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Women’s Vision and Values for Public Life

For the past several years, IWPR has explored the values that women from diverse backgrounds bring to public life. We have interviewed and conducted focus groups with a broad range of progressive women activists from different movements for change. These women are religious and not, feminist and not. They are white, African American, Latina, Asian American, Native American, and Arab American. They come from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Unitarianism, indigenous spiritualities, and many other religious identities. They are young and old, national leaders and grassroots activists, and come from all different income levels.
Our Working Group on Women’s Public Vision has developed a draft statement on women’s values for public life, based on both the experiences of its members and IWPR’s research. The statement is designed to provide a new frame for thinking about and articulating policies and practices that respond to women’s needs and concerns. We’ll be promoting the language of the statement in much of IWPR’s work, and asking our partners to do so as well.
What do you think of the ideas articulated here? What are the implications of women’s values for both policy and practice? We’d love to hear your comments.

Women’s Vision and Values for Public Life
Our Vision:
Women’s full integration into public life is essential to building a truly democratic society, creating a more caring culture, and improving the lives of women, their families, and all communities. We call on leaders in politics, the economy, society, and religion to promote practices that empower women of all backgrounds and advance their equality and well-being in public and family life. We call for policies that embody the values of caring and consideration for humanity and support practices that encourage cooperative models of public life.
What We Value:
Equality and Individual Worth: We respect the dignity of all individuals, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, culture, religion, or age. We ask individuals to recognize the ways in which differences lead to both their privilege and their subordination. We call for polices that promote social welfare and provide equal and just use of resources in politics, the economy, and society. We call for practices that value individual expression and humanity and decommodify women’s bodies.
Balanced Power: We seek to include all voices in public life. We promote innovative and responsive strategies for building power together, validating the experiences of different people, and inspiring activism and engagement. We call for practices that give both women and men the tools to claim and wield power. We ask those with power to return it to their communities, and those without power to take the risk of claiming it.
Family: We call for stronger supports for building healthy families of all types and all generations. We recognize the importance of family and acknowledge the impact of our private relationships on our lives at work and in our communities. We promote family values of caring and compassion as beneficial to public life, and we call for ending gender subordination in families. We ask that public policies help families pursue these values in conditions of safety and security.
Community: We recognize the importance of treating each other with compassion and of building connections across lines of difference. We support opportunities for individuals to work, live, and organize collectively with people of diverse backgrounds to better their lives and communities.
Amy Caiazza, Ph.D.
Director, Democracy and Society Programs

2 thoughts on “Women’s Vision and Values for Public Life

  1. In the sentence “We call on women in politics, …and religion…” may I suggest adding education and science?
    Then, a couple paragraphs down, (I’m sorry, I didn’t count and I’m rushing to get out the door) in the sentence “We call for practices that give both women and men the tools to claim [add] (self esteem) and wield [add] (individual) power [add] (and grace).
    Then, at the end of the Paragraph beginning with the word “Family:” could you add the word “understanding” at the end?
    Thank you for asking for my input.
    Tara McGuinness
    South Carolina

  2. I think education should be added to the areas that need to promote women’s equality and to the traits of women’s acceptability.
    I think the practices called for to give women power need to be spelled out – what are the tools?
    Good statement! Thank you!

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