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Empowering Women and Girls in NYC

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Landecker Democracy Fellow Reshma Persaud is a Manager of Principal Giving at the International Rescue Committee.

She works to foster empowerment for women and gender non-conforming folks in the NYC-metro area. Early in 2020, amid COVID-19, she realized that the South Queens community had pressing needs such as wellness, food, period supplies, and efforts to curb gender-based violence. 

Through social media outreach and funding from the Alfred Landecker Democracy Fellowship, Reshma aims to provide COVID-19 relief by hosting essential distribution drives to deliver groceries, face coverings, menstrual supplies, and safe sex products to community members. She has ensured that distributions span the breadth of South Queens in areas like Richmond Hill, St. Albans, and South Jamaica. She plans to conduct several more distributions throughout South Queens and the NYC metro area.

Reshma aims to provide COVID-19 relief by hosting essential distribution drives to deliver groceries, face coverings, menstrual supplies, and safe sex products to community members.

Reshma’s COVID response will be streamlined for the community, who have very few touchpoints to government services. Essential, food, and all other distributions will curb period poverty and food insecurity among black, Latinx, and South Asian/Indo-Caribbean women and gender non-conforming individuals in South Queens and the greater NYC metro area. Reshma would like to ensure all information is accessible and reaches community members to share resources and information while protecting their identities. 

Incidents of gender-based violence are prevalent in the community and have increased during the pandemic with victims trapped at home with their abusers. To curb violence and provide tools to address/prevent it, Reshma works with various grassroots organizations to facilitate workshops to enable and empower GBV survivors and prevent violence. Reshma will continue to enable organizations to host workshops, and the fellowship would be utilized to host additional sessions including but not limited to topics such as physical and emotional stressors women experience and toxic masculinity and behavior-shifting tools for men (potentially a panel including men, relationships advisors, activists, and mental health professionals) and more. 

Reshma hopes to leave a lasting impact to promote a world free of gender-based violence, a world on equal footing, in the home, the workplace, in houses of worship, and in broader community spaces.

Reshma also helped to facilitate remote gatherings during the pandemic with activities that promote wellness, including art, dance, and yoga. To foster peace and health in these communities, she would like to host additional yoga and meditation sessions and ensure that programming remains on digital platforms until meetings in person are feasible.

For professional development in the community, Reshma will help various organizations launch a Woman’s Power series that supports women’s economic empowerment in key growth sectors to foster self-sufficiency and upward mobility. Focusing on the next generation, she will work with local high schools, colleges, and nonprofits to circulate and increase the attendance in their programs. She will also support education on women’s equity, gender-based violence, democracy, immigrant advocacy, and how their voice is a powerful tool to create change. 

In support of activism through art, Reshma will host a portable mural highlighting immigrant communities, families, or/and anonymous GBV survivors for them to “Tell their Stories Through Art.” She will also commission a women’s empowerment series of prints. Artwork from the commission will be sold to benefit the artist and our minority youth during these uncertain times. Reshma hopes to leave a lasting impact to promote a world free of gender-based violence, a world on equal footing, in the home, the workplace, in houses of worship, and in broader community spaces.

 

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