Speaking Truth to Power

March 1, 2020

I am honored to write the member mailing for Women’s HERstory month as the new Rural Sexual Assault Services Specialist with NCCASA. I am hoping that I will get to know all of you soon, but rather than using this as an opportunity to talk more about me, I want to talk about women* who paved the way for me to be in the position I am in and who are still acting as truth and justice warriors.

“Speaking truth to power” is a phrase I’ve heard a few times since starting at NCCASA and the conversations I’ve had around that phrase have inspired me here. There have been so many incredible women that have put speaking truth to power into practice. One of these women that has had a significant impact on my life is Michelle Obama. One of my favorite quotes by First Lady Michelle Obama (though there are so many to choose from) is: “The measure of any society is how it treats its women and girls.” How true is this? To me this statement not only is a reflection on an undeniable fact, but it is

also a call to action for us to continually strive to do better until we reach true equality. It means more than “allowing” women to be in spaces that have previously (and often still are) male dominated. It means giving women a platform to share their stories and for those of us who are listening to take those stories as that woman’s truth and build our institutions, services, and countries around those stories. It means recognizing that women are more than just one- dimensional humans, with one identity. Equality

for women means including women of color, women that identify as queer and/or trans, women with disabilities, women who are/ have been incarcerated, women who are undocumented, and so on. If we, as a people, fail to recognize that these intersecting identities impact women’s experiences in the world, we are continuing to accept a culture where oppression exists, but is hidden behind the notion of progress and equality. 

Women, we all have an opportunity to rise up. Share our stories if it feels good. If that’s not you, that is okay! You can provide space for others to share theirs, listen when they do, and push for others to hear them, too. We have started in a new decade and we can make this the decade of speaking truth to power, creating more Women’s HERstory for the women to come after us to build on. To quote another brilliant woman, Audre Lord, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” If women from before us stopped fighting after the right to vote was granted or after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, where would we be today?

I’ll leave you with one last quote, I don’t know who originally said it, but it is something I try to live by: “Empowered Women, Empower Women”. While this is a call for everyone to be involved in lifting the voices of women, I am urging women to support other women because we all know there is no one more fit for creating change than a determined woman.

* anyone who identifies as female or woman and gender non- binary folks.


Leah Poole is NCCASA’s new Rural Sexual Assault Services Specialist.