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Our Path Forward: Change at the Speed of Courage

“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” – Angela Davis

As the first statewide women’s foundation, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFMN) has drawn strength from diverse perspectives, experiences, and leadership from our state’s communities – united in creating a world in which all women and girls can thrive.

In this moment, our country is divided, and our challenges are real. Economic, health, and leadership inequities and racial injustice are starkly clear, deeply entrenched, and widening in this year of the pandemic. Even when the future of our democracy is tested, we are resolute in our courage and bold in our responsive action for change.

This presidential election and the last four years have been marked by polarization that impedes the work we must do together with communities facing longstanding injustice and inequity. In our day-to-day work to amplify and invest in our state’s women and girls, we encounter a different narrative: one of partnership and innovation. Even through outrage, grief, and pain, our unstoppable momentum for gender and racial equity powers us forward.

Since WFMN’s founding in 1983, we have been bridge-builders, listeners, activists, community leaders, and philanthropists who come together across race, class, ability, and geography to create long-term change for women and girls.

We share an unwavering belief in the transformative power of collective impact. Fueled by the generosity of partners like you, we work across sectors and party lines to change inequitable laws and policies as we transform attitudes and behaviors.

We trust and amplify the voices and solutions of our state’s communities. We advance gender and racial equity with the vision and leadership of our state’s Black, Indigenous, communities of color, rural, LGBTQ+, and disability communities as our guide.

One election does not change the work before us. It demonstrates the work we must do to build bridges with our neighbors and to protect and secure the rights, resources, and representation of women and girls most impacted by inequities. In this moment, we must be bold and ambitious. As Melinda Gates has shared: “We shortchange women if we set our sights too low.”

To realize our vision, we must change the systems that continue to confine too many women and children in poverty, compromise their safety, hinder access to healthcare, and limit leadership opportunities.

When all the votes are counted, our work and our values are as urgent as ever. We are steadfast in our support of communities, ready to defend threats to women’s safety and security, reproductive rights and access to health care, immigrants’ rights, quality education, and childcare. Our vision of gender equity is indelibly bound to racial justice. As a systems change philanthropy and anti-racist organization, we are dedicated to removing the root-causes of barriers and supporting the policy work that is crucial to ensuring the rights of women and girls.

Hope fuels the work of the Women’s Foundation. We are inspired and energized by women leading in civic engagement, political leadership, and grassroots advocacy – from the historic numbers of women of color running for office, and winning, to the difference women in leadership make across sectors for families and whole community well-being.

Next week, you will have an opportunity to hear from both local and national leaders at our event, Powering Forward: Shaping the Future for Women & Families (see more and register below). As we’ve seen from the movements for climate change and against gun violence and racial injustice, young women are leading in this moment—and we are listening to and investing in their vision. In the leading research on the Status of Women & Girls in Minnesota we published this fall, it’s clear that business, government, and all of us benefit when women with diverse backgrounds and experiences are in leadership positions.

When we collaborate with business and government to change inequitable systems and catalyze opportunity, safety, and leadership for our state’s women and girls, we maximize our impact. With our Young Women’s Initiative of MN, co-led with the Office of the Governor, we are investing in young women leading now. Our next Executive Council for the Young Women’s Initiative, launching in January, exemplifies the power of leaders across sectors of business, government, and higher education working together with young women to deepen their understanding of gender and racial inequities and solutions in Minnesota, catalyze resources, and act within their organizations so that Black, Indigenous, and all young women of color and additional young women experiencing disparities thrive.

As we listen to the wisdom of community partners and prioritize their solutions in our grantmaking and policy decisions, we know that investing in communities experiencing the greatest hardships and long-term disparities means a stronger future for all Minnesotans.

I invite all Minnesotans to work together to ensure our neighbors have the resources they need to stay healthy, safe, and well during these uncertain times. In the face of challenges, I remain fiercely committed to building bridges for change. By working together and investing in transformation, we will create a stronger Minnesota.

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