Climate change exacerbates existing inequalities and threatens the lives and livelihood of the entire planet. We are dedicated to seeking climate justice to create a more sustainable and equitable world.
Welcome to our GWC Climate Action Blog space. We believe that every aspect of women’s progress is impacted by climate change and the empowerment of women is the very best way to make rapid progress in this area.
This is the place to learn more about the unique challenges that women face from climate change and what we can all do about it right now.
Climate Action Team
Team Leader: Naomi Ages
Contact: [email protected]
In the United States of America
600 women are sexually assaulted each day.
Almost 4 women a day are killed and 20 per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner
1 in 5 women have experienced a rape or attempted rape - of these half were under 18 and 1 in 5 were under 12.
1 million women are stalked each yearRead more
Ann Hesse published GWC launches Women and Climate Action Team with Paris Event in News 2020-01-28 09:35:54 -0500
GWC Chair Ann Hesse traveled to Paris to moderate an event organized by the DA France Women’s Caucus on January 26. 2020
This event launches our new Global initiative:
WOMEN AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Here are some of the issues addressed:
Is Climate Change a gender issue? What is the connection? A UN Report tells us that “Women commonly face higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change in situations of poverty, and the majority of the world’s poor are women. Women’s unequal participation in decision-making processes and labor markets compound inequalities and often prevent women from fully contributing to climate-related planning, policy-making and implementation.”
Three DA France experts addressed climate change and gender questions and wowed the audience. All three of them are ready to press forward on our GWC initiative.
Alyssa Fischer is a climate & sustainability expert with a focus on urban climate challenges and the inclusion of equity into climate conversations. She presented an overview on urban policies and talk about how perceptions of climate change differ between men and women.
Dr. Cara Maesano is a scientist and researcher in environmental epidemiology and exposure science at INSERM/Sorbonne University, focusing on how the physical environment affects public health. She is part of C40's Women4Climate mentorship program, through which she investigates and educates on issues relating to the health impacts of Climate Change. She provided an overview of health impacts of Climate Change.
Dana Powers is an environment journalist specializing in renewable energy and chairs the Democrats Abroad France Environment Policy Group. She addressed the nexus between gender, population and climate change.
Jean-Pierre LaRochelle filmed this event and we will soon make it available as part of an educational toolkit for all of us to learn from and enjoy.
If you are interested in volunteering for this team, contact Ann at [email protected]
Watch the video here:
Some fun photos from the event:
Two Smart ladies DA France Women’s Caucus Co-chairs Connie Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier
Ann Hesse preparing with guest
Pleased with a successful event and launch for a very important project!
Ann Hesse published Announcing the Fourth annual march of Women’s March Global: March for Our Human Rights! in News 2019-10-24 11:09:09 -0400
On 18 January 2020, women and allies around the world will join together to march for bodily autonomy.
In the last year alone, women’s reproductive, sexual and human rights have experienced a massive rollback around the world. For example, see this article in the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2019/09/24/us-joins-nations-including-saudi-arabia-russia-there-is-no-international-right-an-abortion/?fbclid=IwAR2W9W7WBX7
That is why women around the world are committed to marching for bodily autonomy - the right to self-governance over one’s own body without coercion or external pressures. This includes abortion rights, sexual health and reproductive rights, sexual consent, period equality, family planning, medical treatments, and more.
Follow this link to find an event near you or create an event in your community: http://womensmarch.global/marchforourhumanrights/
Our DA GWC Reproductive Rights Team will also be sharing ideas for different types of events you can organize around this important issue, so stay tuned!
Ann Hesse published Global Women’s Caucus Communications Team - Call for Volunteers in News 2019-04-29 05:38:37 -0400
We are looking for volunteers to join our Global Women’s Caucus Comms team.
If you are passionate about women’s rights and have 10 hours a month to volunteer to our caucus, we need you!
We are looking for volunteers with the following areas of expertise:
Creating original content for our website and social media
Monitoring social media channels
Assisting in the preparation of online campaigns
Other activities as required
Write about women’s issues that are important to the GWC
Draft resolutions in support of women’s issues
Creating original content for our website and social media
Research women’s topics
Other activities as required
Design & Graphics
Design layouts for web pages and social media channels
Design promotional material including posters, flyers, etc.
Help create and maintain a unique brand identity for our caucus
Organise online events including WebEx calls
Develop ‘’Event in a Box’’ toolkit
Liaise with external groups to collaborate on events
Plan offline events including marches
Please connect us via email: [email protected]
Ann Hesse published DA Global Women’s Caucus celebrates International Women’s Day in News 2019-03-08 17:43:56 -0500
Today as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us remember the great women in history whose shoulders we stand on. Let us celebrate their achievements and acknowledge the sacrifices they made to get us where we are today.
This has indeed been a historic year for women. We have elected a record number of women to Congress and we have more women of color serving in office than ever before! But this can only be a beginning. Massive inequalities still remain. Women in the United States of America do not even have basic equality with men written into our constitution.
So let us honor the great women who came before us by pushing forward on passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. And let us vow to never give up until our daughters have exactly the same rights, opportunities, and status as our sons!
Ann Hesse published DEMOCRATS ABROAD CALLS ON REMAINING STATES TO RATIFY EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT in News 2019-01-25 02:59:08 -0500
WASHINGTON, January 24, 2019 – Democrats Abroad, the largest organization for Americans living overseas, fully supports the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and is calling on state legislatures across the U.S. to move toward its ratification. The action comes just days after a subcommittee in the Virginia House of Delegates rejected the ERA proposal, and after the weekend of the Women’s March, which saw advocates across the country and around the world rally in support of the ERA and gender equality.
“Over eighty-five percent (85%) of the world’s nations protect women’s rights as part of their constitution. The United States is not one of them,” noted Democrats Abroad’s ERA Project Coordinator Shari Temple. “As Americans abroad, many of us live in countries where we have more rights than women do in the United States. Ratifying the ERA is a not a partisan issue but rather a human rights issue: equality of rights under U.S law must not be denied or abridged on account of sex.”
In 2018, Democrats Abroad unanimously passed a resolution calling upon the Democratic Party to support the ratification of the ERA. This has galvanized Americans abroad in support of the organization’s work toward gender equality.
Members are reaching out to legislatures in the thirteen states that have yet to ratify the ERA, while advocating on social media and organizing live events worldwide. This past weekend, Democrats Abroad joined Women’s Marches and hosted events supporting the ERA in countries including Canada, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Singapore and Thailand. Handwritten petitions are also being circulated among Americans in at least seven countries.
Like all constitutional amendments, the ERA must be adopted by three-fourths of states in order to be ratified, a step that advocates have been fighting for since Congress proposed the ERA 47 years ago. This week, a GOP-led subcommittee in the Virginia House rejected the proposal that could have led to Virginia becoming that 38th state. While advocates hope it may be picked up in the full committee, this would most likely require significant public pressure.
“Opponents of the ERA make threats of what could happen when women and men attain equality under U.S. law. With our experience of living, working and raising families in countries where equality for women is a given, we know this is pure nonsense,” explained Anne Hesse, Chair of the Democrats Abroad Global Women’s Caucus. “Enshrining gender equality in the Constitution would benefit not only American women but society as a whole. We call upon state legislatures across the U.S. to affirm our equal rights and ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.”
Today we march in cities around the world, powered by a massive blue wave of hundreds of diverse new women legislators, thousands of GWC members, and tens of thousands of activist men and women who support our cause.
Watch this short video with scenes from previous marches and be inspired!
Sign up to be a member of our caucus and add your voice to our call to free both men and women from the constraints of the patriarchy that is holding all of us back.
Since the 2016 presidential election, the Democrats Abroad Global Women’s Caucus and its members have marched in unison to support, protect and secure our rights as women.
We will march in cities around the world again this weekend, independently and proudly, powered by the massive blue wave of hundreds of diverse new women legislators, thousands of GWC members, and tens of thousands of activist men and women who support our cause.
It is important to state NOW and LOUDLY that we vigorously condemn all hate speech by any individuals or organizations for whatever reason and by whomever and wherever it may occur. Women’s rights are too important to be diverted by the actions, prejudices or ignorance of any individual leaders or participants in any movement.
Please join us to this weekend in marches around the world!
· We march in support of the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution to secure for American women the same equality under the law that many women around the world already enjoy!
· We march to maintain and advance our rights to health care!
· We march to show the world that we must stop violence against us, stop inequality of pay and power and stop the infringement of our rights as equal human beings!
Join us and add your voice to our call to free both men and women from the constraints and abuses of the patriarchy that are holding all of us back!
Your GWC Team
Ann Hesse published DA Stuttgart Chapter Chair Candidate Statement- Kelsey McLendon in News 2018-12-18 04:14:57 -0500
I’m running for Stuttgart Chapter Chair because I’m invested in this community and committed to doing the necessary work to ensure it grows, evolves, and thrives. While one of the primary focuses of Democrats Abroad is to register overseas voters, I see our mission as extending beyond that. DA provides the opportunity for Americans abroad both to speak with like-minded people and to broaden our world perspectives. We are, in many ways, unofficial American foreign ambassadors, and I hope to lead the Stuttgart chapter in increased engagement in cultural exchange experiences in our host country. As a DA member, I’ve organized and led events, written new role descriptions and petitions, worked on DNC reform campaigns, and currently, I’m a leading organizer of the DA Global Women’s Caucus international book club called Books Abroad. As an active member of the Women’s and Progressive Caucuses, my experiences at the caucus level will inform my leadership as Stuttgart Chair as I work to diversify the voices within our chapter to welcome and encourage input from members, new and existing. I intend to make general meetings more accessible—perhaps on an online platform like WebEx—and introduce more social events such as movie nights, pub trivia, picnics in the park, etc. Based on feedback from my fellow members, I hope to foster the right balance between activism with an agenda and building a fun social community.
Ann Hesse published Help Stop Violence Against Women on College Campuses in News 2018-12-10 03:30:50 -0500
The Women's March theme for this year is “Stop Violence Against Women.”
Our DA Global Women’s caucus will focus on achieving this goal by working through our legal system to secure equality under the law.
But you don’t have to wait for our January 19th world-wide marches to make your voice heard!
You can do something TODAY to help fight back against the gradual erosion of our rights that we have seen over the last two years.
Help us to Stop Betsy De Vos from imposing terrible new rules for sexual assault survivors on US college campuses.
You can read more about her proposal here.
As we prepare ourselves to march in the streets on January 19th, we can a first step NOW!
But we have only until January 28th to file comments. Your hand-written note can make a difference!
BE THE CHANGE!
We are looking forward to a Happy Blue Year!
The November 6th election wasn’t just a blue wave. It was a blue Tsunami!
As the final statistics are coming in, they confirm that Democrats crushed Republicans with the largest Democratic House gain since 1974!
And we made a difference right here in Germany!
Many races came down to just a hand-full of votes, and our overseas ballots were the margin of victory!
Thanks to all of you who voted in the most diverse and dynamic congress we’ve ever seen!
But this is no time to sit on the sidelines. And 2019 is in no way an “off-year.”
We have the momentum, and our own Democrats Abroad Stuttgart chapter is gearing up right now to keep pushing our agenda all the way to the 2020 presidential election.
Here is a rundown on some important events and projects that you won’t want to miss:
Chapter Chair Elections
Friday, January 11th 2018 at 7:30 pm
Gymnasiumstraße 21, 70173 Stuttgart
We will be holding Chapter Chair Elections on the 11th of January at our regular monthly meeting.
All current members of our Democrats Abroad Stuttgart Chapter are welcome to come and vote in person.
If you are interested in running, please reply to this email by January 1st stating your intention to run.
You are encouraged to include a short statement of less than 250 words supporting your candidacy, to be published to the body on our website. If you decide to run after the first of January, you may be nominated during our meeting, but you will need someone else to second your nomination.
If you have questions, contact Ann at [email protected].
Voter Protection Survey
Have you filled out our Voter Protection Survey?
Please take a minute now to let us know about your voting experience and encourage other Americans abroad to do the same by completing our very short Voter Protection Survey.
Thank you for your help!
Pub & Politics in Freiburg
Wednesday, January 9th 8-10pm
The Holy Taco Shack
Barbarastraße 18, 79106 Freiburg im Breisgau
Come for “Margarita Mittwoch” and stay for some good, quality conversation!
Ring in the new year with fellow Americans in the Freiburg area, grab a drink together, and talk about all things politics!
We also want to share news about upcoming DA events and hear your ideas for what other events Freiburg-Americans might like to participate in.
Please note that because of the holidays, we are meeting on the second Wednesday of the month, instead of our usual first Wednesday.
Women’s March in Heidelberg
Join with thousands of marchers again in Heidelberg for the third Women’s March on
Saturday, January 19th 2019.
We’ve come a long way this year and women are more empowered than ever before. But we’re not done yet! We will keep marching to stop violence against women and secure our equality under the law.
Just as we did last year, we will meet at the Stuttgart Main Train Station and travel as a group to Heidelberg.
The march in Heidelberg is expected to begin at 13:30.
See you there!
2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Heidelberg
Friday, February 22nd – Sunday, February 24th
Heidelberg Center for American Studies
Heidelberg 69117 Germany
Every year Democrats Abroad Germany gathers in person to discuss issues and plan our activities for the coming year. In addition to these discussions, we will also be electing our new Executive Committee (ExCom) in 2019.
This event open to ALL MEMBERS! If you are curious about what we do, interested in becoming more involved, want to participate in a training, or just looking to some fun, then travel with us to Heidelberg!
CALLING ALL VOLUNTEERS- Wherever you are!
Democrats Abroad is an all-volunteer organization. There are many jobs, large and small that need to be done to help our chapter thrive. Many of them can be done remotely and don't even take much time.
Here are just a few ideas of ways you might consider volunteering:
- Write articles for our website
- Prepare a presentation for our meeting on an interesting political topic
- Be our phone banking coordinator
- Lead one of our caucuses or precincts
- Help distribute our brochures at places where Americans hang out.
- Hold a mini "activist meeting" in your own home or the neighborhood pub.
If you would like to volunteer or would like more information, please contact [email protected] or update your DA profile at democratsabroad.org and be sure to check off "interested in volunteering" so that we can follow up.
If you have other skills, other ideas, and other ways you think you can help, please get in touch with our new chair.
It has been an honor to serve you all as chapter chair in these past years, and I look forward to continuing to work within our Stuttgart chapter and also as a DA global leader to make the political and social change we want in the world.
With thanks and warm regards,
Chair, Stuttgart Chapter
Co-Chair, Democrats Abroad Global Women’s Caucus
MANON GARCIA SPEAKS ON WHY WOMEN VOTE FOR DONALD TRUMP: CONSENT AND SUBMISSION IN AMERICAN POLITICS.
The DAF Women's Caucus invited MANON GARCIA, a young French philosopher, specialized in feminist philosophy, and Assistant Professor at The University of Chicago, and an activist as well. She writes about “consent and submission” and has a lot to say about our U.S. political scene: Trump, Kavanaugh, and machismo in general. She rocked the packed audience.
Each election brings women one step closer to equal political representation.
Thank you to all female candidates who ran for office. We acknowledge all the effort it took to get your name on a ballot!
We also congratulate the women within the Democratic Party who now represent us in government!
Here is a list of our 122 winning female candidates, and counting!
By Ann Hesse
Congratulations to our new women lawmakers! Hundreds of women are headed for Washington and state legislatures now. More women than ever before in history are taking power at every level of government throughout the United States of America!
This feminist blue wave will transform the political landscape forever!
Congratulation also to us! I wish to thank our thousands of Global Women’s Caucus members and hundreds of hard-working GWC leaders around the world for working to make this a reality! Thank you for your energy, ideas and dedication, and for helping to get out this crucial vote. This is your victory too! Savor it!
We have worked hard and deserve to celebrate now, but we are far from finished! Support for our new women legislators cannot stop with ballots cast and elections won. In the coming days and months, let us all consider ways in which we can continue to support them as their constituents, as their sisters and as a caucus. I welcome your ideas!
Washington D.C. is a battleground and our brave new army of smart, diverse, vibrant women lawmakers will need our back up every step of the way. We dare not abandon them on the front lines.
Today, we celebrate! Tomorrow we continue our journey. But this time, with our own leaders at the helm and the wind at our backs we have a real chance to make our dreams a reality. Our time has come!
- Ann Hesse, Co-chair Democrats Abroad Global Women’s Caucus
Ann Hesse published Women Candidates and Psychology: Breaking the Stereotypes in News 2018-11-03 10:42:04 -0400
By Catherine Maines
The election on Tuesday is forecasted to likely see record numbers of women elected across the country, potentially surpassing the already record-high of 107 women in the current Congress. But with more women running – and winning – than ever before, even the most optimistic models show a Capitol only 23% female by this time next week. Historical and structural barriers help explain the basis of this imbalance, but there is still more to the story of why women have a harder time getting elected. Like most things, there is psychological work that can further help elucidate the continuation of this gendered inequality – with the caveat that much of the research (and somewhat consequently, this article), to its limitation, does tend to deal with gender in a mostly binary sense.
Essentially, stereotyping works by assuming a social group has a core set of shared beliefs and character traits and depersonalizing an individual to view them as a member of their social group interchangeable from other members. Gender roles are stereotypes, but they are also norms. They go from the descriptive (“women are…”) to the injunctive (“women should be…”). Though they are not necessarily subscribed to or acted upon, people generally have a shared understanding of what they are. Because we often think and make decisions heuristically (by using rules of thumb rather than fully weighing each evaluation), these stereotyped female roles are drawn upon and reinforced. The tendency to categorize individuals into social groups (e.g. on the basis of gender) becomes particularly interesting when viewed within a social system (e.g. in US politics) in which status and power are not equally distributed between groups. Being a member of a social group which is the consistent minority – particularly one from which there is (generally) no leaving – has repercussions for conceptualizing identity.
Shared cultural stereotypes are ubiquitous, but only at certain points do they get drawn upon and impact upon the ways in which people live their lives. Identity contingencies (something a person deals with because of a given social identity) affect members of minority groups by creating things they have to manage throughout the entirety of their lives – things that members of non-minority groups don’t have to consider. Female representatives working in a Congress which is 80% male often face a different set of rules which constrain behavior, requiring them to develop a set of strategies for dealing with scenarios – from unwarranted questions about their experience to unwanted sexual advances – that their male counterparts generally don’t have to face.
Women running for office also face gendered prejudices based on cognitive incongruences between the perceived capabilities of their social group and the requirements of certain roles – meaning political leadership positions require certain abilities, these abilities don’t align with the stereotype of women, so therefore women in political leadership roles are more likely to be negatively evaluated.
Eagly & Karau propose that a perceived mismatch between “female” and “leader” roles lead to two connected forms of prejudice: women are seen as less suitable for leadership than men, and “leadership behavior” is evaluated more negatively when it is performed by a woman. There can be a catch-22 for female politicians: leadership ability seems to be related to male traits, so female candidates aren’t evaluated as fitting the descriptive norm of a leader, and when they do achieve success they violate an injunctive norm by not embodying what we expect from women.
We saw this play out in 2016 – in the pitch of her voice and in her signature pantsuit, Hillary Clinton consciously conformed to the pre-existing (and therefore, masculine) image of what a president “should” look like. No one questioned her qualifications for the role, but pundits and voters alike saw her as personally inauthentic and questioned the suitability of her character.
This dichotomy can become cyclic in nature: women who want to lead might consciously downplay their feminine traits, and therefore reinforce the idea that “feminine” and “leader” identities are incongruent. And for those who attempt to hold both “female” and “leader” identities, there remains a stereotype threat: when there’s a negative stereotype associated with an individual’s identity, they will tend to underperform in a way that fulfils that negative stereotype.
And none of these are issues that male politicians have to face.
However, this disadvantage is dependent upon stereotypes of women, and perceptions of what leadership roles require – and both are things that we can change. If we want to change the parameters of what a “conventional politician” looks like, we can change the practice of reaching out exclusively to the “conventional voter” – and instead, expand the electorate.
With Congress’ membership being only 20% female – and only 8% women of color – there is still a visible gender disparity in Washington. But, things are looking up. Last November, my home state of Virginia saw a record number of diverse candidates elected across the ballot throughout the state. The number of female candidates has risen enormously since the 2016 election and might increase still in upcoming cycles in fueled by the Kavanaugh nomination. And several women (Stacey Abrams, Kyrsten Sinema, Gina Ortiz Jones, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez…) have made their difference from conventional “male” leadership prototypes central to their campaigns – and achieved notable success.
“This election is the most important in our lifetime” has been over-stated by every quasi-political public figure and over-saturated social media timelines for good reason. It really looks like we’re on the precipice of change again, but it only comes if people get out of their homes (and off Twitter) and do the work to uphold the momentum and make it happen. Of the 238 women running for the House this cycle, 186 are Democrats. We’ve been the party to lead in consistently advancing the number of women in Washington, and on Tuesday we can continue the trend by electing Democrats across the ticket, throughout the country.
- Catherine Maines
Ann Hesse published Equal Means Equal Webinar with Global Women's Caucus in News 2018-10-16 16:26:46 -0400
We’re almost there!
We were all inspired last week by the brave and unforgettable testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. She has given us all courage and has strengthened our resolve to push even harder in these last weeks before the election. We can best honor her courage and sense of civic responsibility by voting in this crucial election, and by encouraging our friends to vote too!
If you know anyone who still needs to register to vote, please send them off to votefromabroad.org today.
If you have family or friends in the U.S. that still need to register to vote, send them to https://iwillvote.com/.
Help us with one last Task!
There is still one last important task that we’re working on ‘round the clock and ‘round the globe now, and we could really use your help. Over the next two weeks we are reaching out to our fellow members in a phonebanking effort to remind them to register and send in their ballots.
Click here for more information on how you can help us!
In addition to our in-person events, there are two great online events you might enjoy participating in this month:
Take a look at what our chapter is up to:
Checking the Balance - Democracy, at what cost?
Wednesday, October 17th at 7:00 p.m.
Charlottenplatz 17, 70173 Stuttgart
Our DA Stuttgart chapter will be at DAZ for a discussion as part of their very popular “American Days” event.
Let‘s talk about current issues in American politics and try to find answers to significant pending questions:
· What policies and initiatives have emerged in this topsy-turvy election cycle?
· How far does free speech extend?
· How can we provide protections for our environment and assure safety in our lives?
· Are our fundamental civil rights being chipped away?
· How can we respond to these challenges and restore political equilibrium?
Join us to share your views!
Online Webinar: GLOBAL WOMEN'S CAUCUS ERA PROJECT KICKOFF WITH EQUAL MEANS EQUAL
Please join us on Tuesday October 16 at 2PM EDT for the kickoff meeting for the Global Women’s Caucus Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) project.
Kamala Lopez, the executive director of Equal Means Equal will be sharing information about the history and the current status of the ERA along with what needs to be done.
For more background on the ERA, check out our ERA Resources here.
Online Webinar: BOOKS ABROAD READS REBECCA SOLNIT
Join our global feminist reading group, conducted on Webex with you right in front of your own computer screen!
At this meeting, we'll be discussing Rebecca's Solnit's book The Mother of All Questions, a collection of essays centered around feminist storytelling. Solnit, a California native and lifelong activist, is credited with inspiring the term "mansplaining" in a 2008 essay titled, "Men Explain Things to Me," which later became a book published in 2014. The Mother of All Questions is a follow-up to that book in which Solnit further unpacks cultural misogyny and the power of a woman's story.
ELECTION RE- CAP AND DISCUSSION
It has been a rough ride since November of 2016.
And we are cautiously optimistic that this meeting will be a joyous one!
But come what may, we will need to be together. To celebrate, to plan, to strategize, to discuss.
This is a meeting you won’t want to miss!
Remember that it will take ALL OF US returning those ballots in the coming weeks to really power that big blue wave we’re hoping for.
I look forward to seeing you at one of our events.
Chair, Stuttgart Chapter
Ann Hesse published Stuttgart Women attend Berlin Women's Caucus Workshop in News 2018-10-03 20:08:06 -0400
by Kelsey McLendon
On Saturday, the 22nd of September, Democrats Abroad Women’s Caucus members from eight of the twelve Germany chapters met for a day-long workshop in Berlin. The workshop was divided into five sessions, each one focusing on a different approach to language and messaging. Together, the 33 participants unpacked words and phrases like “pro-choice,” “emotional,” and “misconduct,” before moving on to discuss the ways in which women are under attack and what we as Democrats need to focus on as we push forward.
One participant succinctly summarized the conversation in three main points: 1) the need to create safe spaces for women and allies to hold dialogues, 2) deciding on effective political strategy, and 3) answering the question, “What do we stand for?”.
As a group, participants recognized that Donald Trump and his administration are merely a symptom of systemic racism and misogyny. To combat the insidious cultural forces that Trump represents, Democrats must not only resist the destruction wrought by his administration, but also—and more importantly—push forward with progressive action. Participants agreed that in order to move forward successfully, we must elect more women representatives, support better voter education, and define our goals as Democrats in a clear, positive way.
Thanks to a presentation on “women to watch,” participants were energized with a long list of trailblazing women running for office this November, and it ended with speculation on female presidential candidates for the 2020 election including Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand. Currently, women comprise only 20% of Congress, and while women turn out to vote in much higher rates than men, the Center for American Women in Politics reports than only 63% of eligible women voters cast ballots in the 2016 federal election. Hopefully, women and members of other marginalized groups claiming a more proportional chunk of elected offices will encourage eligible voters of all genders to head to the polls.
The final two sessions of the day asked participants to rethink commonly used phrases like “equal pay for equal work,” “the right to choose,” and “#MeToo” in order to rebrand our messaging. As one speaker pointed out, Republicans do a better job of marketing their messages to make emotional appeals while Democrats tend to over-rationalize. The last presentation of the day challenged participants to consider reframing our political dialogue. Democrats have fallen into the habit of allowing Republican leaders to define the discourse, creating our terminology in response to theirs rather than establishing our own, and then building a platform in opposition to Republican efforts rather than in the pursuit of Democratic ideals. In other words, we were reminded that we need to stand for something not just against something.
After a day of re-examining and celebrating the cross-sectional connections that unite us as women, Democrats, and Americans, we continued our atmosphere of kinship with a big, family-style meal at a local Indian restaurant. Refueled and refocused, our minds are looking forward.
The following books were recommended as essential reading for activists during the workshop:
The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt
The Little Blue Book by George Lakoff and Elizabeth Wehling
Your Brain’s Politics by George Lakoff and Elizabeth Wehling