Since its founding in 2012, Secular Woman has worked to amplify the voices of atheist, humanist and non-religious women. We do this in part by participating in the annual conference attended by the leaders of national secular organizations. We have attended four of the past five meetings.
The structure of this year’s meeting changed after women voiced their opinions and concerns at last year’s meeting. Some of those opinions were unpopular and unwelcome, and during the meeting, the Chair of the Advisory Board of the Secular Coalition of America requested that the next meeting be available only to member organizations of SCA. SCA ran this year’s meeting, and the change was made, excluding Secular Woman and other smaller organizations.
People continue to write “where are the women” pieces about the secular movement after years of work to make us more inclusive. Women enter this movement, then leave with stories of being talked over, silenced, and valued for their bodies over their voices. As #MeToo continues to gather momentum, the leaders of this movement have changed the rules to specifically exclude Secular Woman, the only secular organization which focuses on the concerns and voices of women.
This move exemplifies the very reasons Secular Woman was created. We are here to ensure that women’s voices are heard, even if they sometimes make those listening uncomfortable. We are here to elevate more women to leadership positions, to bring their influence to bear at national levels. If this were happening easily, “naturally”, without a fight, our organization wouldn’t exist.
We at Secular Woman encourage the leaders of these organizations to walk back this exclusionary change. We fought for our seat at the table. We will continue to fight to regain it.