Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Radical Women Conference

Feminist organization Radical Women, based in the California Bay Area, hosted their 41st annual conference this past weekend. The theme of this year's conference, which took place at the historic Women's Building in the Mission district of San Francisco, was "the Persistent Power of Socialist Feminism."

We interviewed Marit Knutson, a former New Moon reader who works with Radical Women. Read on to learn more about the organization and conference.

New Moon: How did you get involved in this organization?
Marit: I was familiar with Radical Women since in my hometown, Seattle, there is a very large and active branch. However when I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, I met up with organizers at the branch in San Francisco and found it to be the perfect place to organize around many, many issues of concern for me. There was something empowering and special about an women-led, women-organized group. For the last two years, I've been organizing and learning leadership skills and it's been AMAZING!

What is the background on the conference and what is its mission?
The conference is 41 years in the making - Radical Women came out of the 1960s student movement and has lasted throughout the decades. We are very proud to be hosting the conference, titled "The Persistent Power of Socialist Feminism," in San Francisco, at the historic Women's Building. The building is completely covered in a beautiful mural of historical freedom fighters and feminists. We hope that after the conference, women and men will leave feeling prepared to build a strong feminist movement, that has young women of color in the leadership.

What issues does the conference discuss?
We will be talking about a lot of issues, and are delighted to have international feminists from China, Australia, Costa Rica, Israel, as well as Lynne Stewart, who is an activist lawyer. Mainly we'll be looking at women's leadership, how to organize across racial and ethnic lines, organizing around reproductive rights issues, discussing the election, how to stop the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, how to help support immigrant communities as they are under increasing attack, struggles around gender and sexuality, and much much more!

Do you have any advice for young New Moon readers?
The world is a little chaotic so it's important for young girls to be involved in shaping their futures, by keeping plugged in to what's happening. Also, keep reading New Moon. It was an extremely empowering tool for me when I was 10 years old, up until I was a teen! I felt like I was part of something big. As girls turning into young women, we have a lot of challenges in front of us, with sexism and racism, people telling us what we can or can't do with our lives, others trying to tell us what sort of jobs we SHOULD have. But ladies, we CAN do anything! I encourage all of you to learn more about feminism and its impact on the lives of your mothers and grandmothers. We have all benefited from its gains, and we still have a lot of work to do!

Do you have any advice for girls who want to become more involved with feminist issues?
Consider finding some books about strong women who really rocked! For example, Girls Who Rocked the World : Heroines from Sacagawea to Sheryl Swoopes by Amelie Welden (Author), Jerry McCann (Illustrator). Or girls know best By Michelle Roehm, which has a few volumes now. These books help us realize, just like New Moon, that we have a lot of work to do together, working together and sharing stories, but also organizing so that we can band together and fight back if we need to. Also please check out Radical Women's website, www.radicalwomen.org ! We have a lot of articles and resources available for use.

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