OPEN LETTER: A PLEDGE OF LIBERATION
We believe that Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights. Women have intersecting identities and are impacted by a multitude of social justice and human rights issues, therefore no woman is free until all people are free. We are determined to build a society in which all women -- including Black women, Latina women, AAPI women, Indigenous women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, Jewish women, lesbian, bisexual, queer and trans women -- are free and able to care for and nurture themselves and their families, however they are formed, in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments.
We demand a federal budget that reflects the unity principles we marched for on January 21, 2017 and the principles we live by today. We call on all members of Congress to uphold the principle of collective liberation when considering the federal budget. We will no longer allow our issues to be treated as if they are in competition with each other, rather than integral to one another. We will not accept a budget that funds and supports some, but not all of us. We reject the argument that services for all marginalized groups cannot be funded simultaneously. We reject the use of our tax dollars for expanded and militarized law enforcement, for prisons, and for military weapons that harm rather than help people.
When Congress votes on the administration's “America First” budget, we demand that they vote with the following principles and demands in mind:
1. ENDING SEXUAL VIOLENCE
Women deserve to live full and healthy lives, free of all forms of violence against our bodies. We believe that the sexual exploitation of women, girls, and femmes is a human rights violation. At the same time, we recognize that sex trafficking and sex work are two very different things and that the criminalization of sex work puts sex workers at greater risk. We demand an end to slut-shaming and rape culture, to the silence around and tacit acceptance of domestic and sexual violence. We demand increased services for survivors of sexual and domestic violence, and the use of restorative justice practices that center how to heal the person harmed rather than perpetuating the cycle of violence.
2. ENDING STATE + POLICE VIOLENCE
We reject all forms of violence, particularly violence perpetrated by those who claim to protect and serve the people. We believe in accountability and justice in cases of police brutality and ending racial profiling and targeting of communities of color, especially Black and Indigenous communities, and queer, trans, and disabled communities which are disproportionately harmed by police violence. We are also committed to disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline that prioritizes incarceration over education by systematically funneling our children—particularly children of color, queer and trans youth, foster care children, and girls—into the justice system. We demand an end to systemic and state violence, such as the profit-over-people system of criminal justice. As such, we demand an end to mass incarceration, and the use of private prisons -- on the federal and the state level -- as well as an end to the restrictions that prevent formerly incarcerated people from voting, living in public housing and reintegrating into society.
3. REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS + JUSTICE
We believe in Reproductive Freedom. We do not accept any federal, state or local rollbacks, cuts or restrictions on our ability to access quality reproductive healthcare services, birth control, HIV/AIDS care and prevention, or medically accurate sexuality education. As such, we demand open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education. We demand the reshaping of the reproductive justice discussion to value both a woman’s right to choose and to de-stigmatize disability. We believe in fighting for full reproductive justice -- from a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body to the ability to have and raise a child in a safe and clean environment, free from police violence and gun violence, harmful environmental conditions, lack of access to healthy food and quality healthcare and education. All of these things constitute reproductive justice. We believe there is no reproductive justice without environmental, food, and educational justice. We believe that police brutality and gun violence violate principles of reproductive justice.
3. LGBTQIA+ RIGHTS
We firmly declare that LGBTQIA+ Rights are Human Rights and that it is our obligation to uplift, expand and protect the rights of our gay, lesbian, bi, queer, trans, two-spirit, nonbinary or gender non-conforming community members. All people must have the power to control our bodies and be free from gender norms, expectations, stereotypes, and violence. We demand an end to violence against trans and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people. We demand safe and affirming schools for for TGNC students. We demand an end to discriminatory policies on a local, state, and federal level that tacitly endorse violence against TGNC people. We demand an end to bureaucratic barriers that result in unnecessarily long, expensive, and difficult processes for individuals seeking to have gender-affirming and transition-related healthcare or changing their government identification to match their gender identities. We demand the passage of federal anti-workplace discrimination legislation that specifically protects the rights and identities of LGBTQIA+ people.
4. WORKER’S RIGHTS + ECONOMIC JUSTICE
We believe in an economy powered by transparency, accountability, security and equity. All women should be paid equitably -- across racial and disability lines -- with access to affordable childcare, sick days, healthcare, paid family leave, and healthy work environments. All workers – including domestic and farm workers, undocumented and migrant workers, disabled workers, and sex workers – must have the right to organize and fight for a living minimum wage. We demand a federal minimum wage of $15/hour -- and believe that this is still not enough for the achievement of pay and labor justice. We demand the decriminalization of sex work and the rights of sex workers to work in safe conditions and practice autonomy over their bodies. We demand that all people working in extralegal industries have access to fair labor practices. We demand an end to the criminalization of poverty and homelessness. We demand more affirming housing options for marginalized people, and more short- and long-term emergency housing for homeless people and people in crisis, particularly homeless youth. We demand quality and affordable mental health services for people at risk of homelessness.
5. CIVIL RIGHTS + RACIAL JUSTICE
We believe Civil Rights are our birthright, including voting rights, the freedom to worship without fear of intimidation or harassment, freedom of speech, and protections for all citizens regardless of race, gender, age or disability. We demand the full and automatic restoration of voting rights for all formerly incarcerated people. We demand accessible voting booths. We believe it is time for an all-inclusive Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We believe that ALL Black lives matter and that fighting for Black liberation means demanding reparations for African American and Indigenous people on whose backs the American economy was built. We believe in Indigenous Sovereignty and demand full respect for the laws and rights of Native people.
6. DISABILITY RIGHTS
We believe that all women’s issues are issues faced by women with disabilities and Deaf women. We demand the right of women and all people with disabilities to be fully included in and contribute to all aspects of American life, economy, and culture. We demand an end to the #CripTax -- the not-so-hidden costs that disabled people have to pay to in order to have their needs accommodated. We believe in the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We demand full legal protections for the disability community and the removal of all legal and bureaucratic barriers that prevent the disabled people from exercising their rights.
7. IMMIGRANT RIGHTS
Rooted in the promise of America’s call for huddled masses yearning to breathe free, we believe in immigrant and refugee rights regardless of status or country of origin. We believe migration is a human right and that no human being is illegal. We demand the establishment of sanctuary cities that are sanctuaries for all -- including Black, Latinx, Asian, queer, trans, and disabled people who are disproportionately targeted by local law enforcement -- and an end to the targeting and deportation of undocumented people and families. We demand an opening of our borders and resources to migrants and refugees regardless of nationality, religion, or background.
8. ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
We believe that every person and every community in our nation has the right to clean water, clean air, and access to and enjoyment of public lands. We believe that our environment and our climate must be protected, and that our land and natural resources cannot be exploited for corporate gain or greed -- especially at the risk of public safety and health. We demand that the air, water, and land used by and belonging to people of color and low-income communities are respected just as much as those used by and belonging to white and/or upper middle class communities. As such we demand an end to the funneling of toxic waste to communities of color and low income communities.
9. ENDING WAR
We recognize that to achieve any of the goals outlined within this statement, we must work together to end war and live in peace with our family around the world. Ending war means a cessation to the direct and indirect aggression caused by the war economy and the concentration of power in the hands of a wealthy elite who use political, social, and economic systems to safeguard and expand their power.
We demand an end to the segmenting of any of these issues, an end to the false supposition that our liberations are in conflict with each other. We will no longer tolerate the slight advancement of one issue while the intersecting issues are left behind.
We pledge allegiance to each other and to the liberation of all people. Join us. Make your #PledgeOfLiberation today.