Stuttgart Chapter Chair, Germany; Global Women's Caucus Co-Chair

  • is hosting Third Thursday Pub Night 2018-02-17 15:13:26 -0500

    Third Thursday Pub Night

    Join us for a fun and casual evening to talk about everything from Trump's first year to the upcoming midterm elections and what we can do to bring a blue wave to Washington! 

    This is your chance to meet other Americans in the area, sip a drink together and talk about all things politics!
    We also want to share news about upcoming DA events and get your ideas on strategy for this crucial election year! 

    Our Pub Nights are an especially good opportunity for curious prospective members to check us “regulars” out, and for all of our non-American family and friends to share their unique views on the craziness in Washington that affects all of us.

    Please RSVP

    March 15, 2018 at 7pm
    Mata Hari
    Geißstraße 3
    Stuttgart 70173
    Google map and directions

  • Round Table Discussion with Stuttgart Fulbright Alumni Association

    We are honored to welcome members of the Stuttgart Fulbright Alumni Association for a round table discussion on a variety of political topics that impact both German and American society:

    • What is the greatest threat to US-German friendship?
    • Can our societies learn anything from each other?
    • How is the current turmoil in Washington affecting policy-making in Berlin?

    Join us as we explore these and other questions of interest to those of us who have experienced life on both sides of the Atlantic.

    This is one event you won’t want to miss!

    Please RSVP

    March 02, 2018 at 12pm
    Forum 3 Cafe
    Gymnasiumstr 21
    Stuttgart 70173
    Google map and directions
    7 rsvps rsvp

  • Women’s Writes: An International Women’s Day #PressforProgress event

    Women’s Writes: A Feminist Literary Event

    International Women's Day  is a global holiday celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

    Join us in Stuttgart for a fun and educational exploration of women’s literature.
    Our guide for the evening will be Stuttgart’s own women’s caucus leader and feminist literature specialist, Kelsey McLendon.

    Tentative Agenda:

    6:00 Welcome and introductions

    6:10 - 6:45
    Read and discuss two poems: Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” and Ursula LeGuin’s “The Maenads”

    6:45 - 7:30 
    Watch and discuss Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw’s talk on intersectionality

    7:30 - 8:10 
    Discussion on how we can “press for progress” on issues affecting women

    8:10 - 8:30 
    Make our own selfie cards and take photos to send to International Women’s Day 

    Group photo for International Women’s Day and Democrats Abroad

    A few details: No prior literature or poetry experience necessary! You’re welcome to read the selected poems beforehand or come and experience them for the first time. We will provide the materials for creating our own selfie cards. Additionally, we will have a voter registration station set up for anyone who has not yet registered and requested their absentee ballot. Feminists of all ages welcome!

    Please RSVP so that we can plan our space.
    Hope to see you there!

    March 08, 2018 at 12pm
    Forum 3 Café
    Gymnasiumstr 21
    Stuttgart 70173
    Google map and directions
    5 rsvps rsvp

  • Women’s Writes: An International Women’s Day #PressforProgress event

    International Women's Day (March 8) is a global holiday celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

    Our GWC  team of women’s literature specialists has created an easy to follow  “event-in-the box” template called “Women’s Writes” which you can access right here.

    We invite all our Women’s Caucus members to plan get-togethers on or around March 8th to celebrate women’s progress and enjoy some of the suggested activities our team has assembled for you.  Check to see if your own chapter or country is planning an event or get together with some American friends and have one of your own!

    And don’t forget to use your event for the ultimate expression of woman-power:
    Make sure you are all registered to vote by going to so we can vote more women into office!

    Do drop us a line and let us know about your events in advance, so we can post them on our platforms and share inspiration around the world!

    March 08, 2018 at 12pm - March 09, 2018 at 12pm
    A Global Event
    United States
    Google map and directions

  • Global Town Hall with Earl Fowlkes, LGBT Caucus Chair in the DNC

    Join us in a call with Earl Fowlkes, Chair of the LGBT Caucus of the Democratic National Committee, as he speaks about the various issues facing the LGBTQIA community under the current Administration, and about how the Democratic Party is addressing those issues and mobilizing the community to get out the vote in 2018.  The call begins at 2pm DC time (8pm in Paris and Berlin) on February 28, 2018. Please RSVP below to join!

    Note: this is an online event, so you will need an internet connection in order to attend.


    About our speaker: 
    Philadelphia native Earl Fowlkes has for a long time been an activist for LGBTQIA rights and marriage equality.   He is a founder and CEO of the Center for Black Equity, an international LGBT advocacy organization, a member of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, D.C.’s largest LGBT political organization, chair of the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, and since 2013, the chair of the LGBT Caucus in the DNC.


    February 28, 2018 at 2pm
    On Line Teleconference
    42 rsvps rsvp

  • published Women's March 2018 in News 2018-01-29 03:50:35 -0500

    Women's March 2018

    Stuttgart marched for women’s rights!

    Despite pouring rain and icy cold, a group of roughly 30 hearty DA Stuttgart members, together with our precinct members from Freiburg and Tübingen joined a crowd of 500 activists to march in Heidelberg for women’s rights.

    We were welcomed by DA Heidelberg chair Nancy Schimkat who was on hand with her team to help any and all Americans with their voter registration.

    I was pleased to be able to share a few remarks at the end of the march highlighting some of this year’s successes for women. It wasn’t all bad news this year!

    Soaking wet, freezing cold and exhausted by the end of the day, we “nevertheless” could not help but feel a bit proud of ourselves to have been in the company of such amazing, dedicated and ”persistent” activists!

    Let us all resolve to keep on marching to the ballot box!

    If you haven’t done it already, now is a great time to request your absentee ballot for the mid-terms. 
    Remember, Americans living abroad do have to re-register every year!

    But then you’ll be all set for a year’s worth of primaries, special elections and the all-important mid-terms on November 6th when 33 senate seats, all 435 seats in the house of representatives,14 Governorships and countless local offices will be UP FOR GRABS

    Our own Democrats Abroad Stuttgart chapter is doing everything in our power to reach out to fellow Americans in our area, and help them claim their right to vote at home. Our primary project for this year is getting out the vote.
    We work hard, but we really do have fun! And we need your help! 


  • signed up on bc_signup 2018-01-26 04:03:40 -0500

  • is hosting Wine and Wit in Konstanz 2018-01-25 06:16:43 -0500

    Wine and Wit in Konstanz

    Join us for a fun and casual evening at the Weinglöckle in Konstanz  to talk about everything from Trump's first year to the upcoming midterm elections and what we can do! 

    This is your chance to meet other Americans in the Konstanz area, sip some wine together and talk about all things politics! We also want to share news about upcoming DA events and get your ideas of what other events Konstanz-Americans would like to participate in.

    February 28, 2018 at 7pm
    Inselgasse 13
    Konstanz 78462
    Google map and directions
    1 rsvp rsvp

  • published The Fashion Industry Needs a #MeToo Movement in News 2018-01-21 07:39:19 -0500

    The Fashion Industry Needs a #MeToo Movement

    Democrats Abroad Japan Kanto Chair, Linda Gould shares her own #metoo story of her experiences as a fashion model. 

    For years my husband would tell me how unfair it is that he married a fashion model and couldn’t brag about it.

    You see, after I quit modeling, I rarely told anyone. If they asked how I was able to travel around the world, I would tell them I just bummed around or worked under the table.

    Why would I be so reluctant? Because fashion models have a stereotype of being stupid. After spending ten years of having every aspect of my face and body scrutinized for the smallest flaw, I wasn’t confident enough in my own capabilities to be able to counter the stereotype.

    But I’m coming clean now because I realize there is another reason for my reluctance to admit being a model. Everyone knows the stereotype of actresses sleeping their way to the top. Well, there is no industry like the fashion industry for sexualizing women, both in front of the camera and behind it. And if the film and TV industry is having its moment of comeuppance, then the fashion industry should do the same. Now. Today.

    In the ten years that I modeled, I was groped, kissed and fondled incessantly. I had one photographer press his erection on me and tell me, “Imagine this was inside you. That’s what I’m looking for.”

    And that wasn’t porn. It was a standard fashion shoot. That particular incident was unusual, but less aggressive assaults were the norm. You just learn to deal with it, laugh it off, and move away.

    Models are invited as eye candy to the best parties where musicians, actors, socialites, and hangers-on are invited. Add drugs and alcohol, and you can guess the result.

    During photo shoots, models are posed in the most sexualized positions you can imagine (and many that you, if you are a woman, probably wouldn’t imagine). And since many women are so very young, it is not surprising that they are taken advantage of by the people in the industry. Who? Photographers, assistants, advertising staff, special effects engineers… Well, those were just the ones who tried to take advantage of me.

    When the industry looks the other way, I imagine others further down the ladder are prone to the same behavior.

    But it wasn’t only fondling and groping. I knew women who were raped by photographers, although back then, we didn’t call it that. We wondered what we had done wrong to allow it to happen.

    I was lucky, though. Although some situations were more tricky than others, sex was never forced upon me. And I met some of the most amazing photographers who are still friends today. The others? I have forgotten them, dismissed them, and they likely have no recollection of me, because the next day or at the next party, there were many more beautiful models, more vulnerable young women to choose from.

    So, I hope that somewhere out there today, there are models willing to come forward with their #MeToo stories about the fashion industry. It is time to bring to light the dark side of the images that grace our magazines and billboards. Does anyone really believe that an industry that sexualizes women when advertising virtually every product would be a standard-bearer of virtuous behavior? It isn’t.

    Maybe, just maybe, by revealing how vulnerable women are in the fashion industry, not only will it remove women from potential predators, maybe it will also change how fashion portrays women. Perhaps we can even stop being sex objects.

    By Linda Gould, JAN 20, 2018     


  • published Happy Blue Year! in News 2018-01-07 05:36:37 -0500

    Happy Blue Year!


    “Taking back Congress” is at the top of my own “to-do” list for about yours?

    We could see a “Blue Wave” in the 2018 midterm elections, but we will need a massive turnout in order to make it happen. What better way to start the new year than by requesting your absentee ballot for the midterms? Just go to Easy! And don’t you just love crossing things off your list?

    2018 is in no way an “off-year.” And this is no time to sit on the sidelines. The November 6th mid-term elections could really be “make-or-break” for democracy in our country, and you personally, can make a difference, right here in Germany! Many races have come down to just a hand-full of votes, and the overseas ballots can tip the balance! YOU MATTER!

    Our own Democrats Abroad Stuttgart chapter is gearing up right now to do everything in our power to reach out to fellow Americans in our area, and help them claim their right to vote at home. We need your help!

    Here is a rundown on some of our upcoming events and projects. Take a look, and please jump in where you can:

    1. Stuttgart is marching to the ballot box in Heidelberg!

    Come march with our DA neighbor chapter in Heidelberg to commemorate the anniversary of the Women's March on Washington and to fire up all our people, men and women, for the crucial mid-term elections.

    This year we are combining the march with a voter registration drive which will take place at the end of the march.

    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 begins at 14:00.

    This time, our meeting point will be the ticket machines at the south-tower end of the train station, near the seating area. Look for signs, banners and pussy hats-you can’t miss us! We will try to organize ourselves in groups of 4-5 to purchase discount BW tickets together.

    We plan to take the RE19504 which leaves from track 11 at 10:19.

    We will arrive in Heidelberg early enough to find a spot for coffee or a quick bite to eat with Heidelberg chapter members.
    Watch our Facebook event page for last-minute updates on exactly where and when.

    Some may wish to take a different train or drive, but do try to find us in Heidelberg either at the coffee shop, or at the Friedrich-Ebert Platz starting point. We will want to take a group photo or two, pass out our DA signs and flyers, and march as a group with our DA Heidelberg partners to show our numbers are strong-size matters!

    For those of you who can’t make it to our “Pussy Hat and Sign-Making Workshop”: we will be making extras which will be available on the train and at our pre-march gathering!

    You can RSVP for the march on our website or on Facebook


    2. Women's March Pussy Hat and Sign-making Workshop

    Join us for a fun and relaxed afternoon of hat-crafting, sign-making, and voter registration at a member's home, in preparation for our trip to Heidelberg for the big women's march on the following weekend.

    Don't worry if you are not a skilled sewer! We will be guided by one of our members who is a real pro! How lucky are we?

    All materials for hat and sign-making will be provided for a small donation.

    Space is limited so do RSVP right away to reserve your spot and to receive our member's exact address and more details.


    3. Pub & Politics in Freiburg

    Wednesday, January 10 at 8 pm-10 pm
    The Holy Taco Shack
    Barbarastrasse 18, 79106 Freiburg, Germany

    Join us for a fun and casual evening at The Holy Taco Shack in Freiburg to talk about everything from Trump's first year, to the upcoming midterm elections, to the anniversary of the women's march!

    This is your chance to meet other 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 get your ideas of what other events Freiburg-Americans would like to participate in.

    RSVP here


    4. Political Pub Night in January

    Thursday, January 18th, 2017 at 7:00 PM
    Sophie`s Brauhaus Stuttgart
    Marienstraße 28 , 70178 Stuttgart

    Join us for the first "Third Thursday" in the new year for a fun evening of drinks and snacks and the chance to share your thoughts on strategy for this crucial election year!
    Our Pub Nights are an especially good opportunity for curious prospective members to check us out, and for all of our non-American family and friends to share their unique views on the craziness in Washington that affects all of us.

    Please do RSVP here to let us know you are coming!


    5. Chapter Meeting and lecture/discussion on "Progressive Economics"

    Friday, February 2nd at 7 p.m.
    Forum 3 Café
    21, 70173 Stuttgart

    "Thinking like an economist: Freedom, regulations and the democracy"

    We are honored to welcome as our guest Matthew Bonick, Freiburg University PhD student and lecturer, and DA Konstanz precinct Captain, for this very special event! Matthew will share with us the newest ideas on progressive economics and lead us in a discussion on what this all means for us. Do join us for this special event!

    RSVP here



    February 09, 2018 - February 11, 2018
    Hotel Santo Domingo
    San Bernardino 1, Madrid 28013 Spain

    The EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) Region and Democrats Abroad Spain will host a meeting of leaders, volunteers, and members from all over DA’s largest region. We expect about 100 participants from countries all around the region and we will focus on strategies and projects to elect Democrats in 2018.

    All Members of Democrats Abroad from every region are welcome to join us!

    The three-day program in the heart of Madrid will begin with a session from the Women’s Caucus on Friday afternoon, followed by an evening reception highlighting the best of Madrid’s culture and food. Saturday presentations, training sessions, and workshops will be followed by a Global Black Caucus Cocktail Reception and a “gala” dinner with a special guest speaker. Sunday training sessions and presentations will end around 1 pm.

    Click here for more information and to RSVP


    7. DA Germany Annual General Meeting: 23-25 February

    February 23, 2018 at 1:30 pm - February 25, 2018
    Stiftung Kultur Palast Hamburg
    Öjendorfer Weg 30a, Hamburg 22119, Germany

    Join members of Democrats Abroad Germany in Hamburg to discuss our plans for 2018!

    Every year Democrats Abroad Germany gathers in person to discuss issues back home and plan our activities for the coming year. With midterm elections quickly approaching, join us in Hamburg to learn more about how you can be an active part of getting out the vote, meet other democrats living in Germany and give your input on the DAG political process.

    RSVP and find out more here

    Many from our Stuttgart Chapter are already planning to attend. If you would perhaps like to share accommodations, and/or travel with others from our region, contact Ann at


    8. Looking Ahead:

    We are making an effort to schedule our chapter meetings for "first-Fridays" and our Pub nights for "third-Thursdays" whenever possible.

    We will also be scheduling additional events each month which don't always make in into our newsletter. So do check in on our Stuttgart Chapter website and Facebook page for the latest updates on events!

    Mark your calendars now for these future events:

    • Pub Night, Thursday, February 22 at 7 pm. Location TBD
    • Chapter Meeting and Round Table Discussion with Stuttgart Fulbright Alumni Friday, March 2nd,
      Forum 3 Café, Gymnasiumstr. 21, 70173 Stuttgart, 7 pm

    I look forward to seeing you at one of our events.

    Happy BLUE Year,

    Ann Hesse
    Chair, Stuttgart Chapter


  • published DA UK Women's Caucus December Newsletter in News 2017-12-09 04:07:49 -0500

    DA UK Women's Caucus December Newsletter

    A Letter from our Co-Chairs,
    Carol Moore and Lan Wu

    Our monthly meeting on November 15th was inspiring, with over 35 members joining us for a talk by Dr. Ronda Zelezny-Green on Intersectionality, followed by two workshops led by Ronda and DAUK WC Vice-Chair Kate van Dermark. That triggered extensive discussion and great ideas on how to move forward in 2018! In December, we will have a social gathering on the 13th, followed by the January 21st Anniversary of the Women's Marches (in DC, London, and worldwide), and there will be a DAUK WC activist "faire" called "March to the Ballot Box 2018"! So, we hope you all can join us for the chance to mingle and plan for activism (from the UK or when you're back in the States) to take back Congress next November!

    Wasn't the November 7th Election Night a fantastic event? It was a combination of grassroots activism and an expanded number of Democratic candidates that resulted in the impressive wins in Virginia, New Jersey, and across the country. Women were out in force, with Northam winning the women's vote by a majority of 22%. Also, in Virginia, 11 of the 15 seats Democrats have (so far) picked up were women candidates (one remain contested) and one Democratic candidate, Danica Roem, is transgender. Women also won mayoral races in Manchester (NH), Charlotte (NC), Topeka (KS), and Seattle (WA).

    And women are coming out in force to run in 2018. We heard from Stephanie Schriock (President of EMILY's List) at her talk on November 2nd that over 18,000 Democratic women have contacted EMILY's List to ask for information on running next November! Several political commentators are calling the November 7th election the start of a Democratic wave, combining Trump's record-low approval ratings (November 12-15 Gallup Poll gave Trump only a 38% approval rating) with high levels of Democratic activism and high Democratic scores in "generic" Congressional polls (+10%). We can be quietly optimistic, but need to prepare for hard work and commitment to convert these positive trends into success!

    With best wishes to you and your families for a very happy holiday season,

    Have a look at our Facebook page and website for updates on activism ideas!

    Carol Moore and Lan Wu


  • Political Discussion on Trump Foreign Policy with DA Germany Chair

    We would like to thank our DA Germany chair, Owen Jappen, who paid us a visit in Stuttgart recently and skillfully defended our liberal principles in a political discussion on Trump foreign policy.

    Representatives from a number of political organizations took part in the friendly debate at the Stuttgart Rathaus, including members of the Young Transatlantic Group, the Young European Federalists and the United Nations Human Rights council.

    Even a representative from Republicans overseas joined in the discussion on topics that  ranged from North Korea to the Iranian Nuclear agreement.

    Our next round table discussion will be in March, with members of the Stuttgart Fulbright Alumni Association. If you enjoy hearing alternative points of view, and would even like to jump into the fray yourself, you won't want to miss it.

    Details will be coming soon!


  • published Order your Women's Caucus 2018 Calendar here! in News 2017-11-07 06:02:03 -0500

    Order your Women's Caucus 2018 Calendar here!

    Looking for a unique holiday gift with real world impact?

    The 2018 Global Women's Caucus Calendar is now available! Take a look!

    These high-quality calendars celebrating women's firsts, make wonderful Holiday gifts for American daughters, nieces, sisters , friends. and even yourself!
    Order here:



  • rsvped for DAG 2018 Annual General Meeting in Hamburg 2017-11-03 05:22:49 -0400

    DAG 2018 Annual General Meeting in Hamburg

    Democrats abroad germany

    Join members of Democrats Abroad Germany in Hamburg in February to discuss our plans for 2018!
    Every year Democrats Abroad Germany gathers in person to discuss issues back home and plan our activities for the coming year. With midterm election quickly approaching, join us in Hamburg to learn more about how you can be an active part of getting out the vote, meet other democrats living in Germany and give your input on the DAG political process. This year we will also dedicate time to discuss amendments to our bylaws to help improve DAG and make sure our country adapts to the changes of our organization.
    Registration is now open: Registration Form
    Please complete the registration from by February 12th. More detailed information regarding the event schedule, homestays, stipends, and hotel accommodation can be found here.



    February 23, 2018 at 1:30pm - February 25, 2018 at 3:30pm
    Stiftung Kultur Palast Hamburg
    Öjendorfer Weg 30a
    Hamburg 22119
    Google map and directions
    40 rsvps rsvp

  • Great Info and Lively Discussion at our special meeting on taxation of Americans living abroad!

    Many thanks to our two Stuttgart Chapter "Tax Divas" Julia and Kristy, who lead this important discussion on US tax policy as it affects Americans living abroad.

    The presentation covered many aspects of this complex topic including FACTA, FBAR, and RBT. If you don't know what any of that Alphabet soup means, you can follow this link and check out DA's comprehensive resource, Tax Reform for Americans Abroad Campaign in a Box .

    Rich or poor, student or retiree, we learned that we are all in the same boat when it comes to these unfair tax policies.
    But we also learned that DA is mounting an aggressive campaign in Washington to bring us some relief!

    Our Democrats Abroad Global Taxation Tax Force has been knocking on doors in Washington this month to bring the particular issues of Americans living abroad to the attention of our legislators, many of whom are not even aware of our situation!

    They have also presented the results of an extensive DA global taxation survey and their research report, "Can We Please Stop Paying Twice" to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

    For those of you with questions about the residency-based taxation reforms DA is promoting please check out the RBT FAQs which, importantly, explains the distinction between the policy approach Democrats Abroad supports and the policy supported by Republicans Overseas. Democrats Abroad will not support a tax policy that opens up a new tax avoidance loophole.

    The criteria Democrats Abroad will apply to any package of tax reforms are fully articulated in this presentation from our September Tax Advocacy Webinar and also profiled in h report.

    Unfair tax policy is one of the main issues for Americans living abroad. We thank our team here in Stuttgart for all the information they shared with us, and we thank our global taxation task force for all their efforts on our behalf. Good Work!


  • published Women's Policy in Norway in News 2017-09-30 09:39:50 -0400

    Women's Policy in Norway

    by Nancy L. Coleman, Ph.D.

    From the series: The GWC examines Women's Policy around the world

                                                                                                          Demonstration for women's suffrage in New York, 1913

    Norway is a parliamentary, representative, democratic, constitutional monarchy. This is a mouthful of characteristics, but for all practical purposes it means that Norway has a monarch who has symbolic power only. The actual governing power is invested in the Parliament (called Stortinget). Following a parliamentary election, which takes place every four years, the government is formed by the majority party, or a coalition of parties. The head of the Executive branch is the Prime Minister. The PM is not elected to that position, but usually comes from the largest party in the Parliament and is designated when the Government is formed. The Government and Parliament cooperate in enacting laws.

    Even though his role is mostly symbolic, King Harald V plays an active role in Norwegian society. Norway has been changing rapidly, partly due to immigration from war zones in Africa and the Middle East. In exercising their official duties, King Harald and Queen Sonja show that they want to foster an atmosphere of inclusiveness and unity in a country that is challenged by the rather sudden diversity. Queen Sonja is very concerned with women´s issues and calls herself a feminist. She is also a talented graphic artist and photographer.

    Norwegian Women and Political Power

    Erna Solberg is the current Prime Minister, and 7 of the 18 cabinet members are women, including Siv Jensen in the powerful position of Minister of Finance. Policies that foster gender equality are outspoken goals in the cabinet and Parliament, but it is not easy to attain it. An important goal is for each sex to have at least 40% representation in Parliament. In the Parliament elected in September 2013, 39.6% of the members of parliament (MPs) are women. Norway ranks 14th globally in the percentage of women in Parliament. Of the Nordic countries Iceland ranks highest, 47.6 % women and ranked number 4, after Rwanda (61.3%), Bolivia (53.1%), and Cuba (48.9%). Sweden is number 6, with 43.3% women. Denmark has 37.4% women and ranks 22nd. All of these countries have a unicameral legislature. In comparison, the USA has 19.1% women in the House, 21% in the Senate, and ranks 104th.

    The most recent national election was held on September 11, 2017. Erna Solberg and her Conservative bloc were given renewed support and will continue to govern. The representation of women in the Parliament increased to 41%, 69 of 169 representatives, the largest percentage women have ever achieved. The Center Party has the most women representatives, 10 out of 19, with Labor in second place, 24 out of 49 representatives. The Conservatives have 20 women out of 45 representatives.

    Like many Western democracies, Norway has many political parties, 15 in the most recent election. Nine parties are represented in the new Parliament, and the government is a coalition consisting of the Conservative and Progress parties, with support from the Christian Democrat and Left parties. Women chair three of these four parties: Erna Solberg (Conservatives), Siv Jensen (Progress), and Trine Skei Grande (Left).

    (Photo left: The first women member of Parliament, Anna Rogstad, who served in 1911, before Norwegian women got the vote in 1913)

    Women in Norway gained the right to vote in 1913, but it took several decades before significant numbers of women became active participants in politics. As in many other countries, women mobilized in the 1970s in the new feminist movement. They brought feminist issues into the political agenda, asserting the right to equal pay, that society should provide childcare, that women should decide themselves whether to have an abortion, and they proposed a 6-hour working day.

    In 1986, Gro Harlem Brundtland became the first woman Prime Minister in Norway. She formed a cabinet in which nearly half of the members were women, and this attracted international attention. This has set a standard for subsequent governments, even though the work is not finished.

    International Cooperation on Gender Policy

    Norway is not a member of the European Union, but it cooperates with the EU, the UN, the European Council, and the Nordic Council of Ministers. Norway has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and reports regularly on its progress. (The USA has signed but not ratified it.) After Denmark, Finland, and Sweden joined the EU, Nordic cooperation was toned down for a few years, but it is now being intensified once again. One of the key areas for cooperation is promoting gender equality, as there is wide consensus that gender equality policy has been one of the most important factors in the success of the Nordic welfare state, which has proven capable of designing a sustainable welfare model that promotes the "good life" for every individual.

    The Nordic Council of Ministers is a cooperation between Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Oland. The Council has cooperated on gender equality since 1974, developing similar policies in the member nations. In 2017, the Council is conducting a Sectoral Program for Gender Equality, which Norway will chair since it holds the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers this year. Four main priorities in this project are: work to combat violence, work to combat hate speech, gender equality in the labor market, and men and gender equality. Conferences are being held to address each of these areas, and the results of the project will eventually create common policies.

    Gender Equality Policy in Norway

    Norway has been developing gender equality policy for several decades. In 1978, Parliament adopted the Gender Equality Act, and it was last revised in 2013. The Act shall promote gender equality and aims in particular at improving the position of women. Women and men shall be given equal opportunities in education, employment, and cultural and professional advancement. Gender equality policy has broad reach and is incorporated into many departments and governmental agencies, but the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, currently led by Solveig Horne (Progress Party), is responsible for coordinating family and equality policy and proposing legislation. The Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization also play important roles. Gender equality is an integral part of the school curricula. Gender equality must be considered when hiring for teaching and research positions in higher education. If one sex is underrepresented, applications from the other sex are specifically invited, and qualified candidates from the underrepresented gender often take precedence. On all official committees, boards and councils, each gender must have at least 40 % of the members. The Ministry of Defense is also implementing policy to create gender-neutral armed forces. Girls born in 1997 and later will be serving in the military in larger numbers. About a third of those drafted and cleared for military service in 2016 were women. Women have served as Ministers of Defense since 1999, and in fact, with the exception of the years 2001-2002 and 2011-2012, all of the Ministers of Defense who have served since then have been women. Ine Eriksen Søreide (Conservative Party) is the current minister.

    Gender equality policies will eventually impact all areas of society. Policies have been developed and more or less successfully integrated into the following areas: families and relationships; work, welfare and the economy; power and decision-making; education and research; crime and violence; peace and development; culture, media and sports; and health and reproductive rights. Gender policy is still being developed in other areas: transport and communication; finance; agriculture and food; fisheries and coastal affairs; petroleum and energy; and the environment.

    One important policy area is women's health. Norway has universal health coverage, and it is a guiding principle that a woman has the right to make decisions regarding her own body. Women have the right to free health services during pregnancy and childbirth. There is easy access to contraception, and the Abortion on Demand Act, passed in 1978, regulates a woman's right to decide to terminate a pregnancy. The woman may decide herself in the first 12 weeks, while a commission must approve an abortion from 12-13 weeks, and except in exceptional circumstances, it is outlawed after 13 weeks. There are 16.2 abortions per 1000 women in the age group 15-44 years. In 2016, the US abortion rate fell to 14.6 per 1000 women, and this was the lowest since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973.

                      Gro Harlem Brundtland became the first woman Prime Minister og Norway in 1986. Forty percent of her cabinet were women.

    Family Policy

    Much of Norwegian gender policy is centered around women's role as mothers. The system includes rights to parental leave, social security payments for children, leave to take care of sick children, and the right to childcare through a pre-school from the age of 1.

    All countries have a goal of maintaining a stable population, among other things to ensure that the workforce is constantly fed with new generations. But Western countries have seen the fertility rate declining, and this has caused concern for the future of western democracies. Women are taking more education and participating in the workforce in increasing numbers, they are marrying and starting their families later and having fewer children. With an eye to making it easier for couples, but women in particular, to combine work with parenting, Norway has developed policies with the goal of making it easier to combine work and family.

    In order for a population to remain stable, the fertility rate needs to be 2.1, that is that each woman needs to have on average slightly more than 2 children. In 1970, the fertility rate in Norway was 2.5, but by 1980, it had dropped to 1.72. Policies for longer paid parental leave and other measures seemed were developed, and these seemed at first to have a very beneficial effect, bringing the fertility rate up to 1.98 in 2009. Other European countries, like Italy, where the fertility rate was hovering around 1.4, sent delegations to Norway to study the impact of the family policies. However, the next years showed that there were no easy solutions to alleviate a falling birth rate. Every year since 2009, the fertility rate in Norway has declined, and in 2016, it was 1.71. Even so, it is one of the highest in Europe and other western style democracies.

    When a child is born, parents in the workforce have the right to parental leave of 49 weeks at full pay, or 59 weeks at reduced pay. Parents of twins have the right to 54 weeks at full pay, 64 at reduced, and parents of triplets 59 or 69 weeks. In the case of adoption, the rights are usually the same. Single parents have the right to a leave of 2 years. In addition, two-parent families may take an additional year of leave, but the second year is without pay. Employers are required to grant parents parental leave, and the social security system refunds some or all of the salary to the employer. The refund has a maximum limit, and if a parent has a larger salary, it is up to the employer whether the remainder is also paid during leave. A pregnancy or leave may not be grounds for dismissal from a job. Parents who are not in the workforce receive a one-time sum of ca. $5475 for each child born.

    One goal is to ensure that both the mother and father enjoy equal rights to parental leave, so the leave is currently divided into a father quota and a mother quota, each consisting of 10 weeks, with the remainder to be divided as the parents see fit. The mother must also take the last 3 weeks before her due date as part of her leave, and the six weeks after the birth are reserved for her. The work environment law also gives the father the right to a 14-day leave in connection with a birth. However, his employer decides whether it is paid or unpaid leave. Only in special cases can the father and mother quotas be transferred to the other parent.

    The father quota was originally 14 weeks, but the Conservative government has reduced it to 10, in an effort to give the parents more freedom in dividing the leave to suit themselves. Analysts warned that this would lead to a reduction in the length of leave that fathers would be willing to take, and this has proved to be the case. There is at present general consensus that the father quota should be increased.

    Women in the workplace who are nursing have the right to nurse or pump milk while at work. This time is paid leave of up to an hour a day.

    Norway acknowledges the fact that children cost money. Parents receive $115 a month for each child up to the age of 18. Single parents may receive additional aid. Working parents have the right to stay home with sick children up to the age of 12, 10 days per year for parents of 1-2 children, 15 for 3 or more. Single parents have 20/30 days of sick leave to care for sick children, and if your child has a chronic illness, the quota will be extended by an additional 10 days.

    When a child turns one, the parents have the right to childcare at a local nursery school and kindergarten, and children continue in this system up to the age of 6, when they generally start school. Parents pay for nursery school, but there is a maximum payment, and siblings are given a rebate. Childcare is subsidized for parents who cannot afford it, so that all families can exercise their right to qualified childcare.

    Care of Elderly Family Members

    Employees have the right to 60 days' leave to provide care for elderly family members or others dependent on their care. Employers decide whether this is paid or unpaid leave, but employers may apply for "care funds" refunded for an employee taking such leave. Employees may also take up to 10 days off to help elderly or sick family members who need help not otherwise provided.

    Managerial Positions, Professorships, and Boards

    In 2016, a number of new proposals were approved to help increase the number of women in managerial and board positions. The government had commissioned an assessment of gender equality, delivered to the Parliament in 2015. The opposition felt that the proposals did not do enough to promote women in leadership positions, and they suggested additional measures. Majority support for the most radical measures came from the parties not presently in the government: the Left, Labor, Christian Democrats, Center Party, and Socialist Left Party. These proposals targeted board rooms, with a goal of 40% female board chairpersons in publicly owned companies, new strategies to recruit women managers and university professors, stipulations to counter gender-based salary inequalities, the replacement of part-time with full positions, and a system of extra credits to equalize the number of girls and boys taking high school curricula traditionally dominated by one sex.

    Egg Donation and Frozen Eggs

    Two fairly new issues being debated as I write are egg donation and having one's eggs frozen. In their platforms for 2013-2017, the Progress Party, the Left, Labor and the Socialist Left Party all approved egg donation, while Conservatives, the Center Party and the Christian Democrats oppose it. The Green Party has proposed to rescind their disapproval in their new platform. This issue splits the parties in discordance with the government coalition, with the Conservatives and Christian Democrats opposing it, and the Progress Party and the Left supporting it. All of the parties are in the process of developing platforms for the next period, and the Conservatives are currently vigorously debating the question, while the Christian Democrats are throwing their weight around hoping to influence the Conservatives to continue opposing it.

    In today's society, women often do not find a partner with whom they have children until their childbearing years are on the wane. An increasing number of women have eggs frozen before it is too late, so that they might have children later. In Norway, it is not permitted for women to have their eggs frozen, and an increasing number have therefore had them frozen abroad. Politicians are debating whether this policy should be changed, but there is fairly broad consensus that there are good reasons not to encourage women to become mothers after their natural childbearing years have ended. It is better to emphasize policies so that women can combine motherhood and careers when their bodies are designed for it.

     Erna Solberg is the current Prime Minister. Party chairs in the Conservative bloc: Siv Jensen (Minister of Finance, Progress Party), Erna Solberg (Prime Minister, Conservative Party), Knut Arild Hareide (Christian Democrats), Trine Skei Grande (Left Party)

    New Areas for Gender Policy Development: Violence against Women, Media, and Technology

    One important "new" issue is gender based violence. Even though this has been a problem for a long time, there is more awareness of it today, as well as a will to address it through policy. Thanks to the women's movement and social scientists, it has been placed on the socio-political agenda. Gender based violence encompasses a wide range of human rights violations: sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, the trafficking and prostitution of women and children, as well as several harmful traditional practices, such as genital mutilation. Women are commonly the victims of gender based violence. Violence threatens the health, security, and dignity of its victims. Male violence against women and children is seen as a hindrance to achieving gender equality, and it is now being addressed by the Government.

    Another new area is media and technology. In recent years there has been a tendency for mainstream culture to adopt the imagery and esthetics of pornography. Women are seen as objects, and the public space has undergone sexualization and "pornographization". The Gender Equality Act forbids advertising that discriminates on the basis of gender, and the law has been invoked in connection with a number of sexualized advertisements that were subsequently withdrawn.

    Information and communication technology is also being addressed as a gendered phenomenon. On the one hand, it is desirable to make ICT available to all citizens. On the other hand, the widespread use of social media in our time has had some negative effects that help spread hate speech, sexual harassment, child pornography, and human trafficking.


    Public opinion usually gives strong support to gender policies, as well as the goal of creating a society with equal rights and opportunities for women and men. Women politicians also command wide respect and support from their constituents. So how are the policies themselves working out?

    Even though Norway has spent several decades developing gender policies, it is early to draw sweeping conclusions. But there are many indications that there are benefits to be drawn from a society that makes it possible for women and men to participate more or less equally in all sectors of public and private life. The Armed Forces, for example, which for generations was a man´s domain, see the participation of women as very positive. Women have changed and improved many aspects of military life, from leadership to daily life in the barracks, where women and men often share sleeping quarters – for sleep, not sex! Recent research shows that the number of sexual harassment cases has gone done, and both women and men feel that sharing sleeping quarters makes it easier to concentrate on the task at hand.

    An important goal for many countries is to get women into the workplace and keep them there. Population studies show that this goal is in fact vital for countries to survive. The populations of many European countries are literally in the process of dying off. Ukraine is the country that has lost the most population, 9.5 million people since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1993. But Romania, Moldova, Latvia, Bosnia Hercegovina, Lithuania, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Belarus, Estonia, Poland, Greece, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Montenegro, and Germany are also in the threatened category. Macedonia, Slovenia, Albania, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Spain will also experience significant loss of population. The Scandinavian countries, Austria, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Great Britain, Switzerland, and Ireland, will experience growth. Norway is projected to have the highest growth rate, a population increase of 25.9%.

    In Norway, generous family policies have helped numerous couples combine work and family life. But so far, they have not given the important political results of increasing the fertility rate to the sustainable 2.1. Trude Lappegård and Lars Dommermuth at the Norwegian Bureau of Statistics have looked at the fertility rates since the highpoint in 2009. Starting with 2010 the rate has gone down every year. Two factors are important: 1) women are waiting longer to have children, and 2) fewer are having a third child. But with such good family policies in place in Norway, why is this happening? According to Lappegård and Dommermuth, people want to have children just as much as before. But potential parents experience a lot of uncertainty regarding the general economic situation and their own access to the job market. Norway was not hit as hard by the financial crisis as many other European countries. Nevertheless due to other factors, there are fewer jobs, and there are many uncertainties for young people looking for work. Especially in areas where unemployment is high, the birth rate has sunk markedly. It now takes longer to get established in a job, and the path into the workforce is crucial for people to have children. Women in particular experience more uncertainty in their economic prospects and postpone having children. Minister of Finance Siv Jensen has emphasized the need for more women in fulltime positions, if Norway is to preserve and develop the welfare state. Studies have shown that stay-at-home moms or women who work part time have more children. There is no indication that it will be feasible to get more women into fulltime jobs and simultaneously increase the fertility rate.

    However, there is every indication that generous family policies have been of benefit to Norway. Even though there is a running debate on the details, no one would suggest decreasing parental leave and terminating the other benefits mentioned above.

    At the moment, France has the highest fertility rate in Europe (1.93), but this was the lowest rate in 40 years. French women are also going to school longer and giving priority to careers in the workplace. The trend is similar to the Scandinavian countries. But contrary to what many people believe, there are positive signs. The highest fertility rates in Europe are found in the countries where the most women are in the workforce. Experience from both France and Scandinavia shows that general female participation in the workforce is the most effective way to increase fertility. But it is dependent on good policies for prenatal healthcare, parental leave and childcare.

    There is every indication that Norwegian gender policy is promoting a more egalitarian society and a country with a sustainable welfare system which can more easily survive and adapt to our changing world.

    Nancy L. Coleman, Ph.D.


  • posted about Democrats Abroad Global Women’s Caucus: Energy and Persistence in a Time of Need on Facebook 2017-07-10 10:17:31 -0400
    Democrats Abroad Global Women’s Caucus: Energy and Persistence in a Time of Need

    Democrats Abroad Global Women’s Caucus: Energy and Persistence in a Time of Need

    By Erin Becker, DA Chile

    The Democrats Abroad Women’s Caucus is expanding its reach, thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers in many countries around the globe. The Caucus is gearing up to make its mark on the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections. It plans to be a catalyst to action on issues affecting American women, both in the United States and abroad.

    Those interested in joining the Women’s Caucus can contact Caucus leaders Salli Swartz or Ann Hesse at

    The election of President Trump has seen a dramatic increase in threats to women’s rights. The president’s agenda poses many challenges to women’s health and well-being, such as the re-installment of the so-called Global Gag Rule; attempts to expand the rights of employers to deny contraceptive coverage in their company insurance plans; an uptick in attacks on abortion rights at the state level; and a health care bill that would repeal many of the Affordable Care Act’s provisions benefitting women and their families.

    The Trump administration has also threatened the civil rights of some of the most underserved groups of women, including the withdrawal of Obama-era protections for transgender Americans and increased deportations and attacks on immigrant rights that leave women especially vulnerable.

    Finally, the Republican-controlled government poses a great threat to women’s economic security, with a budget that would cut funding for many programs used by women in poverty––including nutrition aid for women and children––and a renewed indifference to the wage gap women across the United States still face.

    The DA Women’s Caucus recognizes that this is a crucial time for action to defend and bolster women’s rights in the United States. Members are ready to take on these challenges. Ann Hesse, Stuttgart Chapter Chair in Germany and Co-Chair of the Global Women’s Caucus, notes that members across the world have been enthusiastic about increasing their involvement and founding in-country groups advocating for women’s rights.

    For groups just getting started, activities include monthly online meetings and webinars featuring speakers from women’s groups and members of Congress. Medium-sized groups can begin forming their own country chapter of the Caucus, sponsor workshop weekends, and stage events. Finally, countries with well-established chapters can create their own working committees, hold teach-ins and film nights, and invite internationally-known speakers for live events.

    On Inauguration Day, many Caucus members participated in the Women’s March, both in Washington, DC and around the globe. Large Caucus meetups have been held in Norway and Germany. On their own or with country committees, individual members from many different countries have written postcards to Congress and made phone calls advocating for women’s issues. In Latin America, Caucus members are currently working to establish a DA presence in Colombia and Haiti, with other countries to follow. New member Erin Becker has helped spread a pro-woman message outside the Democrats Abroad communication channels, blogging on reproductive rights in both Chile and the United States for Safe Abortion Women’s Right and Ms. Magazine.

    Ann Hesse––the Caucus co-chair living in Germany––believes that Democrats Abroad members should take advantage of their view of the United States from the outside in. Many members have experienced life with the support of feminist policies already working well abroad: affordable healthcare, free education, a social security net, maternity and paternity leave, and more. Democrats Abroad members can use this knowledge and experience to advocate for similar programs in the United States. The Women’s Caucus strongly believes in their responsibility to spread this knowledge to other Americans, and to press the US government to provide these basic, common-sense programs for people back home.

    It’s a challenging time for women’s rights in the United States, but one that Democrats Abroad is facing with energy, dedication, and persistence. Democrats around the world are making their voices heard––and don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

    Keep up with the Women’s Caucus at For more information or to get involved, contact Caucus Co-Chairs Ann Hesse and Salli Swartz at


  • posted about Call to Action : Women's Healthcare at risk! on Facebook 2017-06-26 12:13:02 -0400
    Call to Action : Women's Healthcare at risk!

    Call to Action : Women's Healthcare at risk!

    Democrats Abroad Action Team UK has launched  a series of actions on Health Care. 

    As you know, the American Health Care Act (or Trumpcare) could cause 23 million people to lose their health insurance.
    Health insurance costs will rise for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.

    Women will lose their contraception coverage. Medicaid would be gutted. In an effort to bypass the criticisms of the bill, Senator McConnell has invoked Rule XIV, a fast track procedural step that moves the bill directly to the floor of the Senate without committee hearings.  

    This bill must be stopped.

    We are asking you to call your Senators and urge them to vote against the AHCA.

    Never called your Member of Congress? We have you covered.

    Here are two scripts you can use. 

    Share your story and let your Senators know how the repeal of the Affordable Care Act will affect you or your family.


    If your Senator supports repealing the Affordable Care Act or is on the fence:


     My name is [your name] and I am a constituent of Senator [Senator’s name].

    I am calling to ask that the Senator oppose the ACHA and any healthcare bill that contains similar provisions. 

    • Repealing the Affordable Care Act will disproportionally impact women, particularly low to moderate income women and women of color. 
    • The repeal bill would eliminate critical protections in the Affordable Care Act that prohibit discrimination against women in the provision of health care. 
    • Insurers would no longer be required to provide women coverage for services such as maternity care and they would be allowed to charge women more that coverage if they do offer it. 
    • And it will erode women’s access to reproductive healthcare by dismantling no-copay birth control and defunding the organizations that provide this care.

     Healthcare is key to women’s well-being and economic stability. 

    I urge the Senator to stand up for [his/her] female constituents and oppose any repeal bill that repeals the Affordable Care Act.

      Thank you.

    [IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full voting address to ensure your call is tallied]


    If your Senator opposes the repeal of the Affordable Care Act:


    My name is [your name] and I am a constituent of Senator [Senator’s name].

    I am calling to thank the Senator for opposing the ACHA and any healthcare bill that contains similar provisions. 

    • As the Senator is aware, repealing the Affordable Care Act will disproportionally impact women, particularly low to moderate income women and women of color. 
    • It would allow insurers to discriminate against women, deny them health coverage based on “pre-existing conditions”, and make insurance more expensive for women. 
    • And it will erode women’s access to reproductive healthcare by dismantling no-copay birth control and defunding the organizations that provide this care.
    • I want to thank the Senator for standing up for [his/her] female constituents and opposing any repeal bill that repeals the Affordable Care Act. 

    Please urge the Senator to ask [his/her] colleagues to do the same.


    Thank you.

    [IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full voting address to ensure your call is tallied]



  • published June 15 Virtual Tax March and RBT Call Storm in News 2017-05-29 03:25:57 -0400

    June 15 Virtual Tax March and RBT Call Storm


    June 15, 2017 is the automatic IRS filing extension deadline for Americans overseas. In order to draw attention to our taxation issues, as well as to underscore that Trump has yet to release his tax returns to the US public, you can join in a virtual Tax March. Take a photo of yourself holding the sign "Show me your Tax Returns" and post to social media.

    Download this Template and Print, Pose and Post to Participate!
    Don't forget to use the hashtag #virtualtaxmarch so that we can find your photos and share to DA social media.

    As you probably know, the US is the only developed nation that taxes its citizens on their world-wide income.  As such, we are subject to taxation by the US on the income that we generate in our country of residence, no matter where we live, no matter how long we live abroad and regardless of whether we are taxed on that same income by our country of residence.

    Our DA Taxation Task Force is spearheading a Grassroots campaign in support of Residency Based Taxation or RBT.

    They are asking that we all pick up the phone to call our Representatives and Senators on June 15th - the tax deadline for international filers - and ask for their support for Residency Based Taxation. 

    A Fact Sheet on Residency-based Taxation can be found here

    A Sample Script for calling your legislators can be found here

    Find your legislators here:



    This is one of the most important issues for Americans living abroad. So make your voice heard TODAY!

  • published The Unstoppable Service of Salli Swartz in News 2017-05-27 11:09:52 -0400

    The Unstoppable Service of Salli Swartz

    From our series "Meet the dynamic women of Democrats Abroad"

    by Randi Milgram, DA UK

    As women in America long for a leader to respect, the women in Democrats Abroad are fortunate to have such an intrepid leader in Salli Swartz, Co-chair of the DA Women’s Caucus with Ann Hesse. For decades, Salli has been fighting injustice around the globe, and there’s no stopping her now.

    After growing up in Philadelphia and then Boston, Salli’s dedication to helping those in need started early in her life, as did her fascination with international events and foreign newspapers. She worked for Democratic party candidates in Massachusetts while being involved in women’s rights groups. After college at the University of Massachusetts and law school at SyracuseUniversity, she translated her desire to do good into a much-loved career in legal services. While working as a legal services attorney in rural Pennsylvania, Salli started a battered women’s safe house and defended abused women.

    Salli’s career took a sharp turn when her husband’s work moved them to France and she couldn’t continue the same path. Fortunately, her determination was unrelenting, and her prior courtroom experience proved valuable to a firm that provided the foot in the door that she needed to jumpstart a successful career in France. She thus became a corporate transactional attorney doing deals worldwide for French and foreign companies. Her subsequent practice areas ranged from international arbitration to mergers & acquisitions as she gained experience and learned about the French legal landscape. After racking up years of experience, Salli and a French barrister friend founded their own law firm in Paris, allowing Salli to finally continue the kind of work she was always meant to do.

    Throughout her work as a transnational business lawyer in France, Salli learned firsthand the difficulties of being a woman, and an American woman at that, in the male-dominated world of law and the male-dominated culture of France. “It was extra hard as a woman back then,” Salli said. Although the corporate culture, especially in law, still provides a difficult experience for women today, the outright sexism in the past was more obvious and the people more blunt. “I don’t think people will say the same things to women now as they did then,” Salli said. A lifelong feminist and fighter for women’s rights, Salli found that the problems she faced in her early career reinforced her passion to work for and defend women’s rights.

    And despite the changing shapes that sexism takes, the obstacles women face today remain the same. “There’s a huge resistance to women lawyers who want to make it up the ladder in corporate law firms,” Salli said. She pointed out that the French legal environment is not striving to improve matters for women. “They don’t make a big effort in terms of hiring women, supporting families. They’re not as innovative as even some firms in the States are, who account for families and flex time.” Women are dropping out of the legal corporate world before they get higher up the ladder, possibly due to a lack of support and mentoring in addition to the culture tailor-made for men.

    Observing, and experiencing, the unequal ways of professional life was a driving force for Salli’s interest in the Women’s Caucus. “Seeing this happen in France didn’t change my politics; it just makes me want to fight harder,” Salli said. A huge concern of hers currently is that that younger generation doesn’t know how hard she and her peers had to fight for the rights women now enjoy, and how much stronger the fight has to be, not only to attain further goals but just to protect what has already been won. “The current administration will try as hard as they can to take it away,” Salli said, noting that this was a big reason she was eager to co-chair the Women’s Caucus. “It felt like the women’s movement was slipping, and I really wanted to shake it up and reach out globally to make sure all American women are aware of what’s going on. We’re going to have to pick up the fight right away.”

    With her politics and dedication to women’s rights driving her, Salli never lost track of the important work she wanted to do, including protecting and promoting the rule of law, fighting for women, and exposing corruption in different parts of the world. In a fortuitous meeting, Salli was introduced to an employee of the embassy in Paris who told her about a division of the State Department that would focus on African Services. This arm of the State Department called on Salli to go to Africa to run training programs. Salli started bringing other organizations into this ongoing, widespread work, including international bankers and lawyers. After participating and moving up the ladder for some 20 years, Salli became the chair of the International Law section of the American Bar Association. Continuing and growing this work, she participated in and/or organized delegations of American international lawyers to learn about the Rule of Law and support it in Lebanon, Jordan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Tanzania, Rwanda, and many, many more countries in the developing world.

    Salli’s work in Africa let her do what she always wanted to do – simply put, help people and do good things. Her experiences rounded her out professionally, she says. The work entailed training government civil servants and society groups all over Africa and assisting them in recreating independent, strong judicial institutions. “More than most, they recognize how serious the threat to our judiciary is,” Salli said, in terms of corruption and deterioration.

    This work also taught her a great deal not only about those countries and what they needed, but about the USA as well. “As an American, [I learned that] we are not globally adored,” Salli said. She learned how to figure out the preconceptions of other cultures in order to facilitate productive discussion. “I changed the manner in which I approach subjects,” she said. “I approach people there with much more humility and much more cultural awareness. For example, in part of the Arab world, the discourse is different so you need to adapt to get the message across in a constructive manner so you can be heard. In parts of Africa, it’s clear that solving the problems will take generations.” At the trainings she organizes in various countries, her hope is to get just one or two people each time to hear and really digest what she says. “Then I will feel I have been a success,” she said. “It’s really a drop-by-drop, step-by-step process.” This work has similarly informed her views on foreign relations: “It’s affected how I shape the message, but not necessarily the actual message,” Salli said. “It has reinforced all the views and values I have as a Democrat.” Traveling and experiencing and testing all her points of view by working with different cultures has indeed made Salli feel even more strongly about the principles of the Democratic party. “It made my politics stronger, to be supported by actual evidence of why what we say we stand for is the right way to go – particularly in regard to education, women’s rights, corruption in government, and resource development.”

    As an expert in developing democracies, Salli is shocked by the current level of discourse in the USA. “Polite discourse is gone,” she said. “It’s difficult to have a debate or a discussion on different subjects without people screaming and using unpalatable expressions.” Also, despite her work in analyzing and preventing government corruption, she did not predict that the USA would suffer from such blatant conflicts of interest. “Conflict of interest was always clearly defined, but now? Maybe not,” she said. “And I always thought the First Amendment would be upheld. The ‘City on a Hill’ is no more. All is not well and it’s getting worse.”

    Although her widely shared concerns about the current administration’s destruction of constructive discourse and integral governmental safeguards are appropriately grave, she has hope that likeminded women will be persistent and determined enough to win this fight. “You can’t be complacent. We need to push forward,” Salli said. “This is not the time to sit back and congratulate ourselves on everything we’ve done before. This is a fight to keep the rights to make decisions concerning our bodies.” This fight entails the Global Women’s Caucus looking to push this agenda forward now, by establishing priorities for action items and filtering it to the separate Women’s Caucuses worldwide. They also aim to create new caucuses, as many groups as possible spread to the farthest reaches of the globe to unite women across the world into the fight of our lives. “We need to be vocal, to get our bodies together and show we won’t be walked over,” she said.

    Specifically, Salli’s shorter-term goals include teaching women in various countries how to start and run a caucus. The Women’s Caucus is also planning an upcoming teleconference with Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List, and it will be supporting all female candidates up for reelection in midterms and other upcoming elections. Smaller projects include sending a storm of postcards to Washington, making a 2018 calendar, posting tools to help new caucuses, posting a regular newsletter, and assisting local caucuses in their event planning and training. With the internet presence increasing and a steering committee being appointed, more and more vital work can be done as more people get involved and share their ideas and values. “We need to get input so we can get output,” Salli said, quoting her Co-Chair Ann Hesse. With every country’s priorities being different, the goal of the Global Women’s Caucus is not to lead top down but to facilitate the work they have chosen to do. “We want to create a space where there’s a dialogue so women Democrats know they are being supported,” she said. “That we are here for the women’s movement in general.”

    Consequently, the most important thing Salli wants all members of Democrats Abroad Women’s Caucus to know about the women’s movement is that our rights are in danger. “Our rights are being attacked, and we cannot accept that. We have to act as an opposition party and be unified in that role.” Salli’s optimistic view of the ability to do this is buoyed by her experience last July as a Hillary Clinton delegate to the Democratic Convention. Providing the opportunity to meet so many likeminded women and have access to so many important figures, the convention was one of the most meaningful and exciting events she ever participated in. “It was fascinating to watch how people interact with each other, how they lobby for their causes, and even though it’s highly choreographed there’s still so much excitement and so much hope. It was wonderful.” Salli said her memories of this event and all the people she met continue to give her hope.

    Of course, it is still difficult to accept the outcome. To win the next election, Salli said the Democrats need to learn from their mistakes, primarily to learn humility. Leaders cannot be isolated from the street, from the people on the ground. “That’s why we lost,” she said. “You need to learn to be in contact with your troops, people on the street, and be on the ground and communicate better with members. It should be a system of messaging upwards and not sending a principle downwards. Voices need to be heard.” Likewise, these are the same goals Salli has for the Women’s Caucus – to communicate more efficiently and effectively and ensure that we work together to achieve necessary shared goals. Salli’s most important piece of advice for all the members of the Women’s Caucus and Democrats Abroad in general continues that theme: “Get active, speak up, and make your voices heard.”

     by Randi Milgram, DA UK