History of the WVC

The WVC was founded in 2008 by female researchers and activists who saw that women were excluded from critical public discussions about emerging therapies for post-traumatic stress disorder, end of life anxiety, depression, addiction, and other mental health conditions. The renewed focus on psychedelic-assisted therapies using MDMA, psilocybin, cannabis, and other substances is increasing the need to discuss the ethical considerations of these investigations.

As new studies have been launched to examine the efficacy of these substances, it became clear that women investigating and working with these substances needed to be heard. This is especially true for women of color and indigenous women who have used psychoactive plants for healing and spiritual practices for thousands of years. Female activists who fought for the reform of racist drug laws, women from so-called counterculture communities, woman elders, queer and trans women, and female artists who found inspiration in these substances have also historically been absent from discussions about psychedelics. Women are also underrepresented among the academic and medical practitioners who advance this research. 

In 2007, a founding member of the WVC organized the first Women’s Visionary Congress to give women from all communities an opportunity to be heard and present their work with these substances and other non-ordinary states of consciousness. For the next decade, the Women’s Congress provided a place where people of all genders heard women present the latest research and therapies, activism, art and spiritual insights. These efforts significantly increased the participation of women in discussions about psychedelic-assisted therapies and culture.  

Over the years, the WVC community expanded to embrace other conversations about healing and resiliency. Women speak about the transformation of community food systems and re-establishing connection to the earth and the seasons. Discussions about sexual assault in psychedelic ceremonies led to the creation of best practices for safety and restorative justice. Frank examination of both the benefits and dangers of substances launched WVC-sponsored risk reduction workshops. Conversations about racism and cultural appropriation expanded awareness of white privilege and exclusion. People of all genders and from many communities presented and participated in these discussions.