Looking Back at 2022: Pain, Progress, and What’s Possible
When I think back to the beginning of 2022, I remember entering this year with real clarity that Roe v. Wade would fall by the end of the Supreme Court term. And even more so, I remember what it felt like to continue working through the pain and terribleness of that certainty.
But even in the wake of the Dobbs decision—as the horrific picture began to rapidly unfold—I am still struck by how we came together, held our collective pain, and supported one another in this new reality.
I am grateful for the many allies and partners who showed up this year, whether they were new to the work of gender justice or had spent decades in the movement. I am inspired by our many friends in the movement who showed up again and again, striving to both keep people safe and build a safe and beautiful future. I am excited about all that we accomplished with our partners in the Biden-Harris administration and our allies on the Hill. And I am especially filled with unbridled joy each time I think of the history-making confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who has already made a profound impact on the Supreme Court.
Of course, I am also enormously proud of my colleagues at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). The tenacious gender justice advocates who, throughout this year, always remembered why we were here—and even more importantly, who we were fighting for.
Day after day, the National Women’s Law Center has proven that change is possible, and that progress—not despite pain and challenges, but alongside them—is always within our reach:
- When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, we joined our partners in mobilizing Congress, state legislators, governors, city governments, and millions across the country in fighting back to secure abortion access amid statewide bans.
- When lawmakers went after LGBTQ students, we demanded the Department of Education strengthen Title IX protections and advocated for trans youth in court.
- When extremists radicalized our courts, we advocated for a fair, impartial, and representative judiciary that fully reflects the diversity of our country.
- When news outlets tried to ignore the facts on the ground, we unapologetically continued to reject the easy narratives around how women were experiencing COVID-19—centering moms, Black women, Latinas, and LGBTQ and nonbinary people in our research.
But when we tell the story of this year, I don’t just want to remember our counter moves, or how we were forced to fight back against these attacks. Because part of our task right now—and it is a difficult one—is to remember that something better is possible.
Really, NWLC has already proven that point, with organizational wins like…
- Marking the 50th anniversary of the Law Center
- Our influential report on the U.S. housing crisis and its impact on women of color
- Our Tax the Patriarchy campaign which transformed how people understand economic security as an issue of gender justice
- The day we signed our first collective bargaining agreement, demonstrating that we can count our wins collectively
This celebration is not a fool’s errand—it is the fuel for our endurance as we take on the new year…
… which we will all desperately need.
Because I know that as 2022 comes to a close, so many of us are managing loss and grief. Grief from living through times of violence, injustice, and visceral hate.
Day after day, we have been inundated with extremist attacks on our reproductive freedom, rampant discrimination against LGBTQ people, hateful policies intent on excluding trans students, and obstacles at every turn on our path toward economic security for families.
And though that reality might feel overwhelming, now is not the time for us to limit our agenda to what someone says is politically reasonable today. Doing so would be playing into exactly how extremists want us to feel: powerless.
Our power comes from our community.
I have no doubt that 2023 will bring more onslaughts against our movement. But working together, I know that we will continue to curb the immediate harm. And just as we did in 2022, we will also carve out time to dream ahead—devising a strategy that is not just about this week or this month, but something much more long-term: a future that does not yet exist.
A better future where all women and girls can work and learn and live with safety, dignity, equity, and bodily autonomy. We will keep fighting for those values next year and every year. And I know you will be with us.