When you think of the U.S. Social Forum, what things come to mind? Anti-globalization marches? Protestors against big business? Groups looking to infuse workers' and human rights into international trade agreements? Calls for an end to imperialism? Anti-war activists? Maybe all of the above. However, we doubt, for many of you, reproductive justice issues ever come into play.
For far too long, the vision of an inclusive social justice movement has failed to conjure many connections with the basic reproductive health and rights movements in this country. Civil rights organizations have worked with labor rights movements. People's organizations have worked with grassroots campaign organizers. Many of these collaborations have been around specific health and well-being issues, but frequently when the word "reproductive" is uttered, people draw lines in the sand and jump to one side or another.
Fortunately, as a social justice movement and a country, that is beginning to change. We're pleased to say that a lot of that change has been initiated by new, younger leaders who not only care about the environment, but also sexual and gender identity issues. The newest generation of activists are working for labor rights, immigration reform, sustainable development, poverty, race and class divides, human rights AND reproductive health.
At Choice USA, we've assembled a delegation of 35 of these young and visionary leaders from across the country who are attending the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta this week. They see these connections and want to build a stronger movement by working together to support all of our commonalities. We're calling them the Reproductive Justice Youth Ambassadors.
From presenting panels on how economic, environmental, and reproductive justice movements connect, to blogging their opinions and experiences, the RJ Youth Ambassadors will be carving space at the table for innovative ideas, discussion, and collaboration, that will help bring the U.S. Social Forum's motto of "Another World is Possible" to fruition.
One campaign the RJ Youth Ambassadors will be working on is a joint collaboration for Fairness in Flowers. Choice USA and the RJ Youth Ambassadors, partnering with workers rights organizations, grassroots farm workers, environmental health organizations, and global trade groups, are encouraging the largest growers and buyers of cut flowers from South America to improve conditions for their workers. Currently, the mostly-female workforce endures forced pregnancy testing and deadly exposure to miscarriage- and birth defect-causing chemicals. The RJ Youth Ambassadors will also advocate for better clean up of the local environment, which is polluted by the grower's plantations (affecting the women, children, and families living near and working on them), and to increase access to overall healthcare services for the people who work for them.
Hailing from dozens of cities across the United States, the Reproductive Justice Youth Ambassadors truly represent a diverse assembly of young leaders, working for a variety of local, national, and grassroots organizations, campus groups, and issues throughout the social justice movement.
Their task is to ensure that during every session, workshop, and march this week, the voices of young leaders will be heard—guaranteeing that reproductive and sexual health and well-being is represented throughout the Forum. They'll be making the connections to continue working across the lines of single-issues to build a stronger and more cohesive movement. So in future years, at the U.S. and World Social Forums, reproductive justice won't be forgotten and another world will be possible.
You can view profiles of some of Choice USA's Reproductive Justice Youth Ambassadors here. Choice USA staff and activists will be presenting three different panels while at the US Social Forum: For Our Future, For Our Movement: Reproductive Justice for Young People; History of Choice: Future of Justice; and The Birds, Bees, Flowers and Trees: Making Global Connections Between Economic, Environmental, and Reproductive Justice Movements.
Learn more about the workshops here.