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Why Women Are Crucial to Building Communities That Thrive

A conversation with two incredible women on the value of women in building, sustaining and healing communities.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Busing via Unsplash

The second day of the Women & Worth Summit: Actions Speak Louder Than Words featured many incredibly insightful sessions, one of which was ‘Why Women Are Crucial to Building Communities That Thrive,’ featuring Lucy Lang and Valarie McCall and moderated by Marcus Glover.

The conversation started with Glover, founding partner of the private equity firm M. Glover Capital and board chair of Defy Ventures, asking Lang, candidate for Manhattan DA, and McCall, chief of communications, government and international affairs for the City of Cleveland, what inspired them to enter their present career field. Lang mentioned that while she was in law school, a tragedy occurred to someone close to her, and she saw the perspective of someone who experienced the tragedy, as well as that of the person who committed it. Lang detailed that the justice system failed both the victim and the perpetrator and that this experience cemented her zeal for law. McCall mentioned that she had been passionate about serving the public since childhood, and her experiences in economic development and social work propelled her to work in the local and federal government.

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The conversation then steered to what advice Lang and McCall would give to the city of Minneapolis, as the city is one week away from Derek Chauvin’s trial over George Floyd’s murder. Lang emphasized that this upcoming trial elevated the importance of local governance and the issue of police accountability. She also mentioned that it is largely due to the tireless work of the moms, sisters and women that we know as much as we know now about police violence and the need for police accountability. Overall, Lang believes that it is important to center the conversation around the work of BIPOC women regarding social activism.

McCall, who works in Cleveland—the city that gained national attention when Tamir Rice was killed—said that the advice she would give is to always hold on to the truth and that the truth will always prevail. Glover then steered the panelists into the topic of an increase in gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both speakers mentioned support services for survivors were extremely essential and that there needed to be other tools for justice and healing rather than just the district attorney’s office. McCall mentioned that women have a natural intuition and perspective in gender-based violence as they view it as a real threat that their mothers, daughters and sisters might encounter. Thus, it is even more important for women to be in law enforcement, as they can provide valuable input regarding the issue of gender-based violence. Additionally, McCall emphasized the need for continuous focus and a spotlight on the rise of gender-based violence in the media.

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In closing remarks, Glover mentioned his daughter asking him, “What are you doing for women of color in your life?” and he’s been committed to answering that question ever since. He went on to ask the panelists their thoughts on seeing women present in the highest offices in the nation. McCall mentioned that as a child, she and her friends repeatedly told themselves that they would not end up as a statistic and how incredible it is that women of color are slowly but surely entering spaces of power in the federal government. Lang said she continuously strives to uplift women of color who are DAs across the nation and especially those who continuously face racism, sexism and harassment every day. As a beautiful closing statement, McCall presented how important it is to continuously open doors and mentor other women so that they, too, can see their worth and be who they are meant to be.

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