What is the Femme Agenda

The Femme Agenda: Ending the Feminization of PovertyThe Femme Agenda

Women are disproportionately poor relative to the poverty rates of men. This disproportionate poverty is not limited to income and wealth, but includes less education, fewer opportunities and the lack of representation in positions of power.

The disproportionate burden carried by women is known as the feminization of poverty.

The feminization of poverty did not simply happen, but is promulgated and reinforced, either maliciously or as a result of the lack of women in decision making capacities, in public policy decisions regarding access to health care, reproductive choices, public education, housing and more. These policies and practices are integral parts of the feminization of poverty.

In Black and Brown communities throughout the United States, poverty rates are higher than in their white counterparts. In white Black and brown communities, poverty disproportionately impact women. In addition, poverty and violence are disproportionately visited upon transgender people.

We cannot understand poverty in America without examining race, class, sex and gender. And we cannot understand the feminization of poverty without examining individual and institutional violence against women.

The Miami Workers Center is committed to an ambitious vision to organize and empower women towards ending the feminization of poverty.

Developing this vision demands an intersectional analysis that considers factors of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, sexual identity, nationality and other experiences and identities, in order to understand root causes of oppression, exploitation and poverty. This analysis is incomplete without intersecting the institutional and individual violence against women.

Realizing this vision demands an interconnecting movement addressing oppression, exploitation and poverty, solutions that center the experiences and realities of those most impacted by social injustice- low-income women of color, with special emphasis on Black and transgender women.

Campaigns that center those most impacted recognize that solving a problem for those most impacted, solves that problem for everyone else.

Using intersectionality and interconnectivity to empower women and end the feminization of poverty is the Femme Agenda.


Theory of Change

The Femme Agenda seeks to shift power into the hands of women impacted by the feminization of poverty. Our theory of change for realizing Femme Power involves three (3) mutually reinforcing components: leadership development, policy campaigns and the mobilization of allies.

The core and foundation of our theory of change is the robust and holistic use of ongoing leadership development. Political education, skills training and learning through participation in the political process are all aspects of leadership development.

Women, particularly low-income women of color who have been deprived of educational, training and leadership opportunities, must engage in leadership development programs in order to build their skill sets, capacity and confidence in leading their own struggle.

Even if skills training are not necessary for everyone, such as middle and high income women and men who are allied to the cause, political education is essential to informing supporters and forging them into good allies. As such, leadership development is for allies and supporters as well.

The second component of our theory of change is the dual use of policy campaigns.

Leadership development prepares women to take roles of leadership and power in their communities. Active campaigns provide the opportunity for these women to step into their leadership roles.

Where leadership development builds confidence and provides necessary skills, policy campaigns allow women to demonstrate their leadership in real and tangible ways by struggling with policy questions, organizing events, speaking publicly and generally engaging in the political process.

The second use of policy campaigns, of course, is to change public policy in order to end the feminization of poverty. However, particularly in the initial phases, the primary usage of campaigns is a a training ground for our leaders.

The Femme Agenda is about empowering impoverished women. However, empowerment is not a destination to where women can be delivered, it is a journey that women must undertake for ourselves.

 

The third component of our theory of change is the mobilization of allies.

Allies play meaningful roles in both policy campaigns and in the development of skills for our members. Ending the feminization of poverty requires everyone to play a role and our theory of change includes and is dependent upon supporters and allies in the overall process and as the third wall of our model triangle.

The three components are most effective when working in conjunction with each other to produce desired results.

Leadership Development without a vehicle to exercise leadership is empty. Trotting members in front of television cameras without appropriate leadership development is not meaningful participation. And the failure to provide orientation and direction to well intentioned allies could lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings on all sides.

 Femme Power can only build when all three components work harmoniously together.

 The Femme Agenda is about empowering impoverished women. However, empowerment is not a destination to where women can be delivered, it is a journey that women must undertake for ourselves.

 Consequently, the core component of the theory is not the policy campaign, it is the leadership development.

 While ending oppressive policies cannot happen without effective campaigns, effective campaigns that are led by those most impacted cannot happen without a robust leadership development program.

 Leadership development is both how we win and it is a victory, because we want to build women leaders. Like education and empowerment itself, leadership development is both the ends and the means to the end.

 Our theory of change recognizes the leadership development of low-income women of color as the foundation of empowerment and ending the feminization of poverty.

 
Ending the Feminization of Poverty

In tangible terms, how do we end the feminization of poverty? How do we put ‘meat on the bones’ of the framework established by our theory of change?

We propose that ending the feminization of poverty requires a comprehensive five (5) pronged approach.

Utilize the Femme Lense. Use an intersectional lense to examine economic and social realities from the perspective of those most impacted: low-income Black women, particularly LGBTQ women.

Develop Femme Leadership. Prepare women and girls to take on leadership roles and exercise power informed by the Femme Lense. Leadership Development includes political education, skills training and real life experiences.

Build Femme Power. The best way to put women in positions of power is to put women in positions of power. Women must lead campaigns and govern the victories of those campaigns.

Defend our Bodies. Campaigns to defend the rights and bodies of women and girls. From challenging sexism in the media to catcalling in the streets and attempts to limit our access to health care and reproductive choices, we must defend women.

End Conditions of Poverty. The content of campaigns must be focused on promoting equitable policies and ending poverty for everyone. Campaigns that end poverty end the feminization of poverty.

 

The Femme Agenda Program

As a means of implementing our theory of change in a way that realizes the Femme Agenda to end the feminization of poverty, the Miami Workers Center Femme Agenda program is organized into three (3) areas.


I. The Power Leadership Institute. An institute dedicated to empowering women and girls through political education and intense leadership development programs, including:

  • Women’s Circle. A space for transformation, healing strategy and vision. Specifically for grassroots members to learn how to analyze and then lead with a Femme Lense and to create awareness and develop a common unified gender language.
  • Femme Saturdays. A space for political education on oppression, current social issues and political moments with an intersectional gender lens. This space is primarily for supporters and allies.
  • Skill Building. Building specific skill sets, including job training, facilitating meetings, public speaking and others.
  • Advanced Leadership Development. An intensive leadership development program designed to turn members into leaders and prepare leaders for the political sphere. 


II. Policy Campaigns. Organizing grassroots members into a series of short-term campaigns to achieve specific changes through the coordinated use of communications, legal, direct action and other tools. Policy campaigns must be directed towards ending the conditions of poverty. Our initial campaign areas are:

  • Domestic Workers
  • Human Right to Housing
  • Femme Health
  • Sex Education

It is important to note that even if the campaigns do not initially win our stated demands, building strong and confident leaders is a victory and directly advances the Femme Agenda.


III. The Femme Agenda Coalition. Building broad coalitions utilizing mobilization and other strategies to advance our policy campaigns. Coalitions are established to support Femme Agenda policy campaigns and are intergenerational, multi-racial and inclusive of all genders, including men who oppose patriarchy.

 

The Miami Workers Center is building the Femme Agenda and putting low-income Black and queer women at the center of this movement.

 

Let's Build a Better Miami for Women, Girls and Femmes

Because when women and femmes win, everyone wins

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