The work never ends for South Carolina’s Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN), but some occasions demand a celebration of what the organization has already accomplished.
The end of a legislative session in which significant progress was made is one such occasion, and WREN staff and supporters gathered at M Space in the Vista Thursday evening to recognize the successes and look to the future.
“While we’ve done an excellent job, we have a lot more work to do, said WREN board member Beth Richardson. “WREN’s mission is important to us all,” not only women and girls, she added.
The celebration included a town hall discussion with Lauren Leader-Chivée, advocate, author of Crossing the Thinnest Line and founder of All in Together and moderated by Shani Gilchrist, a freelance journalist, essayist, and critic based in Charleston, whose work has focused on identity, race, gender, and intersectionality. A quartet of young women from Every Black Girl performed to close the evening.
Leader-Chivée said the work of groups like WREN at local and state levels is incredibly important to the ongoing fight for equality. “Our country’s future is being decided in the statehouses, not in Washington,” she said.
She also emphasized the importance of open discussions about discrimination which still exists, pointing out among other things that 70 percent of minimum wage workers in the United States are women. “Americans are not really taking on the challenge our diversity also confirms,” she said. “These are not problems we can solve on Twitter.”
WREN’s successes during the recently concluded legislative session included 103 educational interactions with policy makers (and 6,276 total interactions) and more than 1,800 other people reached through educational presentations. The group also successfully lobbied for forward progress for bills which would provide easier access to birth control, accommodations for pregnant women in the workplace, and better health care for young people.
WREN also fought against attempts by legislators to pass measures such as the “personhood” bill, which would legally a fertilized human egg as a person with legal rights. “It’s not just proactive legislation that we work on. We also have a lot of defensive work to do at the State House,” said WREN CEO Ann Warner. “These types of bills are harmful and unacceptable and we will not let them pass.”
Warner also shared news of upcoming plans for WREN, including a Photovoice project designed to elevate the voices of women and girls. More information on WREN is available online.
Video by Midlands Anchor intern Anna King