“Diversity” differentiates San Francisco from other areas in the U.S. since the city is historically well-known for its activism from diverse minority populations including sexual minorities and ethnic minorities. Such evident characteristic easily presents San Francisco as home to many unique organizations and profound universities passionate about promoting women’s rights. At a time when there is a growing interest in gender equality issues in Korean society, Ewha Voice introduces its readers to the active feminist movements flourishing in San Francisco. National Organization for Women (NOW), a historically influential organization with over 550 chapters across the U.S., and Double Union, a feminist hacker-makerspace for women will guide you in the spirit of activism. In addition to these organizations, meet students from Stanford University’s Feminist Studies voicing out how feminism as a study can shape the way students think.
A collective women’s rights organization: National Organization for Women
In the United States of America, the fourth largest country in the world, there exists an overarching feminist organization that operates across the nation. As the largest feminist organization in the country, established in 1966, NOW aims to promote feminist ideals, lead social change, eliminate discrimination and achieve equal rights for all women and girls.
Somer Loen, the President of NOW San Francisco, believes that successfully campaigning for local legislation is the key to empowering women. Ensuring truth-in-advertising by crisis pregnancy centers, creating a “proactive choice” publicity campaign for women, and advocating reproductive rights are some of the many activities that she believes will help overcome and correct the implicit stereotypes that damage women. Because the organization is located in San Francisco, home to many women technicians and technology-based industries, Loen has recently been focusing on bringing feminist principles into the local tech industry.
“Feminist voices don’t often lead projects in tech” Loen openly remarked.
To include women, one of the recent activities that the organization participated in, Abortion Access Hackaton is an event that provided a place for women and genderqueer technicians to voice out their concerns for the hostile attitude towards legal abortion. With Loen quoting the event as “a definite way to empower women in the tech industry,” the event’s ultimate goal was to support the work of non-profit abortion providers and abortion funds.
Over 200 ciswomen, genderqueer, and cismen worked for three days for such purpose. In the end, the technicians created crowdfunding platforms for abortion, conversational platforms for people to tell their abortion stories, direct navigation services for potential clients and much more.
Participating as an advocacy leader in the hackaton, NOW San Francisco also urged people to bring equality back into their workplaces. With women being stereotyped as being to meek to speak up or taking part in social activism in the field, there are many problems that they wish to tackle.
“We are solving the very problems that women are experiencing,” stated Loen. “There is a very real sense of urgency that our human rights are being attacked. Abortion access is one gap of that the ‘problem-solving concerned’ tech industry hasn’t had the inclination to solve.