The Feminist Majority Foundation’s Choices Campus Program hosted over 375 students at the National Young Women’s Leadership Conference: From Campus to Congress on March 24 and 25. Held at the University of the District of Colombia in Washington DC, the conference provided participants from some 35 states with valuable information regarding leadership, running for office, and influencing the political system. From Campus to Congress also included several interactive workshops on coalition building, fundraising, domestic issues, and policies that affect women.
Influential speakers, including FMF President Eleanor Smeal, United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, National Congress of Black Women President Dr. E. Fay Williams, and National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy, spoke to the audience on domestic issues on Saturday. Speakers on global issues included Dr. Sima Samar, chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and UN special envoy to Darfur, Afghan Youth Soccer League Founder Awista Ayub, NOW Executive Vice-President Olga Vives, and Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington President and CEO Jatrice Martel Gaiter.
US Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) delivered the keynote address, stressing the importance of involving young people, especially young women, in the political system. Dr. Sima Simar echoed Representative Woolsey’s sentiments and added that the decisions young people make in the United States effect the lives of women around the world.
In addition to the scheduled speakers and panel discussions, participants were also given time to network and interact. This opportunity to share information and express opinions on a variety of different topics allowed the participants to gain insight and new perspective on current feminist issues.