11 Women Activists from Our Past, Present, and Future Speak Out

Categories: The Insider

As we celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, AFGE is proud to share quotes from the notable women of our past, present, and future. From everyday activists to prominent leaders, these women stand out as selfless contributors of the movement who continue to pave the way for future generations.

Women Need Unions Now More than Ever

Studies conclude that women who have union representation earn significantly more than their counterparts who are not represented by a union.

On average, women represented by unions earn 30% more per week according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research ‘Status of Women in the States’ project.

But there is still more work for the union ahead. In 2019, equality continues to be an issue as women’s wages lag behind men and workplace harassment is commonplace. We must continue to fight for the next generation.

Let these quotes of power and passion from past, present, and future women leaders inspire you to carry the torch:

Our Past: August Y. Thomas, Dorothy Height, Dolores Huerta, Crystal Lee Sutton

“I believe in helping anybody who can’t help themselves.  When I see someone – I don’t care if they’re male or female, white or black, Democrat or Republican. If they need help and can’t help themselves, then I want to help them. That’s why I went to Greensboro. That’s why I sat on that stool day after day. To help those four young men when they needed help.”

-Augusta Thomas, National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices Emeritus

“We have to improve life, not just for those who have the most skills and those who know how to manipulate the system. But also for and with those who often have so much to give but never get the opportunity.”

-Dorothy Height, Civil and Women’s Rights Activist

“Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.”

-Dolores Huerta, Labor Leader and Civil Rights Activist

"Stand up for what you believe in, no matter how hard it makes life for you. Do not give up, and always say what you believe."

Crystal Lee Sutton, Union Organizer and Activist 

Our Present: Lori Bess, Cheryl Eliano, Mary Kay Henry,Liz Shuler, Dorothy James

“When you see something wrong, don’t just complain about it, do something to fix it. I have learned from very strong women in my life that you cannot let anyone tear you down…Women's History Month reminds me that we can all be champions for change. I encourage people to join us in our fight or step out of our way! Because we are going to get it done.”

-Lori Bess, AFGE Local President 2110

“Women’s History Month is a time to recognize grassroots leaders who in the past and present have made contributions and who have displayed daily their acts of courage and solidarity.”

-Cheryl Eliano, AFGE District 10 National Vice President

“We need to throw the doors of the labor movement open and welcome people in.”

-Mary Kay Henry, President SEIU

“If we work and stand together, achieving gender equality is possible.”

-Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO National Secretary Treasurer

“Women’s History Month is a recognition of the historical things women have accomplished professionally through unions and overall. I am glad to reflect on the struggles of women and to be a part of those struggles as well.”

-Dorothy James, AFGE District 7 National Vice President

Our Future: Torre White and Stacy Shorter

“Union women are strong, resilient, and unapologetic. This movement and the role of women is vital. Advocacy, fighting, and the demand for equality is not for everyone but it is definitely for me! I am union! I am young! I am woman!”

-Torre White, AFGE Y.O.U.N.G Leader

“I am proud to be a union woman because we stand shoulder to shoulder with our sisters and brothers united around our goals of livable wages, safe working conditions, and the right to be treated with dignity. I am proud to be a union woman because we unite against our common enemy, whether it be the individual, or the institution, that would withhold these rights from us. I am proud to be a union woman because I know that our cause is righteous, our cause is just, and when we stand together shoulder to shoulder our power is unmatchable.”

-Stacy Shorter, AFGE Local 2328


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