The Women’s Congress for Future Generations: Celebrating the Earth’s Bounty and Creating the Future We Desire

Luminaries, Authors, Lawyers, Scientists, Artists, Activists, Farmers, Ranchers, Mothers, and Policy-Makers Gather in Utah for Historic Event to Create a Civil Rights Movement for Future Generations

From September 27-30th, 2012, the first-ever Women’s Congress for Future Generations conference will convene in Moab, Utah.  Leaders, artists, and activists from the frontlines of environmental conservation, climate justice, science, public health, and academia will convene to celebrate the Earth’s bounty and to spur a new civil rights movement for Future Generations.

Congress organizers believe that environmental degradation and toxic contamination are some of the most pressing challenges of our time, threatening the survival of both future and current generations, and calling into question our concept of time and space.

“Human activities such as fracking, mining, pollution, and deforestation will affect people and the environment for generations to come,” says Carolyn Raffensperger, environmental lawyer and Executive Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN). “However, most environmental policies are only appropriate for up to 25 years, or one generation. Protecting the natural world and ensuring the conditions that support social justice and public health requires fundamental changes in civic engagement and public policy. The time to act is now.”

The conference will provide an open space for women of all ages and walks of life to unite under a common goal of achieving health, justice, and prosperity for present and future generations. Women will discuss and codify a set of rights for future generations, and explore the responsibilities and opportunities the present generation has to promote and defend such rights.

“Women have a special responsibility toward future generations, as their first environment,” says eco-philosopher Joanna Macy. “Their awareness of the long-term effects of present policies, and their voice in correcting them, are essential to creating a livable future for all beings.”

The Congress represents a ‘call to action’ for all beings, places, and elements to join voices and stand for environmental guardianship. Congress organizers believe that men also play a valuable role in environmental stewardship; men are invited to participate in the Congress as sacred partners and observers.

“By drawing on a diversity of backgrounds, perspectives, and talents, we hope to craft a dynamic articulation of the pressing rights future generations have to a livable world, and the responsibilities of present generations to uphold those rights,” says Congress organizer Henia Belalia of Peaceful Uprising.

The four-day conference will foster dialogue about issues such as how women can transcend traditional strategies of action and, instead, honor, embody, and translate the feminine spirit in direct political and social action. Joanna Macy will lead one of many daily opportunities to design and participate in workshops to empower leaders and organizers in their respective communities. Organizers believe their labors will yield a living affirmation of their rights and responsibilities towards future generations and the environment in expressions of word, art, music, and story that will be ceremoniously released into the world at the end of the conference.

The Congress has been convened for several reasons, including:

  • To empower women’s voices and leadership to address the challenges before us.
  • To craft a living Declaration of the Rights of Future Generations and the Responsibilities of Present Generations through word, art, song, and performance.
  • To transform public dialogue about our collective future.
  • To draw attention to–and hopefully help stop–environmental threats to Moab, the American Southwest, and ecosystems around the world, including fracking, oil drilling, the building of nuclear power plants, and many more.

Sociologist and Congress organizer Rebecca Altman points out that “this Congress is but one conversation in a continuum. Women have played a key role in the movement for environmental health and justice, and they have long cast their concern forward. Conversations about Future Generations preceded this Congress. And there are important conversations going on in parallel. We hope to begin the process of knitting together this wisdom.”

The Congress in Moab marks only a beginning. Raffensperger notes that in the coming months, organizers hope to “identify ways to harness and crowdsource technology to continue these critical conversations, and to amend and ratify a living Declaration of the Rights of Future Generations.”


Notes to Editors:
For more information and to interview the organizers, please contact Celia Alario at or 310-721-6517.

About SEHN: The Science and Environmental Health Network engages communities and governments in the effective application of science to protect and restore public and ecosystem health; encourages the practice of science in the public interest and the accurate interpretation of scientific information; identifies information, ethical concepts, and logic that have the potential to provoke essential change; and helps communities, organizations, and governments develop and implement sound environmental policies. For more information, visit