Engaging women to build better policies
TakeAction Minnesota is organizing women to be an active voice for policy change in our state. For the past three years, with financial support from F. R. Bigelow Foundation, TakeAction Minnesota has been actively creating space for women and women of color to shape the political landscape.
“We see a real hunger from women to bring their whole selves to this work. Generally the people who are most involved and active in shaping policy are the ones who see themselves reflected in those policies. By helping women realize the critical resource they provide by sharing their experiences as women, they gain the confidence to lead in shaping better policies,” said Amanda Otero, deputy organizing director.
TakeAction Minnesota also creates opportunities for women to connect with each other and share experiences. Their women of color group hosts a monthly dinner, inviting peers to share stories, experiences and think through action plans for the change they want to create.
TACKLING IMPORTANT ISSUES
Women’s voices have shown up more effectively because of this work. The Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance specifically covers women going to therapy, working with the police or finding shelter due to domestic violence. TakeAction’s work on the Justice for All campaign to restore voting rights to people with criminal backgrounds and their efforts around defending public health care access have also been strengthened by including the stories and perspective of this network of women.
“Policies that don’t take into account what communities are disadvantaged or adversely affected are not effective policies. We never would have been able to stand behind the “Safe Time” part of the Paid Sick and Safe Time ordinance without such a strong community of women behind it,” said Otero.
Beyond policy change, women have found new leadership roles through their work with TakeAction Minnesota. Some are public storytellers, some work on campaigns and others lead in engaging other women in creating community change. TakeAction Minnesota hopes to take the lessons learned in organizing women and apply these to other groups in Minnesota.
“A lot of this work is women growing into their own leadership roles. You see them create change at a policy level, but you also see them change on an individual level. For me, it really points to us doing something well and right – when people can identify growth within themselves,” said Otero.