Happy Friday! This edition is being brought to you by the RepresentWomen team, reporting on the latest in women’s representation, while Cynthia catches up on her summer reading on the beach in the Yucatan!
Serena Williams' Farewell Shows Shortcomings In Women’s Representation- Nicole M. Bailey
Serena Williams' recent retirement announcement reverberated throughout the sports world and beyond. Inarguably one of the greatest athletes of all time, Serena has accomplished what many can only dream of attempting, yet at a time when she should be preparing for many more years as the leader of her field she is retiring. Is it on her terms, or on the terms our society has presented women? From executives to politicians to athletes when it comes to the responsibility and labor of family and family planning the burden often falls on child bearing bodies. As we seek gender balance in political representation we must also call for gender balance in the C-suite, fields, courts, and Boardrooms of our lives. A truly representative society earnestly addresses the barriers faced by marginalized groups so that everyone has a chance to succeed, on their own terms.
“If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family. Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity. Don’t get me wrong: I love being a woman, and I loved every second of being pregnant with Olympia. I was one of those annoying women who adored being pregnant and was working until the day I had to report to the hospital—although things got super complicated on the other side. And I almost did do the impossible: A lot of people don’t realize that I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give.
I’ve been reluctant to admit that I have to move on from playing tennis. It’s like a taboo topic. It comes up, and I start to cry. I think the only person I’ve really gone there with is my therapist
I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me. A few years ago I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that, I started a family. I want to grow that family.”
Kenya Hits Historic Number of Women Governors - Steph Scaglia
Martha Karua, running mate of Raila Odinga, dances with some of the elected, allied women candidates before giving an address to elected gubernatorial, national and county legislators at Azimio's Elected Leaders Inaugural Conference in Nairobi, Aug. 13, 2022.
Veteran politician and former Justice Minister Martha Karua addresses a crowd during a campaign rally in Kirigiti Stadium on August 1, in Kiambu, Kenya. If elected, she will become the country's first female deputy president.
“That question suggests that women ought not to be on the ballot, because I have never had anybody question whether Kenyans are ready for yet another male. So that question is in itself discriminatory.”
Having women in government is key to achieving economic and political stability. Gender quotas are one method of increasing representation, but implementation matters and so do societal norms. According to the IPU, Kenya ranked 102nd in 2022 in regards to women’s representation. Nevertheless, Kenya’s path towards parity shows progress, and that women will not give up, despite the barriers they face.
The 75th Anniversary of Indian Independence - Alissa Bombardier Shaw
RepresentWomen: Last Updated January 2021
“The Global Gender Report 2022, which includes the Gender Gap Index, says it will now take 132 years to reach gender parity. India ranks 135 among a total of 146 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index 2022.
The index benchmarks gender parity across four key dimensions or subindices economic such as participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment…
If the country intends to soar above the rest of the world, it has to break women free from the socio-cultural constraints that hold them back. And gender equality in terms of equal opportunities, financial independence, equal access to education, and job is the way forward for achieving this. India will need to have a targeted approach to lure more women into the labour force.”
The Heartbreaking Detention Of Brittney Griner And Why It Matters For All Women - Nicole M. Bailey
Brittney Griner. Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko
Brittney Griner’s career in the WNBA is noteworthy. She was drafted as the No. 1 overall pick by the Phoenix Mercury in 2013. At 6-foot-9, she’s one of the tallest women to ever play the sport and has continuously proven herself to be a dominant powerhouse since the beginning of her career. In spite of this, her WNBA salary pales in comparison to her earnings in Russia. Griner, who has played in Russia for the past seven seasons, earns over $1 million per season while playing for UMKC Ekaterinburg.
To fully understand the scope of the issue, please consider NBA player Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz. Gobert and Griner have been in their respective leagues for about the same length of time, they’re both dominant centers, and they both have multiple all-star appearances (Gobert has three while Griner has seven). However, Gobert’s base salary for the 2021-22 NBA season was $35,344,828. That’s $431,034 per regular-season game. Griner’s salary for the 2021-22 season was $221,450 as one of the WNBA’s highest-paid players. Rudy Gobert makes more money in a single game than Brittney Griner makes in an entire year as a WNBA superstar, who makes over $1 million playing in Russia.
Long before the passing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 aimed to abolish wage disparity based on sex women have been fighting for equal pay, for equal work. In 2022, women earned 82 cents for every $1 men earned when comparing all women to all men, according to compensation data and software firm Payscale's 2022 State of the Gender Pay Gap Report, released March 15. Many Black, indigenous and other women of color earned less than white men, both when looking at uncontrolled median earnings overall and when comparing controlled earnings of women of color in similar positions as white women and men, Payscale reported.
If women were paid equitably for their work what choices could we make and what freedoms have we lost as a result of inequities in pay?
“The WNBA star and her lawyers had asked for leniency after officials at a Russian airport allegedly found less than a gram of hash oil in her luggage in February, but a Russian court sentenced Griner to nine years, just below the maximum-possible sentence of 10.
Across Russia, there are 35 women's penal colonies that house an estimated 60,000 inmates, Ivan Melnikov, the vice president of the Russian Department of the International Human Rights Defense Committee, and Yekaterina Kalugina, a Russian human rights activist who observed Griner and her living conditions in March, tell PEOPLE.
Inside the colony… Griner will have to work eight hours a day. For most prisoners, this means sewing, cleaning, cooking and serving food, but, because of her career as a WNBA player, Griner can see about coaching women's basketball. There's a precedent for such an arrangement — Russian soccer players Alexander Kokorin and Pavel Mamayev coached inmates while they served time in one of the colonies."
Primary Wins for Diverse, Young, Women Politicians - Steph Scaglia
“The Minnesota Senate is likely to add two senators of Hmong ancestry, two Black women and a Muslim woman, all DFLers, based on their primary wins. Likely new lawmakers also include several young Republicans and a DFLer expected to be the first transgender person to win a seat in the Legislature.Women candidates of color have also been looking to each other for support, and have coined their small community a “sisterhood”. They appreciate the common barriers they face, but also recognize their differences and embrace this. The candidates have emphasized the importance of seeing candidates that look like them, and that this has inspired them to run.
Collectively, the results from the Aug. 9 ballots signal some of the biggest shifts seen in a single Minnesota election cycle as communities of color reshape the state’s political and social landscape.
“Minnesota is being very clear right now that we are ready for young people and people of color to lead the state,” said Zaynab Mohamed, 25, who won her primary in Senate District 63, a reliably DFL district in the Twin Cities area.
“I will be one of the first Black women, the youngest woman, the first Muslim woman, the first woman wearing a hijab” in the Senate, she said. “It’s heavy, but it all should have happened a long time ago.”
FairVote MN has long been a strong supporter of increasing representation in Minnesota and has supported many women candidates. Candidates who support ranked choice voting statewide can be found here.
Will the Record Number for Concurrent Women Governors Finally be Broken in 2022? - Courtney Lamendola
In the news this week, a new poll from Roger Williams University/WPRI 12 found that many Democratic primary voters remain undecided in their choice for governor:
“R.I. Gov. Daniel J. McKee is leading among Democratic primary voters with 28 percent of the vote, with R.I. Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea close behind with 25 percent. However, 21 percent of those polled remain undecided for the Democratic candidate for Governor.
Of the other candidates, former CVS executive Helena Foulkes received 14 percent, former secretary of state Matt Brown received 8 percent, and Luis Daniel Muñoz, a member of the state Equity Council, received 1 percent of the vote.”
Carolyn Maloney Elevates the Importance of Women in Congress - Steph Scaglia
For the Maloney Campaign,
"The race has increasingly centered on women — both their electoral potential to sway the outcome and the importance of protecting one of their own at a moment when the Supreme Court and Republican-led states are rolling back reproductive rights secured half a century ago.
The congresswoman [...] is spending a sizable chunk of it on a television ad reinforcing the message: “You cannot send a man to do a woman’s job,” she tells New Yorkers. “He maybe can speak better than me,” Ms. Maloney said in an interview after the event, referring to Mr. Nadler. “Men are more likely to be trusted. But I am a fighter. Women fight for women.”In terms of endorsements, the New York Times endorsed three white men in New York’s Democratic Primary races. These are also the only white men in their respective races. One of these endorsements is for Rep. Nadler.
The Rise of Ranked Choice Voting as a Better Voting System Alternative - Alissa Bombardier Shaw
“At a time of rising political polarization and growing frustration with the two-party system, Trump’s impeachment revenge tour has put these alternative voting systems in the national spotlight.
It’s clear that voters are fed up and ready for serious change. This July, a New York Times/Siena College poll found that 58 percent of voters believe our democracy needs “major reforms” or “a complete overhaul.” New ways of voting for our elected representatives promise a more accurate representation of the will of the people — or at the very least a fighting chance for politicians who don’t gravitate toward extremes.
“Candidates who do well in ranked choice elections tend to be those who connect with the widest group of voters possible,” said Deb Otis, the director of research at FairVote, an advocacy organization focused on electoral reform. “Our current elections often appeal to only one niche base of voters.” ”With ranked choice voting being used in the Alaska primaries this week, it’s important to note that delays in election results are not due to RCV, but rather Alaskan law that provides ample time for overseas military votes to be counted.
Vote for our two SXSW 2023 Conference Panels!
Our first panel, 3 Reforms to Build Women’s Political Power Now will feature a discussion with empowering women leaders including founder and Executive Director of RepresentWomen Cynthia Richie Terrell, National Election Expert, former Election Official and USPS Governor Amber McReynolds, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, and James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics Danielle Allen!
This panel will dive deep into the three research-drive Signature Solutions outlined by RepresentWomen that work to remove structural barriers that hinder women from gaining political power. Read more and vote for our first panel here.
Our second panel entitled Solutions to Increasing Women’s Representation will feature a discussion with the inspiring Geopolitical & Strategic Advisor of Rilax Strategies Rina Shah and Women in Public Office Strategy Lead of Pivotal Ventures Emily Lockwood!
This panel will delve into the need to change both our socio-political values as well as our voting systems in order to increase women’s representation in all levels of government. To do this, we can use the Twin Track Solution, which is composed of the empowerment track and systems track. Read more about our second panel and cast your vote here.