02/10/2013 04:46 pm ET Updated Apr 12, 2013

Gun Violence and Women: Moving Beyond the Headlines

From grieving mothers to heroic teachers, women have been front and center in the national debate on gun violence prevention. In the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, leaders like former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and Senator Dianne Feinstein became for many the face of the movement to advocate for gun policy change.

As the policy debate continues, and the passion for common sense gun laws begins dissolving into pragmatism and party-line politics, the Women Donors Network has stood up to assert that women are not done speaking out about gun violence. This week, we brought together more than 100 women leaders in Washington, D.C. for a groundbreaking convening on women's crucial role in changing the social, legal and political reality of gun violence in our culture and our communities and unveiled the first women-focused poll on gun violence that demonstrates a clear divide along gender lines about what needs to be done.

The poll may have documented a trend with far-reaching political significance: Women who vote with progressive values and who may not ordinarily vote in midterm elections are among those most engaged with issues of gun violence and likely to turn out to vote in 2014 on that issue. Or, as Talking Points memo observed, "GOP's Obsession With Guns Stands To Drive Women Vote In The 2014 Election."

No single woman leader, even one with as compelling a story as Gabby Giffords, can shift the direction of this debate alone. It will take women like the mothers of Newtown, and organizations like One Million Moms for Gun Control led by Shannon Watts. It will take Congressional leaders like Jackie Speier (Jonestown massacre survivor), Marcia Fudge (Congressional Black Caucus Co-Chair), Elizabeth Esty (Newtown's Representative) and Carolyn McCarthy (whose husband was killed and whose son was critically injured in the Long Island Railway massacre). It will take local leaders like Brina Milikowsky of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, progressive policy think tanks like the Center for American Progress led by Neera Tanden and the grassroots voices of women like those we just polled.

Women Donors Network is committed to elevating women's voices in the gun violence debate and keeping women at the forefront of debate and action at the local, state and federal level. In collaboration with elected officials, activists, advocacy organizations and funders nationwide, we are advancing women's leadership on this and other pressing issues in all sectors of society, through the Women United For platform. We welcome anyone who wants to learn more to visit and join this conversation to catalyze meaningful change across the country.