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Renee Blanchard's picture

Recently, I’ve had some time to sink my teeth into some really good reading. Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenso, Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, Half the Sky by Nicolas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn to name just a few. I don’t know about you, but many of the books I’ve read in my 30 years stand out as powerful moments in my life. I still remember receiving a book about the suffrage movement from my uncle when I was 9 years old. It was full of pictures including photos of women being arrested for their struggle for equal rights. (A possible origin of my own tendency for getting arrested for environmental and social justice throughout the years)

I also remember the day I first discovered Our Bodies Ourselves. A book that has empowered women to understand and care for their bodies, their health, and their community since it was first written in 1970 by the women at the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. Forty years after Our Bodies Ourselves was first published, we are finally starting to see a larger societal understanding that to care for our girls and women is to directly nurture our community at large.

As we see a greater movement towards gender equality, we are also understanding that toxic chemicals are impacting our health, specifically our reproductive system, making this nurturing needlessly more difficult. Reproductive and developmental systems are extremely delicate and without a real commitment to the designing out of toxins, corporate interests are putting our daughter’s right to a healthy and safe future at risk.

This I believe is the next battle of the women’s rights movement. The right to not be poisoned by the things we buy for our homes, our children, and ourselves. And the right to live in our community without being regularly targeted by polluting companies. It is no secret that runaway corporate interests keeping toxic chemicals inside products we use everyday while convincing politicians to beat back regulation is creating serious environmental and health consequences, particularly to women and therefor our entire family.

With the fight to pass comprehensive and transparent federal chemical reform, we are seeing women and girls educate themselves and others on the importance of a toxic free future. Just take a look at your state’s initiatives to ban toxic chemicals and all the groups working to reform of the federal toxics laws. Moms and young women are attending community meetings and putting pressure on corporations to eliminate harmful chemicals, writing articles and talking to their friends and family members. This just isn’t a collection of environmental and health groups tackling the next big issue, this is my generation’s women’s right movement.

For a toxic free future,

Renee Claire

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