This week I had the awesome opportunity to hear Gloria Steinem speak at the Spring Gathering for Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania. This annual event brought together 500 people spanning four generations to celebrate the work and achievements of Planned Parenthood in the region. It was incredible to see the National Constitution Center full of women and men who are passionate about reproductive rights and Planned Parenthood’s mission. This group included Michelle Sanger, great-granddaughter of Margaret Sanger and Patricia Carbine, one of the founding editors of Ms. Magazine.
Gloria Steinem is a personal inspiration of mine and a role model for every young woman. If your not familiar with her story, Gloria Steinem is a journalist and political activist who became a leading spokesperson for the women’s liberation movement through her coverage of women’s rights issues. She was the founding editor and publisher of Ms. Magazine, a groundbreaking feminist publication that is still popular today. Along with other feminist leaders, she founded the National Women’s Political Caucus in hopes of expanding women’s involvement in politics. Gloria’s activism played an important role in popularizing the second wave of feminism and she has been a force in promoting reproductive rights for American women ever since.
In her speech, Gloria Steinem discussed the importance of eproductive rights in achieving gender equality. She reinforced her belief that reproductive freedom is “a fundamental human right that is inseparable from equality” and she stressed the importance of Planned Parenthood’s work in promoting and protecting that right. She explained, “Planned Parenthood is the most important organizations in the country, if not the world.” As an organization that promotes the health and wellness of half the population, Planned Parenthood has an impact on every other major issue that faces this nation.
Gloria stressed the importance of recognizing the connections between issues, for example, reproductive freedom has a direct impact on gender equality and domestic violence plays a role in violence in the public sphere. By recognizing these connections, we can help to create a better world for the next generation. Her ending statement was “From this day forward, let us go forward by linking our issues instead of ranking them”. By ranking some issues more highly than others and ignoring the connections between them, we are not making progress as a society. For example, when we value religious tradition more highly than women’s health, half the population suffers as a result.
Gloria called on the next generation of women to embrace the feminist movement and continue the fight for reproductive freedom. She explained that it took 100 years of fighting for women to gain recognition of their human identity, meaning recognition under the law and the right to vote. Today’s struggle is for social equality and she expects that this fight will also take 100 years, so it essential that the younger generation join the cause.