By Cynthia Richie Terrell on February 10, 2017
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Groundhog Day. We all know the movie in which Bill Murray is destined to repeat the same year, year after year until he "begins to re-examine his life and priorities." This 'holiday' lesson seems especially relevant this year as those of us who care about women's representation are caught up in defending our rights, and the rights of others - but I call on all of us to think about medium and longer term strategies that always will seem less urgent but are essential.
The Pew Research Center released a fascinating report about a 2015 study that tracks attitudes about gender equality across countries. Ninety one percent of Americans think that women's equality is 'very important' - a full 26% above the median. Yet the United States ranks in 100th place for women's representation. How can this be? The answer lies in the lesson Bill Murray learned in Ground Hog Day. If we want different outcomes - and we now have the data that shows that 9 in 10 Americans want women's equality - we need to make different choices and pursue new strategies to elect women and get them into positions of leadership and power.
NYMagazine profiles the 9 Black female judges who were elected in Alabama - an impressive development and a very interesting story. I am researching the number of women who get elected vs those who get appointed and compiling statistics on the numbers of women of color. I think that's an arena which is ripe for intentional actions such as gender targets for the appointed seats.
The election of these judges was welcome news during a week in which the number of women governors in the United States fell to just 4 with the confirmation of Nikki Haley as the US ambassador to the United Nations. While I am glad to see the new president appoint a woman to his largely-male cabinet I am sorry for the drop in female governors.Read more
In 2016, in the aftermath of Trump’s victory, commentators declared that feminism is over, lost or dead, and so is social justice; women should move on. But what I witnessed after the hearing, when thousands of women demanded that our leadership in Washington reflect their experiences, gives me hope. I’m convinced that those who expect women to recede quietly will soon be disappointed.
On Jan. 21, women from all identities and circumstances will march in Washington and in cities around the globe in numbers too great for Trump to ignore. Yes, women are moving past the election, but not as spectators, as participants in our democracy — as patriots. That is cause for celebration.
The organization behind the Women's March on Washington has launched a 'Global Mission for Equality' according to this story on Huffington Post by Vivienne Mayer. Representation is among the four issue areas that activists are organizing around - the other three are Health, Economic Security, and Safety - here is the pitch on representation:
Representation — Women are under-represented globally, adversely affecting our collective health, safety, and economic security. Women’s March Global seeks fair and just representation of women locally, nationally, and internationally.Read more
The Representation2020 team gather with Frances Perkins' grandson under her portrait in the office of the current Secretary of Labor!
There was a very interesting piece in Roll Call by Simone Pathe on funding models for republican women candidates which raises some very interesting questions about what motivates voters to donate to and/or vote for women candidates.
The GOP lacks a similar infrastructure to guide women through open primaries, instead relying on splintered, smaller groups to offer assistance — none of which carry the same weight in the Republican Party as EMILY’s List does among Democrats.
Republicans, in fact, have entered the 115th Congress down one woman in the Senate and the House respectively from the previous Congress. The partisan gender gap could grow next year with multiple GOP congresswomen eyeing higher office.
The Oregonian asks what readers think about whether women should be required to register for the draft - discussions around this issue are sure to delve into questions about the implications of pushing for gender equality.Read more
There was a very interesting article in the New York Times by Susan Chira about what the next steps for women and feminists should be - a number of great allies are quoted. While the issue is complex, to be sure, I think a key reason we are stalled is that we heap so much attention on individual candidates and not enough on the systems and rules that hinder them - but perhaps you have heard me say that before?
Catch News ran a somewhat similar story about how women fared in 2016 by Julie Gottlieb:
Historical reflection cannot offer future projection. However, the cycles of modern feminism are figured by the cresting and the crashing of waves. Tallying up women's most newsworthy achievements and setbacks, 2016 has not been a good year for women and certainly not for feminism. It has been an anti-woman year.
Journalist and student - Jazmin Kay had a great piece on Huffington Post about some of the breakthroughs for women in US politics in 2016 while Janis Irwin writes in Huff Post Politics Canada about the status of women's representation there and the need for parity.Read more
Dear gender parity listserv members,
It's been a year of contrasts. While women of color and republican women won seats at the state and federal level they are still less represented than white democratic women - who of course are also under-represented overall. More women were candidates for president - in the primaries and general of three political parties - but we know the results. And finally, while inequalities persist between men and women, the topic of 'gender' in all its manifestations is getting considerable attention - the National Geographic cover story for January 2017 is just one example.
As I have suggested before, Representation2020 finds that changes to electoral rules can make a difference for women. We recently released a summary of comprehensive research we've undertaken on the impact of a broad range of rules and structures that affect descriptive representation in county elections. We recommend a package of changes that, together, seem to have the most promising impact for both election of women and people of color. Many thanks to the Women Donors Network's Reflective Democracy Campaign for funding this research.
This year, four Bay Area cities - San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Leandro - held elections with ranked choice voting (RCV). They elect their mayors and a total of 53 offices with RCV. With two vacancies 61% of those 51 elected officials are people of color -- with the highest percentage among those first elected with RCV. Women hold fully 59% of seats, with the highest percentage among those first elected since 2014. In one notable comparison, 12% of the RCV seats are held by white men, as compared to 31% held by women of color. The cities' four mayors include two white women (both first elected with RCV to city council) and two men of color. An extensive 2014 study found that most Bay Area voters support RCV, understand it, and are experiencing campaigns where candidates are more likely to engage with a larger base of voters and avoid negative campaigning.Read more
For those of you following election outcomes in Ireland and the impact of the new gender quota law there this story in the Irish Times provides a good update.
Laura Liswood has a terrific piece in the World Economic Forum on the outcome of the US presidential election - it's a very good read. Laura is featured in this great video by Tiffany Shlain - not sure if you will need a password - it's 5050.
Laura shared this update from the Council of Women World Leaders - eleven new members in 2016! According to the Council, the current membership of women heads of state and government in CWWL is 63 - which includes past and current leaders.
By Tiffany Monzon
Currently, 105 women make up the 114th Congress, a record high number. Though this marks a relative success for women, the makeup of women in Congress lacks diversity. Out of the 105 women 34 are women of color. This was a boost from the 113th Congress, where only 24 women of color held seats. Since the election of 1964, 59 women of color have served in Congress. All have served in the House with the exception of two, one who served in the U.S. Senate and the other served in both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Diverse voices are important, thus electing not only more women but more women of color is imperative.Read more