IWD 2020: Rise Co-Founders on Equality

This year International Women’s Day invites us to turn our attention to equality. The IWD call to action is, “An equal world is an enabled world. How will you help forge a gender equal world?”


This year International Women’s Day invites us to turn our attention to equality.  The IWD call to action is, “An equal world is an enabled world. How will you help forge a gender equal world?”

Collective Individualism: Equality to Me & For All by Rachel Rubin

Equality in my life means that I do not have to qualify to be eligible for human rights nor does anyone else. Last year the Equality Act was passed to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This was the same year I got married to a woman. My 7-year-old daughter attended her mother’s wedding to a woman without an understanding that just years ago this would be against the law. In retrospect, this experience has left me both celebratory and saddened. I celebrate those countless people that fought for decades for me to be recognized as equal in my true nature, and I am left aching about the systemic separation that still exists in our society. 

Coming out as my true self has revealed not only parts of me to others, but parts of me to myself. My voice, my desire to create a more equal world, my compassion for anyone who has felt they must keep parts of themselves hidden out of fear is getting louder inside of me and coming out now in new ways. I’m seeing so much clearer that it is fear of disempowerment that disillusions people. Fear drives people to perceive that they have a reason to dictate another human being’s life choices. Our society is sickened by this fear and none of us have been immune to this illness.

It is our individual calling and collective duty now to heal the hearts of the human race. I believe every being is capable of bereaving the parts of them that have been stolen in order to rebuild a relationship with his/her/their own true nature so that we can recognize that same true nature that exists within all of us. 

I have grieved for the younger me, the girl that wasn’t able to identify herself. I still struggle with the story in me that rejects part of who I am to please others. My grit is growing from my grievances. My grit grows stronger when I listen to the stories of people I meet and those I have not met. I feel the untold stories of those who have silenced their inner voices as a result of the overwhelming outside world. 

I want to insist on fair treatment of everyone in all of our spaces and inspire others to do the same. We do this by standing up for ourselves and listening to the daily dialogue inside ourselves. We do this when we actively connect with others and take action on behalf of the actualization of each and every one of us. When we see our own individualism, we can then celebrate it in our collective.

I am committed to having these conversations wherever I go now, even if they are uncomfortable. I recently asked an Uber driver if we could engage in one about race. She eagerly began describing her own experiences and we connected on our mutual understanding of how we have all been affected and our shared desire to create change. I asked her what I could do, and she replied, “have the conversations.”

About the Author: Rachel Rubin is a Somatic Therapist and the Co-Creator of Rise Gatherings. Her mission is to more deeply connect individuals with themselves and each other. Rachel facilitates this through individual somatic therapy sessions, bodymind movement classes and women’s retreat experiences with Rise Gatherings.

Equality: Together We Rise by Tami Astorino

I sat down at my computer to check out this year’s International Women’s Day theme. I found hashtags and great photos followed by lists of speakers and events, many of them opportunities to hear panels of accomplished women. I felt excited by the focus on women and at the same time uncomfortable. I wonder what we are saying when we celebrate certain women as ‘accomplished’ on a day that is for ALL women – those who ‘have a voice’ and those who do not. Who gets to be on the panel? When we prop up the articulate and ‘accomplished’ as thought leaders how does that make everyone feel? 

Is this a day for activism or for hashtags? And how in our modern life can it be both?

I found myself paralyzed at my keyboard – afraid to share because self doubts like “Do I know enough about this? Am I playing a part in the co-opting of activism for marketing? What will my well read feminist friends think? How can I accurately express how my experiences with women give me so much hope and strength? 

I imagine I’m not alone in this keyboard paralysis. We feel something and want to share it – whether it be with a post or a blog, but pause with insecurity or concern for misperception of intentions. We might skip the share and turn to scroll our news or social media feed looking for inspiration from others. But then the full array of voices are not being shared. We all deserve to be seen and heard. We all are “on the panel” in this life. My word choice may not be perfect, but it’s part of a larger chorus that I want to be a part of. And my rejection of the desire for it to be perfect is an act of defiance against the standards of perfectionism we create and experience.

So here it is – what I’m thinking about equality and how proud I am that Rise Gatherings is a part of the progress. 

Rise Gatherings experiences bring women together to hear their own voice as well as the voice of others. It’s challenging to really “hear” in modern life with so many things competing for our attention and our brains being trained to want the sound byte or highlight reel. A Rise Gatherings retreat opens the door wide to modalities that invite everyone to reflect, quiet the noise, and hear the voices of our souls.  Movement, nature, nourishment, presence and laughter provide the fertile ground for introspection and inspiration – the women attending provide the magic of supportive community. 

Women show up seeking something for themselves and I hear many hesitate that perhaps it’s selfish or privileged to do so. Of course it is a privilege to have the time and resources to have this experience, but it is also empowering and reminds us that we are all leaders (every human being) capable of creating both personal and systemic change. When we look inward to reclaim and strengthen our light we are able to shine it brighter in our homes, in our work spaces, in our communities, and in our world. Doing this together not only makes us stronger in the moment – it makes our world stronger. 

So whether you paint women’s empowerment pink or reject it for losing sight of the purpose in doing so, I applaud us all – men and women – for embracing International Women’s Day and all movements that raise our awareness, that help us raise our voices and spirits, because while we may all be very different, we are all equal, and together our unique contributions can move mountains. 

About the Author: Tami Astorino loves to connect people to themselves, each other, and nature. Her 25 year career facilitating meaningful, brave and transformative experiences has led her to co-founding Rise Gatherings, where she shares her gifts and creates opportunities for others to do the same.