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The Arkansas Women’s Project was founded in 1980 to promote and support women’s issues in Arkansas. This grassroots organization was originally known as the Arkansas Women’s Training Project, which was led by Suzanee Pharr from 1981 to 1988. Initial funding was provided by the Board of Global Ministries from the United Methodist Church, and the organization developed a focus on issues such as abuse, rape, non-traditional employment, minority rights, and gay and lesbian rights.
The Arkansas Women’s Project aims to promote social change, and peace and justice for all women, by working against racism, classism, ageism, anti-Semitism, heterosexism, and homophobia. The Arkansas Women’s Project is concerned in particular about issues of importance to traditionally underrepresented women, such as low-income women, aged women, women of color, teenage mothers, women with disabilities, lesbians, and women in prison. The organization is especially committed to offering the women and children of Arkansas access to quality reproductive healthcare and reproductive justice, the latter defined as “the right to have children, the right to not have children and the right for the children we have to be raised in safe and healthy environments.”
Since its inception, the Arkansas Women’s Project has established many partnerships and collaborations. In 2012, the organization joined the newly formed Arkansas Coalition for Reproductive Justice. In January 2013, the Arkansas Coalition for Reproductive Justice spearheaded an effort to bring together over 500 women for an event on the steps of Arkansas State Capitol.
The Arkansas Women’s Project is also part of the Southern Movement Alliance—a collaboration of Southern organizations with common political, economic, and social goals aiming to implement strategic and collective action plans for building power across the South. In 2012, the Southern Movement Alliance and their partners collaborated on voter education, registration, and activation through the We All Count Campaign. The campaign was an effort led by grassroots organizations with the Southern Movement Alliance to increase voter education and registration in under-represented communities. The campaign also trained new organizers and established the Southern People’s Plan in order to encourage the local communities to keep working beyond the national elections.
The Arkansas Women’s Project has partnered with the Philander Smith College Social Justice Initiative in developing the National Student Bill of Rights for All Youth (NSBR). The NSBR is an effort to bring together youth from across the country to define a youth vision for education and social justice. Young people from different cities have begun developing local bills and working together to write a national bill that will serve as a unifying document for youth nationwide and a driving force for youth movement building.
The Arkansas Women’s Project is composed of two transitional teams. The Board Transitional Team manages the daily administrative and operational needs of the organization. The second team is the Community Listening and Programmatic Transitional Team. Because the Arkansas Women’s Project has no paid staff, all activities are implemented by volunteers.
For additional information:Arkansas Women’s Project. http://www.arkansaswomensproject.com/ (accessed November 8, 2017).
Arkansas Women’s Project Collection. Torreyson Library Special Collections. University of Central Arkansas, Conway, Arkansas.
Rachel Hoge Conway, Arkansas
Last Updated 11/8/2017
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