In Conversation with Women4Change Indiana

Confession: I am not a phone person. I prefer to hide behind the keyboard and connect with people online. That said, I also like face-to-face and most people would say that I’m an extrovert. I don’t know why, the phone stresses me out. Maybe it was all those hours spent on it before texting existed. Who knows?

BUT I do appreciate that every once in awhile when I email people “hello, I’m a random woman in California, running a social justice blog” they suggest we have a chat. It’s nice to hear the voices of people around the country, once I get over my telephone anxiety.

I was extra delighted that one of those people I needed to have a conversation with was Rima Shahid, Executive Director of Women4Change Indiana which I wrote about earlier this month. Highlights of our conversation below!

Why is it critical to serve the population you support in the state where you are?

Rima and I discussed that in a national report on the Status of Women Indiana women received a D.

“It gave us pause,” she said. “Because Indian women are bringing equal things to the table, but we’re not treated equally. We think it’s important to serve Indiana women, because we help the state move forward but the laws are not reflective of that.”

To address this, Women4Change held program called the State of Women in Indiana on October 12 & 13. There were well over 100 people at the event.

“It was exciting for me, Rima said. “We are in Central Indiana, but there are people that had driven 2-3 hours to attend.”

What will Women4Changes’s main focus(es) be in 2019?

Rima explained that they have two entities: a 501(c)4 that advocates for women at the State House, which already has a list of of policies to address between January and April; and the 501(c)3 will continue with its civics education program and equip women to become more civically & politically engaged.

They’ll also once again be hosting their Women4Change Leadership Program on March 16 & 17. Last year 140 women participated, and 60 of those were involved in campaigns or ran for office in 2018. This year there will be two tracks: Ready to Run (running for office). Ready to Advocate.

Rima is really excited about the latter (as I am, as that’s my background) “People can use the opportunities to jump in,” she said.

While you struggle against serious challenges in a red state, what is something positive that those of us outside of Indiana should know about the state or its people?

“I think the fact that there were so many women running this year!” Rima exclaimed. “There have never been that many women that have run for office than in 2018. There were so many women that were engaged, helping with elections.”

Women4Change estimates that their volunteers wrote postcards reaching over 3500 voters.

“It’s very exciting and hopeful,” Rima said. “We now have our first openly gay state legislature in the assembly, first Asian American. Things are changing in Indiana.”

Huge thanks to Rima for taking time out of her schedule to chat and best of luck to all the volunteers and staff making change in 2019!


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