Members of PEPíS Young Womenís Leadership Council (YWLC) convened in the Summer of 2007 in New York to work on a number of PEP projects. We had not been together as a group since August 2006, and we were really excited to see each other, take in everyoneís energy and share ideas. This was a particularly important convening for us because it enabled the YWLC to become re-inspired by our mission: to be the voice and raise the voices of diverse young women in the sexual and reproductive health and rights movement.
Surrounded by snacks, music, and laughter, the YWLC got right down to business. We edited our Reproductive Justice cards which will be available online later this year, participated in a training I facilitated on sexuality and spirituality, and learned about breast self-exams and how to perform your own vaginal exam from fellow YWLC member Lauren Mitchell. We also talked with PEP staff about PEPís highly anticipated research project in response to the 2004 report She Speaks: African American and Latino Young Women on Reproductive Health and Rights, and got an update about PEPís partnership with the LGBT Center in New York and the latest on the Federal Abortion Ban ruling.
The biggest conversation that the YWLC had at the Summer Convening was about the Council itself and in what direction we as Council members wanted to go. We are very excited about everything thatís happening at PEP and we had conversations about how we as Council members can become more involved within the Council as well as within PEP. We met independently of PEP staff to focus on areas that we felt needed to be improved within the Council. The YWLC as well as PEP staff felt that it was time for the Council to take the reins in our own development to ensure that we continue to live by our mission.
The outcome was the creation of the Chair position. Instead of being led by PEP staff, every six months a member of the YWLC will be selected to become the liaison between the YWLC and PEP staff, coordinating everything from conference calls to making sure that we as Council members continue to build bonds among ourselves. With guidance from the PEP staff, the Chair will facilitate active input on all programs and initiatives, including Raise Your Voice, the website, and tool development. The Chair will also encourage Council member participation in educational forums, conferences, and other special events; and coordinate YWLC membership recruitment. This position will rotate for every Convening to give all of our members the opportunity to become more active. This is a first for the YWLC, and I have been selected to become the guinea pigÖI mean, the first YWLC Chair.
I am excited about this opportunity and I believe that the next 6 months will be full of inspiring ideas and leadership for the YWLC.