When women are out of sight, they’re often out of mind. This is especially true for women in prisons and shelters who face the daily challenges of isolation and loneliness.
Seventy percent of women in prison have been convicted of nonviolent crimes and the vast majority are mothers. On top of that, many are serving time for the crimes of their significant others.
Ms. has done a lot of reporting on women in prisons and domestic violence shelters, and our coverage has highlighted injustices from forced sterilization to shackling during childbirth. But we decided that wasn’t enough.
We wanted women in prisons and domestic violence shelters to know they were visible and valued. So our co-founding editor, Gloria Steinem, started the Ms. Magazine Prison and Domestic Violence Shelter Program to give free copies of Ms. to women in those institutions. In facilities where libraries can be poorly stocked and reading material is scant, this gesture can make a difference in the lives of incarcerated women. In the pages of Ms., they can find solace, amusement, enlightenment and the sense of community Ms. readers feel.
Even 9-year-old Anabel Goode has supported the program, as she says in her letter to Gloria Steinem:
And we often receive letters of thanks from women prisoners:
Thank you for sending Ms. magazine to me. This magazine has made a huge impact on my life. I have started to see inequality toward women everywhere I look.
—Callie Ann Glover, Utah State Prison
Thank you for your generous donation of Ms. magazine to our prison library. Being introduced to Ms. while serving a 400-month federal prison sentence has been one of the benefits of this incarceration. Ms. has kept me informed of all the relevant issues facing women today [while] also allowing me to see the humorous side of many of our social concerns.
—Gwendolyn Levi, Maryland Correctional Institution for Women
You have been a wonderful bright spot in an otherwise bleak existence. The prison I am currently incarcerated at places copies of your magazine out in the library for the inmates. I spend as much time as possible in there, so I’m always one of the first to grab one.
– Katherine Holmes, Tennessee Prison for Women
We’re asking fans of Ms. to support the program by contributing so that women in prisons and shelters can have their own copies of the epochal magazine. Offer to women on the inside the same feminist knowledge and solidarity that the women’s movement brought to us on the outside. And for a perfect holiday gift, make a donation in the name of a friend or family member.