Young Women United

No More Lives Erased: Young Women United’s Call to End Violence

March 8, 2011

Young Women United (YWU) is a Third Wave grant partner organization working to end violence against women with a two-fold campaign: calling attention to the deaths of young women in their community in New Mexico, and holding the media and public officials accountable for the ways these women's lives and power are erased, even in death. In the wake of the mass shooting at Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's town hall in Arizona, YWU's director Adriann Barboa shares a powerful remembrance and vision for "an America to be as good as these women needed it to be:"

Two years ago today, in a story that shook me to my core, a woman walking her dog found a femur in the desert. She alerted the police, who began a three-month dig, covering a vast area of the mesa near my home. The police found the bodies of 11 women, one of whom was four months pregnant. Many of the women were close to my age and grew up here like me. Were brown like me. Had struggled here, like me. But when these women were found dead, President Obama did not come to town. There was no jam-packed memorial to mourn their lives cut short. What we had instead were devastated families whose greatest fear had been realized when their daughters' remains were discovered on the mesa. As the story unfolded, terrible sounds echoed in my ears. Not the sounds of shovels in the desert, but the sound of these lives being erased. Not only through death, but through the official description of the events. The women were not brave heroes who faced histories of poverty, abuse and trauma with the best tools they could find. They were “addicts.” And because they used drugs, many earned money the best way they could—by selling sex. And so they were “prostitutes.” The authorities thought the story could begin and end there: bodies found, case closed. 11 more prostitutes dead. Done.
Read the rest of Adriann's call on Young Women United's website and learn how to support their campaign to end violence and strengthen young women's power.

Posted in: Actions, Anti-Violence, Blog, Community, Media, Young Women United

On Mama’s Day, Recognizing Young Mothers & Strong Families

May 4, 2011

(Video by Strong Families, a project of Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice and in collaboration with reproductive justice organizations around the US) Today at The Frisky, Adriann Barboa (director of Young Women United) offers a smart take on how we can support young parents in our communities:

When I see the dismal statistics and negative images our communities are bombarded with, I wonder how many of the negative outcomes are caused not by the age of the parents, but by the stigma heaped on them and the isolation that results? We all know there is nothing inherently wrong with giving birth at 18. Humans have been doing it throughout time; President Barack Obama’s mom did it, every 30-year-old I know has a mother who was “young” by today’s standards. In a generation, the “proper” age to become a parent has changed. Economic security sure helps in raising kids. Having a partner does too. But 40 percent of babies in the US are born to mothers who are not married, and their ages range across the board. The Great Recession has taught us many things, including that we can’t count on financial security at any age. Maybe instead of a National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, with statistics and images that demonize young parents, we could have a National Day to Support Young Parents? We could have a day when service providers, teachers, ministers, and the media celebrate all of the great achievements by young parents and their kids. We could enjoy a day when we are honored for all we have taken on, and all that we have succeeded in doing, when the folks around us ask us how they can best support us, instead of telling us what we should have done differently.
Supporting young people's decisions to parent is a critical piece of ensuring reproductive freedom. In recognition and in celebration of Mother's Day, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) launched their campaign What's the Real Problem?. "We’ve been challenging the stigmatizing narratives that paint young mothers as irresponsible, hopeless, and drains on the state," writes Verónica Bayetti Flores, senior policy analyst at NLIRH. "Young women who choose to become mothers continue to be human, and deserve as much opportunity to lead fulfilling lives as women who delay their pregnancies or choose not to parent at all.

Posted in: Community, NLIRH, Reproductive Justice, Young Women United

Reflections on Third Wave Grant Partner Reports, Part II

June 12, 2012

I am currently an intern at Third Wave Foundation, and this is a continuation of my reflections after reading through 2010 end of year grant reports. All of the groups funded by Third Wave are doing groundbreaking and inspirational things. But I was also struck by the kinds of challenges Third Wave's grant partners are facing. To me, these challenges are significant because they represent the fact that grant partners are doing truly revolutionary, as opposed to popular, work. This lack of "popularity" also underscores the necessity of Third Wave's support, since funding for many of these issues and approaches is hard to come by. One challenge is public perception of issues related to sex and gender, as well as the way these issues are (or are not) represented in the media.  St. James Infirmary tried to get their media campaign posted on billboards and was turned down by CBS Outdoor and Clear Channel because the use of the words “sex work” and “sex worker” was deemed “not family friendly.” Different Avenues also reports that they have to stay away from mentioning “sex work” when interacting with many funders.  This also seems to be an issue with many of our groups fighting to bring comprehensive sexual education into schools.  Conservative school boards have put up many barriers, leaving our grant partners frustrated. Another challenge is navigating the changing fads in philanthropy. Because some issues are hot topics, it is easier for them to get funding. Meanwhile, other equally important issues get overlooked. For instance, many funders are more interested in boys in the system than in girls in the system.  This means they don't want to invest in groups like Different Avenues.  Young Women’s Empowerment Project reports being approached by those who have caught onto the anti-trafficking fad and want to speak with “trafficked victims.” They have difficulty expressing how the trafficking framework does not feel relevant for most of the girls who are a part of YWEP. Rather, “Girls Do What They Have to Do to Survive,” according to the title of their report on the participatory action research they did with street youth in Chicago. Within the context of prison reform, Justice Now reports on the realignment movement in California and the push for “gender responsive prison reforms.” At first glance, these proposed changes may appear to be improvements.  They are certainly getting plenty of support.  But Justice Now explains how they are, in fact, a regression. They are fighting for substantial changes to make the prison system more humane and for a movement towards decarceration. Third Wave grant partners tend to look at issues of reproductive health and justice as they affect and are relevant to under-served communities. It can be a challenge for them to appeal to funders working within a mainstream reproductive rights framework (which can seem focused on providing white women with access to abortions). This framework tends to ignore the ways in which gender, class, and racial privileges intersect. Choice USA, the Chicago Abortion Fund, SPARK Reproductive Justice Now, and New Voices Pittsburgh, are all fighting for a woman’s right to choose and for access to safe, empowering, and affordable reproductive healthcare.  New Voices Pittsburgh organized Pennsylvanians to rally against Senate Bill 732, the Health Care Facilities Act, which would close almost all free-standing or non-hospital affiliated clinics in Pennsylvania.  Despite their success as an organization, they report "resistance to our leadership as young women of color"(NVP 2010 report).  These groups recognize that the reproductive rights of people of color are especially under attack. For example, over the past few year, anti-choice billboards around the country have been equating a black woman’s decision not to have a child with the genocide of black people.  Recently, there have been similar billboards aimed at Latina women.  SPARK, Chicago Abortion Fund, and local chapters of Choice USA (at University of Georgia and University of Missouri) have all mobilized against this assault on women of color. Meanwhile, groups such as COLOR and Kalpulli Izkalli report that many of their constituents are very religious, and have views about abortions that differ from the views of many others fighting for reproductive health and justice. They face the challenge of understanding this fight in different ideological contexts.  COLOR reports: “The conservative religious sentiment in the community drives people to ask how we manage to navigate the relationship between strong cultural religion and reproductive freedoms”(COLOR 2010 report). Kalpulli Izkalli has found it necessary to separate the polarizing issue of “abortion” from the broader issues of reproductive justice, such as reproductive healthcare access.  Working from another angle, Young Women United is supporting young parents, recognizing their accomplishments and expertise, and fighting the stigmatization of teen parenting. All of these groups are negotiating what may seem from the outside to be ideological incompatibilities, and challenging the idea that reproductive justice means only “abortion.” They are working to forward reproductive health and justice in a way that makes sense within their communities, leaving constituents informed and empowered to make the decisions that feel right for them. To me, the very fact that our grant partners are running up against these kinds of obstacles to their work is a sign that they are doing something right.  It also reinforces my appreciation of Third Wave as a grantmaker.  Third Wave seeks out those doing crucial work, even if it is "unpopular," and especially when other sources of funding are hard to access.  

Posted in: Blog, Chicago Abortion Fund, COLOR, Comprehensive Sex Ed, Different Avenues, Grant Partners, Media, New Voices Pittsburgh, Organizing & Advocacy, Reproductive Justice, SPARK, St. James Infirmary, Young Women United, Youth Organizing, YWEP

Reproductive Justice Network Convenes In Albuquerque

September 28, 2011

From the Media Literacy Project Pressroom: Policies and decisions about reproductive health have profound effects on communities — impacting the civil rights and physical health of women in America. National organizations concerned with these issues will convene in Albuquerque Sept. 26-30 to discuss the future of reproductive health and justice issues as part of the Reproductive Justice Network Annual Meeting. The conference is hosted by three New Mexico organizations: Media Literacy Project, Young Women United and Kalpulli Izkalli. The Reproductive Justice Network is an initiative spearheaded by the Third Wave Foundation, and is designed to support the work done by and for young women of color, trans- and gender-nonconforming youth under 30. “Communities have been left out of mainstream reproductive rights conversations,” says Mia Herndon, Third Wave Foundation executive director. “What Third Wave decided to do, is to really center the voices of those communities that had a great deal of reproductive health disparities, but who had yet to be in the leadership of the solutions to shift those disparities.” The reproductive justice movement believes that justice will only be achieved when everyone has the power and resources to make healthy, informed, non-coerced decisions about their bodies, sexuality and families. The reproductive justice framework also recognizes that all individuals are part of families and communities, and gears decision-making toward strategies that support the inclusion of women. “The welfare of our mothers, sisters and daughters has become less and less of a priority in New Mexico,” says Media Literacy Project Executive Director Andrea Quijada. “If families are the cornerstone of community and women are the cornerstone of the family, we will not see a healthy New Mexico until we prioritize the status of women here.” And reproductive justice issues, Young Women United Executive Director Adriann Barboa notes, extend beyond traditional questions of family planning. “Women are the highest uninsured population in our state,” Barboa says. “Reproductive justice looks at all aspects of a woman’s health, from access to quality and safe care, to her economic means to care for her family. It’s time that those most impacted by these issues are at the center of creating the solutions.” The Reproductive Justice Network Annual Meeting and Third Wave Convening will be held at Hotel Albuquerque Monday, Sept. 26 through Friday, Sept. 30. For further information or to arrange press credentials for the conference, contact Hakim Bellamy at 505.828.3388 or hakim@medialiteracyproject.org.

Posted in: Blog, Community, Reproductive Justice, Young Women United

YWU Insights about Reproductive Justice in New Mexico

June 5, 2012

Media Literacy Project and Young Women United (two of our fabulous grant partners) teamed up to create a video of  YWU Executive Director Adriann Barboa's insights about the 2011 RJ Network convening and about Reproductive Justice work in New Mexico.  Take a look at this beautiful, informative video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VPN7okzqvnU&noredirect=1  

Posted in: Blog, Comprehensive Sex Ed, Immigration, Media, Young Women United