Who is Involved?
New York City is a unique city to study because of all the different types of people who live there. Those different people are exactly the ones who are looking around their neighborhood and realizing how few resources there are for women. The people who are starting these grassroots are women themselves. They are groups of moms, teachers, teenage girls, college students, and women coming together toward their goal. These women are in New York City but are also national, seeking for gender equality.
How Have They Organized?
In today’s society, especially since the DC Women’s March, women are increasingly realizing they are stronger together. Turns out, young girls, when they aren’t constantly feeling like they aren’t supposed to like STEM fields, have a lot of curiosity for the subjects in the classroom. These grassroots organization are organizing purely by providing an all girls environment. Some of the organizations have the girls participate in science projects or writing projects, giving them female role models to look up to, in order to feel as though they belong in the field they are interested in. Other organizations give teenage girls leadership skills and education so they can stand up for their reproductive and social justice rights.
Some organizations were started due to the lack of resources for women in college, giving these women a space to come in and express their art in a group of empowering women building each other up, or just giving women a space to express their frustration in universities. There is a lot to be done and these organizations, as unique as the girls they serve, are helping scratch the surface. Look at the drop down menu to find tabs, “Grassroots in NYC” and “Grassroots Elsewhere in the U.S.” to read descriptions of the organizations that have just been synthesized.
Almost every organization I looked at, focused on giving girls an opportunity to feel empowered because of the lack of empowerment in public schools. Some grassroots, such as, Girls Write Now, specifically target girls becoming more involved in their fields of interest early on, so they don’t experience the corrosive attitudes entrenched in the classroom. Other organizations such as Art Girl Army just provide girls with safe spaces to come together and
feel empowered by their peers, giving women the chance to feel celebrated. A few of the organizations that have organized outside of NYC, such as ACT for Women and Girls and SisterReach, have specifically chosen to focus on helping women with leadership and social and reproductive justice empowerment, helping girls find their own to voice that they can take outside of the walls of the organization and use to stand up for what they believe in. The work these organizations do have started to break down the problem one step at a time. While the problem of women feeling less than still persists, taking these steps to empower one young girl at a time, who may one day start her own grassroots organization, slowly breaks down stereotypes women face everyday.
Obstacles and Impact
As with many organizations there are still obstacles. However, when development policies are set from the top down, even though they may be well-intentioned, their impact doesn’t always reach everyone equally. Women’s organizations help drive progress that is more inclusive and sustainable. This is why it is so important to maintain the work these organizations are doing. Part of the problem is that right now, less than 2% of global funding for gender issues goes to local women’s organizations (Gates, 2018). In order for these organizations to continue impacting young girls in their communities by letting them see women can do anything, more funding needs to be given.