Kate Kelly and Jamia Wilson, co-hosts of the podcast Ordinary Equality, discuss what Women’s History Month means to them, as they explore the nuance of the women’s rights movement, from the ERA to the history of abortion access. They reflect on what they hope listeners take away from season two, their relationship as co-hosts, and the dream vision for the future of the reproductive rights movement.
What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
Kate: We all grew up with such an inaccurate view of history, where 50% of the population was conspicuously absent. Women’s History Month is a time to make a special, concerted effort to correct the record and realize that not only are women making history today — we were there all along!
Jamia: I dream that continued and escalated feminist movement building will help all of us move closer to a reality where we are celebrating women’s history 24/7. Until then, it is vital to dedicate time and space to uplifting womens’ past and present accomplishments to help us shape a more just and equitable future.
Are there historic figures in the reproductive rights movement that really inspire you to continue this fight?
Kate: I think about native women, like leaders in the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, who had control over their own bodies and terminated their pregnancies as they saw fit without consulting men. It inspires me that at one time — on this land — women had control over their own reproductive fates. If we did then, we can again.
Jamia: Faye Wattleton, former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, was one of my biggest heroes as a child. As the first African American woman and the youngest president elected to serve in the organization’s history by the Planned Parenthood Federation board during her time of service, she expanded Planned Parenthood into one of the largest charities and grassroots networks in the United States. During her time at Planned Parenthood, the organization secured federal resources to support birth control and prenatal program access combatted efforts to restrict abortion care, and legalized the sale of the abortion pill. When I think of women who paved the way for me and many others to build our lives, careers, families, and communities, she is always one of the first to come to mind. Although I have only met her once, I owe so much in my life to her leadership and efforts.
Your first season of Ordinary Equality centered on the Equal Rights Amendment. How did you land on abortion access as the focal point of season two? Was it the logical next step?
Kate: The opposition to any equality measure, including the ERA, always uses anything they can throw at it. They have intentionally made abortion a hot-button issue (it wasn’t before) in order to use it as a political weapon against us. In order to be successful in getting constitutional gender equality, we have to understand the weapons being deployed by the other side.
Jamia: I loved joining Kate as a guest on season one. When Kate and the Wonder Media Network team told me that they planned to dive into the history of abortion I knew this was the perfect time to join this important and timely conversation — especially given the realities of our current political landscape.
What do you want listeners to take away from this second season of Ordinary Equality?
Kate: I want to help Ordinary Equality listeners to understand that who has rights, and of course who doesn’t, is a choice. A deliberate choice made by powerful people (mostly men). If women lacking constitutional rights is a choice — we can un-choose it. If negatively stigmatizing abortion is a concerted campaign chosen as a weapon by those who oppose equality — we can reject that stigma. We are not helpless and don’t have to be complicit in our own oppression — we can fight back!
Jamia: My aim is that listeners will possess a more expansive and nuanced understanding of reproductive justice as a result of listening to our podcast. I hope listeners will come away with new knowledge and inspired energy to take action.
How do you feel working with each other has strengthened the show?
Kate: Working together with Jamia has strengthened the show because her clarity and insight is so powerful. There is no way to tell an accurate story of reproductive freedom (or lack thereof) in this country without the voice and perspective of Black women. It’s just not possible.
Jamia: I love learning from Kate’s analytical mind and legal expertise. I am also inspired by Kate’s sense of humor and infectious solutions-driven approach to this conversation and work.
Are you hopeful for the future of the reproductive rights movement?
Kate: I am hopeful for the future because failure is impossible. I am so inspired by what’s happening around the globe. There are women fighting fiercely for their rights everywhere from Ireland, to Argentina, to Poland to the USA. We will not go back.
Jamia: I believe in the power of us. Whenever I feel down, I remind myself that we’ve got us. Together we will fight and together we can and will rise no matter what comes our way.