Democracy Alliance Blog / From The President / March 8, 2024

Women are an unstoppable force for democracy

A letter to the Democracy Alliance community
From DA President Pamela Shifman
March 8, 2024

“Clearly, those bragging about overturning Roe v. Wade have no clue about the power of women in America. They found out though when reproductive freedom was on the ballot and won in 2022, 2023…and they will find out again, in 2024.”
–President Biden in last night’s State of the Union

Today, on International Women’s Day, we’ll hear a lot about the rising threats against women, girls and gender equality around the globe. And for good reason: Women are in the deadly crosshairs of authoritarian attacks on our bodies and our freedoms all over the world. 

But I am going to focus on three opportunities. Because alongside every threat are the seeds of a historic shift: a counter movement for democracy and freedom for all, led by so many women, especially women of color, and allies who are growing more powerful by the day.

For a pro-democracy community, these opportunities are a call to action. They outline a pathway and a plan. This is how we all win together.

  1. Anger over reproductive rights is now a driving force for democracy and dignity 

In the face of attacks on abortion rights and more (see: IVF), a countermovement to reclaim reproductive rights is not only exploding—it is expanding its reach. The spark of anger is accelerating efforts to organize and fight for an entire agenda of progressive change. 

President Biden gave voice to this anger last night: “Many of you in this Chamber and my predecessor are promising to pass a national ban on reproductive freedom. My God, what freedoms will you take away next?” 

Every state ballot measure on abortion rights since Dobbs has been a win for abortion rights, even in so-called red states like Kansas, Kentucky and Ohio. But that’s just the start.

As these wins channel women’s anger—especially among young women—they also act as a driver for other fundamental fights and related attacks on bodily autonomy, economic dignity, and democracy. 

A key takeaway of our time is this: Abortion rights are the gateway to a broader struggle for justice. They provide an opening on the interconnected struggles we care about, including: transforming our unjust economy; codifying voting rights; standing up against attacks on trans communities and efforts to limit gender-affirming care; realizing our long-sought Care Agenda; addressing the climate crisis; and defeating attacks on public education, so called “critical race theory,” or DEI programs, and calling them out for what they are: just the latest tactic to block efforts that ameliorate racial injustice across our country.

  1. Women movement leaders and elected officials are ascendant 

Movements are key to it all. Last weekend in Selma, where many of us gathered for the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, brought another vivid reminder: There has never been mass social change in this or any other country without a social movement propelling it forward. 

And just as a new movement moment arrives, more women, especially women of color, have stepped into prominent leadership positions across so many of our most important organizations. For women of color especially, these roles are often exhausting and unsustainable. Our democracy depends on us rallying behind these leaders and supporting them with everything we have.

At the same time, women elected officials are rising to new prominence. We’ve been inspired by them at our conferences: leaders like Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. Here too, women are showing the country what can become possible when we win.

  1. A historic wealth transfer is flowing to women

Alongside powerful movement leaders and elected officials, another group is rising: women donors. And that power is about to multiply. 

A historic wealth transfer is already underway, and soon women will control more money than they ever have. By 2030, American women will manage at least $30 trillion, more than the national GDP

To be clear, the answer here is not about passing wealth from one billionaire to the next. Rather, as we work to advance fair taxation and reduce income inequality, women donors also have a chance to disrupt the patterns of generational wealth itself. By redistributing resources to justice movements on the frontlines of change, they will model a more courageous and radical approach to political giving for all to see.

As more women encounter this opportunity, they will be searching for community, inspiration, and possibilities for collaboration—just like our DA community delivers every day.

Making democracy real

Authoritarians have long understood that cracking down on women’s rights is central to their whole project. It’s how they plan to win.

But they’ve unleashed something unstoppable: the potency of women to lead us to the democracy we deserve. By leaning into women’s power and seizing this moment together, we can realize the just, multiracial, feminist democracy we all envision.