Three Young Women Leaders: A Panel Discussion at Omega Women and Power

I am currently watching a panel discussion with three young leaders and each are so inspiring that I find myself repeatedly holding back tears. Jensine Larsen, Alberta Nells and Lateefah Simon have in common deep roots in community based organizing efforts and a deep connection with a spiritual force that is moving them to action.
First up, Jensine Larsen founded World Pulse an interactive media center that projects the stories of women around the world and analysis of international issues through their eyes. She believes that “pulse” symbolizes the electricity of women’s voices rising around the earth. She says, “the creative human potential of women and girls is the greatest untapped resource on the earth and we can use technology and communications to connect and empower these voices.” To add she says,“When women control the communications channels, they control their destiny.”
There are countless examples of women having even a tiny bit of access utilizing it to share their voices, be it one computer, text, one blog or the strategic use of web 2.0 technology, she tells us. Often women don’t have time to be online to blog, their husbands sitting next to the computer disallowing them from using it. She concludes with an example of a woman in Kenya that had been dying of AIDs but managed to retrieve retroviral drugs for herself and 17 other women in her village. Through the use of World Pulse and web 2.0 technology, they were able to bring her story to life and is now flown all over the world to tell her story and train other rural women in how to organize their communities. “How can I go to sleep when my country is burning and Pulse-Wire is my light?”
Up next, Alberta Nells, a young leader/organizer, Navajo organizer. Southwest organizer, her work is focused on protecting indigenous rights to land. When she found they would use recycled waste water as snow on sacred land, that is when she knew she had to speak out, “I can’t allow this to happen to my people, to the teachings of my people.” She speaks tenderly of her relationship with her grandmother and the power of teachings from a previous generation on how to move our people. She speaks to the power of song to organize and uplift and specifically the teachings of women. When asked about Navajo relationship with feminism, she says she doesn’t understand the question as they believe in the balance between the feminine and masculine energy, or recognition of two-spirit in all of us. And concludes, “each one of us is indigenous to a different place and we must tap into that energy.”
Finally, Lateefah Simon, 32 feels old as we carry the weight of our grandmothers and came to this work because of our grandmothers and mothers. Lateefah became an organizer by giving out condoms she got in her girls group in high school. It was her informal realization that this is what organizing is. She worked deeply with communities that people wouldn’t touch, drug addicts, sex workers and holding them and giving them support. She understood at a young age how to raise money and build resources, “if we could battle pimps on the street, it was easy.” When she realized that there was a choice to parent, she embraced the power of that choice and decided to become a radical choice organizer for the African American community. In talking about the prison industrial complex and re-entry programs she says, “human and civil rights issues are women’s issues” and concludes, “of all that we have learned in our work how to do we move that power and use it in a man’s world?”
I don’t think this live-blog can even start to do justice to how powerful this session was. We took some video so we will be posting that as well.

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