Equality Now, an organization dedicated to advocating for the human rights of women and girls across the world, held their annual gala on Wednesday night at Gustavino’s. Under a backdrop of the glittering Queensboro bridge at sunset, poet Rupi Kaur won the 2023 Changemaker award and delivered an inspiring call-to-action speech.
Held on International Day of the Girl, the Make Equality Reality Gala celebrates the progress made toward a more gender equal world and all who fight for that future. To date, Equality Now has changed over 70 laws around the world. Since 1992, they have been fighting to achieve legal equality, end sexual exploitation and violence, and end culturally normalized harmful practices towards women and girls. The organization’s Director, Mona Sinha, told us the organization means a lot to her because “as a young girl growing up in India, [she] saw the discrimination firsthand,” and thinks that “the law is the foundation to securing women’s rights.” She joined Equality Now because she’s “more interested in systemic change that is binding and secure” than something that only lasts for a year or two. Tonight’s event is a way for Equality Now to “showcase their work in a positive, happy way, because it is very challenging work.
Rupi Kaur, who won the 2023 Changemaker award (given last year to the icon Gloria Steinem), is a poet whose work has transformed the lives of women and given voice to many who were previously unable to share their experiences. Her book, Milk and Honey, is among the top 10 banned books in the United States due to its discussion of sexual harm. She knows more than anyone how powerful our voices are, and how they “threaten those who are more than happy to take away those powers.”
She engaged the room with her intelligence and charm, encouraging art for resistance despite censorship as a “beautiful act of rebellion against a world that undermines us at every turn.” Despite oppression worldwide, she assured everyone that “young girls will always find a way to survive; their resilience is unparalleled” and told us that “we as a community must find a way to empower them through all walks of life.” Director Sinha celebrated Kaur as a “real changemaker, because she has really changed the hearts and minds of the next generation in a way that is so meaningful and will really impact the future.”
Gloria Steinem told the crowd to keep fighting for progress and for the Equal Rights Amendment, and lauded 10-year-old Teela Samra for her passionate speech calling for gender equality.
The night was a beautiful celebratory way to “show the world that we can win, and we can change lives, and we can make a difference in a time when the world is pretty dark.” Equality Now inspired its guests and its wins this year, and continues to make a difference worldwide. Learn more about the incredible work Equality Now is doing here.