Weekend Reading on Women's Representation September 27, 2019

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on September 27, 2019

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My dear friends,
 
Melinda Gates is using her considerable influence to encourage a deep conversation about the imperative for women's equality. This week she penned a long-form piece in the Harvard Business Review that makes the case for a collection of strategies to advance women's representation and leadership across sectors, here is her compelling conclusion:

We have been waiting to knock down those walls for a very long time. In the earliest days of our democracy, Abigail Adams urged the architects of the Constitution to “remember the ladies,” warning that women would not “hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” In the decade before the Civil War, Sojourner Truth called upon equal rights activists to be more inclusive of women of color — reminding anyone who saw her only as a former slave: “I am a woman’s rights.” At the turn of the 20th century, Emma Lazarus helped shape our nation’s self-image by crafting the lines of poetry that have greeted generations of immigrant families arriving at Ellis Island “yearning to breathe free.”

All these women contributed to the vision of a better, more equal version of our country that we are still working toward today. But none of them — not Abigail, not Sojourner, not Emma, not the millions of brave women whose names we’ll never know, not Rosie the Riveter herself — had the opportunity that we have now to accelerate the pace of change and bend the curve. If we don’t seize this opportunity, it could take 208 years to get to equality. We’d be closing in on Abigail Adams’s 500th birthday. Equality can’t wait that long.

Like a lot of people, I’ve been thinking about what my role in this moment is — both through my international work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and through my company, Pivotal Ventures. I am committed to using the power and influence I have to promote gender equality around the world and expand the power and influence of women in the United States. And I know I’m not alone. Far from it.

Readers of Harvard Business Review have many roles to play in driving progress toward a better, more equal future for women in this country. You are senior executives, entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors; bosses, board members, and shareholders; media audiences and voters; employees, consumers, and family members. Every single one of these positions affords you — affords us — an opportunity to recognize the failures of the system, name them, and contribute to changing them.

This is our chance. And if we seize it, then maybe the next time Rosie shows up in the mailbox announcing, “We did it!” she’ll be right.

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My week in NYC started off with a terrific 10-year anniversary celebration at the offices of Women Deliver - the always impressive Katja Iversen - the president and CEO - spoke along with an incredible array of women's representation leaders from around the globe.

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(with Amanda Ellis and Martin Chungong, Secretary General of the IPU)
 
The following day the amazing Amanda Ellis and I had the chance to meet with Martin Chungong, Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, to discuss the work for gender parity and the meeting of IPU members in Serbia in October where Amanda and I will be presenting a new set of strategies to help parliamentarians meet the goals for gender parity in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
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(Alyse Nelson of Vital Voices, Amanda Ellis, Susannah Wellford of Running Start, and others)
 
Later that day a number of us gathered at Diane von Furstenberg's studio to cheer on the incredible women who were presenting their innovative ideas at Vital Voices' We Empower Pitch Night - it was a really fun evening in a beautiful setting.
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(Beautiful collection of art at the DVF event)
International women's representation expert Kristina Wilfore reports that she has a new episode on her podcast Fatima's Hand that and that her organization Global Gain is growing - hope that you will sign up to join this terrific network.
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My dear friend and member of Congress Rep Jamie Raskin introduced the Ranked Choice Voting Act HR 4464 this week. The bill has several women co-sponsors (see below) which is great and the promise of a woman lead sponsor in the U.S. Senate which is very exciting - stay tuned for more on that!
  • Raskin (MD)
  • Beyer (VA)
  • Cohen (TN)
  • Cooper (TN)
  • Kennedy (MA)
  • McGovern (MA)
  • Moulton (MA)
  • Pressley (MA)
  • Khanna (CA)
  • Peters (CA)
  • Pingree (ME)
  • Rice (NY)
Jurisdictions with RCV have more civil campaigns (because candidates know they need to appeal to their opponents' supporters for 2nd/3rd/4th choice votes), have no split votes among similar candidates, experience higher than average turnout (because voters know their votes really matter), elect winners with support from the majority of voters, and are electing more candidates of color and women to office.
I hope that you will consider contacting your member of Congress if you are in the United States and ask them to sign on the HR4464!
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Speaking of Ranked Choice Voting - there was a great story in the Hudson County View about the NJ legislators pushing for RCV - watch this video and read this teaser:
 
Ranked-choice voting has quite a bit of backing from Hudson County lawmakers, with Assembly members Nick Chiaravalloti (D-31), Angelica Jimenez (D-32) and Annette Chaparro (D-33) sponsoring legislation to bring the trend to New Jersey.

Chiaravalloti, Jimenez and Chaparro are primary sponsors on two bills that would establish a ranked-choice voting system for federal, state and local candidates in the Garden State.

“It’s an idea we need to talk about if we want to encourage people to vote, especially when you consider there is a higher number of unaffiliated voters in the state,” Chiaravalloti told HCV over the phone. “It seems to make a lot of sense.”

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(With FairVote chair Krist Novoselic & board member Tim Hayes at an event in NYC some years ago)
Listserv leaders know how much I care about ranked choice voting and my association with FairVote. I'm pleased to report that FairVote will be hiring for a number of positions in the coming months, with current job announcements for mid-level organizers and analysts posted now and new postings in the coming week to include senior positions involving advocacy and communications. They are eager to have a strong applicant pool reflecting all measures of diversity, including women.
Women in Government Relations is hosting an event this coming Wednesday on the power of women voters in 2020 featuring Anna Palmer and panelists: Adjoa B. Asamoah, Democratic Strategist, Founder/CEO ABA Consulting, Kodiak Hill-Davis, Political Director, Republican Women for Progress, Cynthia Terrell, Founder & Executive Director, Represent Women, and Maria Cardona, Principal at the Dewey Square Group and CNN/CNNE Commentator:
  • 5:30-7:30pm
  • Wednesday, October 3rd
  • Amazon
    601 New Jersey Ave NW
    Washington, District of Columbia  20001
  • register for the event
I'll end here for tonight as the hour is late, I hope that all of you have a restorative weekend.
Warmly,
Cynthia
P.S. There are amazing people doing amazing things all over this planet but I had a chance to glimpse two especially amazing people this week - they are both exceptionally articulate and persuasive - I'll toast to them again tonight!
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(Stacey Abrams speaking at the NARAL 50th anniversary event)
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(Greta Thunberg in NY harbor)