Press Release: May 3, 2007, South Humboldt County Press
by Lauren Jinshil Oliver
“A CALL TO ACTION TO WOMEN OF HUMBOLDT COUNTY AND THE NORTH COAST”
Women of Southern Humboldt joined with women up north on Sunday at HSU to talk about what is important for the well-being of women in our county. HSU Women’s Center and MultiCultural Center hosted an April 29 women’s gathering, A Call To Action, for the Women of Humboldt County. Fifty women participated in lively talking circles and identified priorities for a Humboldt County Platform for Action, with plans for next steps.
A Southern Humboldt Wailaki woman who attended, Rhonda Hardy, said: “The gathering was really powerful. All those women were there for a reason: they are trying to make the world better. I had a great time. I thought everyone did.”
This women’s gathering was designed to allow us to make connections with women of nearby communities, find common ground, and develop clout to enhance the status of women in Humboldt County. A major co-sponsor – California Women’s Agenda (CAWA) – held a similar gathering in Humboldt, 1999, to enable local women to connect with the worldwide platform generated by 40,000 women at the UN Fourth World Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995, and link local action with global thinking on issues of empowerment for women and girls. Jene McCovey, Yurok , a main organizer of April 29 who chaired the ’99 CALL, is Humboldt County Coordinator for CAWA, and Co-Chair for CAWA Environment Platform. She was delighted with the turnout, and the diversity of the women who came to voice their concerns.
The participants voiced many concerns. Key priorities included Poverty/Economic Justice, with a special focus on sustainable, low-impact, low-cost housing, and rights of the homeless and tenants. In discussing the priority on Education, several Native American women emphasized the need for education on voting, and how to pursue rights through the legislative process. Early childhood education and childcare are also critical to women – and too often left off the agenda by men. In the Environmental caucus, it was notable how the women regard themselves as caretakers and healers of the earth, and take it personally that the dominant culture is destroying the earth.
Healthcare, Human Rights and Peace – particularly the demand that taxpayer money be directed to community needs not war, and the observation that a California State 7-year study on Native Americans has failed to result in any legislation to address and protect human rights of Aboriginal Peoples – were also priorities of these passionate women. Many recognized that, for effective action to address Violence against Women, especially sexualized violence, a community network for response Women of Southern Humboldt joined with women up north on Sunday at HSU to talk about what is important for the well-being of women in our county. CAWA, HSU Women’s Center and MultiCultural Center hosted an April 29 women’s gathering, A Call To Action, for the Women of Humboldt County. Forty-five or fifty women participated in lively talking circles and identified priorities for a Platform for Action, with plans for next steps.
Noting the women of many different backgrounds and lifestyles in attendance, Rhonda Hardy, was struck by how open everyone was. ” Hopefully people can learn to get over their prejudices and really get to know someone else, instead of judging.”
The issue of women in leadership arose during the day. A number of the women participants are visible leaders in their organizations and communities. Yet they see themselves as bringing a different approach to leadership than the male heads of corporations or in politics we often observe in the media. As Rhonda Hardy saw it: “Women show more compassion than some men do. Women want to help people, and don’t seem to have the need for power men do. I hope things can change: with the war, and all these people getting killed, both in Iraq and here.” She is confident that women can help men make these changes. Kitty Lynch, another Southern Humboldt woman, was energized by the discussions, and was sorry she – like many – could only attend part of the gathering due to family responsibilities.
Lauren Oliver, Circle Works, another organizer of the gathering, said: “We plan to follow up with all the participants. We are asking: Who else in your field, wants to be on the Humboldt Women’s Resource List? We hope to be in contact with all the people we invited but who couldn’t come. If you want to be included in the Resource List, please contact Jene McCovey or Lauren Jinshil Oliver
Jene commented: “We were pleased in the expressed interest in a Fall Forum. An area of focus in the Fall Forum will be on the environment.” Lauren Oliver received requests from Southern Humboldt women for a local women’s circle to meet monthly and continue our discussion and focus on action. The first circle will be held on Monday, June 4 at Lauren’s office, next to Signature Coffee, and downstairs from People Productions. All women are welcome.