A longtime activist and self-proclaimed troublemaker, Cecile Richards was president of Planned Parenthood, a Ford grantee, for more than a decade. In 2019, she co-founded Supermajority, a nationwide initiative working to build an intergenerational, multiracial movement to advocate for gender equity.
Richards sees the potential in the sheer numbers of women in America’s universities and workforce. She believes there is power in these numbers, and that women have the power to redirect the course of history, by bringing profound and lasting change to the culture, government, and business world.
“I just feel like this is a renaissance moment where women are now more than half the workforce,” she says. “We’re more than half the college students, law students, medical students. We just had the first all-female astronaut crew in outer space. But really the structures of cultural, governmental, certainly in the business world, really haven’t changed. So I think women are finally saying, okay, it’s about time we address these issues. And the opportunity, I believe, is to now be our best advocates. And for women in the workforce to no longer be seen as nice to have but actually critical to our economy and critical to our future.”
The daughter of the late former governor of Texas, Ann Richards, she was inspired by her mother’s outsize influence and legacy in government. It led her to advocate for women’s rights, women's health and building the power of women of all backgrounds, races, and ages to create a future where we are truly equal.
“I grew up in Texas where women really didn’t have much of any power. In fact, my mom—she was a housewife, as we called them in the day, until she finally figured out that women could do more and eventually ran for office herself and became governor of Texas. It changed opportunities for women in that state and around the country. So I’ve spent, I guess, my entire lifetime organizing women, working with women, helping to lift up women, and I think it’s never been more important than today.”
Richards is part of the #FutureIsHers multimedia series of interviews, essays, and more, celebrating the innovators, risk-takers, and change-makers the Ford Foundation has proudly supported and the impact they’ve had on the lives of women and girls everywhere. Despite the many challenges women and girls face, around the world they’re rising up. Determined and persistent, they’re leading the way in showing us what gender justice looks like, disrupting inequality and creating a world where social change is possible: The future is hers.