We march in the streets together, we protest women’s human rights injustices together and we rally to change archaic laws against women together-so why can’t we collaborate? If we are to say that all women deserve equality, freedom and human rights does that include all colors, ethnicities, socio-economic classes and levels of academia or lack thereof? This is like the elephant in the room. We are a country that boasts freedom for all and a better than most record of women’s rights. But when we sit down to work on issues that affect all of us whether it’s equal pay, homelessness, domestic violence, human trafficking etc. we tend to never agree and begin to fight one another. Our guard goes up and the sexist phrase of “The claws come out” begin to dominate. What was supposed to be a level playing field has become a place of privilege and status.
As I have said in the past, I really love what I do. What I don’t love and it has been a problem, is having to reach out to other organizations to see if there is any way we can work together to give women and girls the best option for sustainble success. That is literally when “The claws come out.” It’s not neccessarily because they don’t want to help women and girls, it’s because collaboration to them means taking away their funding, programs, network and organization that they’ve worked so hard for. Well guess what? A LOT of us have worked very hard for we have too and we didn’t do it by taking away programs and funding from other organizations.
Most states across the country have committees, task forces and coalitions, places where individuals and organizations meet once a month to discuss their work, their needs and current legislation. This is usually capped off with “How can we work together to get this done?” Allow me to answer that for you. There is no “We” that will be doing anything. That job is for the lead organization that heads up the commitee, task force or coalition. It will be their name, their people and their influence despite the fact that other organizations worked just as hard, if not harder, only to be overshadowed by the lead competitive organization. No collaboration has taken place and sadly, it never will.
So many non profits are staffed with lawyers, business people and professionals that it would be an asset to others to be able to collaborate with them without pettiness and caddiness to better serve the targeted population of women and girls. There are many women who hold high positions with respected reputations, and they’ve worked hard for that. Unfortunately however, they seem to not feel that other women deserve the same. At least not in the United States. Countries like Africa have American business women running there to “Empower” African Women to start their own businesses and get themselves out of poverty regardless of their education or socio-economic status. They are are more than happy to work with African NGOs and governments to make it happen. No competitiveness happening there! It’s the celebrity status because it’s not about being just an “activist” it’s about being an International Human Rights Leader. And it’s not just Africa, it’s many other countries. What’s interesting about this is that if any one of these women from any of these countries were to come to the United States because of violence, trafficking, abuse, etc. those same women would not be so eager to help them. It’s not exciting anymore, it’s like helping a neighbor and who wants to read about that?
I am all for helping women and girls from all countries and that requires collaboration from those countries which is easy to find. But the competitiveness and capitalistic ideology of the United States supercedes the need for collaboration of resources, programs and assistance. Foreign born women are hidden as an organizations right to show that they are the only ones who work with immigrants and refugess so that the neccessary government funding only goes to them. But for how long can they sustain them? If only one organization were able to help all women from everywhere with ANY issue and give them the proper assistance and support there would be no need for any of us. Maybe this unknown super organization could erdicate things like domestic violence, human trafficking, exploitation and abuse. Women would be respected, treated equally and fairly, finally get the human rights we deserve. It’s a beautiful story-that is completely false. If we all have the same vision, or something close, of what we see as the future of women’s human rights, repect and equality then there’s only one thing that will make it come to life. COLLABORATION.