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Cynthia

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation February 11, 2022

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on February 11, 2022

Putin, Erdogan, and Xi with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders at the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China, September 2016 Stephen Crowley /The New York Times / Redux

Dear fans of gender balance in politics,
The promise of representative democracy is what drives the work of so many of us so I thought I would lead this week with an excellent essay in Foregin Affairs that discusses the relationship between women's rights and autocracy - here is an excerpt:

As an engine of genuine democratic progress, activism by women and gender minorities threatens authoritarian leaders. Although many autocrats and aspiring autocrats no doubt believe the sexist and misogynistic things they say, their campaigns to restrict women’s empowerment and human rights also seek to undermine potential popular democratic movements that would oust them.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation February 4, 2022

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on February 07, 2022

Happy Black History Month!
While there are countless Black women whom we should celebrate in February, the team at RepresentWomen has chosen four to highlight this week:
Shirley Chisolm began her legislative work when she was elected to New York's state legislature in 1964. In 1968 she ran for her district's seat in the United States House and won, becoming the first African American woman to serve in the body. Once in Congress, Chisholm championed expanding welfare programs such as food stamps and worked to protect reproductive health. She also co-founded the National Congress of Black Women. In 1972, she was the first African American woman to run for the Democratic Presidential nomination, winning 152 electoral votes.
 

Marsha P. Johnson was an outspoken advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights and was a crucial figure in the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Johnson was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and co-founded the activist group Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. Johnson was active at gay rights rallies throughout life and was present at the first Gay Pride rally in New York City in 1970. Johnson was also a familiar presence at other radical political actions. Johnson actively spoke to raise awareness about violence against the LGBTQIA+ community and participated in AIDS-relevant activism with AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP).

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Weekend Reading January 28, 2022

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on January 28, 2022

Dear fans of gender balance in politics,
While women's representation has increased slightly in state houses in Virginia and New Jersey, according to data compiled by the Center for American Women and Politics, the United States continues to lag behind nearly all established democracies in the percentage of women elected to office. As of January 2022, the U.S. is tied at 72nd with Egypt and the Philippines and ranked just ahead of El Salvador and Kazakhstan. 
Contrary to what one might think, countries ranked above the United States are not necessarily more liberal and they don't focus on programs that prepare individual women to run for office. Higher ranked countries have embraced systems strategies like gender quotas and proportional voting systems that are the most efficient way to create more opportunities for women to run and win as this NPR story on success for women in Mexico explains:

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation January 21, 2022

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on January 21, 2022

Stacey Abrams, painted by Melanie Humble

Dear fans of gender balance in politics,
There was an encouraging story on NBC News about the number of Black women who are running for statewide executive office in 2022, including democracy reform champions Stacey Abrams, who is running for governor of Georgia, & Danielle Allen, who is running for governor of Massachusetts:

Black women’s representation has steadily increased in Congress and state legislatures, but they have still struggled to win statewide races. No Black woman has ever been elected governor, and there are no Black women serving in the U.S. Senate after Kamala Harris vacated her seat to become vice president.

That could change this year.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation January 14, 2022

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on January 14, 2022

NY governor Kathy Hochul

Dear fans of gender balance in politics,
Barbara Rodriguez wrote this interesting piece in The 19th* about NY governor Kathy Hochul's proposed term limit legislation that could well provide more women the chance to run and win - especially in conjunction with targeted recruitment & other reforms:

In New York City, where the new 51-member city council is women-majority for the first time ever, organizations like 21 in ‘21 intentionally focused their attention on races without incumbents. More than 30 council seats were open because of term limits.

“Open seats were the only places that we chose to play, because those were the places that we knew there was tremendous opportunity,” said Jessica Haller, executive director for the group.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation January 7, 2022

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on January 10, 2022

Front row (from left): Althea Stevens, Marjorie Velázquez, Lynn Schulman, Gale Brewer, Kamillah Hanks, Vickie Paladino, Sandy Nurse, Tiffany Cabán, Shahana Hanif, and Julie Won. Middle row: Farah Louis, Joann Ariola, Linda Lee, Julie Menin, Darlene Mealy, and Mercedes Narcisse. Back row: Amanda Farías, Alexa Avilés, Rita Joseph, Crystal Hudson, Carmen De La Rosa, Nantasha Williams, and Pierina Sanchez. Not pictured: Adrienne Adams, Diana Ayala, Selvena Brooks-Powers, Jennifer Gutiérrez, Kristin Richardson Jordan, Carlina Rivera, Sandra Ung, and Inna Vernikov. Photo: Victor Llorente/Victor Llorente

Dear friends,
As of this week, women hold 31 of the 51 seats on the New York City Council. While there was no single factor that led to this outcome the newest ingredient in the mix was the introduction of ranked choice voting and organizations like 21 in 21 that focused on using RCV in every part of the recruitment and endorsement process so that the women running knew how to use the system to their advantage. 

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation December 17, 2021

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on December 17, 2021

bell hooks, painted by Melanie Humble
 
For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?   bell hooks
Dear fans of gender balance in politics,
Celebrated and beloved feminist author bell hooks died this week sparking an outpouring of appreciation for her life and work that influenced so many of us. This obituary from the LA Times offers a window into her childhood:

Born Sept. 25, 1952, and raised in Hopkinsville, Ky., hooks was the fourth of seven siblings born to Veodis and Rosa Bell Watkins. Her love of reading began as a child, and she learned to read and write at an early age. Her sisters, who shared an upstairs bedroom with her, said she would always keep the light on well into the night and would often hear the sounds of her writing or turning a page before appealing to their mother to get her to stop.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation December 3, 2021

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on December 03, 2021

Many women around the world—as with these traders in Liberia—work in the informal economy (ImageArc/shutterstock.com)

 
Dear fans of gender balance in politics,
Those who are concerned about the health of democracy in the United States - which I believe should be all of us - would do well to read this sharp piece by 

Irune Aguirrezabal about a new social contract based on meeting the needs of women:

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation November 26, 2021

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on November 26, 2021

Dear fans of women's representation, 
I suspect many readers in the United States are celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family this weekend so I will keep this missive short & sweet!
In August my daughters and I drove to North Carolina to visit RepresentWomen's artist in residence, Melanie Humble. As we drove south, we listened to Braiding Sweetgraass by Robin Wall Kimmerer -- a member of Potawatomi Nation. Through the author's rich storytelling we learned about the Thanksgiving Prayer, recited by the six nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) at the opening and closing of meetings:

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