Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 3, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on April 03, 2020


Jeannette Rankin was sworn in as the first woman elected to Congress on April 2nd, 1917 & is the only member of Congress to vote against funding for both the first and second world wars.
Dear friends,
It has been another week of headlines about the coronavirus and its impact on the healthcare system, the economy, and our daily lives. Each week also brings reminders of the women who have worked so hard for the rights we now enjoy and the incredible women leaders among us.
March 31st was the anniversary of Abigail Adams' letter to her husband, written in 1776, admonishing him to remember the ladies:


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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation March 27, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on March 27, 2020


A World Bank Cambodia Health Sector Support Program, shown here in 2013 (World Bank/Flickr)
Dear Friends,
Despite the arrival of Spring this week it feels as though winter may still be coming - at least in the northern hemisphere. News about the spread of the coronavirus - and the mixed reactions to it - have understandably dominated the headlines. Amidst the cacophony of coverage there have been a number of stories about the impact of the virus on women including this one from The Interpreter by Sara Davies, Sophie Harman, Jacqui True, and Clare Wenham that dives into the role of gender:

The Covid-19 outbreak has revealed the strengths and weaknesses in our collective global and national capacities to respond to this health emergency. Everything in our social world is gendered, and so it is with Covid-19. As with the experience of wars and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, women are often those least visible in crisis decision-making, yet within health emergencies they are conspicuous as healthcare workers and carers. This gendered reality is a remarkable pattern replicated across diverse societies and countries.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation March 20, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on March 20, 2020


(Seniors at Wellesley College organized an impromptu graduation before they left they left campus, The New York Times)
Dear fans of women's representation,
This week there has been a whirlwind of news relating to the spread of the coronavirus and the new realities we are all facing. For some without adequate healthcare or underlying medical conditions the threat to life is grave while for others the challenges of working remotely and 'social distancing' are very real. My youngest daughter is a college senior and so is bracing for an anti-climatic end to her collegiate career. I thought this photo article in The New York Times by Anemona Hartocolis and Kayana Szymczak is a beautiful tribute to the many students who organized their own graduation ceremonies before they left campus:

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation March 13, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on March 13, 2020


Jacinda Ardern with her partner & baby, The New York Times

My dear friends,
Belinda Luscombe had a fascinating piece in Time Magazine on New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern's "Next Big Test" that provides a window into the challenges & opportunities facing the young leader:

Ardern has infused New Zealand with a new kind of soft power. When she visited the U.K. to meet Queen Elizabeth II, who is still New Zealand’s head of state, she wore a kahu huruhuru, a feathered cloak bestowed by Maoris on people of honor. Lots of world leaders try the trick of celebrating a nation’s first peoples by donning the local dress. But Ardern, visibly pregnant at the time, didn’t wear her gift with the awkwardness of Western leaders who show up at local photo shoots in guayaberas or floral headdresses. She rocked it. “Other countries want to be associated with what she represents,” says Hayward. “That’s what’s unusual. She’s not having to ask for the time. The doors are opened because it’s helpful for other leaders to be associated with her.”

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation March 6, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on March 06, 2020


UN Women envisioned a new country called Equiterra, in which equality between genders, climate justice, and inclusion would reign. (Photo: Ruby Taylor/UN Women)
Dear fans of women's representation,
Many thanks to our friends at UN Women who wrote a fabulous piece on Medium about 'Equiterra' a "New Utopian World Where Gender Equality Reigns" - I know you will enjoy reading the whole piece but here is a teaser:

BREAKING NEWS: We found a country that has achieved gender equality!

In Equiterra all people have equal rights and opportunities, regardless of their gender. Women and girls feel safe when walking at night. They get paid equally as men, for work of equal value.

Men and women share chores and care duties at home, and they can access high quality care at affordable rates. Isn’t that fabulous!

No one is talking about ‘at least 30 per cent’ quota for women in political leadership in Equiterra anymore — men and women are equally represented in political offices, corporate boardrooms and factory floors. Women have equal say in decisions that affect their lives, their bodies, their policies, and their environment. Girls are as valued as boys are, and people of all gender and sexuality feel safe and equal.

This is what gender equality looks like. Join us for a tour of its bustling capital!

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation February 28, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on February 28, 2020


(Melinda Gates Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Founder of Pivotal Ventures. Author of The Moment of Lift meeting with women)
Dear friends,
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995. In anticipation of this milestone, the team at RepresentWomen helped to create this video to encourage parliamentarians to meet the goals for women's representation and leadership that were developed 25 years ago. Melinda Gates, pictured above, penned these words about what she has learned about women's equality over the last few decades:

In addition to the foundation’s 20th anniversary, this year marks another milestone I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: the 25th anniversary of the Beijing World Conference on Women. (If that name doesn’t ring a bell, you may know it as the event where Hillary Clinton famously declared that “Human rights are women's rights, and women’s rights are human rights.”)

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation February 21, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on February 21, 2020


Suffragists picketing for the right to vote outside the White House
Dear friends,
Kathy Spillar, Executive Editor of Ms, had a very good piece on the power women women's votes in this centennial of suffrage year:
This year marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. A hundred years after suffragists fought for and won the right to vote, women voters—empowered by the feminist, civil rights and LGBTQ movements—will likely determine the outcome of the high-stakes elections of 2020.

Indeed, the power of women voters and feminist candidates to secure women’s rights is right now on display in Virginia, where the State House and Senate have just voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, making theirs the 38th and final state needed to add women to the Constitution.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation February 14, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on February 14, 2020


Dorothy Height, Ruby Bridges, Ida B Wells, Condi Rice, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Michelle Obama, Shirley Chisholm, Toni Morrison and Ruth Bader Ginsburg 

Dear friends.
There was an interesting piece in Gulf Today about the use of gender quotas as a tool to advance women's representation in countries around the world:
In recent years we have seen a rise of female representation in governments throughout the world owing in part to certain measures that have been taken allowing for more women in politics. One such measure, albeit a controversial one which to this day stirs quite a debate ranging from it defying the principle of equal opportunity to being outright undemocratic, is the gender-based quota imposed by governments to ensure a substantial female legislative representation. Governments in the MENA region have also taken this issue in stride, a great example of this is seen in the UAE’s Federal National Council (FNC), where the female participation quota has been increased to fifty per cent in an attempt by the government to cement the legislative and parliamentary role of women in the nation's development. Topping this growing list of governments with the greatest gender parity is Rwanda where women make up 61.3% of the lower house

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation February 7, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on February 07, 2020


Dear friends,
While it has been a very busy week politically in Iowa and in Washington, DC, it is the eve of another increasingly political event - the Oscars - this coming Sunday evening. RepresentWomen's terrific research fellow Maura Reilly wrote It’s Time for the OscHers: When Will the Academy Honor Female-Driven Storytelling?  that ran in the celebrity online news source The Wrap this week. Be sure to cast your ranked vote for best woman director in our online poll - we will release the results Sunday night:

Support for movies, television and books that exemplify women and girls’ perspectives is not just about being recognized at award shows. The Geena Davis Institute has found the portrayal of women and girls in media directly impacts how young girls view their own abilities and options. “If they can see it, they can be it,” Davis has said, noting that the first step to gaining gender equality and equal opportunity is allowing young girls to imagine any role, job and life that they want for themselves. One of the biggest barriers for women reaching the highest levels of elected office is the perception of female leaders. The first step has to be normalizing the idea of female leaders across all fields — whether elected, appointed or fictional.

In her 2019 Golden Globes acceptance speech, Regina King commited to reaching gender parity in all the work she produces over the next two years, and then added, “I challenge anyone out there who is in a position of power, not just in our industry, in all industries, I challenge you to challenge yourselves and stand with us in solidarity to do the same.” King’s challenge should be taken up: Until we acknowledge the problem and commit to correcting it, we will never reach gender parity, in film or politics or business. Until our culture, norms and institutions begin to value women, their work, achievements and perspectives as inherently equal to men, we must actively support the female filmmakers and storytellers who are producing female-driven stories. While women directors were shut out of the 2020 Oscar nominations, RepresentWomen would like to introduce our own ballot for the Best Women-Directed Films of 2019, and urge you to rank your favorites.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation January 31, 2020

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on January 31, 2020


(With When Women Vote authors Stephanie Donner and Amber McReynolds)
Dear friends,
I am in the Denver airport this afternoon awaiting a flight to Cedar Rapids where I will be participating in a gathering of academics whose work centers on reforms to the presidential nomination process. Last night I had the real pleasure of participating in the launch for a new book on strategies to modernize our voting and election systems called When Women Vote:

When Women Vote highlights the challenges Americans, particularly women, face when trying to vote in the current voting system, and the amazing things that happen with reform. We make the case for further voting reform and for removing bias in the voting process by sharing stories and experiences of women voters and leaders throughout the United States.

“Our democracy depends on every vote being counted and every voice being heard. I am grateful for this book highlighting the vital importance of empowering women - from every spectrum, perspective and walk of life - to raise their voice and ensure that they are heard in every powerful room in our country.”
—Jocelyn Benson, Michigan Secretary of State

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