The Girls and Womyn of Color (GWoC) is a group of young womyn, girls, and adult allies from South Merced and surrounding communities. Designed to empower, support, and nourish the leadership of young womyn, GWoC provides a safe and caring space for participants. Resources and trainings work to develop their critical consciousness and tackle issues that affect their lives and communities.
Since the Merced office opened in the beginning of 2018, GWoC youth have blossomed into fierce, outspoken leaders and advocates for their community. Within six short months, they led the successful MErcedToo Campaign that addressed sexual harassment in the Merced Union High School District (MUHSD). In response to a high-visibility case with a decorated teacher, the youth conducted surveys on high school campuses, uncovering a crisis of mishandled sexual harassment issues.
Armed with the data and their personal experiences, they attended MUHSD Board meetings to share their stories and to call for policy changes that will make schools safe for women and girls. One of the meetings was covered an article by Program Associate and Reporter Jen Mac Ramos of YLI’s We ‘Ced Youth Media program, and the whole story was captured here in this article by Sarah Fuss Kessler.
GWoC just launched its #MorethanADistraction Dress Code campaign, which aims to change the Merced Union High School District (MUHSD) dress code. The current policy oversexualizes young women, paints young men in a predatory light, and completely excludes gender non-conforming students. We hope to help the district create a new dress code policy that does not oppress any group of students and is both culturally competent and accessible.
GWoC is open to all female-identified youth (middle school to college-age) in Merced. Program meetings are held on Wednesdays from 4:30-6:30pm and involve both campaign organizing and La Cultura Cura curriculum, which embraces cultural roots to heal, decolonize, and empower youth leaders.
The program also offers an annual leadership academy: Cultura, Organizing, Resistance, and Action (CORA), that brings GWoC and Rise and Lift (Merced’s program for boys and men of color) together to build leadership skills. Read the story of Citlali Haro, who participated in the first-ever CORA Leadership Academy in the summer of 2018.