Weekend Reading on Women's Representation July 22, 2016

By Cynthia Terrell on July 22, 2016

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This week marked the 168th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Women's Convention. I like to imagine the scene there on those hot days of July in upstate NY. The women in their long dresses and the men in their now-formal-looking attire rolling up their sleeves to write the Declaration of Sentiments and launch a movement for suffrage and equality. Frederick Douglass attended the sessions hosted by local Quakers whose homes were also used as stops on the Underground Railroad. Lucretia Mott's bold vision for equality and oratorical skills convinced many of those assembled to sign the Declaration.

Mott offered this amendment:

" Resolved, That the speedy success of our cause depends upon the zealous and untiring efforts of both men and women, for the overthrow of the monopoly of the pulpit, and for the securing to woman an equal participation with men in the various trades, professions and commerce."

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While Douglass spoke these words in support of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's plea to add a clause on a woman's right to vote:

 "In this denial of the right to participate in government, not merely the degradation of woman and the perpetuation of a great injustice happens, but the maiming and repudiation of one-half of the moral and intellectual power of the government of the world."

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 In some respects it would seem that we have traveled a very short distance in the ensuing 168 years - the rights and dignity of women (here in the US and abroad) seem very much in jeopardy.

But there are also plenty of reasons to be hopeful. The work of a growing number of organizations to elect women of all partisan stripes is a great example.

Susannah Wellford, of Running Start, attended a fairly different sort of convention this last week and wrote a great piece entitled Feminism at the GOP Convention  that was published in U.S.News & World Report.

A Washington Post story discusses the tough choice for republican women who consider themselves feminists - and are in favor of gender parity - but are firmly pro-life. Representation2020's structural reforms include opening up the electoral process to candidates with a greater diversity of viewpoints and perspectives. Stay tuned for more on that!

In international news there was a very interesting piece in New Vision on Somali women speaking out for gender parity. Currently there is a 30% quota there for women in parliament but some are questioning how that will be maintained and why it isn't a 50% quota.

A story in The Jerusalem Post reports on United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler's efforts to undo a quota passed in Israel three years ago to correct gender imbalance on the rabbinical judges appointments committee.

Professor Sarah Childs launched her report called The Good Parliament which was profiled in The Guardian in a piece entitled Commons 'should have gender neutral loo and allow MPs to breastfeed' - this sort of report is a great way to highlight reforms that are necessary to make serving and leading in office a plausible career path for women. Representation2020 is collecting ideas about best practice for American legislative bodies such as child care and virtual voting for elected officials.

Representation2020 interns wrote more great blogs this week including this one from Rachel Swack entitled Where are the Transgender Women in Government? and this one by Anjali Bhatt -  168th Anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention.

I hope that those of you who attended the convention in Cleveland this last week found opportunities for good conversations about women's representation - I am looking forward to more than a few such conversations next week in Philadelphia.

Attached please find a draft version of Representation2020's report on the positive impact that ranked choice voting has had on the election of women and people of color in the Bay Area. A final version will be released by summer's end.

All the best for a great weekend - I plan to catch up on gardening in the sweltering heat!

Cynthia

P.S. The Unicode Emoji Subcommittee launched an updated selection of Emojis this week that show women in a variety of professions according to a story in USA Today.

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