Our involvement with The Richmond Forum has made 2022 a very exciting year. The Forum brings leaders from the world stage to our stage in Richmond, Virginia — to empower voices, stimulate conversation, and inspire leaders within our community. On February 19, a few members of our team had the honor and privilege of watching feminist icon Gloria Steinem take the stage with Zainab Salbi. Gloria is a writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer who has been at the vanguard of women’s rights for sixty years. Her stories of the past inspired us with hope for the future.
What better way to kick off Women’s History Month than to recap this special event? A few of our teammates had this to say about their evening with Gloria.
Mary Bowen Artus
Seeing Gloria Steinem walk into the room literally brought tears to my eyes. She is a legend – an icon – and yet, there she was, so close to me that I couldn’t process it. That moment will stick with me forever.
The message that I remember the most is that feminism is really about humanism. It grants each person the right to live their own unique talents and passions without applying pre-conceived criteria about how their life should look. It’s a movement that, if fulfilled, would be as meaningful for little boys as it is for little girls. The reason why the emphasis is currently on women is that the data undeniably shows that we are the group most significantly (and negatively) impacted by unfair gender expectations. By the end of the night, I felt humbled and inspired by the generations of women who have been fighting this fight for so long, winning our rights through blood, sweat, and tears. I hope our generation can continue to make them proud while building a more equitable, just, and kind world for our daughters and sons.
To be in her presence and to hear her viewpoints on the status of the world for women was one of the most inspiring moments of my life. She touched on difficult and important topics with such grace and gusto, like a woman’s right to choose, the equal rights amendment, female oppression around the world, and violence against women. My biggest takeaways of the night — choose your own path, do not succumb to social constructs, and know that women will always rise and be the light even in the darkest of circumstances. Thank you, Gloria, for sharing your incredible insight with us and with the world, and for devoting your life to fighting for my right to live mine.
I was fascinated by the dynamic between Gloria and Zainab, two legendary feminists from two generations of the women’s movement. Born at different moments in history, they walked on stage together, hand-in-hand, united in their fight for the equal treatment of women. Gloria reminded me that female friendship is precious. She lit up when talking about her friends, or chosen family, who stood with her on the frontlines with levels of courage that I can only imagine. I learned about Gloria in college, and it was refreshing to see so many early high school students there. The energy in the room was electric and there was a collective sense of awe. Men, women, and people of all ages were honored to be in her presence and participate in this once-in-a-lifetime event. I left feeling grateful for outrageous women like Gloria who fought so hard for my rights and the rights of humanity.
We want to keep this conversation going. How have women like Gloria impacted your life? Who is a woman in your life that you’re grateful for and how does she inspire you? Send us a message, we would love to hear from you.