Amanda R. Matos, Activist + Founder of the WomanHOOD Project
You might recognize her at our RISE event. And if she spoke to you there, then you'll understand why she spoke to us. We met Amanda at a Women's Conference last year as one of the panelists on Reproductive Rights Panel. The way she spoke about her involvement with such conviction really made us listen and eyed her closely. From there, we made introductions and honored to have her work with us.
Get to know more this total badass #GIRLBOSS in this week's Spotlight:
Amanda, you are such an advocate for women. Did you have any idea you would be such an influential feminist growing up?
Ha I had no clue. One thing I did know at a pretty young age was that I was a feminist. My mom and my grandma instilled in me strong values of resilience, perseverance, and compassion, and they taught me to always be proud of my lived experience as a Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx. Whether I was criticizing authors of the “Western canon” for being racist and misogynist in my high school English classes or I was questioning a cis male friend’s view on dating, I found myself putting the values I was taught into practice.
You have devoted much of your time to fighting for reproductive health care. Was there a situation or moment when discovered this passion?
When I was in elementary school, my mom went back to college to complete her bachelor’s degree. And around 7th or 8th grade, I remember her explaining her thesis research on the forced sterilization of Puerto Rican women in the 1970s. The personal became very political. I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of this oppressive history and its impact, but I knew it was unjust and rooted in racism and sexism.
Then years later, by chance, I landed an interview for a community organizing position to work on local and national reproductive justice issues. And I started learning about the amazing history of the reproductive justice framework that was co-designed by Loretta Ross and other women of color movement leaders. I immediately embraced how intersectional reproductive justice is and felt a deep connection to the movement. Now I am certain that I will continue dedicating my life to advocating for reproductive justice through community organizing and public policy. I can’t undo the oppressive, coercive history of reproductive oppression, but I can advocate to shift the present and the future.
Why is it important to you that you also break barriers when it comes to education in your community?
As Audre Lorde would say, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Breaking down barriers for lower-income communities of color to access quality education is essential in creating a more just society.
In addition to all of your activism, you sit on many boards, attend numerous city council meetings, trials, etc. What is your best advice for the young generation, especially women, hoping to get more involved in government and politics and have no clue where to start.
Great question! I pretty frequently ask myself two questions: What are my passions? What skills do I want to improve and develop? These questions have helped me make career shifts and have ultimately helped me vision my future while constantly improving myself.
So if you are hoping to get more involved in government and politics, ask yourself how it connects to your passions and what skills you want to gain. From there, search for opportunities that align with both your passion and skills. Don’t sacrifice one for the other. Be guided by both.
What is next for you, Amanda?
I’m running! 2017 is the year I’m focusing deeply on my physical and emotional health while also visioning what I hope to gain from my future. This means I’m improving my physical fitness through running and practicing healthier habits. I want take care of myself so I can be more present for others and this movement.
2017 is also the year I’m mapping out my plan to run for office ;) More details to come!
Intro by Chary, Interviewed by Emily