From 2003-2008, IWPR led a research and outreach program committed to promoting a vision for U.S. policies and practice rooted in women’s public vision and values. The project identified the values that motivate and guide women’s public activism around social justice issues and building stronger ties between women social justice activists, particularly in religious and interfaith organizations, and the women’s movement.
IWPR’s research found that religious women activists are deeply committed to a set of moral concepts that includes responsibility for the well-being of others and interconnectedness with the most disadvantaged in society:
From a Hindu woman: “There’s a connection between all human beings, and…[activism] is something that you have to do in order to feel like you can be morally sound.”
From a Catholic: “A large part of how we deliver ourselves ties back to our faiths…dignity, respect, solidarity, we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, participation, community.”
And from an evangelical Christian: “All of us have a responsibility to society to make sure that everyone in society has the opportunity for well-being, for being able to exist in a humane and decent way.”
Many political leaders recognize the need to bring moral values into public discussions of religion, morality, and politics. IWPR hopes to provide a basis for doing so that will bring a variety of women together. We published a series of reports on women’s values and experiences in religious social justice activism, the relationship of this activism to the women’s movement, and strategies for encouraging women’s religious and political leadership.
IWPR convened a Working Group on Women’s Public Vision made up of women leaders in politics, religion, social justice, and feminist organizing. This group generated concrete ways to promote women’s values and vision.
IWPR participated in and organizing events highlighting our work in this area. We also developed a series of workshops designed to build women’s agendas and collaborations across the country based on women’s values.
IWPR’s research in this area and the Working Group on Women’s Public Vision were primarily funded by the Ford Foundation. The Sister Fund provided additional funding for events for the project.