Tune into the first-ever Free Future forum here: https://www.ourfreefuture.org/livestream 

New York, NY (September 13) – On Thursday, the Ford Foundation’s International Program on Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice (GREJ-I) will host their inaugural forum, Free Future 2023: Preventing Gender Violence Around the World. The exciting event, presented in partnership with The Meteor and the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, will bring together prominent activists and leaders in the feminist movement to engage in disruptive conversations around combating gender-based violence on a global scale. The forum will be hosted at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice in New York City. 

Despite perceptions that gender-based violence is decreasing globally, the reality is far from that. Recent data has shown that gender-based violence remains a persistent and alarming issue, affecting countless women and girls worldwide. The numbers are devastating: every day in Mexico, at least ten women are killed. This rate has more than doubled over the last six years. And in the United States, femicide has increased by almost 25 percent over the past eight years. 

Free Future 2023 will be a historic global convening of experts on gender inequality and leaders of anti-violence movements worldwide, and will feature dynamic panels and discussions such as: 

  • “me too.” Movement founder Tarana Burke will reflect alongside other movement leaders on the progress and challenges that have arisen within the feminist movement over the last few years. This will be the first-ever gathering of the leaders from major viral movements from the last decade, from “me too.” to Ni Una Menos to Total Shutdown in South Africa. 
  • A conversation with Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, founder of the Ugandan LGBTQ rights movement who continues to organize in the face of Uganda’s draconian anti-gay laws, inclusive of the death penalty for LGBTQ people. 
  • Award-winning journalist Connie Walker and Tarcila Rivera Zea (Continental Network of Indigenous Women) on the alarming rates of violence against Indigenous women and discuss potential solutions.
  • Catalina Devandas, executive director of Disability Rights Fund, will discuss the elevated risk of violence faced by women and girls living with disabilities and steps we can all take to combat this issue.

By addressing gender-based violence head-on, Free Future 2023 is not only acknowledging the magnitude of this global problem but also taking a bold step towards ensuring a safer and more equitable world for women and girls everywhere. The convening will serve as a resounding call to action, urging all to confront the unsettling truth and work tirelessly to eradicate gender-based violence once and for all. 

“Free Future 2023 is an essential milestone in our collective journey towards gender justice. In a world where gender-based violence remains a deeply rooted and often misunderstood issue, this forum serves as a beacon of hope, illuminating the urgent need for change, and lifting up the solutions that we know exist,” Monica Aleman, International Program Director at GREJ-I said. “We hope to foster honest dialogue and understanding, shedding light on both the challenges and the incredible efforts being made to combat this pervasive issue – because the fight against gender-based violence is everyone’s fight.”

Free Future 2023 will host discussions covering a wide range of topics, including online violence and the emergence of organized misogyny, violence against Indigenous women, the intersection of gender and disability, systemic and normative violence experienced by LGBTQ+ communities globally, and more. A diverse array of speakers will take the stage, including leaders in the feminist movement like Tarana Burke, Kasha Nabagesera, Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Sara Ziff, Jessica Valenti, Roxane Gay, Amber Tamblyn, and more. The event will also showcase custom artwork by Mona Chalabi and original poetry by Amber Tamblyn, Mahogany L. Browne, and Beau Sia.

The full list of confirmed speakers includes: 

  • Martín Abregu, Vice President of International Programs, Ford Foundation  
  • Monica Aleman, International Program Director, Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice International (GREJ-I) at the Ford Foundation
  • Maria Florencia Alvarez, Founding member of Ni Una Menos 
  • Dr. Sima Bahous, Executive Director of UN-Women
  • Charles M. Blow, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times
  • Tarana Burke, Founder, “me too.” Movement 
  • Mahogany L. Browne, Executive Director, JustMedia & Poet
  • Joy Chia, Executive Director, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice
  • Rebecca Cokley, U.S. Disability Justice Program Officer, Ford Foundation
  • Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Host and Executive Producer, Undistracted
  • Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Executive Director, Disability Rights Fund, Inc.
  • Maryangel Garcia-Ramos, Executive Director, Women Enabled International
  • Roxane Gay, Author, Editor and Professor
  • Fatima Goss Graves, President, National Women’s Law Center
  • Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta, United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues
  • Sarita Gupta, Vice President, U.S. Programs, Ford Foundation
  • Anita Hill, Professor and Author
  • Josephine Kamara, Head of Advocacy, Purposeful
  • Mariam Mangera, Project Coordinator, The National Shelter Movement of South Africa
  • Ellen McGirt, Journalist
  • Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, Founder and Executive Director, Kuchu Times Media Group
  • Amanda Nguyen, Social Entrepreneur, Civil Rights Activist, and the CEO and Founder of Rise
  • Priya Parker, Author
  • Hilary Pennington, Executive Vice President of Programs, Ford Foundation
  • Paola Ramos, Journalist and Author
  • Allison Russell, Artist and Musician
  • Beau Sia, Poet
  • Amber Tamblyn, Poet
  • Jessica Valenti, Journalist
  • Cyrus Veyssi, Influencer and Creator
  • Connie Walker, Investigative Journalist and Host, Gimlet Media
  • Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation
  • Kesa White, Researcher and Expert on Violent Extremism 
  • Barbara Woodward, Permanent Representative of the UK to the United Nations
  • Tarcila Rivera Zea, President of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women 
  • Sara Ziff, Founder and Executive Director, Model Alliance
  • (Additional speakers to be confirmed)

To tune into Free Future 2023, please register at the following link: https://www.ourfreefuture.org/livestream.  

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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