BY MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
This week I am a contestant on Jeopardy! Admittedly, it is not quite the real Jeopardy!—with its brutally difficult and obscure answers. This is 2016 Power Players week, in which a somewhat more approachable version of the beloved game is played by a motley crew of elected officials, journalists, political pundits, and brainy celebs.
You can catch me tomorrow, when I’ll be playing to support Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), a Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization committed to the physical, psychological, social, and economic development of girls and women.
I first met Joanne Smith, GGE’s founder and executive director, when we served together on a panel commemorating the impactful testimony of professor Anita Hill. During that event, I heard Joanne discuss the powerful vision she was pursuing along with her small staff at GGE. Their work amplifies the voices of girls of color in New York public schools, ensures accountability in those schools, and allows young women to be authors of their own futures.
But my Jeopardy! appearance is not the biggest thing happening at GGE this week. Girls for Gender Equity was instrumental in helping the City Council of New York establish a working group focused on young women’s issues. That group, called the Young Women’s Initiative, released a major new report this week. The report is premised on a simple but revolutionary idea: produce an agenda addressing the lives and needs of young women and girls in New York City. It includes more than 100 recommendations across five issue areas: health, economic and workforce development, community support and opportunity, education, and anti-violence and criminal justice. It is truly groundbreaking because it relies on young women to identify their own challenges and the solutions to those challenges. In a press release, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called YWI “the first coalition in the United States to tackle the systemic gender-based inequality.”
Read the full Op-Ed in Elle.