The Voices of Walk In Her Shoes

The Voices of Walk In Her Shoes

2/3/17

Throughout our Walk In Her Shoes campaign, CARE’s goal has been to foster conversations, ask questions and listen intently to what women want and need to live their lives peacefully, equitably and prosperously.  We attended, hosted, and participated in a range of events including a Facebook Live discussion, a couple of podcasts and panels, and CARE’s first-of-its-kind Scale X Design Challenge.  We hosted warming stations at the Inauguration Parade and Women’s March to provide space and opportunities for people to talk about important issues; to rest, recharge, grab some coffee or nurse a baby before heading back out to participate in democracy. 

What did we learn from all these events and conversations?  That women all over the world face universal challenges and that elements of their lives are strikingly similar regardless of where they were from or what brought them to Washington. 

We spoke with dozens of people through our campaign and their comments were illuminating and representative of just how similar we all are.  No matter which event we attended, it was clear that we are entering a time in history like nothing we’ve seen before. And, as disparate as our political system appears to be, we’re all in this together.  Here’s what people had to say:

Lauren showed up with her 6-week old newborn (who is just learning to smile) to celebrate women because, she explained, “it’s an amazing opportunity to get together with women to fight for a cause.”

Catherine, with the Global Fund for Women, says her, “hope for the future is that we have equality and equal rights among all genders and all peopleEqual pay, freedom from violence, economic empowerment, political empowerment, ability to make your own decisions about your health, your life, your sexuality and your family.”

Charlene attended the Inauguration and said the most important issues for all women are healthcare, food and nutrition because, she explained, “without your basics, you can’t be competitive in the world or even in your small town in Kenya. You must have food, sustenance and healthcare.”

Calvin, an Uber driver, knew that CARE stands for Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere.  He received CARE assistance in Sierra Leone during the war and says that while he was not expecting Donald Trump to be president, “We want him to succeed and we will hold him responsible.”

Julie is concerned about “Pay equality here in America, women’s rights and women’s treatment as equal partners in business, at home and in all facets of life.”  Her friend, Jane came to DC so she could, “run into someone with a different viewpoint and have a reasonable conversation. Since the election, I haven’t been able to do that.”  She wants to talk about how education is crucial for women because that’s how, “You start a cycle where women can get out of poverty.”

Jessica thinks education is a universal and critical issue too and her friend, Jisou is concerned about the wage gaps and catcalls that women deal with “all day every day.” Jisou is optimistic about the future though, because, she explains, “ There are capable women like me and Jessica who will make change happen.” 

Sheila is worried about healthcare and mentorship for young girls.  Susan thinks women are the strength of society. Val, Urmula, Sarah and Nita want women to have a seat at the table and the ability to access equal opportunities and avoid physical harm.

Several women dressed in costume for the Inauguration and March to represent women in history who’ve been integral to women’s empowerment. Ellen’s hand-sewn suffragette costume, Wonder Woman’s cape and Rosie the Riveter’s jeans and bandana represented strength, resilience and the long haul women have made over the past 100 years to establish basic rights.  Ellen says, “I chose to dress as a suffragette because we’ve been fighting for a long time, we’re still fighting and we’re still fighting for the very same things.  We’re better at it now.  We’re more inclusive now, but we’ve got to keep fighting.”

For Meghan and Dawn, two CARE Action! Advocates, it’s hard to imagine a future where gender equity is the norm. Meghan says it’ll be when women have, “the ability to make your own choices whether it’s about your education, healthcare, body or work.”  Dawn said that if a gender-equity future is going to be achieved  “people need to speak up about what they want and need and how they’re going to make a difference.”

It wasn’t just women who were standing and marching for women. Gary grew up with a single parent family.  “With my mom, I saw the challenges and obstacles she faced as a young mother and in the work place so, I think about equal pay and equal opportunities and education.”  Jude thought that men and boys need to play a larger role to achieve gender equality.  Jack is outraged that, “in many countries, women still can’t vote.  It’s ridiculous.  Democracy is almost obsolete for women in some countries.”

Person after person answered the statement, Now more than ever, with hopes for solidarity and change, perseverance and vision, and with demands for people to stand together as citizens, activists and human beings with differing perspectives, diverse backgrounds and a range of passionate opinions about how America will lead from here. 

How does CARE and CARE Action! complete that statement?  Now more than ever, we must get engaged, stay informed and walk in her shoes because women around the world are counting on us.  Join us! 

Sarah Lynch

Senior Director, Global Policy Initiatives