Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 3, 2019

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on May 03, 2019

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Dear friends,

Maya Salam writes in The New York Times about the new organization SuperMajority that launched this week to support women's activism and engagement:

First came the 2016 presidential election, then came an avalanche of activism. There was the Women’s March, and ultimately, a record number of women ran for and were elected to political office. All the while, activist groups have sprung up in communities across the United States.

This week, a new organization, Supermajority, was introduced by a trio of high-profile, progressive leaders: Cecile Richards, the former president of Planned Parenthood; Alicia Garza, a founder of Black Lives Matter; and Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which advocates for improved working conditions for domestic workers.

Their goal: to train and mobilize two million women to become organizers, activists and leaders ahead of the 2020 election — an effort Richards called a “women’s new deal.”

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Karen Tumulty writes about SuperMajority in the Washington Post:

In the fall of 2017, Planned Parenthood’s then-president, Cecile Richards, was campaigning in Ohio for Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s reelection, when she noticed something she had never seen before.

Everywhere she went, no matter how small the town, it seemed that women were organizing themselves for political action. They had marched to express their opposition to President Trump. They were writing postcards to save the Affordable Care Act. They were donating to candidates who favored abortion rights. In 2018, women like these were the force behind the election of record numbers of female candidates to offices at every level of the ballot. And yet, women continue to be regarded — including among themselves — as a special- interest group. That trip to Ohio helped inspire Richards’s post-Planned Parenthood mission: to help women harness their collective power across lines of race, age and economic circumstance, and to turn “women’s issues” into the mainstream issues they’ve always been.

“Women are actually the majority of pretty much everything,” Richards told me. “And yet, it feels like the things that women care most about and are talking about are kind of put aside. We’re seen as a constituency, rather than the majority of people in this country.”

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The selection of the next speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates was fraught with intrigue and divided loyalties but Adrienne Jones emerged out of the turmoil - it's been quite a week in Maryland politics - read the full article from the Baltimore Sun or this excerpt:
Jones is the first woman and the first African-American to serve as a presiding officer in the Maryland General Assembly. Both the House of Delegates and the state Senate had been led only by white men — until Wednesday.

When Del. Michael E. Busch became speaker in 2003, he chose Jones to be his speaker pro tem. In that role, Jones was a key member of Busch's leadership team and filled in for him in presiding over House floor sessions when he was absent.

Jones was called upon to fill in for Busch more often this year, as he was absent due to health reasons, including the last few weeks of the 90-day General Assembly session. Busch died on April 7, the day before the final day of the session. Jones led the grief-stricken House members through their tasks on the final day of the session.

Jones also served as chairwoman of the capital budget subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, which oversees the budget for state-funded construction projects.

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There was a fascinating piece in The Washington Post about the Equality Act that raises important questions about how to support rights for transgender women and girls while still protecting and advancing the implementation of Title IX. I think that all of us must engage with this important topic in order to sort out the best path forward:

The Supreme Court on April 22 agreed to take up the question whether Congress intended for the word “sex” in employment discrimination law to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Congress, however, seeks to resolve this issue itself, and not just in the employment context. The Equality Act, introduced by House and Senate Democrats at a news conference last month, proposes to amend almost all of the major federal civil rights statutes, including Title VII, to secure equality nationwide for the LGBTQ community. The legislation would make it unlawful everywhere to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, education, housing and public accommodations. 

The Equality Act’s provisions are much needed and long overdue — with one caveat. 

We urge lawmakers to pass the bill without abandoning Title IX, the hugely popular, long-standing (since 1972) carve-out to existing anti-discrimination law. Through its implementing regulations, Title IX not only permits but often requires educational institutions that receive federal money to provide separate programs and opportunities for females based on sex. This is necessary because sex segregation is the only way to achieve equality for girls and women in competitive athletics.

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Finally, many thanks to the terrific team at Running Start for organizing such a stimulating conversation at the German Emabassy in Washington, DC with members of Wunderbar Together and a great group of American advoctes for increasing women's representation across the partisan spectrum! See some photos below:

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Welcome to RepresentWomen fellow Shaherbano Abbasi who serves on the Women's Commission on the Status of Women in Pakistan - shown above with RepresentWomen board member Rina Shah co-founder of the Women's Public Leadership Network.

Warmly,

Cynthia

P.S. RepresentWomen board member Brittany Stalsburg has graciously offered her home for a Spring Soiree - please join us if you can!

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