Women United

Episodes in countries all over the globe—acts of violence, restrictions on basic rights, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19—had done so much to undermine gender equality and women’s rights over the past two years that the secretary general of Amnesty International used a day for commemorating women’s achievements to throw down the gauntlet.

Angès Callamard implored governments around the world on International Women’s Day to “stand up and stare down this global assault on women’s and girls’ dignity.”

“Regressive laws must be repealed. Essential services must be provided. [There must be] equal access to education and employment. Protections [against gender-based violence] must be strengthened, not weakened,” the French human rights activist said. “There can be no excuses for failing to govern justly and fairly for women and girls.”

She released that statement in early March. It’s hard to imagine Callamard feeling any better about events that have transpired since.

But even as the big picture remains distorted, there are crystal clear snapshots worth celebrating, stories of accomplishment that empower and elevate. Look no further than the September issue of Lifestyle, one that salutes “Women of Influence” setting inspired examples throughout South Florida.

It’s been Lifestyle’s great pleasure to feature so many prominent female leaders through the years, some of which have expressed variations of the same gauntlet that Callamard threw down. Indeed, we’ve been reminded in recent months of interviews we’ve done with women like Monica Skoko Rodríguez, whose story appeared in the September issue last year.

At the time, she was executive director of Miami-Dade County Commission for Women; she’s now the director of medical standards for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She spoke to us then about how the discourse in our country impacted her career path.

“Not to be hyperbolic, but for the first time in my adult life I was seeing what seemed to be the beginning of The Handmaid’s Tale,” she said. “We were seeing so many fundamental rights being taken away. I was furious at our political system. It was like the movie, Network. I was mad as hell, and I didn’t want to take it anymore.”

Marya Meyer, executive director of The Women’s Fund in Miami, also reminded us last year that women do more than just rise to the occasion when challenged.

“When things start crashing to the ground, so many of us come together and say, ‘We’re not going to rebuild the same way.’ We’re not going to take that footbridge and put [the same] bricks back together.

“We’re going to design a new bridge.”

We salute the women in these pages, and women all over South Florida, who are building bridges that will lead us to a better tomorrow. Enjoy the issue.

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