Working together transnationally to create a new reality for ourselves and our communities...
We are a collective of Black women seeking connection with various women and birthing persons of color across the globe in build community and solidarity. We intend to advocate within the lens of sexual and reproductive justice, by working together transnationally to create a new reality for ourselves and our communities.
WHY WE FIGHT
Discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, class, and other geographical and cultural distinctions is implemented locally, and experienced globally.
In this current moment, Black women are resisting oppression while attempting to protect themselves and their communities from global pandemics, such as COVID-19 and the ongoing HIV crisis.
About the Summit
WomenNOW! Global Summit an interdisciplinary meeting for women and girls from Africa and across the diaspora.
The goal is to set a shared agenda on the intersections of HIV, Sexual & Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (SRHRJ).
Learn More About the
WomenNOW! Global Summit 2021
The event is designed as an opportunity to organize women and girls of African descent to build stronger and more collective action on key issues, including: racial inequity; economic and gender inequality; leadership and power; gender-based violence and trauma; sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice; intergenerational movement building; and equity and justice in SRHRJ programs and policies in research, prevention, care and advocacy.
The 2021 Summit is organized to generate lots of interaction among all participants, who will explore emerging perspectives related to the disproportionate SRHRJ threats and experiences of Women and Girls of African Descent (WGAD).
We will have opportunities to dive deep into some key common issues with panels of subject matter experts (SMEs) - reach higher heights with rich and robust interactive conversations with the entire audience, and use our talking tables to distill the conversations into concrete common challenges and implementable solutions. The Summit presenters, panelists and participants are charged to address a few really big challenges that are commonly experienced by WGAD all over the world – violence and trauma in all their forms; ongoing SRHRJ policies and practices; global campaigns and initiatives that are meant to impact better outcomes for WGAD worldwide. All who come to WomenNOW! are expected to actively participate in the event and shape narratives that represent the commonality of the Summit’s core themes.
The 2021 Summit is set to convene in-person, located in Durban, South Africa, December 3rd - 5th, 2021.
SOLIDARITY IS THE SOLUTION
Beginning January 2021, until the WomenNOW! 2021 Global Summit. We will meet virtually region by region for an online webinar series, and then finally gather in-person and online at the global gathering of Black women at WomenNOW! December 3-5, 2021 in Durban, South Africa.
Our goal is to discuss critical issues which disproportionately affect our lives and communities, as well as advocacy efforts, and the future of reproductive justice. Issues such as sexual and reproductive injustices, white supremacy, neoliberal capitalism and colonialism, and global pandemics are at the forefront of determining the quality and dignity of our lives and struggles.
From those convenings, we will create action plans on the local, national, and transnational levels to engage with 500+ Black activist women, scholars, and advocates at WomenNOW!. This will result in an anthology being written and published by us, for our liberation as a collective.
L. Leigh-Ann van der Merwe
L. Leigh-Ann van der Merwe is a self-identified South African coloured transgender woman. She is the founder and director of Social, Health and Empowerment Feminist Collective, an organisation working to bring the political voice of transgender women into research, praxis, and advocacy.
Araya Blakely (she/her) is a third year undergraduate student studying Social Justice, Criminology Law and Justice, and Music at the University of Iowa. Araya is currently serving as the Lead Organizer for WomenNOW! Sexual and Reproductive Justice Continuum. Araya is a Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps (RRASC) 2020 Alumna and former intern for SisterLove Incorporated. Araya has been supported by the Center for Human Rights at the University of Iowa (2020 Cmiel Funding Recipient), as well as Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP/RRASC Program). Araya works as a Resident Assistant for incoming University of Iowa students, and holds a leadership role in “Walk It Out”: The Largest Multicultural Student Organization at UIOWA, but is currently anticipating information for the organization’s annual multicultural fashion show (due to the complications of COVID-19.) After graduation, Araya hopes to work for a social justice organization that centers reproductive justice, anti-racist activism, or criminal justice advocacy/prison abolition; Araya is also interested in going back to school to study Civil Rights law.
Robynne Lucas (she/they) is a third year undergraduate student studying Women and Gender studies with a certificate in Reproductive Health Rights and Justice at Smith College. Her studies mainly revolve around sexuality/sexology, Feminist health, Reproductive justice, and Black Feminist studies. She is currently serving as the Assistant organizer for WomenNOW! Sexual and Reproductive Justice Continuum. Robynne is also working with S.T.A.R Theatre For Social Change as an intern and project coordinator; leading the creation of an interactive comprehensive + sexual education platform with the organization’s founder. Robynne aims to conjoin both her passions for Sexual and Reproductive Justice in pursuing a career in sex education as well as Public Health as a reproductive justice advocate for Black and brown womxn. Robynne intends to go back to school to pursue a masters in Nursing to become a Certified Nurse Midwife after gaining experience in sexual and reproductive justice activism. Robynne also hopes to open a Women’s health clinic servicing socioeconomically, racially, and sexually underrepresented communities later in her career.
Sophia Howard is a 2021 graduating senior as a Comparative Women’s Studies and Philosophy double major at Spelman College from Nashville, TN. She is a social justice fellow a part of the Spelman College Social Justice Program where she founded Unlocked Minds, an educational program for women in Whitworth Women’s Facility (a medium and minimum security prison in Hartwell, GA). While pursuing an undergraduate degree, Howard has focused her studies on the reproductive health of incarcerated women, particularly the reproductive health of Black women. In her Sophomore and Junior years, Sophia worked with her mentor, Pamela Winn, to get what is now known as “Georgia’s Anti-Shackling Bill” passed- the very first comprehensive reproductive justice bill for incarcerated women to ever pass in the state of Georgia. For the past year Sophia has been the head of social media and communications at PIES Fitness Yoga Studio in Alexandria, VA. PIES focuses on fitness and wellness accessibility for all people with a social justice lead mission to serve Black, queer, fat, and differently abled folks. Next year, Howard will be applying to law school where she plans to be a public interest lawyer centering the reproductive needs of Black women. In her spare time, Sophia loves to spend time outside, playing with her new kitten, or binge watching the office over and over. Sophia is serving as a Social Media and Outreach Associate for WomenNOW! SRJ Continuum.
Nomsa brings over 8 years of expertise in office administration and management, financial management, program coordination and clerical support in both private and public sectors. She is highly focused with comprehensive knowledge and understanding of various roles including procurement, travel & logistics, human resources, finance, customer service and training facilitation. After battling an illness for months, she became an advocate for ART and facilitated HIV Treatment Literacy programs in local clinics. She also helped establish support groups for HIV-positive people. It is through this work that she learned about women’s struggles with regards to HIV and AIDS, Gender Based Violence and poverty.
Nontyatyambo has been openly living with HIV for the past ten years and endured many challenges on different levels as a young woman. Nontyatyambo joined Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) to educate communities who were clearly suffering from lack of knowledge about HIV and AIDS. This is where she cut her teeth on community mobilization which includes community dialogues and education sessions at local clinics. She joined People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) as a Trainer. Her main responsibility included supporting emerging Home-Based Care organizations, an important role player in women’s lives, as they support HIV-positive communities.
Thato Mphithi is a disability rights advocate and founder of Enabled Enlightenment, a South African-based nonprofit that focuses on building inclusive spaces for people living with disabilities. Her work with SisterLove, Inc South Africa (SLISA) has made an impact in the lives of hundreds of women, girls, and non-binary individuals. She has been an active organizer and representative for SLISA, and worked closely with major international organizations and the government of South Africa.
Dázon Dixon Diallo is Founder and President of SisterLove, Inc, established in 1989, the first women’s HIV/AIDS and Reproductive Justice organization in the southeastern United States. Dázon is a recognized visionary and advocate in the struggle for human rights, sexual and reproductive justice, and the fight against HIV/AIDS, with, and on behalf of, communities of women and girls living with HIV and those at risk for HIV and STIs. She is a proud member of In Our Own Voice: The National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, where she advocates for sexual and reproductive justice in public health and prevention policies and programs. Dr. Diallo is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Women’s Health Network, and she is a co-chair for the Act Now End AIDS National Coalition.
Loretta Ross is a Visiting Associate Professor at Smith College teaching “White Supremacy in the Age of Trump.” She started her career in the women’s movement in the 1970s, working at the National Football League Players’ Association, the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, the National Organization for Women, the National Black Women’s Health Project, the Center for Democratic Renewal (National Anti-Klan Network), the National Center for Human Rights Education, and SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective. Her forthcoming book is Calling In the Calling Out Culture. Her most recent publications are Reproductive Justice: An Introduction and Radical Reproductive Justice. She is a graduate of Agnes Scott College class of 2007.
Katy Beltran is a Colombian-born Visual Artist, Organizer, and Founder of Museo Nueva Memoria, currently living in the city of Atlanta, GA. Beltran is currently graduating with an M.F.A in Photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design and has worked since 2018 as part of the creative team of SISTERLOVE, INC and most recently WomenNOW! Sexual Health and Reproductive Justice Continuum mainly as a Visual Identity Consultant and Web Designer. Beltran also has nonprofit management and social leadership experience with five years of fieldwork, starting in 2015 when she founded Museo Nueva Memoria (The New Memory Museum) in Colombia, an awarded non-profit that uses art and photography to honor the life narratives of inhabitants of at-risk communities. Her longing to find a personal language has been nurtured by a variety of different expressive mediums, just as her desire to act to defend and enhance women’s rights through visual communication.
Terri Bailey is a community organizer, educator, and women’s empowerment coach with more than 30 years of experience working with Black Women’s and Feminist Women’s health, empowerment, and wellbeing. She has worked at the National Black Women’s Health Project (now BWHI), Atlanta Feminist Women’s Health Center, and SisterLove Inc. At these organizations, she held various positions ranging from receptionist to volunteer coordinator to Lay Health Worker assisting with abortion and birth control care. Terri has a BS in Elementary Education from Bethune Cookman University and an MA in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. She is the founder of the nonprofit organization, the Bailey Learning and Arts Collective (BLAAC2basics), whose mission is to help develop socially responsible communities and leaders via grassroots organizing, community education and collaboration, and arts instruction and education. BLAAC’s first official program is The Queens Room Women’s Empowerment Group and Virtual S.H.E. Shed, which focuses on self-care, healing, and empowerment. Terri L Bailey is a MA student at the University of Florida in the Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Research. Her research focuses on Women in leadership in African Traditional Religions through a Black Feminist lens. Terri currently lives in Gainesville, FL’s oldest historically Black settlement, the Pleasant Street district, with her husband, muralist Turbado Marabou and daughter, Aaliyah. Terri is serving as an Outreach Coordinator for WomenNOW! SRJ Continuum.
Kodwa Mpepho is a Community Development Specialist with extensive experience in HIV prevention and women’s rights. Her career on health started in coordinating HPTN 05 microbicide clinical trial in Durban when she worked for South Africa Medical Research Council for five years. She then moved to a prominent women’s rights organization, People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) supporting Community Based Organizations that support women survivors of violence. This is where most of her work focused on the intersections between HIV and Gender-Based Violence in the lives of women. In 2013, she participated in the Global Change Leaders program offered by COADY Institute in Canada, and is a MAC AIDS Fellow. She is currently a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Institute Fellowship program, which explores the social and structural determinants of health. She is also a mother of two children- a daughter and a son. Ms Mpepho enjoys reading and traveling.