In the United States, many people believe female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is not an issue. Western media have long focused on the notion that FGM/C occurs in “other countries,” with an emphasis on “African communities.” However, as the recent ruling on the case against Dawoodi Bohra doctors in Michigan for performing FGC on two minor girls demonstrates, FGC is both a global AND domestic issue, affecting communities outside AND within the United States. Within the United States, the CDC estimates that half a million women and girls are at risk of undergoing FGC. Sahiyo United Against Female Genital Cutting understands that FGM/C continues because it is viewed as an acceptable social norm, and works to build a cadre of women’s willing to speak out against the practice, as a way of supporting communities in advocating to end the practice.
The Women’s Foundation of California’s Women’s Policy Institute (WPI) is striving to increase the number of women and trans people who are actively engaged in public policy so that they can have a greater impact on the fundamental conditions that affect their lives, families, and communities. The WPI understands that storytelling forms an important part of the process of amplifying the voices of historically marginalized groups during the policymaking process, galvanizing community support for particular policies, and raising the awareness and consciousness of legislators as well as potential allies and supporters.
The rich legacy of the civil rights movement was commemorated across the country in 2013, which marked the 30th Anniversary of the historic March on Washington. To honor the work of activists in the 1950s and 60s, several groups in the City of Denver, CO developed a project to encourage awareness and present-day engagement with civil rights issues, as part of StoryCenter's All Together Now initiative.
Despite increased attention within the public health field to the need to refrain from stigmatizing teen mothers, prevailing views continue to suggest that these young women cause a whole host of social problems. In an effort to reframe public conversations about young moms and sexuality, health, and reproductive rights, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst School of Public Health initiated the “Hear Our Stories” project, in collaboration with StoryCenter and several other MA and national organizations.
While community support services for survivors and witnesses of violence are widely available in the United States, specific attention to the country’s diverse cultural and linguistic needs continues to be in short supply. Asian Women’s Shelter (AWS), based in San Francisco, CA, has for more than 20 years provided survivors of violence and their communities with vital programs that address domestic violence and human trafficking. AWS works with survivors from across the Bay Area, United States, and Pacific territories, paying particular attention to the cultural and linguistic needs of immigrants and refugees from West, South, Southeast, and East Asia.
The fervor in the United States over the "War on Drugs" and the development of punitive "crime reduction" strategies in the 1980s and 1990s created mandatory minimum sentencing laws that dramatically increased prison populations across the country- at the local, state, and federal level. In California, the "Three Strikes" law of 1994 created mandatory sentences for any third felony conviction, leading to people receive sentences of 25 years to life for stealing a slice of pizza or for any number of other non-violent offenses. Experiences of incarceration, re-entry into society, and the obstacles facing those who have served time are critical stories that must be documented, in the country that leads the world in imprisoning its population.
Upon arrival in the United States, many refugees speak limited or no English, possess few viable job skills, and are faced with the challenge of living with the trauma they may have experienced in their home countries. They also lack the kinds of social networks outside of their own refugee community that can help them get established. In the face of inordinate adjustment challenges, refugee families become the working poor, and refugee children are often considered "at-risk," in educational settings. Many refugee teens face difficult social adjustment issues at school, making it hard for them to stay on course academically. Others have to drop out of school to work at menial jobs, in order to help their families financially.