Friday, November 16

National Young Feminist Leadership Conference Recap

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For five years,
US-based Feminist
Campus
, which is the student sector of the Feminist Majority
Foundation
host thousands of young and eager feminists in high
school and college in Washington, DC at the National
Young Feminist Leadership Conference
. Founded in 1987, the FMF is a
national, “…cutting edge
organization dedicated to women’s equality, reproductive health, and
non-violence. In all spheres, FMF utilizes research and action to empower women
economically, socially, and politically.”

At NYFLC, feminists can expect to leave with
tangible skills with which they can organize, persuade, vote, march and more in
the name of feminism. The conference trains the young feminists through
intimate, hands-on workshops, panels, onsite activism, keynotes and
congressional lobbying. That’s right – the Monday after training on Saturday
and Sunday, NYFLC sends them out to lobby their local legislators on Capitol
Hill.

The panel at the NYFLC 2018

I started going to NYFLC my junior year of college,
so this was my third year. When I first attended in 2016, I was in the
beginnings of my feminist journey. I really didn’t know what the word
intersectional means. I was just starting to learn my duties as both an ally
and activist. My first year, there were folks demanding more gender neutral
language. Even if I didn’t know exactly what the reason was behind that, I was
supportive and was willing to learn.

Feminism n. the policy, practice or advocacy of
political, economic, and social equality for women.

Even though I attended this year as more of
full-fledged feminist, I am still learning. I approached this year with eyes
just as open and a soul just as excited as I was the first year. Attending this
year meant a little more to me, because I made a pilgrimage down from
Massachusetts. I drove down after working my 9-5 with my friends that also graduated
in May with me, and arrived at the conference bright and early the next morning
with only four hours of sleep under my belt that night.

The morning started off with a powery plenary panel
made up of reproductive justice activists, latinx activists, an activist from
Flint, MI and perhaps one of the most powerful speakers of the weekend – a
student from Stoneman Douglas high school, where there was a recent, jarring
school shooting in Parkland, FL. The first panel I attended was about
intersectionality and reproductive justice. At that panel, we learned how to
make the conversations about RJ more inclusive. One somewhat obvious but simple
way of doing this is hiring POCs as consultants or as employees in the
organizations, so they have a say.

I also attended a pane about the intersection of
reproductive justice and faith. A major quote that stuck with me from this
panel was an activist saying, “I am pro-choice because of my faith and not in
spite of it.” This was personally a powerful panel for me to attend, and see
the organization Catholics for Choice, as I struggled with the
intersection of being Catholic and pro-choice growing up. My favorite panel
that I attended was about storytelling and feminism. The panel was filled with
women from Free Women Writers, which is non-profit organization
composed of writers, students, and activists based in Afghanistan and the
diaspora and working for a more equal and just Afghanistan. By writing on this
platform and telling their stories, these women bring awareness to the
struggles of womanhood in Afghanistan.

On the last day, I attended an intersectionality
workshop. In my small group, I met student activists from all over the country.
After learning about the struggles that the other students face with their
groups, I realized that we’re all facing similar problems. We were able to
offer each other advice and learn from each other. We actually started a group
chat.

I hope that you get to experience an NYFLC some day
or something just as awesome. Until next time!

 

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About Author

Nikki Vergakes is a 22-year-old writer, podcaster and PR Specialist. She enjoys writing and making content for digital media. She also dedicates her time to political activism. She'll take any chance she gets to combine the two. In her free time, she takes a break from the computer with... the computer. She enjoys deep-diving into memes, YouTube videos, Netflix originals and vine compilations (no wonder her glasses prescription is so high!) She does run half marathons and hikes occasionally, however, so she does get outside. E-mail her with tips, story ideas, ways to collaborate on digital content and any YouTube drama!

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