Book Talk: Women and Girls Rising

by Erica Moody

Women’s rights advocates met for a lively discussion and book launch at the Embassy of New Zealand.

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By Diba Mohtasham

Serra Sippel and Tina Tchen

Tina Tchen and Serra Sippel (Photo by John Nelson Photography)

On July 16th, 2015, we celebrated progress. 153 years earlier, Ida B. Wells–a civil rights activist and key proponent in the women’s suffrage movement– was born.

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In present-day Washington, over 125 activists, scholars and feminists came together at the New Zealand embassy to celebrate progress that’s been made in the women’s rights movement. The benefit, sponsored by the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), launched the book “Women and Girls Rising: Progress and Resistance Around the World.”

Group Photo of Panelists

Panelists Mahnaz Afkhami, Charlotte Bunch, Serra Sippel, Ellen Chesler and Terry McGovern (Photo by John Nelson Photography)

However, at the same time those in attendance celebrated progress and women, the event was a reminder that there is still so much work that needs to be done. “There is no place to challenge these issues if we are left alone in the silos of our own countries. We have to have a global movement,” said Charlotte Bunch, Founding Director at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Rutgers University. “Women and Girls Rising” is a historical account of the women’s liberation and feminist movement leading up to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. But beyond that, it is also considered an organizing tool for the global women’s movement and a reflection on the future.

Serra Sippel and Ellen Chesler (Photo by John Nelson Photography)

Serra Sippel and Ellen Chesler (Photo by John Nelson Photography)

The panelists included the book’s co-editors, Ellen Chesler and Terry McGovern, as well as contributors Bunch and Mahnaz Afkhami.

Much of what was discussed by the panelists was how the women’s movement is still insurgent in many parts of the world. They emphasized the importance of breaking down the separation between global and local, and on understanding women’s rights as humans rights struggles. “Women and Girls Rising’ celebrates courage, resilience and risk-taking. It’s not just a celebration, it’s an audit,” said McGovern.

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Mahnaz Afkhami and Kimberly Shor

Mahnaz Afkhami and Kimberly Shor (Photo by John Nelson Photography)

“‘Women and Girls Rising’ inspires us – despite the many obstacles and resistance that we confront – often daily, in different contexts and circumstances.“ said Serra Sippel, President of CHANGE. “The book inspires us to keep questioning, to keep challenging injustice, to keep moving forward.”

For more information and to order the book, visit CHANGE is an NGO that advocates for sexual and reproductive health and rights of women around the world.

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