Today, August 26, marks the anniversary of the end of the 72-year fight for women’s right to vote. That’s right – our forebears faced 72 years of ridicule, ostracism, abuse, imprisonment … and also hope, determination, courage, and eventually, victory.
When I was in graduate school in London, one of my professors told a cute story about his daughter, born during the Thatcher era, who as a small child had asked him whether a man could be Prime Minister. The point that my professor was trying to make was that having more women in positions of power does make a difference in how women’s roles are perceived by society at large.
One need only look to the Declaration of Sentiments adopted by the women in attendance at the Seneca Falls Convention in August 1848 to begin to appreciate how far women in the United States still are from reaching equality in a host of arenas, many of which are dependent on political or legal equality. Although women were granted the franchise in 1920 after decades of struggle, it is only in the past few decades that women have become a political force – at least at the ballot box. Women not only vote more than men, but unmarried women and women of color are much more likely to vote for Democratic candidates. In fact, women were key voters in the successful elections of Presidents Clinton and Obama.
Linda Basch: From your perspective, what is the unfinished work of women’s political equality?
Tonni Brodber: In the English-speaking Caribbean women’s participation in political leadership ranges from a high of 13% in Jamaica to a low of 0% in Belize, with many countries like St. Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia hovering at 6.7% and at 5.6% respectively. In the face of such paltry numbers, it almost pains me to say that it is my belief that the unfuinished work of women’s political equality is the lack of quality and diversity.
May 27, 2009 posted by Linda Basch After nearly a month of anticipation, President Obama has finally announced his nomination for Supreme Court justice—and what a nomination! The President tapped Sonia Sotomayor, a New York federal appeals justice born to Puerto Rican parents and raised in housing projects in the South Bronx. In a world where most Latinas are far less likely to go on to college than any other group of women, only 2.9 % of Latina Women hold advanced graduate degrees, 10% of all Latina women are unemployed, and the number of female Hispanic Federal Court Judges can be counted on one hand, Sotomayor has risen above those odds to become the first ever Hispanic woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court. Her ascent from humble beginnings mirrors President Obama’s personal narrative; both overcame incredible obstacles to become role models for generations. For those in the Hispanic Community, her appointment is a glimmer of hope that the often silenced voice of the Hispanic, female minority has a better chance of being represented in public debates and decision-making.
Turbulence in the financial markets has exacerbated the uncertainty of non-profit sustainability. What is happening to private foundations and their giving as a result of the crisis and increased government ownership and oversight? What is the role of investments by women’s funds and others in creating an agenda for equity and justice?
As the granddaughter of a woman engineer (and also someone who struggles to assemble her Ikea furniture but loves her new toolkit anyway), it was an honor to be surrounded by tradeswomen at the Institute for Women and Work’s panel last Thursday night up at Cornell. We were gathered to discuss how the economic crisis and recovery efforts in New York impact women, particularly tradeswomen. For me, though, it was an education in a history I didn’t even know existed: the history of tradeswomen in the U.S. and their fight for recognition and rights. After 30 years of activism, women still only comprise 3% of the construction labor force. As one panelist said, “do we really believe that men have 97% of the answers?” I think not. Although frustration with this slow-moving progress was evident in the room, the Cornell event was more celebratory than anything else. Susan Eisenberg shared slides from her multi-media installation, On Equal Terms. The theme of the installation: Women in construction—30 years and still organizing. The most provocative exhibit was the bathroom shack, literally a 6 foot by 6 foot plywood replica of a typical bathroom tradeswoman encounter on the job, complete with documented misogynistic and explicitly sexual graffiti.
Last year’s UN Security Council Resolution 1820 recognized sexual violence as a war crime. Its passage is often cited as a milestone. Given so many conflicts around the globe, however, what was this resolution’s real impact? If your heart drops every time you think about the continuing rape in the Congo, you are not alone! For NCRW’s upcoming Annual Conference we have assembled a special panel featuring experts on women, war and security.