March 28, 2018
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
March is the month when the world pays greater attention to women. Not only is March 8th International Women’s Day, but this month is also celebrated as Women’s History Month in several nations, and is the time when the United Nations convenes its annual Commission on the Status of Women. While the United Nations focused its discussion this year on equality for rural women and girls, there is no doubt that there is increasing global activism for advancing all women and girls. Indeed, women are playing a leading role in the fight for a deep and true democracy that understands that all peoples and countries are connected.
Given the increasing assault on, and abandonment of, human rights by the U.S. government, I authored a HuffPo piece about the lessons we can learn from the rallying cry of “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” in resisting the Trump Administration. When this call was first sounded by the women’s movement almost a quarter century ago, it was regarded as a bold assertion. Today, it is a self-evident truth. This transformation from a movement-based claim to a widely regarded certainty indicates that the arc of justice is in our favor so long as we fight for our human rights.
Continuing with the theme of how women can mobilize to advance our collective equality, my second blog post addressed women in the garment sector. There women are the driving consumer force behind one of the most powerful industries in the world, yet its female workforce—from designers and supermodels to women garment workers and bonded laborers—continues to be discriminated against and often abused. All consumers, particularly we women, have the power once again to be advocates for change by demanding greater information and transparency about how the clothes that touch us also impact the lives of women and girls around the world. This second piece was inspired by my recent travels to India and Bangladesh. I expect to continue working with, and writing about, women in the garment sector since it is such a striking example of how we are connected across national boundaries, even by our everyday actions like choosing to purchase clothes.
Of course I continue to speak out about human rights and equality. I was delighted to have been interviewed by Lori Sokol, Executive Director of Women’s eNews, on International Human Rights in 2017 about the Trump Administration’s assault on human rights and its implications for foreign and domestic policy. I also was a featured speaker on the Giving Back podcast with Rob Lowe about the critical importance of women’s rights, particularly women’s rights to choose, to the world’s prosperity.
In addition, I was humbled to have been recognized recently for my work. In early March I was honored at the 38th Myra Bradwell Banquet, which is organized by the Columbia Law Women’s Association to acknowledge members of the legal profession whose work has paved the way for future generations of female lawyers. In my remarks, I emphasized the importance of inclusion and diversity and how each one of us needs to effect change at the structural, societal, and personal levels. I was also fortunate to have been recognized as one of the 21 South Asian women who are making “herstory.”
This Women’s History Month I want to pay a personal tribute to a remarkable woman who was critical to my journey and with whom I worked for a decade—Janet Benshoof. I was deeply saddened when Janet passed away recently. She was a singular force in the world. As Janet said so cogently: “For there to be justice, peace and security in the world, there has to be equality of women in fact.” Janet was a giant and many of us, including me, stand on her strong shoulders.
I am determined to honor Janet with my dedication to our collective vision of equality and justice. I continue to serve as a consultant to the nonprofit sector and socially responsible enterprises. And I am now also seeking my next professional home. Please continue to share your ideas with me, especially as they have yielded exciting opportunities to date… and for which you forever have my gratitude.
I leave you with the words of another visionary, Gloria Steinem, with whom I have also been honored to work:
The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day;
a movement is only people moving.
I look forward to “moving” with you all and to celebrating women each and every day.