It has been an unrelenting and rough year–a global pandemic, national reckoning over systemic racism and racialized police violence, destructive wildfires and hurricanes linked to the climate crisis, and the economic impacts of COVID-19. If we try to find a silver lining in all of this, it could be that these crises have dramatically exposed the many flaws, cracks, and inequities in our systems, giving us a rare opportunity to rebuild in a way that creates new paradigms and values and cares for all members of society equally, as well as the earth.
I spent 2020 interviewing a diverse group of female thought leaders who shared their insights and expertise on where we must focus our efforts to ensure the world that emerges post COVID-19 is more just, sustainable, and equitable. I went through these interviews and selected a small sampling to help illuminate the work ahead.
As we look ahead to 2021 and all the work that must be done, my hope is that the wisdom of these women will help guide us forward. May it serve as a beacon of hope and a call to action for us all to get involved and use our time, talents, and resources to build a better world.
The last time I interviewed Jane Goodall was ten years ago on the 50th anniversary of her trip to Gombe, Tanzania, to begin her groundbreaking research on chimpanzees. Given all the many serious issues we are facing in this unprecedented moment ten years later, I decided to reach out to Jane for another interview to gain her perspective on all that is happening, as well as once again solicit her much needed wisdom and her call to action.
No matter what topic we talked about—whether it was the connection between the abuse of animals and nature with climate change and pandemics, to what shifts in thinking and behavior need to be made to save us, to the status of women and why equality is so important, to what she hopes her legacy will be—she was reflective, immensely wise and always inspiring.
Watch highlights from the Zoom interview:
News, Resources, and Actions
With Elections and Vaccines, the End Is in Sight
We Voted, We Waited, We Have a Winner
After a campaign season unlike anything we’ve seen before, we have a new President-elect and Vice President-elect in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. With the virus looming and early voting up, turn out still broke records, thanks to Black women organizing on the ground. The vote has since been parsed every which way—by gender, geography, race, income, education, and more. In the days between voting and seeing Biden declared the winner, this graphic went viral again, providing a stark reminder of just how different we are.
Since winning the election, the incoming Biden-Harris administration has been busy, setting records for representation including the first all-woman senior communications team, most LGBTQ-inclusive administration in history, first woman to lead intelligence, first Latino to head homeland security, and more. Of course, it bears repeating that VP Kamala Harris is breaking a major barrier herself—the first woman, the first woman of color, the first Black person, and the first person of South Asian descent to hold that particular office.
The Virus Rages On
Meanwhile, the Coronavirus rages on, surging nationwide. The United States is facing the worst outbreak to date, with a long winter ahead. The news is particularly stark for pregnant people who are at increased risk of dying of the disease. Relying on mothers to take the place of a social safety net had an enormous human cost—on our mental health, economic prospects, and safety.
Vaccines Are Coming
Thankfully, an end to the pandemic is geting closer. Thanks to women scientists Kathrin Jansen, Sarah Gilbert, Lisa Jackson, and more, three vaccines are likely coming our way and raising all sorts of questions. What should pregnant people do? How can we ensure the roll out helps ameliorate the racial disparities the virus has exacerbated? Who should get them first (and who really will)? What about incarcerated people? And how soon can we get started?
The Work Continues
With the end of the dark days of 2020 in sight, the work to build a more just and equitable future continues. We need to keep working to stop police violence, value women’s work, and raise up the leadership of women of color. Thankfully, more people are involved than ever before. The women who entered politics after Trump’s election four years ago haven’t gone anywhere. Black and Latinx organizers have grown in strength. And this coalition is going to keep working to create real change.
Emily Alford, Chris Arnade, Dan Avery, Brea Baker, Deborah Barfield Berry, Hilda Bastian, Savannah Behrmann, Sharon Braithwaite, Saskia Brechenmacher, Bianca Brosh, Eli Byerly Duke, Claire Cain Miller, Jessica Calarco, Amy Cassidy, Ericka Conant, Marco della Cava, Sarah Diab, Adriana Diaz, Sharon Epperson, John Fritze, Joey Garrison, Melinda Gates, Dana Goodyear, Alan Gomez, Rebecca Greenfield, Kelly Grovier, Maggie Haberman, Allison Hagan, Caroline Hubbard, Trevor Hughes, Rick Jervis, Annie Karni, Emma Kinery, Ste Kinney-Fields, Gregory Krieg, David Lim, Annie Linskey, Shefali Luthra, Smriti Mallapaty, Robert Maxim, Shannon Melero, Sarah Mucha, Mark Muro, Jocelyn Noveck, Donna M. Owens, Mariel Padilla, Roni Caryn Rabin, Ruth Reader, Brittany Shepherd, Dana Sherrod, Scott Simon, Jeff Stein, Rob Stein, Courtney Subramanian, Anna Louie Sussman, Adam Taylor, Derek Thompson, Kara Voght, Olivia B. Waxman, Marley Williams, Nicholas Wu, Robin Young, Yang You, and Nadine Yousif
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