Advocating for Equality

By Ashleigh Hollowell, Office of Development Communications Posted Fri, 06/08/2018 - 14:49

The past year has been pivotal in the women’s movement, but there is more work to be done.

That was the message from a panel of experts who spoke on “Advocating for Equality,” hosted by the Women in Leadership & Philanthropy initiative at USF. San Francisco, they said, can be a leader in bringing a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.

Women in executive positions throughout the city are “practicing today what the rest of the world will be following tomorrow,” and it is essential to “... look at intersections of race, sexual identity and expression, class, disability and ageism and how those things bring us to a higher moral calling,said Mary Wardell-Ghirarduzzi, USF vice provost, Diversity, Engagement, and Community Outreach.

However, the process of identifying and advocating for equity issues that need critical attention is not a light endeavor, she said.

Surfacing Issues of Inequity

Examining and raising awareness of issues surrounding equity requires examining a variety of facets that intersect one another, Wardell-Ghirarduzzi and others on the panel explained.

“It really takes an awareness about some of these issues and to try to surface them,” said Emily Murase, director, San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. “It is about finding ways to connect with vulnerable communities.”

Further analyzing the intersections of race, gender, ageism, disabilities, and sexual identities, and then discussing and educating ourselves and others about these issues helps effectively raise awareness.

“... We have to begin small, but we have to begin to be open. We have to change the inequities that are hidden and make them known and make them seen,Wardell-Ghirarduzzi said.

Murase strongly encouraged women to become individually involved in public decision-making, as a pathway to begin surfacing and to solving various issues surrounding inequities.

“I think we have to keep talking about it. We have to keep giving back. We are all humans and all the same ultimately,” said Anne Kronenberg MPA ‘02, executive director, San Francisco Department of Emergency Management.“ What can we do, if we are in this privileged place, to be able to bring others along with us?”

Leveraging Opportunities for Advocacy

Power and leadership have the ability to generate resources and opportunities. These San Francisco female leaders spoke about leveraging positions of privilege and leadership to make a difference.

As women who have college degrees, citizenship, privilege, homes, positionality, and healthcare, the panelists suggested that they and the attendees examine their opportunities and how women in leadership can make an impact.

“What I try to do is lead by example and speak out, and empower women in particular, but all people who are marginalized,” Kronenberg said.

The panel suggested that attendees and panelists could use their influence to help build a bridge of access between those who are marginalized and those who have the capability and capacity to initiate real and lasting change and raise awareness of long overlooked inequalities.

“What matters most now is trying to understand who has consistently been left out of the promise. Who has consistently been left out of the conversation? Who is not at the table and who has consistently not been at the table?” Wardell-Ghirarduzzi said. “We must understand what we as women in 2018, regardless of where we’re at generationally, can do to use our voices, to use our assets, and to use our resources to advance this particular conversation.“

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