Embracing Intersectionality: Kicking Off Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day
"Intersectionality is a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects. It’s not simply that there’s a race problem here, a gender problem here, and a class or LBGTQ problem there. Many times that framework erases what happens to people who are subject to all of these things." - Kimberlé Crenshaw
March is Women’s History Month, an annual celebration of the contributions women have made in the U.S. and worldwide. At Lyft, the theme of this year’s programming is Embracing Intersectionality. Developed in collaboration with employee resource group UpLyft Women, this year’s theme reaffirms the need to honor how our own intersectionalities influence our lived experiences, and how embracing our identity is an act of power and liberation. Identities are important in shaping who we are, and the way they work together is intrinsic, instrumental, and transformative to the way we show up in the world everyday.
March is also Gender Equality Month, which serves as a call to celebrate the history, contributions, and wellness of community members who are impacted by gender-based bias and oppression. We honor and uplift the livelihoods of all femmes, transgender and non-binary people, women and girls this month and year-round.
Below, UpLyft Women Executive Sponsor and VP of Global Operations Ameena Gill describes what Women’s History Month means to her, and how Lyft’s culture allows her to show up as her full self.
Ameena Gill, VP of Global Operations and Executive Sponsor, UpLyft Women
As a new co-executive sponsor of UpLyft Women, I am thrilled to kick off Women's History Month.
This year's theme is Embracing Intersectionality, which illuminates and celebrates the complexity in all people. No one is just one thing. We each hold many identities, including our race, gender, socioeconomic class, or national background. Together, these make up who we are and how we move through the world. These overlapping pieces combine to create our rich lived experience. Sometimes these pieces give us privilege in a society that values particular identities over others. At the same time, they can also combine in ways that leave us more vulnerable to oppression and discrimination. We want this month's theme to honor how intersectionalities influence the lived experiences of all women.
This year's theme is personal. I moved to America alone as a 15-year-old seeking opportunities that my birth country, India, would not provide. Moving from a small village in Northern India to a predominantly white town in Virginia was a culture shock. I spent most of my early years in America determined to fit in with my peers. I inhaled pop culture and tried to imitate what was portrayed. I shed my Indian accent as best as possible. I wiped my vocabulary clean of anything that would deem me foreign or different. But when around my relatives, I still had to show that I was living up to the values of my culture – a culture that I deeply respected, but one that wasn't always accepting of my whole self. As a result, I felt like an outsider in both cultures.
Later, as an engineer and an operations leader, I spent an absurd amount of time trying to fit in in male-dominated work environments. I started my career at a prominent brewery, primarily working among men over 50. I learned how to golf, wore pleated khakis and polo shirts, went fishing with them, and learned how to ride a motorcycle. I thought they would be more accepting of me if they didn't notice I was young, brown, and female. It never worked. My otherness always shined through. Over the years, I have realized that focusing on assimilating only dulled the magic that made me uniquely who I am. Understanding intersectionality has been vital to accepting my whole self and being a champion for those impacted by discrimination on multiple grounds.
Lyft is one of those rare places where I can finally show up fully as myself. I am valued for the layers that make me who I am. I want to take a moment to share some of the ways Lyft has and continues to support embracing that:
Lyft is sponsoring the U.S. Black Chamber's Women of Power “Power 50” List, an annual honor bestowed upon 50 women who embody the spirit of the organization – unwavering dedication to making a difference in their communities and in the world at large. This year’s honoree includes Lyft’s very own Heather Foster, Senior Director and Head of Government Affairs.
As part of this year's Voting Access work, Lyft supported female voters with access to the polls by donating free or discounted ride codes to partners like the League of Women Voters and Black Women's Roundtable.
Through our Safety Advisory Council, we partnered with organizations including End Violence Against Women International and Black Women's Roundtable to enhance safety on the platform for riders and drivers.
We worked with partners like the Human Rights Campaign to donate ride grants for community-based organizations serving trans people of color, We Are Better Together to provide transportation access for women impacted by violence and incarceration, and Denver nonprofit Florence Crittenton Services to support transportation needs for teen mothers and their children.
UpLyft Women is an employee resource group (ERG) for ALL women team members and allies at Lyft. We acknowledge that gender is a social construct, fluid, and one aspect of our many intersectional identities. UpLyft Women seeks to strengthen, empower, and encourage ALL women at Lyft by building connections with each other and in our communities, cultivating professional and personal growth, and creating safe spaces for support and conversation.