Combatting the Patriarchy is Going to Take All of Us – But Women Must Lead


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To the Editor:

When working in activist movements, it’s essential to be both authentic and approachable. Authenticity ensures that you never lose focus on your primary audience and goals. But approachability – the ability to attract new people to your cause – is how we win.

This week, CWEALF is celebrating 50 years since our founding. As we commit to revitalizing the work while remaining rooted in our original intentions to serve women and girls in Connecticut, we know change requires diverse allies who are willing to roll up their sleeves and take up the mantle of justice alongside us. But ultimately, in our work, women must lead.

We’re changing our name from the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund to She Leads Justice because, at our core, we’re committed to ensuring women and all people harmed by the patriarchy can step into their power. She Leads Justice isn’t just a name change, it’s a rallying cry to put those most impacted by oppressive systems at the helm of our work.

After 50 years of serving women and families, it’s not lost on us that there’s still so much left to do. One of those hurdles has long been and continues to be the fight against patriarchy and the insidious ways it intersects with race, ethnicity, gender identity, ability, and sexuality.

Throughout the nation, we’ve seen men–mostly white men–erect policies that hurt children, families, and most of all women. These policies have gutted protections for gender-affirming care, further limited access to birth control and abortion, and banned books that illustrate an accurate history of our country.

Left unchecked, the patriarchy continues to undermine the potential for our nation to be truly great and ensures only those who fit into the very narrow box of cis, straight, white able-bodied maleness have complete access to the tools to succeed. The problem that is often overlooked is that patriarchy hurts men and male-identifying people in nuanced yet damaging ways as well.

Young boys in our state and across the country are handed down an image of masculinity that’s incomplete and woefully lacking. With images of our male leaders bombastically insulting trans communities, politicking in ways that threaten the safety of young women and women of color, and operating with little to no sense of care or empathy for the lives of people unlike themselves, young men and boys risk growing up emulating and perpetuating similar behavior. The downstream effect will be a generation of men who vote for and enforce policies that hurt their mothers, wives, daughters, and friends–as well as themselves.

Our work to invite male allies to the table is in recognition of that risk. But women, and especially women of color, must lead the charge for justice. For far too long, we’ve been subjugated to the corners of our political spheres and treated like things that should be seen and not heard.

The days of silencing women must come to an end.

I’m particularly thrilled about the work ahead of us. With 50 years of reputation, knowledge, and know-how, I’m confident in our ability to recruit more people to our fight for a more just Connecticut. Now more than ever, I’m confident in our state’s ability to take bold and swift action to protect women’s rights and stand as a model for what’s possible when we let women lead.

Our work for women and girls across the state–and through that work, everyone–isn’t done yet. Our commitment to being an organization that welcomes anyone who believes a better world is possible–and wants to fight for it–comes with a great deal of accountability. As we embark on these new efforts and double down on our existing ones, we’re dedicated to being accountable to our partners and every person in the state who is impacted by our work.

Remaining authentic to our cause, accountable to our people, and approachable enough that new allies and activists feel empowered to join our ranks is how we will win. If you haven’t been invited to join the movement before then this is your personal invitation, from me to you. I hope you’ll reach out to Jen, our Community Organizing Director, at We’ll win faster with you beside us.

Janée Woods Weber
Executive Director
She Leads Justice (Formerly CWEALF)