From Feminist Caucus to Feminist Humanist Alliance: Reimagining What It Means to Be a Humanist Feminist

The evolution of institutions is inevitable. Strategic planning for organizational change is critical to enhance potential for success. This is what’s taking place within the American Humanist Association (AHA), as we add an important dimension to our membership and in our work for justice and equality: intersectionality.

Within the AHA board, staff, and volunteer leadership, there has been a revitalization of humanism’s commitment to social justice advocacy. One of these changes is reflected in the adoption of the term “alliance” for a number of new AHA projects. This term is welcoming and denotes a dedication to relationship-building among humanists.

The creation of the Feminist Humanist Alliance—along with the Black Humanist Alliance and the LGBTQ Humanist Alliance—is intended to serve not only each subgroup’s special interests but also the interests of the people outside of these groups that relate and connect to them. The process signals a striving towards justice that is more appreciative of the differences that make up our identities, experiences, and worldviews.

There is a natural tie between humanist thought and support for social justice. In this regard, consider the struggle to extend human rights to women. The progress of women and men is intertwined, and recent history has shown how men benefit along with women. For example, as women’s earnings gradually have become more equitable, male breadwinners’ burdens are more shared. As women’s roles have expanded beyond hearth-keeping and childrearing, more fathers have come to relish developing and plying the skills of parenting and homemaking and experiencing the associated joys of intimacy with their children. As birth control options have grown, families have scaled down—easing the strain on the resources of the planet and family relationships. The mutual advantages for women and men go on and on.

The Feminist Caucus was formed in the 1970s out of the need to address issues of disequilibrium within the AHA, as well as external issues of gender injustice in our society. While we have achieved much progress since our beginning thirty-nine years ago, we recognize it’s necessary to expand our scope to be more inclusive and understanding of intersectionality within the movement.

The Feminist Humanist Alliance (FHA) will use compassion to develop a critical consciousness of various forms of bigotry. It’s imperative we incorporate this inclusivity into our mission and activism so that we can go beyond outward displays of diversity or making disenfranchised groups more “visible” to really hone in on gaining agency and the right to self-determination for everyone.

These refinements to our vision will also be shown in our more active partnership with outreach programs and social justice campaigns with inclusive feminist foundations. The FHA will continue its long-term commitment to seeking ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution, promoting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and obtaining comprehensive reproductive rights.

We have a history of working in synchrony with other feminist groups through persistent struggle, gradual and monumental progress, and some huge and heart-wrenching setbacks. Recently, our growing staff-supported legal advocacy and lobbying efforts, publications, and social media and blogs have been the major vehicles for tackling critical issues of access to birth control and abortion. New leaders are now being assembled to extend the good work of the past and find ways to bring humanistic feminist ideals to wider audiences.

The Feminist Humanist Alliance will be meeting at the AHA conference in Chicago on Thursday, May 26, 2016, 3:00-4:30 p.m. We cordially invite all AHA members as well as those interested in working with the FHA to come join us as we review our priorities, scan the horizon, and plan the future of this program. We hope to see you there!