On Tuesday, February 7, 2017, members of the Desmond Tutu Center attended the Women4Change Symposium at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. The symposium was organized and hosted by Women4Change Indiana with the support of its steering committee, which includes our own Waseema Ali, Managing Director of the Desmond Tutu Center.
Prior to the start of the symposium and after it had concluded, attendees could visit a variety of informational tables for local organizations such as the Desmond Tutu Center, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, the Immigrant Welcome Center, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.
At the beginning of the symposium, attendees were welcomed by one of Women4Change’s founders, Sandy Sasso, Senior Rabbi Emerita of the Congregation Beth El-Zedeck in Indianapolis as well as Reverend Kim King of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. Mayor Joe Hogsett of Indianapolis was also invited to speak. Beyond declaring February 7 to be Women For Change Day, he made a call to action for the people of Indianapolis to move for justice and equality. The mayor’s address was followed by a recording of the song “We Can Do This Hard Thing,” by folk singer Carrie Newcomer.
The greatest focus of the symposium was the four task forces that have been formed by Women4Change and its supporting partners. They are led by individuals coming from a variety of backgrounds of identity, experience, and leadership within other local organizations. The first task force, Dignity and Safety, centers upon LGBTQ and women’s rights, targeting issues such as sexual and reproductive health, domestic violence, and discrimination in the workplace. The second task force, Empowering and Mentoring, is focused on empowering and guiding minority groups as they pursue more roles within the government. The guiding thought behind this group is that the government must better resemble the communities living in this country in order to be capable of acting justly in each of those communities’ best interests. The third task force, Inclusion and Civility, works to ensure that everyone is fully granted equal rights and dignity in the United States, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and other identities. The final task force is Restructuring who has the task of of incorporating civics into the education system and addressing issues such as gerrymandering and partisan redistricting which must be more critically addressed.
Melissa Cohen, the cantor of Congregation Beth-el Zedeck in Indianapolis, came forward to sing another of Carrie Newcomer’s songs, “If Not Now,” and attendees were encouraged to sing along. The symposium was then concluded with attendees being invited to choose a specific task force in which they personally wanted to get involved. Each task force then split off to different areas of the church to gather and discuss their next steps of action.
By: Annika London