While 2021 brought hope in the form of vaccinations and the ushering in of a new administration, a multitude of the past year’s problems will carry over into 2022. Still, there’s a sense of hope and possibility in the air as the new year approaches.
As 2021 comes to a close, Ms. asked some of our favorite feminists—from abortion activists and providers to climate crisis specialists and environmentalists—what they see as top priorities and what changes they’re hoping for in 2022.
In 2022, the Ms team knows that our rights are gravely endangered. This year more than ever, we need the Equal Rights Amendment enshrined in the Constitution. We need abortion rights codified into law. We need our elected officials to proactively restore and preserve our voting rights, before they’re whittled away to nothing. And more than ever, we need women to vote in the upcoming midterm elections like never before.
But we’re not just wishing—we’re fighting, in the streets and at the polls, for the preservation of these fundamental rights. Our one wish is that you join us.—The Ms. editorial team
“In 2022 I wish for a country where AAPI women and all women of color have what they need to not only survive, but thrive. I wish for AAPI women and other women of color to live lives free of violence. I wish for public policy that provides the safety net and care support that working mothers need. I wish for AAPI women and other women of color to have the right, and access, to decide if, when, and how they parent, without fear of racism and racialized misogyny.”—Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, the nation’s only organization dedicated to building power with Asian American Pacific Islander women and girls.
“My wish is that 2022 is the year we demolish harmful narratives that have held back women, particularly Black women, for far too long. Ideas about who is deserving of dignity, agency, trust—especially as it relates to the shaping of our economic policies and social safety net.
“I want to see a paradigm shift that centers gender and racial justice in our society and politics instead of viewing these goals as optional or an afterthought. This will require each and every one of us to commit to incorporating race and gender as the prism through which we view everything else—and that we push our friends, partners and leaders to do the same. If we can make this promise to each other, we can manifest a world in which all of us are finally afforded the same opportunity to thrive.”—Aisha Nyandoro, CEO of Springboard to Opportunities and founder of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust (MMT), the country’s longest-running guaranteed income program and the only one in the world to focus on Black mothers.
Hear more from the mothers of MMT in Ms.’s Front and Center series—first-hand accounts of their struggles, their children, their work, their relationships and their dreams for the future.
Family-Forward Legislation and Community-Centered Care
“My wish for 2022 is for more justice, more solidarity and more community care. More justice, because we must meet young people’s demands to right past wrongs and to make long overdue investments to transform their future. More solidarity because it is the only thing that can disrupt white supremacy, patriarchy, and the other systems of power that are the ground that this nation stands on. And more community care because it is time to shift the discussion, particularly for women, from how we care for ourselves to how we take care of each other. We were never meant to do this work alone.”—Nia West-Bey , director of youth policy at the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington, D.C.
“After all of the challenges of the last few years, I hope that the new year brings a new recognition of the realities women and families face and a new commitment to building a country and a care infrastructure that really supports them.
“That means delivering on the promises of paid leave, affordable child care and universal pre-K, so that we end the days of forcing parents to choose between their families and their paychecks. It means continuing to fight for everyone to have access to the healthcare they need and to defend reproductive freedom on every front, so that people can make medical decisions based on what’s best for them, not just what’s affordable or available. And it means ensuring that no one is blocked from the ballot box by needless barriers, so that we can continue to vote for elected officials who share our values and protect our rights. These are not easy fights, but they are the fights we must wage for each other and for future generations of women.”—Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. senator from New York and steadfast champion for women and families.
“I wish that more of our lawmakers centered the well-being of our communities, families and individuals when shaping policy and legislation.
“Based on recent polling, we know that the vast majority of Latinas/xs agree that pregnant people should be able to have an abortion without fear of arrest or investigation—yet in Texas we are experiencing the most restrictive abortion ban in the nation. A law that cuts off access to care for the most vulnerable members of our communities. The situation is more dire for people without documentation in the Rio Grande Valley, located along the southern border of Texas, where U.S. Customs and Border Patrol checkpoints prevent people without documentation from traveling outside of their hometowns to attend doctors’ appointments, let alone outside of Texas to seek abortion care.
“In 2022, we must continue to build power in our communities to expand access to reproductive healthcare for everyone in our country on their own terms, regardless of their age, race, income, gender, disability or im/migration status.”—Lupe M. Rodríguez, executive director at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, dedicated to bringing those most impacted by injustice to the table to find solutions and seeing all people live in salud, dignidad y justicia.
“As a Black feminist, I am most concerned about the backtracking of our democracy as we witness states controlled by conservative Republicans pass laws that set up barriers to our most basic rights. We are seeing attacks on abortion access, workers’ rights, equal employment, LGBTQ+ liberation, and, most importantly, the deliberate and insidious attempts to curtail the right to vote for Black women and other people of color.
“Black women, femmes and gender-expansive people are facing dual attacks on the freedom to control our bodies through abortion barriers and the freedom to control our destiny through voter suppression. As Black feminists, we know that we cannot separate abortion access and voting access—they are inextricably linked.
“All of us are awaiting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—a decision that could allow a now ultra-conservative Court to overturn the 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade and ban abortion rights in this country. But we must examine how we got here. It was, after all, in part the votes of the majority of white women voters that helped propel Donald Trump into the presidency in 2016, leading to the appointments of three conservative extreme activists that now lead the Court—setting in motion the Texas six-week abortion ban, the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban and the possibility of Roe being a thing of the past.
“But we must also remember it was the votes of Black women and other people of color that led to a more liberal control of Congress and the White House in 2020. The fact that the election also led to a violent attempt to overthrow the results and the more than 400 reactionary voter suppression bills that will lead to voter purges, restriction on early voting, eliminating Sunday voting and closing of polling stations in communities of color, should signal for anyone who cares about democracy how tenuous our rights really are. This is where we are today and no organizing around abortion rights is going to change that unless we also organize around voting rights to ensure that the votes of all people are counted.
“Black activists have faced fire hoses, police attack dogs, lynch mobs and bloody beating on the Pettus bridge to win the right to vote and we are prepared to face them again. But will others join us?
“As a Black feminist, I have two wishes for 2022—the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to protect our right to vote and the education of white women voters so they understand that our very democracy is in jeopardy.”—Marcela Howell, president and CEO of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, a national Reproductive Justice organization focused on lifting up the voices of Black women, femmes, queer, trans and gender non-conforming people and youth.
“My wishes for 2022 would be to stop the war on reproductive rights, to expand abortion access to college campuses, to get rid of cost sharing that puts reproductive healthcare out of reach for so many, to give menstruating people the products they need, to reduce stigma and racial bias against people seeking reproductive care, and to give people raising families access to quality, affordable child care while actually paying the people who do that work a living wage. These may seem like impossible dreams, but none of these things would be difficult if we prioritized people over profits and centered reproductive justice in our policymaking. That sort of transformational change is possible if we have a groundswell of people demanding it and voting for it. May 2022 bring that sea-change.”—Lindsay Sabadosa, American activist and politician. She is the first woman to hold the first Hampshire district seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
“Free the Pill!
“My wish from last year just came true: The FDA increased access to the abortion pill mifepristone by lifting the in-person distribution requirement.
“This year I wish that the FDA would finally approve over-the-counter (OTC) birth control pills, which are already available in most of Central and South America, Asia and Africa. The U.K. approved an OTC birth control pill in 2021. While 12 states and the District of Columbia have special rules allowing some pharmacists to prescribe birth control in limited circumstances, most states require anyone seeking birth control to visit a healthcare provider to get a prescription and then go to a pharmacy to pick up their birth control pills. According to Ibis Reproductive Health, one third of women who have tried to get prescription birth control face obstacles. Ibis is demanding OTC birth control pills that are affordable, covered by insurance and available to people of all ages. Bottom line—I wish the patriarchy would stop holding our birth control hostage! Free the Pill!”—Carrie N. Baker, Ph.D., JD, professor in the study of women and gender at Smith College and contributing editor at Ms.
“As an ob-gyn and a provider of abortion care, my wish for 2022 is that we make historic strides in shifting the way we support those seeking to access the reproductive health they need, prioritizing care that is safe, equitable, compassionate and timely. As healthcare providers, this requires us to understand and grapple with the legacies of oppression, genocide, and enslavement upon which the field of medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology specifically, was built. Our way forward in the work, our lives and our communities depend on it.”—Dr. Jamila Perritt, president and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health and ob-gyn in Washington, D.C.
“My wish is that the Biden-Harris administration will step in to protect the reproductive rights of every American. Having survived at the Supreme Court, Texas Governor Abbott’s cruel abortion ban is being used as a model for similar laws across the country. If we’re not able to stop them in the states, we need our federal government to take strong action. Making abortion illegal doesn’t stop abortion, it just makes it more dangerous. Forcing people to give birth has a cascading set of negative life outcomes ranging from the trauma of pregnancy and delivery to poor mental health to a lack of financial stability. My mother had an abortion before I was born and that decision changed her life for the better. Everyone should be able to make the same choice.”—Saatvik Ahluwalia, digital director at Progress Texas and the Austin Asian Civic Communities Coalition.
“As an ob-gyn who has included abortion care as part of my practice for almost 20 years, I have seen the harm to a person’s physical and emotional health that come as a result of being denied access to abortion care and services. So far this year we’ve seen numerous harmful attacks on reproductive health and rights across the country.
“My wish for 2022 is that the nation takes action to support people’s reproductive wellbeing. Specifically, I wish for the Senate to vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act in favor of supporting access to abortion care across the country, and for continued efforts to expand contraceptive access including approval of an over-the-counter birth control pill. These proactive steps would ensure that more people have the power to decide their futures!”—Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, MD, MPH, CEO of Power to Decide, the campaign to prevent unplanned pregnancy.
“We envision a world in which abortion pills are directly in the hands of the people who need them and no one is criminalized for self-managing their abortion. Despite lawmakers across the country continuing to block access to abortion care and what we anticipate will be a dismal SCOTUS decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, we have faith in the power of the people to make these pills widely available through both mainstream and alternative channels, like telehealth in states that allow it and Aid Access and online pharmacies where access is restricted. Through the collective efforts of our partners, including grassroots mobilizers, clinicians and citizen activists, we will prevail in putting these modern, safe pills into the hands of those who need them, no matter where they live!”—Francine Coeytaux, Amy Merrill and Elisa Wells, co-founders and co-directors of Plan C, which boldly shares information about where people can find abortion pills by mail in all 50 states and catalyzes new routes of access for safe self-managed abortion in the U.S.
“2022 may bring the end of legal abortion in half of the United States. I hope that we can mobilize the resources to help people access the care they need. We have learned from the Turnaway Study that those who are pregnant when they don’t want to be face serious physical health risks and lasting economic insecurity. If they are unable to get an abortion, they will lose opportunities to improve their own lives and the lives of their families.
“In the long run, I hope that this crisis will focus attention on the importance of reproductive autonomy to well-being and usher in a groundswell of support for women’s rights in our country.”—Diana Greene Foster, Ph.D., professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of The Turnaway Study: Ten Years, a Thousand Women and the Consequences of Having—or Being Denied—an Abortion.
“My hope for 2022 is that we finally get past the rhetoric of concern for women’s health with actual programs and funding that reflect that concern. Those who can carry pregnancies need a healthcare system that provides access to care throughout the perinatal period, recognizing that healthy moms equals healthy babies equals healthy families.
“And I hope for awareness, acceptance and unfettered access to contraceptives and abortion, allowing women to have the same control over determining their own destinies as their sperm donors have always had. I hope for a never-before-seen empowerment of women worldwide who finally take control of their own bodies and lives through a network of support for safe, private medication abortion for anyone, anytime, anywhere.”—Texas state Rep. and Chairwoman Donna Howard, Texas House of Representatives.
“My wish for 2022 is for an awakening about the growing power of state legislatures—and for progressives to shift our collective focus towards building power at this critically overlooked level of government.
“As the unparalleled, uncompromising American feminist bell hooks said, ‘To be truly visionary we have to root our imagination in our concrete reality while simultaneously imagining possibilities beyond that reality.’ In our current reality, we can’t rely on the courts to protect our reproductive freedoms, and given the gridlock in Washington, we can’t wait for the federal government to pass national legislation. But as conservative-controlled state legislatures steamroll over our rights, we can and must imagine a reality in which states are bastions of progressive policies that dismantle barriers to access, and where reflective state legislatures create the conditions under which we have the freedom to control our bodies and parent with dignity. We can and must fight for this future by building progressive power from the ground up in our states.
—Gaby Goldstein, JD, Ph.D., co-founder of Sister District, which works to build progressive power in state legislatures.
“Earlier this month, I shared my own story of celebration and loss against the backdrop of anti-abortion laws that arbitrarily restrict the decisions that I and millions of other pregnant people face. In 2022, I dream of a reproductive movement that centers people who have abortions and builds power at the intersections of racial, economic, and reproductive justice.
“Organizing across faith traditions, I work with people whose religious and secular values guide their reproductive journeys in many different ways. We seek the freedom to make decisions based on our moral and religious beliefs and not that of our legislators, to have or not have children without stigma, to raise our families with dignity, and to thrive in safe and healthy environments. People who can become pregnant hold within us our dreams for the future, our fears and material obligations, and the love and care of those who support us. The legal right to ‘choose’ is not enough when we deserve so much more.
“Every day, abortion funds do critical work to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access. To ensure that everyone can get the care they need—no matter who we are or where we call home—visit the National Network of Abortion Funds to give or receive support today.”—Katy Joseph, director of policy and advocacy at Interfaith Alliance, a national organization that champions an inclusive vision of religious freedom for people of all religious traditions and none.
“My wish is for a truly transnational feminist network to come together across oceans and continents, creating a united front against authoritarianism and attacks on human rights.”—Pardis Mahdavi, Ph.D., director of Arizona State University’s School of Social Transformation.
“I’m hoping that in 2022, governments will be more committed to the implmentation of the women, peace and security agenda—including addressing conflict related sexual violence which is raging from Myanmar to Ethiopia and so many places in between. It also means ensuring women’s meaningful participation in peacebuilding, mediation and peace negotiations as well as their critical engagement in relief and recovery efforts post conflict. Much of the world is coping with fragility and conflict and women are critical to addressing the challenges. After all, the well-being of women and the condition of nations goes hand in hand.
“Climate is the existential threat of our time. Women disproportionately are victims of climate change by virtue of their socio-economic status, but they are also critical to solutions of adaptation and mitigation. Increasingly, there is greater awareness that climate change is a threat multiplier. It is a security issue. As women and their children are forced to leave their communities because of climate conditions, displacement is leading to competition over diminishing resources and even conflict. Women are also critical to climate solutions—from regenerative agriculture to the installation and maintenance of renewable sources of energy. In 2022 we must ensure that gender-responsive climate actions become an integral part of the climate change agenda.
“No country has achieved gender equality and that must be our continuing aspiration. I hope that in 2022 we will truly accelerate efforts for women’s empowerment and equality in all areas—from economic and political participation to safeguarding women’s health and ending gender-based violence.—Melanne Verveer, executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and co-author of Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose.
“I wish to live in a country like Norway, Spain, Germany and 13 others that have subsidized childcare. I wish to live in a country like Estonia, Sweden, Croatia and 38 others that have paid family leave.
“I wish to live in a country like Britain, France, Israel, Belgium and Iceland, that have free and universal pre-kindergarten. I wish to be in a country like Liberia, Rwanda and South Africa, where people who are not white don’t have to fear law enforcement.
“I wish to live in a country like Iceland, the Bahamas and Latvia, where women are closest to men in economic empowerment.
“I wish to live in a country like France, Denmark, Italy and Canada that spend more on social services than they spend on military weaponry.
“I wish to live in a country like Japan, India and Venezuela where parents don’t have to worry about their kids getting shot at school.
“I wish to live in a country like Finland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, India, Germany, the Philippines, Norway, Ireland, Iceland and Bangladesh, where women are often heads of state.
“I wish to live in a country like Austrailia, Argentina, Canada, China, Russia, Sweden and Greenland, where abortion is legal, safe and accessible.
“I wish that the country I so wish to live in with all of these things would be the United States.”—Martha Burk, Ph.D., author of Your Voice, Your Vote, money editor for Ms.
“My wish for 2022 is that we continue to come together as a truly intersectional movement, understanding that those opposed to LGBTQ people are also against talking about race and racism in our country and are working to wipe out reproductive rights, which also affect LGBTQ families. We are strongest together, and together we will always work to include those on the margins to ensure a world that is more free, more just, more prosperous for all of us.”—Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization.
Women in Economics
“My wish is that the financial and economic systems be transformed to address wealth and income gaps, accelerate more money to founders and leaders who are women of color and lesbians / queer folks and workers in the caring economy are recognized and fully resourced. As well, I hope that more women, especially accredited women, align their values and money (consuming, investing, giving, saving) to create climate, economic, gender and racial justice.”—Tuti B. Scott, consultant and coach to high-achieving leaders and teams working on the front lines of social change through her firm Changemaker Strategies.
“I wish for more American women (and the men who love us) to trust their feelings about this economy in 2022, putting to work their righteous yearning and anger to remake it as our own. Feelings, especially love, are off-limits for the so-called Free Market, ruled by supposedly Rational Economic Man—but His celebrated rationality grows delusional, so narrow, self-serving and literal that His ego outgrows the planet and its people. His values and vocabulary never were ours. What He calls ‘informal’ work is actually ‘essential’; what He celebrates as ‘growth’ has become a tumor on the body politic.”—Rickey Gard Diamond, author of Screwnomics: How the Economy Works Against Women and Real Ways to Make Lasting Change, and founder of the feminist alliance, An Economy of Our Own.
Climate Crisis Resolution
“I wish that environmentalists would recognize women’s empowerment as a critical solution for combating the climate and extinction crises. Improving reproductive healthcare, like ensuring universal access to all forms of contraception—including abortion—are necessary tools for women and girls to manage their reproductive futures. Improving reproductive healthcare not only helps slow population growth and reduce the pressure we put on the planet but also enables women to have autonomy over their own lives. As we face the climate crisis, that’s particularly important since women are disproportionately affected and yet more likely to support progressive environmental policy. Empowering women is an integral part of building an equitable and sustainable future.”—Sarah Baillie, population and sustainability organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity.
Read more about how increased empowerment and equality are leading the trend of slowing growth and reducing pressure on the environment.
Women in Politics
“My wish for the coming year is that we turn our collective anxiety about the pandemic, threats to reproductive rights, environmental collapse and assaults on our democracy into transformative work to elect more women to help solve these existential crises.
“We know that current strategies alone will not get us to gender balance in politics—in our lifetimes. And we also know that systems solutions to advance women’s representation including ranked choice voting, paid leave and gender balanced cabinets are viable, but we need massive collaboration and investment in these strategies to scale these reforms. So that’s my wish for 2022: investment in and collaboration around systems solutions to advance women’s representation and leadership.”—Cynthia Richie Terrell, founder and director of RepresentWomen, which works to advance women’s representation and leadership in politics by identifying the structural barriers women candidates face and the data-driven solutions that address those barriers.
“My biggest, broadest wish for 2022 is that the power of women—our voices, our stories, our very being—be the driver of the policies and laws we know are needed to ensure fair, full participation in civic life for all. Yes, we are weary—there’s been little chance for reprieve as the pandemic has raged on and our democracy spirals.
“But Ms. readers: We are the answer—the future we’ve been waiting for! And that begins right now, on the eve of 2022.
“My wishes are this: That reproductive and racial justice prevail, in the streets and in our communities, despite this hostile and degraded Supreme Court. That Congress recommit to voting rights and pass the Freedom To Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. And that we enshrine equality in the Constitution, once and for all, and see the Equal Rights Amendment across the finish line.”—Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, lawyer and fierce advocate for and writer on issues of gender, feminism and politics in America. She is also the women and democracy fellow at the Brennan Center.
Women in the Press
“I’m a former journalist who moved into public relations, and one of my most inspiring clients was a women’s right attorney who mounted a fierce struggle against the Texas abortion ban and fought hard on behalf of sexual assault victims in cases both famous and not-so-famous.
“My job was to let the press know about her work. It was easy to get TV news coverage when the sexual assault cases involved celebrities, but less so when they involved everyday women. Often, TV producers would say, ‘We need to interview the victim.’ If the victim declined, there would be no television coverage. This happened even in a case involving a multi-million dollar jury trial, against an internationally known, household-name hotel chain.
“Even in the post-#MeToo era, this is the culture of television news, and it needs to change. There are ways to tell the stories of sexual assault victims that don’t necessitate parading a traumatized, sobbing woman in front of the cameras in order to prove that sexual assault is deserving of our attention. What about portraying the courageous attorneys, witnesses, prosecutors and activists who are working to bring the assailants to justice? This is my wish for 2022.”—L.J. Williamson, writer, editor and investigative journalist. PR specialist with Newsroom PR, formerly wrote for the Daily Journal
Immigration Policy Reform
“My wish is that our immigration policy and programs recognize the unique contributions of women and accordingly bestow immigration benefits for their accomplishments.
“One key policy change relates to the need for a more generous humanitarian parole stance. This would help women of all backgrounds who don’t fall within conventional visa categories, but at this time is needed to assist Afghan women who bravely advocated for equal rights.”—Mahsa Khanbabai, attorney, director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association Board of Governors and co-chair of the AILA Afghan Taskforce.
Equity Above All
“My hope is that female athletes (at all levels) will receive the respect and pay equity that they rightly deserve. And that the forces who’ve battled social justice in sports (they know who they are) soon find themselves benched, on the real.”—Evelyn C. White, American writer and editor, author of Alice Walker: A Life.
“My hope is for a much, much more equitable world, and because of my work I often think about what that might look like in editing and publishing.
“For 2022 I envision expanded and improved infrastructure to amplify feminist women’s and LGBTQIA+ voices, particularly those of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color.
“In the publishing industry, sincere and substantial diversity hiring is needed at every level (#PublishingSoWhite) from internships to upper management. At nonprofit presses every editorial board should not just include but center BIPOC members. As an editor, my resolution is to infuse everything I do with intersectional feminist intentionality, including reading proposals, offering contracts, crafting author feedback, recruiting interns, contracting with freelancers, and even copyediting and proofreading. As a feminist with white privilege, my intentionality requires listening and reflection, followed by careful and sustained action, and then more listening and reflection.
“When I eventually look back on 2022, I hope that I will see a year of transformation.”—Carolyn Elerding, Ph.D., editor and former academic. Her freelance business is Sophia Editing, LLC and she is the managing editor and acquisitions editor in women’s studies at the University of North Texas Press.