In our small office of just 12 employees, 9 seats will be empty today. At CSGV, “A Day Without a Woman” is a day without 75 percent of our staff.
The women of CSGV are epidemiologists, attorneys, mental health experts, criminal justice professionals, academics, mothers, grandmothers, recent graduates, bookworms, artists. We come from different backgrounds and different areas of the country. We have unique stories and reasons for choosing careers in gun violence prevention.
But every day, we come together with one goal: saving lives. Every day, we are spurred to action knowing that more than half of all women murdered in the United States are killed by an intimate partner with a gun, and the chance of being murdered by an abusive partner increases fivefold if there is a gun in the home. Every day, we work to create and implement policies that keep women and families safe.
Though it is not always portrayed as such, gun violence prevention is a feminist issue. And equally important — it’s an issue that requires an intersectional approach. Gun violence affects women from all walks of life, and our movement is only as strong as it is inclusive.
Today, we stand with all women who have lost loved ones to gun violence. With women who have been threatened with guns. With women who survived. With women who left us too soon.
We stand with women who are not able to take the day off. With women in communities most impacted by gun violence — women who are disregarded, pushed aside, silenced by policymakers.
We stand with women struggling to leave abusive relationships and those who are making a new start. We stand with the women in law enforcement who risk their lives protecting our communities every day.
We stand with women who live with mental illness and fight against stigma. With the researchers who show us the truth about risk of violence and the dangers of having a gun in the home.
We stand with the women of the LGBTQ community, with the trans women of color whose lives are threatened with alarming frequency.
We stand with the women who paved the way for us. And we fight for the girls who will read about this movement in history books and those who are watching us now.
On the day of the Women’s March on Washington, several of us slipped away from the crowd and went to the roof of our office building — just two blocks from the White House. We watched, awestruck, as women from across the country marched through the streets. Their voices echoed, jumped between buildings, rose to the skyline and poured over the top of the city.
We were electrified.
Since then, women who live outside the Beltway have asked me, “Is the energy still alive in Washington? Are women still mobilized? Are you all still fighting?”
Sitting in our tiny office, watching the incredible women I work with each day, the answer is clear: absolutely. And we’re just getting started.
Bryan Barks is the executive editor at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Follow her on Medium.