Twenty-six-year-old Sunny Clifford, Oglala Lakota and a Pine Ridge Park ranger, is one of three finalists for a People’s Choice Gloria Award given by one of the most pioneering feminist organizations in the world, the Ms. Foundation.
This is the first time in the 25-year history of the Gloria Awards that the Ms. Foundation is asking the public to choose one of its winners. You can vote once per email address at forwomen.org/voteforvision by April 16.
Clifford was anonymously nominated for the People's Choice Gloria Award for her proactive efforts to ensure Native American women have access to emergency contraception. Clifford began a petition on Change.org in spring 2012 to demand that Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, the director of Indian Health Services (IHS), issue a directive to ensure that Plan B, also known as the morning-after-pill, is available on reservations upon request. This over-the-counter pill is routinely given to American women after a sexual assault where pregnancy may occur. Despite the fact that 1 out of 3 Native women will experience rape in her lifetime, in many areas, the Indian Health Service does not make Plan B readily available. Clifford believes rape victims are further victimized by IHS when they are denied access to Plan B. Her petition, which currently has more than 117,000 signatures toward her goal of 150,000, will raise awareness and “push IHS to offer Plan B without a prescription,” she said.
“The Ms. Foundation founded by Gloria Steinem is a really big mover in the mainstream feminist movement, and I’m the glad the issues pertaining to Native American women are being recognized by mainstream feminists,” Clifford told Indian Country Today Media Network.
“This nomination isn’t just for me—it’s for all Native American women in the country,” she added.
The People’s Choice Gloria Award is named in honor of activist and Ms. Foundation co-founder Gloria Steinem, and will be presented to the winner at the 2013 Gloria Awards on May 13 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. The ceremony attracts world-renowned women, like Olympia Dukakis and Ashley Judd, in addition to Steinem. For more information, visit forwomen.org/GloriaAwards.
Clifford, who sits on the board for the South Dakota branch of pro-choice organization NARAL, is also the focus of the documentary Young Lakota for the role she, her twin sister Serena and their neighbor played in challenging the impeachment of former Pine Ridge Chairman Cecelia Thunder Fire in 2006 for her proposal of a women’s clinic on the reservation.
While Clifford tirelessly promotes justice and equal rights for Native American women, she is humbled when the topic of conversation turns to her own accomplishments, and she readily praises the work of her competitors for the People’s Choice Gloria Award.
“I’m honored to be nominated with such great people,” she said, referencing both the Crunk Feminist Collective—a group of individuals working to “create a space of support and camaraderie for hip-hop-generation feminists of color”—and 15-year-old Julia Bluhm, a blogger for the girl-fueled SPARK Movement, which fights against sexualized images of women and girls in the media. Bluhm successfully rallied for signatures on a petition on Change.org that called for Seventeen magazine to commit to print at least one unaltered photospread per month.
You can support Clifford by voting at forwomen.org/voteforvision by April 16.