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.
This past year has been a whirlwind for women and politics! The campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin demonstrated that sexism in the media is far from dead. A number of powerful women are playing vital roles in the new administration. And Obama’s first 100 days proved to be very woman-friendly. Of course, our work is far from done.
March 11, 2009 posted by Delores M. Walters* The disproportionate effects of the seized-up economy on citizens of color whether in housing, employment or educational opportunity soundly refutes the idea that “we can put to rest the myth of racism as a barrier to achievement in this splendid country” as the Wall Street Journal claimed one day after Obama’s election. Others take a more moderate stance: “For all our huge progress, we are not “post-racial,” whatever that means. The world doesn’t change in a day, and the racial frictions that emerged in both the Democratic primary campaign and the general election didn’t end on Nov. 4. As Obama himself said in his great speech on race, liberals couldn’t “purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap” simply by voting for him. Perhaps wealth accumulation is the most convincing indicator of racial disparity in America. As Dalton Conley points out, the net worth of African American families is only one-eighth that of White families which is not due to differences in education, earnings or savings rates, but due to the legacy of racial discrimination. Other groups, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, for example, exhibit wealth accumulation rates that mirror the statistics for Blacks, while Cubans mirror those for Whites.
November 18, 2008 posted by Vivienne Heston-Demirel In the spirit of continuing to send messages to President-elect Obama and his transition team, we bring you this week’s round-up of links to campaigns from those in our wider network. Amazing work going on out there. If we’ve missed you, please let us know! The first issue of Ms. magazine in 2009 - which will hit newsstands just as President-elect Obama is sworn in – will feature the best of readers’ ideas for moving forward to make the change we need. Enter yours by clicking here.
Last week, we asked prominent leaders of women's organizations to send us their messages to President-elect Obama and his transition team. We asked these leaders to speculate about how might life be different—more equitable, healthier, more secure—for women and girls in an Obama era. What are their visions for an Obama Administration? Who are their ideal Cabinet picks? What new offices, government departments, or agencies would they like to see set up? What’s been most missing in President-elect Obama’s platform around women’s issues, and what messages would they like to send the transition team to rectify these lapses going forward? How do we move women and the issues women care about most from the margins to the center in this new administration?
November 7, 2008 posted by Linda Basch Linda Basch: What is your vision for an Obama administration? Who are your ideal Cabinet picks? What new offices, government departments, or agencies would you like to see set up?(We invite your biggest-sky thinking here, far out of the box!)Carol Jenkins: Wouldn’t it be wonderful, given that women determined this victory, that all of the photo-ops we are beginning to see included as many women as men—as many people of color as non. The early signals about an Obama administration are crucial. This is not the time to reflexively turn to the “old hands” of previous administrations. New ideas are needed, fresh thinking is needed. The “old hands” have brought us to the brink of economic collapse.
November 5, 2008 posted by Vivienne Heston-Demirel Apologies for audio problems. It is 7:30 and we are going LIVE.
Michelle Goldberg - journalist/author, specialized in ideology and politics - said she was optimistic but that there were a few dark clouds, namely, anti-gay ballot initiatives that passed in California, Florida, Arizona (anti-gay marriage), and Arkansas (anti-gay adoption). All of the anti-choice initiatives failed. There is a potential for extreme right-wing terrorism, including attacks on abortion providers.
Andrea Batista Schlesinger - Executive Director, Drum Major Institute for Public Policy - just concluded her opening statements.