the next election but what was ultimately happening was I think people felt so overwhelmed at what was happening that they lost their voice. People picked up their checkbooks, which is fine. If that’s what you decide to do but I do think understanding the power of your voice as well as your dollars is going to be super important when we’re living through crises like we are.
I agree with that. There’s one thing that I wanted to ask. We talked about some things in the last administration that have even followed us into now and things that might prevent an everyday feminist. Are there any things we need to be thinking about that would prevent us from gaining that traction? It sounds like a lack of voice could impact us or a lack of financial support could impact us. Is there anything else that might prevent us from gaining traction in these important movements?
I’ll say again that I do think that us focusing more on our differences than how much we’re like is going to be one of those things. You can’t look across the water at what’s happening. Let’s say, in Ukraine, Afghanistan, or the Horn of Africa where people are still experiencing severe drought. Those are not things that can have a ripple effect. You were talking about Chicago, which was such a wonderful example.
We can’t think that us sitting cushy in our homes here on this side of the world and dealing with our very specific problems, we will not be impacted by what’s happening in other parts of the world. That’s one of the things. Geography is difference but I do think that we understand now more than ever what’s happening around the world and being privy now. It means that we have to act. When we see injustice anywhere, we have to know that that means injustice everywhere. I think about this small thing around understanding how we connect to the larger world. It’s going to be super important if we want to get at some of these issues.When we see injustice anywhere, we have to know that that means injustice everywhere. Click To Tweet
I know it all starts at home but it also means that the responsibility to understand what’s happening and how it’s connected is going to be important for us. Our children know that way more than we think. Our young people are so super connected now. They could as easily be sharing social media texts with people next door as they can be with someone who’s clear across six continents. We have to try to focus hard on what are the similarities instead of what are the differences and what we’re experiencing in social justice. Also, provide the same support for, as I said, the PTA president and the work they’re doing as we do for women who are trying to prevent starvation in Sudan if that makes sense.
It makes total sense. We touch on this but I wanted to ask you for your advice for those of us that are working mama bears out there. I have two daughters. God graced me with two daughters, so I feel extra. Not that you can’t have it. You’ve already made that very clear. You can have a male feminist and a trans feminist. It can be male, female, or any sexual orientation, it does not matter. Now that I’m talking about my experience of having two young daughters, what advice would you give me as a parent for young or aspiring feminists? How would you say, “It starts at home?” How does it start at home?
Jen, I have a daughter. I have both a son who’s older and a daughter that’s about to graduate. I got to tell you and I know you see it too but these adolescent girls are driving nowadays’ social justice conversations. They are part of these movements. They’re starting these movements. They are incredibly interested in building a more just and equitable world.
In recognition of that reality and in line with the commitment to intergenerational feminism, we have to lift up and support their work in real terms. I’m not talking about inviting them to come to speak at your next conference or hiring them to run your social media, which we should do. I’m thinking about something a little bit more profound which is to give them some, in the words of Silicon Valley, where I am, startup resources and the capacity to let them fly on their own with their ideas and see where we get to.
Every generation has to go through the trust that they have to build with the next generation to take over. We’re in a situation now where we have children, especially young adolescent girls because I see it so much at Global Fund for Women, where they are driving and they’re happy to drive. We have to, in some ways, get out of their way.
My advice for aspiring everyday feminists of any age but especially young ones would be to engage in their communities and in all the movements around them because that’s where they’re going to learn how to fly. Quite frankly, if they’re aspiring to be an everyday feminist, that means they already are. It’s not like you need a degree in it. They’re already thinking like this and we have to back up and let them do what they do and look for and develop support when we find them.
To that end, I would say, I look for signs. I was thinking about as I was prepping for this. Was I always a feminist? I think the answer is yes. I’m in middle age and I’ve gotten much more involved in my middle years. I also wanted to have you comment on you can be an everyday feminist at any age. You don’t have to be a certain economic status in your career. We talked about younger feminists, which is so exciting and inspiring. You can fire up those engines and get into this passion and help the movements at any age, correct?
This word advocacy and being an advocate is something that I think we have to, especially when we’re in our middle years, think about how we show up. We’ve done a lot in our lives, being able to achieve, had some setbacks, and learned from them but all of that makes us bolder and more insistent on seeing change happen. I am of the opinion that we need to ask for at this age what we want and what we want to see. We need to tell our stories, both of failure and success because we see at this point in our lives that changing the whole system may be hard but if we don’t start now, we’re not going to get there.Changing the whole system may be hard but if we don't start now, we're not going to get there. Click To Tweet
We have to stop accepting the petty promises to change pieces of a system and lean in. That’s what everyday feminists do generally. We have to be bolder about that because we’re at a point where we’ve seen them say, “We’re going to get here. We’re going to break the glass ceiling. There’s going to be equality for women.” I don’t think we’re happy where we are. That’s on us to make sure that we hold the folks accountable who have said that we’re moving in that direction but then you have a setback like Roe.
We take a couple of steps forward and at our age, we might get a little complacent and be like, “We won.” We have to keep moving. We have to keep driving. We can’t accept false promises. We got to see it out till the end. The other thing I would say at our age is when we’re talking about middle-aged everyday feminists, we recognize that this work is not charity.
It’s an investment in our collective futures and just like any portfolio that we hold, we have to put certain amounts of resources in certain places to ensure the future that we want and the future that we want for our children. It means that we have to think about it that way like a portfolio of opportunities to support and make sure that we are in the right places, driving the right change, and advocating for the right laws and policies so that we have a collective future that works for all of us.
I don’t want to derail us because I can’t believe we’ve been talking for a while. I want to make sure that we stay within our time. I could talk to you forever, I have to tell you. I would say, personally, I’ve shared this on the show. I’ve had infertility on the Roe comment. I’m sure that I probably will polarize. Maybe I’ll lose a reader or two that was okay with the Roe situation. I think about some states in the US not giving women the ability. It was overturned overall but there are some states. I’m in a state that is more on the liberal end. There are some states, I believe this is correct, that within no jurisdiction can women make that choice to terminate a pregnancy.
I’ve had situations, ectopic pregnancies, missed miscarriages, and for any woman, I give you a virtual hug because it’s so hard. When your life is at stake or you have to make a tough decision, that was heartbreaking. I have to say that as a sidebar because for my daughters, I don’t want them to make those hard choices but I do think that was a humongous step backward. As you said, we cannot be complacent because when we think that we’ve won, it’s like, “Let’s re-wake up because we still have work to do.”
I agree, Jen. Our age brings us wisdom but there are more women out there experiencing these things. I remember I got pregnant with twins. One of them was no longer viable but potentially could cause problems for not just the other child but for myself. These medical situations belong in our doctor’s office and with us, personally in our families and in our faith. It does not belong in the law. It makes me sick sometimes when I hear all of these stories and all these men talk about, “We shouldn’t have this and that.”
We’re the ones living through circumstances, which look so different. I lived in Senegal for a little while. During the work that we were doing there, we realized that some gross numbers, maybe 92% of the women who were in prison were there because of infanticide, which was what they were charging them for abortion.
We went and talked to these women. I tell you, some of their situations sound like situations that I was in, my sister was in, and my best friend was in, where you have a stillborn or you’ve had miscarriages at a late stage. Because they couldn’t prove it and someone said that they aborted their child or attempted to abort, then they ended up in jail. I’m like, “I don’t want to live in a country like that. I don’t want to live in a country where we’re making these kinds of decisions in a courtroom about, was it a miscarriage or did you take some herbs to force it?”
It’s like, “OMG. That is not where we are anymore.” We have to trust women to be able to do what’s best for themselves and their families. Again, if we looked at the data or the everyday feminists and when you read it, we’ll see the proof is in the pudding. We’ve been doing good stuff for ourselves and our communities for a long time. Now to pretend that you should have control as a legal system over what decisions we make is unfair. It lends itself away from who everyday feminists are in the work that they do for their families and for their communities. It’s unfair.
I agree. I had to go there because it definitely was a loss for our young women and all of us. I hope that eventually that it will be overturned or turned around somehow for sure. I asked all of my guests and I would love to hear from you. What do you believe are 1 to 2 ways women can be braver at work now?
I was thinking about that. One of the things that I want to say to all of the wonderful faces, we’re finding ourselves. We’re finding ourselves all over in different trades and companies and breaking ceilings that have never been broken before. I want us to not be afraid to bring our communities to work. Sometimes when being the first, the only, or the few is difficult. You try not to be seen as a woman who cares about everything. We should be the opposite and the beauty of having us at these tables, even the highest board corporate tables, we do bring our communities to work.
We do mention gender justice movements when we’re sitting at those tables. We look for and develop support through the work that we do for social justice. It’s because I believe that it’s the path to dismantling racism, sexism, classism, and ageism. This diversity at the table means that we are there to bring our communities to the table. I want us to feel like that’s okay.
The other thing is that everyday feminists live everywhere as we pointed out. There are going to be everyday feminists in our workplaces. My hope is that we can be braver at work by holding ourselves up against criticism and persecution in the workplace. That’s either online or offline. When we know we found someone who stands up for justice and wants to use her or his voice in that way in the workplace, we protect them and walk with them. We take their call to speak up when we know what they’re experiencing, whether that’s discrimination or adversity at work. We can together work to end that right there in the workplace.Everyday feminists live everywhere. There are going to be everyday feminists in our workplaces. We need to be braver at work by holding them up against criticism and persecution. Click To Tweet
This happens on the race side too with Black people. It’s like, “We’re only a few. We can’t make waves. I don’t want to say that I agree with that person on this issue because it ostracized me and maybe my career might go down.” I’m asking us to be a little bolder. We’re in good company. If we were bought into space, bring our communities with us. Even if we are not that voice on gender justice in our workplace, protect and stand up for those that are.
I’ve been there for all these interviews and conversations and that’s a unique perspective. Probably the first I’ve heard in over 100. We talked about women supporting other women but the idea of bringing that community to work and holding some of us up in your communities is powerful. Thank you for sharing that. I want to give all the places where women can support your work and what you do online. I want everyone to go out and purchase The Everyday Feminist: The Key to Sustainable Social Impact. Where can women find you and your wonderful work online?
Thank you, Jen, I appreciate it. You can go to GlobalFundForWomen.org and check out our new initiative. We have something that’s called 1.9 Rising. To be quick about it, from all the overseas money that goes from the US government and all the global North countries to the global South countries, only 1.9% of it gets to women’s organizations.
It’s such a low disgusting number that we’re doing a new campaign. It’s called 1.9 Rising because we are committed to making that number go up and we are committed to activism around the globe. We ask people to offer perspectives, articles, analysis, and resources where they can to increase that number. For us, it’s important that the number gets closer to 50. You’ve probably seen this number to be another 100 years or 99 years before we have gender equality in the world. We’re like, “We’re going to bust that number down as much as possible.”
You’re doing this great work every day. For those that do have kids, expose them. I challenge you as we end here. Expose them to this concept and to this material. As you said, get out of their way and encourage them to be an everyday feminist. This is such good work. Latanya, thank you so much for being on. Again, it’s been such a pleasure to have you on. I look forward to following you and your work in the future.
Thank you, Jen, so much. Keep doing the show. I love it. Brave women everywhere or to say even my opinion is everyday feminists. Thank you for your work.
That’s a wrap of my conversation with Latanya. I hope you found our discussion both valuable and inspiring. As a reminder, please rate, review, and subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. The show is also available on Google Podcasts and Stitcher. Until next time, show up, step out and be a feminist, and be brave.
- Global Fund for Women
- The Everyday Feminist: The Key to Sustainable Social Impact – Driving Movements We Need Now More Than Ever
- Planned Parenthood Global
- Oxfam America
- Jenna Fisher – Previous Episode
- To the Top
- Connected Women Leaders
- Google Podcasts – Brave Women At Work
- Stitcher – Brave Women At Work
- Apple Podcasts – Brave Women At Work
- Spotify – Brave Women At Work