Mobilizing Young Women to Be Leaders

By Giving List Women   |   May 20, 2024
College students rally for the Equal Rights Amendment.

In January 2021, the inaugural National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman delivered her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at the inauguration of President Joe Biden. In February 2023, the Senate confirmed the first LGBTQ Latina, Ana C. Reyes, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

What do Gorman and Reyes have in common? They both cut their teeth in the Feminist Majority Foundation’s (FMF’s) life-changing youth leadership programs – Gorman in FMF’s Girls Learn International program for middle and high school students and Reyes in FMF’s Feminist Campus program for college students. Both programs teach young women to advocate for human rights, equality, and democracy in the U.S. and around the world.

Encouraging and Educating Young Women Voters

Working very closely with women’s and gender studies programs, women’s centers, and multi-cultural centers on college campuses, FMF recruits and trains young women to be leaders in the feminist movement.

FMF also strategically works on college campuses during election years to make sure young voters are informed and active. They strive to ensure they have the right to vote where they are going to school, that they know what issues are at stake in an election, and that they know where they can vote, and FMF mobilizes to get them to the voting booth on Election Day. FMF also works to make sure that voting locations are on college campuses because many students don’t have cars.

Young voters are the most progressive voters, but they have the lowest turnout rates of the entire electorate, says FMF Executive Director Katherine Spillar. “Some of it is because they’re unfamiliar with voting. This is the first time they’re going to be voting. Also, they’re away from home, and they’re led to believe all too often that they can’t vote where they’re going to school. Students have a right to register and vote where they are in school, no matter what state they are from, where they returned home during the summers, or where a parent lives or their parents or guardians live. Making sure they know that is a critical part of what we do. And we have proven that by increasing the turnout rates at the margins, you can impact an entire election.”

Turnout of young voters made a critical difference in the outcome of the 2022 elections in key battleground states, including Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire, and promises to do so again in 2024.

Keeping Feminism at the Forefront

In addition to on-campus organizing, FMF holds a young feminist conference in Washington, D.C., each year, bringing students from across the country to the nation’s capital to engage with other feminist students and leaders and learn how to advocate to their representatives. 

To keep people informed on the issues, FMF publishes Ms. magazine. Co-founded in 1971 by journalist and social/political activist Gloria Steinem, Ms. magazine was the first national American feminist magazine. It is one of the only media sources providing in-depth analysis about what’s happening to women and girls here in the U.S. and around the world, and how the violations of women’s rights are damaging to democracy.

As Ms. magazine and their research and action programs show, FMF is dedicated to advancing the legal, social, and political equality of women. 

How They’re Doing This Differently

Young voters have the lowest turnout rates of the entire electorate and yet can impact an entire election. The Feminist Majority Foundation is mobilizing young women on college campuses by ensuring they’re aware they can register and vote away from home, and have access to voting booths on campus since so many students don’t have a car.


Feminist Majority Foundation

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The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) was created to develop bold, new strategies and programs to advance women’s equality, non-violence, economic development, and, most importantly, empowerment of women and girls in all sectors of society. All programs of the FMF endeavor to include a global perspective and activities to promote leadership development, especially among young women. Along with reproductive rights and access to reproductive technology, the FMF’s programs have focused on the empowerment of women in law, business, medicine, academia, sports, and the Internet.

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