An Open Letter to Our Community

An Open Letter to Our Community

Our Commitment to Do Better

June 2, 2020

Dear Vital Voices Community,

Like so many, I am deeply saddened and enraged by the senseless killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Botham Shem Jean, Sandra Bland and countless others. This growing crisis on top of a global pandemic further exposes the glaring inequities that permeate our society. I have been grappling with the role that each of us has in dismantling a systemic, centuries-old culture of racism and inequity.

At our core, Vital Voices is an organization that invests in and amplifies women leaders across the globe who are doing the tireless work to positively impact their communities. For almost 25 years, we have recognized the critical role that leaders around the world play when they speak truth to power and put themselves on the line for what is right. The last week has forced us to reckon with what is happening in our own country.

The truth is, that reckoning should have come sooner. For far too long we have been quick to support women leaders doing this deeply-needed work across the globe, not always recognizing the active role we should play in elevating more Black women’s voices who are doing this tireless work in our own backyard. That ends today.

As an organization committed to women’s leadership and gender equality, we are keenly aware that the women’s empowerment movement has often been one of exclusion. From Black suffragists being sidelined to feminist movements that only centered white women, we must recognize the complicit and often harmful role we play. Good intentions are never an excuse for marginalization.

As President & CEO, I take ownership for our past and commit to do better. This means looking internally within our own organization to continuously examine how we can build a more inclusive environment, and call out implicit bias. We are reworking our programming to ensure that it is more inclusive and intersectional. We know that the plight of equality and women’s leadership is not monolithic. We will not do this perfectly, but we will keep doing better.

We know that true equality cannot exist if Black women, and other women of color, are excluded from the struggle for societal change.

To our community, and most importantly, our team, Network members, and partners who are hurting deeply – please know that we are with you, we will fight for you. We will listen, learn and take action. We will try, fail and try again. We will use our platform to bring attention to these critical issues and to shine a light on the women leaders who are thanklessly doing this work. Unequivocally, we state that Black Lives Matter.

In solidarity,

Alyse Nelson
President and CEO
Vital Voices Global Partnership