Amanda Nguyen

The future is now for gender equality.

That seems to be the message for next month’s “21 for ‘21: Visions of a Feminist Future,” a free, five-day virtual event featuring major activists, athletes and artists. Amplifying 21 voices, the event will focus on gender equality and will encourage participants to collaborate with national leaders to imagine a better, fairer world.

Gloria Steinem, transgender activist and author Raquel Willis, Nobel Prize winner and Rise chief executive officer Amanda Nguyen, Oscar-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obadiah-Chinoy, Campaign Zero cofounder Brittany Packnett Cunningham, immigrants rights champion Lorella Praeli and former Out editor in chief Phil Picardi will be among the speakers. The event will cap off on May 18.

The virtual event will be produced and hosted by The Meteor, a new media platform, and in partnership with Gucci’s Chime for Change. Comprised of journalists, artists and filmmakers, The Meteor debuts next month. Former Glamour editor in chief Cindi Leive, cofounder of the 2017 Women’s March Paola Mendoza, WNYC podcaster Rebecca Carroll, New York magazine columnist Rebecca Traister and award-winning director and producer Kamilah Forbes are some of The Meteor’s Collective.

In an interview with Mendoza, Leive noted that The Meteor has been producing work for more than a year, including a pre-pandemic live event with Audible that was led by The Apollo’s Kamilah Forbes and Carroll that featured lawyer and professor Anita Hill, among others.

The “21 for ‘21” extravaganza is meant to fuel engagement. “We all have access to social media. This is not just about watching something but engaging in a conversation. I hope that no matter what the size of the group is, it will be engaged and people will have an opportunity to talk to each other, ask questions, take action and just engage,” Leive said.

There will also be a syllabus offering attendees other ways to continue to participate in feminism of the future.

Addressing The Meteor’s new venture, Leive said, “Obviously, we are at a moment of urgency and change in the world. Women and feminists of all different types are working in a variety of different ways, communities and industries to make change in everything from our workplaces to our legal systems to our ways of acting and thinking. There is so much energy out there in the world. It was really exciting and important to us to try to bring people together to hear from a variety of those kinds of perspectives.”

As for why now, Mendoza noted the current cultural and political moment adding, “It’s also rooted in the fact that we can’t deny the difficulty and the pain that traditional feminism has caused women who are not white. As a woman of color and as an immigrant and as a proud feminist since before I even knew [the meaning of] the word, to me this moment was also a time where we could take feminism and expand it, make it expansive and make the definition of it live out what it should have been from the beginning, but it was not.”

One way of fulfilling that vision of feminism is through The Collective that includes women and men from all walks of life, and non-binary people.

Highlighting current conversations about paid leave, how our culture values caregivers and systemic racism, among other issues, Leive said, “There is a lot on the table right now. The idea of bringing together some of the people who have put it on the table and have the most visionary ideas in one place is, for me, as a human, is a really exciting prospect.”

The decline in maternal labor force participation, for example, could result in $64.5 billion in lost wages, if they remain at the same labor force participation rate from April 2020, according to an analysis conducted by the Center for American Progress.

To that point, “there is no such thing as a quote-unquote feminist issue. Every issue has a feminist lens. The old conventional way of thinking about feminism sometimes limited the issues to reproductive rights or equal pay. But the climate is a feminist issue, disability rights are feminist issues, trans rights are a feminist issues.”

The upcoming event, in turn, will feature different people (mostly women) speaking about how they approach their work and current global issues through an inquisitive, gender equality lens, Leive said. While the definition of feminism may vary from one person to the next, “21 for ‘21” is meant to bring feminism to life from a global perspective, Mendoza said. “What we’re trying to say and accomplish with ’21 for ‘21′ is there has to be a global solution.”

Steinem hosted one of the early brainstorming sessions for The Meteor in her living room. Although the modern feminism-minded company officially bows next month, it has already produced podcasts and video projects, including a 90-minute YouTube program about supporting victims of domestic abuse, and a 30-day campaign on voting rights last fall.

Through its nonprofit The Meteor Fund there have been educational workshops on reproductive rights and justice. The Meteor’s programming has spotlighted Padma Lakshmi, Nikki Giovanni, Cecile Richards and others.

Since unveiling Chime for Change in 2013 with Salma Hayek Pinault and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, the campaign has generated $17.5 million to bolster hundreds of gender equity projects around the globe. Leive said of Chime for Change’s global reach, “There are very few organizations that you can look at as potential sponsors that have been genuinely doing the work for more than a hot minute.”

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