This is a contribution to the #Winefride4women campaign. Please support us by donating or sharing our campaign with all that you know. https://chuffed.org/project/winefride4women

We asked some of our friends and network to share their thoughts on women’s independence and power. Thank you to the inimitable Valerie Hunter for this piece.

What is your name and how would you describe yourself?

My name is Valerie and I’m a 65 year old white woman who lives on the west coast of the United States.

 

What does women’s independence mean for you?

For me, women’s independence is liberation from anything or anyone that seeks to constrain our autonomy and access in a way that denies our full humanity. The ability to choose for ourselves and have lives of meaning and purpose, to educate ourselves, to be able to care for others and to have others care for us, to be safe and secure, to travel freely and without worry, and to have access to clean water and sanitation, good quality food, housing, economic security, health care, and social support are human needs, and therefore, they are at the core of women’s independence.

 

Tell a story (in any form -drawing, voice, note, video note, anything) of a transformation or act that has contributed to who you are today and/or a story of a woman/women/womxn who have contributed to who you are today?

My role in my family was to perform as a grown-up even when I was a young kid, actively caring for all the members of my family in ways that were not appropriate for my age. When I got older, I decided to go to California to complete my college education so I worked and studied hard to save the money and achieve the grades to get into a good school. To get to school, I wanted to camp across country with a friend—it would be an adventure!—traveling from the east coast to the west coast of the United States. Because it was 1976, I would call my parents periodically from phone booths in campgrounds to check-in (sadly, this was my idea—parenting myself as I always had). In a call I made from the middle of the country, I was asked by my mother to come back home to be there for her since my parents were divorcing after a long, unhappy marriage. Despite her knowing I was on my way to school, she placed me in the middle of a decision: do I continue to take care of my parents or do I honor my decision to make a life for myself? Somehow, from a phone booth in the middle of a campground in the middle of the country, I took myself out of the middle of a dilemma. I found the courage to choose agency over approval, to continue on my way to college, to claim a life that finally was appropriate for my age.

 

If you were to symbolically dedicate something to the healing of human and nature relationships what would this be?

I would dedicate the symbolism of standing side by side or shoulder to shoulder, to see how it is from their point of view. To see with empathy is the beginning of a relationship.

 

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