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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation October 25, 2019


(from the desk of RepresentWomen's artist in residence....)
Dear friends,
It's hard to adequately capture even a fraction of the stories about women's representation each week but it is especially hard on weeks that I am traveling and scrambling between events and meetings. Here are a few highlights from this week that caught my eye, as always, please share with me anything you would like shared with the larger group.


According to an article on USA Today, California is about to have the highest number of women legislators in the history of the state:

Elizabeth Betancourt knew from an early age that she wanted to run for office — but it wasn’t until college that she finally found the courage to say it out loud. When she first shared her ambitions, telling her boyfriend at the time, he scoffed.

“I was a young college student and was like oh OK, don’t talk to anyone about this ever,” the 39-year-old water policy expert says now with a laugh. She left the boyfriend in the past, but it still took Betancourt years to circle back to that dream. A business owner, rural advocate, and the founder of the Redding Women's March, she has impacted state policy on resources management, lending language to California water code to help protect both forests and drinking water. But like many other qualified female candidates, she didn't feel ready to jump in until after she was asked.

This year, the Democrat launched a campaign for the District 1 Assembly seat, left open by Republican Brian Dahle after he was elected to the Senate. Betancourt is a Close The Gap, California recruit, and part of the organization's plan to achieve gender parity in the progressive state's legislature, which currently lags far behind its western neighbors. California ranks 21st in the nation with just over a third of its legislative seats filled by female lawmakers. Through recruiting strong candidates in targeted districts, CTGCA aims to get to 50% by 2028. 

CTGCA has rallied behind Betancourt  — but the two candidates remaining in the runoff scheduled for Nov. 5 are both women. The other candidate is Sen. Dahle’s wife, Megan Dahle. No matter who wins, the election will enable CTGCA to inch closer toward its goal and help the state break its previous record with 38 women seated in the legislature.


Our friends at Politico's Women Rule featured the first all-female space walk in their weekly email:

POLITICO national security and space reporter Jacqueline Feldscher headed over to NASA headquarters in Washington on Friday morning to watch the first ever all-female spacewalk. Here's her report from the event: "Packed into a dimly-lit operations center illuminated by a wall of TV screens alongside top NASA officials, members of Congress and reporters, we saw history happen 220 miles above earth when two women emerged from the International Space Station at 7:38 a.m. The two female astronauts slowly exited the space station's hatch and, tethered to the orbiting habitat in two places for safety, climbed carefully along the outside of the station to fix a lithium ion battery charging unit.

"The live video feed was at times remarkably clear, coming from both external cameras and cameras attached to the astronauts' helmets, but the feed got grainy when night came on the space station — something that happens 16 times a day as it orbits the Earth at 17,000 miles per hour."

The Wonder Media Network has a podcast called Encyclopedia Womannica - that looks great - I can't wait to tune in!

Thinking back to our history classes growing up, we had one question: Where the ladies at? Enter, Encyclopedia Womannica. In just 5 minutes a day, learn about different incredible women from throughout history. In Wonder Media Network’s brand new podcast, we’re telling the stories of women you may or may not know -- but definitely should.
I discovered the work of GZERO Media via Google Alerts - they track data on a lot of interesting topics including women's representation - I like their visualization on international women's representation above and here is a snippet of text below:
Women make up just over half the human population, and yet the overwhelming majority of policymakers and political leaders in the world's governments are men. In fact, there are just three countries on earth where women make up more than 50% of the national legislature, and only 21 countries (out of 193 UN member states) in which a woman is either head of state or head of government. Only one G7 country currently has an elected female leader. While some countries have introduced controversial gender quotas at various stages in the electoral process as a bid to increase female participation, there's lots of progress still to be made. Here's a look at the facts and figures as of January 2019 and October 2019.
RepresentWomen has yet another terrific team of interns and fellows working under the super supervision of Research Director Courtney Lamendola - I am so grateful for all their incredible work.
This week pieces written by RepresentWomen interns were featured on:


National Geographic's cover story features an amazing collection of women leaders, advocates, and allies. I thought you might appreciate the note from the editor which is below:

The first scene in the history of National Geographic doesn’t have a single woman in it. It occurred on January 13, 1888, when 33 men of science and letters gathered in a wood-paneled club in Washington, D.C., and voted the National Geographic Society into existence. Our archive contains no photographs of the event, as none were made—which seems ironic, since if National Geographic is known for anything, it’s for creating an indelible visual record of life on Earth.

Over time, as the National Geographic Image Collection grew—to more than 64 million physical and digital assets today—another record unwittingly was formed: a global chronicle of the lives of women, up to the present day. These pictures, taken largely over the past century, are snapshots of their times, showing how women were perceived, how they were treated, how much power they had—or didn’t have. The images illuminate what used to be called, quaintly, “a woman’s place”—a concept that’s changing before our eyes.

You’ll see many images from the archive in this special issue on women—our first in which all the contributing writers, photographers, and artists are female. With this issue, we kick off a year of coverage across our print, digital, and broadcast platforms exploring the lives of women and the massive changes under way for girls and women around the globe.

You can see the shift begin with one grainy picture from the archive, shown above. It captures crowds surrounding a Washington, D.C., parade of women seeking the right to vote—which they got when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitutionwas ratified in August 1920. Our coverage through 2020 will celebrate the centenary of that victory. And of course, that was just a start.

This issue documents how women around the world are rising up to demand civil, personal, and professional rights. It’s happening through the #MeToo and equal-pay movements rippling through workplaces from Hollywood to soccer fields. It’s happening among women governing in Rwanda, insisting on safety in India, and being finally acknowledged as groundbreaking pioneers in their fields.

In addition, throughout this issue you’ll find interviews and portraits of accomplished women. They are scientists and self-described social justice warriors; attorneys, philanthropists, writers, athletes; a doctor fresh from a war zone, and a seasoned war correspondent. Four of the women are ranked in the top 30 in Forbes magazine’s 2018 list of powerful women.

We put the same questions to all these impressive, insightful women, and we’re delighted to share excerpts from our conversations. Every one of them espoused this belief: that women who follow their convictions can overcome almost anything. “Never take no for an answer,” said broadcaster Christiane Amanpour. Or as American soccer star Alex Morgan put it: “Don’t be discouraged in your journey.”

“Journey” is the right word for reflecting on the story of women. I was a newspaper editor in 1992 when my publication and many others proclaimed it the Year of the Woman. Why then? That was the year we saw the largest number of women voted into the U.S. House in a single election—24, of 435 total members—and the greatest number of women ever in the Senate: six members out of 100. As naive as it seems now, this was hailed as a harbinger of real change

So when there’s yet another assertion that women’s status is rising, skepticism might be forgiven. But this time, to me, it feels different. It is different. I’m the 10th editor of National Geographic since its founding and the first woman to hold this job—an appointment that once would have been unthinkable. Wherever you look, women are reaching higher positions: in business, the sciences, the law. And they’re being seen and heard on their own terms, as speed-of-light communications and social media allow them to make an end run around patriarchal systems that once stifled them.

Today the numbers really do tell a story of change. The sheer volume of elected women has vastly increased in developed and developing nations around the globe. You can see a snapshot of that change in this issue’s exclusive maps and graphics.

Throughout this year-long project, we’ll share heartening examples of how women have gained rights, protections, and opportunities during the past century. We’re bound to also come across cases where women have experienced the opposite: rights denied, opportunities withheld, vulnerabilities exploited, contributions ignored.

In more than 130 years of covering the cultures of the world, we’ve witnessed how inequality can become invisibility, until the oppressed hardly can be seen or heard at all. At this anniversary, we aim to bring more women’s lives into the light—and more women’s voices into the conversation.


I am now in Santa Monica, CA at WrapWomen's #PowerWomenSummit which is an incredible gathering of women leaders from the film and entertainment industry who have convened to discuss women's representation in these sectors. Eva Longoria spoke movingly this morning along with Aimee Allison from She The People and an incredible panel of women journalists among many others.
Actress Chrissie Metz spoke - and sang - last night and I had the chance to speak with her briefly:

The golden evening was filled with pumpkin lattes and the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean:
Finally, late October always reminds of the life - and death - of my husband's great, great (etc) grandmother Susannah North Martin who was one of the women hanged for 'witchcraft' in Salem, MA in 1692 - the vilification of outspoken women runs deep. 
In 1857, the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who was a direct descendant of Susannah Martin, honored Susannah in a poem titled The Witch’s Daughter:

“Let Goody Martin rest in peace, I never knew her harm a fly,
And witch or not – God knows – not I?
I know who swore her life away;
And as God lives, I’d not condemn
An Indian dog on word of them.”

Residents of the town of Amesbury later placed a stone marker near Susannah and George Martin’s home that read:

“Here stood the house of Susannah Martin. An honest, hardworking Christian woman accused of being a witch and executed at Salem, July 19, 1692. She will be missed! A Martyr of Superstition. T.I.A. 1894”
“[Magistrate] (to the afflicted girls): Do you know this Woman?

[Abigail Williams]: It is Goody Martin she hath hurt me often. 
Others by fits were hindered from speaking. Eliz: Hubbard said she hath not been hurt by her. John Indian said he hath not seen her Mercy Lewes pointed to her & fell into a little fit. Ann Putman threw her Glove in a fit at her. The examinant laught.
[Magistrate] (To Martin): What do you laugh at it?

[Martin]: Well I may at such folly.

[Magistrate]: Is this folly? The hurt of these persons.

[Martin]: I never hurt man woman or child.

[Mercy Lewes]: She hath hurt me a great many times, & pulls me down
Then Martin laughed again

[Mary Walcott]: This woman hath hurt me a great many times.
Susan Sheldon also accused her of afflicting her.

[Magistrate] (To Martin): What do you say to this?

[Martin]: I have no hand in Witchcraft.

[Magistrate]: What did you do? Did not you give your consent?

[Martin]: No, never in my life.

[Magistrate]: What ails this people?

[Martin]: I do not know.

[Magistrate]: But w’t do you think?

[Martin]: I do not desire to spend my judgm’t upon it.

[Magistrate]: Do not you think they are Bewitcht?

[Martin]: No. I do not think they are

[Magistrate]: Tell me your thoughts about them.

[Martin]:Why my thoughts are my own, when they are in, but when they are out they are anothers.”

Despite the lack of evidence against her, Susannah was found guilty of witchcraft and hanged at Proctor’s Ledge near Gallows Hill on July 19 along with Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, and Sarah Wildes.
That's all for today my friends, here's to supporting all the outspoken and introverted women we know,

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