Posts Tagged ‘Hillary Clinton’

When I was only 3 years old, my parents strapped my first set of ice hockey skates on me — a Minnesotan rite of passage. Before long, ice hockey became my passion. However, upon entering high school, I learned that there wasn’t a girls’ team. At that moment, I experienced a rude awakening: Gender inequality was the status quo in my community.

Armed with my strong convictions and leveraging Title IX’s mandate, I led my peers and community members to lobby the school board to create a girls’ ice hockey team. Testifying against sexist opposition just like the pioneers of Title IX once did, we successfully convinced the school board to establish a girls’ team, an experience that has forever shaped my perception of what one passionate and goal-oriented individual can accomplish.

This early experience not only led to higher education and athletic opportunities that I might not otherwise have had but also guided my personal and professional pursuits. I was fortunate to attend Amherst College, graduate with honors in psychology, and serve as a captain of the women’s ice hockey team. The skills I obtained and the confidence I built as an athlete and as a member of a team were invaluable, leading me to ultimately become an attorney and an advocate for equal opportunities for all people. Along the way, I have advanced important social causes, served in leadership roles traditionally held by men (including as editor-in-chief of the Rutgers Law Review), and empowered the next generation of women as a mentor and role model.

Recently, by winning a Good Maker challenge, I received funding from the National Women’s Hall of Fame to pursue a sports and leadership project for girls. The premise of the project is to host a sports and leadership clinic not only to inspire, motivate, and empower young girls but also to enable older female athletes to give back to their communities and help instill in the next generation the passion, drive, and commitment that is necessary to maintain and expand equal opportunities.

Ensuring the protection of these opportunities was unquestionably the key message of the National Women’s Hall of Fame 40th anniversary Title IX celebration in Washington, D.C., last week. I was fortunate to have been recognized as a new generation leader at this event alongside the true pioneers and leaders of the women’s rights movement (my role models). Many of the distinguished speakers and panelists voiced the concern that the next generation may fail to understand the significance of Title IX and simply take those opportunities for granted. There is much more work to be done, and that work is now in the hands of the next generation.

This point resonated with me because of the similarities between the obstacles that the Title IX pioneers faced and those that modern-day female athletes still encounter. Bernice Sandler, known as the “godmother of Title IX” because of her role in the development and passage of the law, spoke about having to coordinate bake sales and other fundraisers to buy equipment. This story reminded me of some of the hand-me-down equipment that my college ice hockey team received from the men’s team. Did the Amherst women’s ice hockey team have to win a national championship to prove its worthiness and finally receive its own new jerseys and equipment?

I was also reminded of my own experience when Neena Chaudhry from the National Women’s Law Center explained the rationale behind the current challenges to Title IX — that girls are not as “interested” in sports as boys. That premise is precisely the one I encountered and believed I overcame in high school, more than 15 years ago. I’d say this attitude is clear evidence that we still have work to do!

Linda Hallman, executive director of AAUW, concluded the panel with a strong and passionate call to action: “Get out the vote!” I could not agree more. What a simple yet effective means to protect Title IX and to ensure its commitment to providing equal opportunities for all.

Each of the other panelists provided their own amazing tales and calls to action. Other speakers included Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). Finally, I’d be remiss to conclude without mentioning the ever humble, eloquent, and passionate women’s rights advocate Sen. Birch Bayh (D-IN), the “father of Title IX.” What I appreciated the most about him was that despite his integral involvement in the creation and passage of Title IX, he was happy to take a backseat to demonstrate his admiration for all the amazing and accomplished women in the room.

From the Olympian sitting next to me to the executive sitting across from me, the women at this conference were awe-inspiring. I only hope that through my life’s work I can continue to advance their fight to provide equal opportunities for women and that I will find and create opportunities to share my passion with and instill the same ideals in the next generation of women!

This blog post was written by National Women’s Hall of Fame grantee Heidi S. Alexander, Esq.

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Registration for the 2012 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) sold out in record time! But we still have tickets available for the Women of Distinction Awards ceremony, which is held the first night of the conference. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased by calling 800/326-2289. Don’t miss your chance to meet this year’s six phenomenal Women of Distinction!

The ceremony — which will be held on May 31 at the University of Maryland, College Park — pays tribute to women leaders who have made extraordinary contributions to their professions or communities. We’ve already introduced you to four of this year’s awardees, Noorjahan Akbar, Alison Cohen, Liza Donnelly, and Sandra Fluke. Without further ado, we’d like to present our final two awardees.

Michel Martin

Host, Tell Me More

Michel Martin hosts Tell Me More, an NPR talk radio program focused on the headlines and issues relevant to multicultural life in America. As a host, Martin orchestrates a gathering place for dialogue on important issues facing the country and discusses these challenges and opportunities with a range of guests, regular contributors, and NPR reporters.

Maggie Williams

Founding Partner, Griffin Williams Consulting

Maggie Williams is a founding partner of Griffin Williams, a consulting firm that specializes in helping public- and private-sector clients navigate transition, change, and challenging communication environments. A seasoned communications practitioner, strategist, and organizational manager, she led then-Sen. Hillary Clinton’s historic 2008 presidential campaign and served as a senior adviser to Clinton’s secretary of state confirmation and transition teams.

Read more about all six of the 2012 Women of Distinction, and buy your ticket today!

The Barbara Fetterhoff Honorary Fund is a platinum sponsor of the 2012 NCCWSL Women of Distinction Awards ceremony and reception. AAUW of Maryland, many generous friends of Barbara’s, and AAUW donors from across the country are contributing to this fund to honor AAUW member Barbara Fetterhoff for her continuing leadership, vision, and commitment.

Part 1 Part 2  |  This is part 3

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In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve been talking about women who are missing from the history books — women like Claudette Colvin, who refused to give up her seat on the bus months before Rosa Parks’ famous protest.

As March draws to a close, let’s talk about the women who are writing their own chapters in history right now. Without further ado, here is a selection of the women you nominated as today’s change makers.


These women have dedicated their lives to making a difference, and their work is changing the world as we know it.

Sandra Fluke — What started as a snub by a congressional committee chair has turned into an all-out barrage against a woman who just wanted to testify about the importance of accessible contraception. We’re very proud to know Fluke, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.

Angela Davis In the 1960s, Davis emerged as a prominent social activist when she was placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list and jailed for suspected involvement in an abduction and murder case. She was eventually acquitted of all charges, but she often draws upon her experiences when she writes and lectures about the social injustices embedded in the U.S. prison system.

Judith Plaskow — Plaskow was the first Jewish feminist to identify herself as a theologian. Her work has influenced Jewish religious conversations, as well as the feminist theologies of other religions. She has also supported the next generation of women scholars as a selection panelist for AAUW’s American Fellowship program.


These women are breaking through barriers by becoming the first women to hold such high positions and by changing the way governments address both women leaders and women’s issues.

Hillary Clinton — Clinton faced an onslaught of media attention as a presidential hopeful in 2008. She ultimately conceded her party’s nomination to Barack Obama, but she’s made her mark with poise and leadership as the U.S. secretary of state.

Johanna Sigurdardottir — As Iceland’s first woman prime minister and the world’s first openly gay head of state, Sigurdardottir is a feminist force who is working to make her country “female friendly.”

Nancy Pelosi — After serving as the first woman speaker of the House during the 111th Congress, Pelosi is credited for leading one of the “most productive sessions of Congress.” Now that congressional job approval ratings are so low, it’s hard to believe that her term was only two years ago.


Watch out, world. These ladies are leading their industries and show no signs of slowing down.

Annie Leibovitz — A world-famous portrait photographer, Leibovitz has captured the essence of many famous people, both alive and dead. One notable photograph is her 1991 Vanity Fair cover of the nude and pregnant Demi Moore, which challenged perceptions of beauty and pregnancy.

Christine Lagarde — The first woman managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Lagarde inherited an institution in crisis and was responsible for overseeing multi-billion euro bailouts of several countries. In 2011, Forbes ranked her 39th on its list of the world’s most powerful people.

Jane Goodall — Goodall’s research on chimpanzees has fundamentally changed scientific thinking about the relationship between humans and other mammals. She founded the Jane Goodall Institute to inspire action on behalf of endangered species and environments.


Using their fame and fortune to make a difference, these women entertainers have brought unprecedented attention to their causes.

Lady Gaga — Outrageous antics make singer Lady Gaga stand out, but her identity as a one-time victim of bullying has made her an icon for the “disaffected, discriminated, and downtrodden.” The Born This Way Foundation, which she founded with her mother, empowers youth to accept who they are and to stand up for themselves.

Angelina Jolie — A wild child turned devoted humanitarian, Jolie is a U.N. peace ambassador and a spokeswoman for global aid and starvation. She founded the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation in 2003 as part of her mission to eradicate poverty and promote sustainability around the world.

Thanks to everyone who took part in our women’s history polls. After reading our list, who else do you expect our great-great grandchildren to be talking about in their history classes? Tell us in the comments section. And thank you for celebrating Women’s History Month with us!

This post was written by AAUW Marketing and Communications Intern Marie Lindberg.

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What do Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and I all have in common? Some might argue that we are all tough cookies — I would say that we are all smart cookies — but we are definitely all former Girl Scouts.

One hundred years ago today, Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low registered 18 girls for the first American Girl Guides troop. Later renamed the Girl Scouts, more than 50 million famous and not-so-famous girls and women count themselves as alumnae of this organization, which strives to empower girls and build confidence, character, and leadership. In fact, 64 percent of women leaders in the United States today were Girl Scouts, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy, astronaut Mae Jemison, professional auto racer Danica Patrick, and news anchor Katie Couric.

AAUW supports the work of the Girl Scouts by encouraging involvement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, providing funding for anti-bullying programs, and awarding grants for public policy and civic engagement projects. I personally have thrown my financial support behind the Girl Scouts, and I have a freezer full of Thin Mints to prove it.

A few of AAUW’s former Girl Scouts dust off their old badges and sashes in honor of the 100th anniversary.

Happy 100th anniversary, Girl Scouts! Here’s to the next 100 years of women leaders.

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“If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.”

These simple yet powerful words, spoken in 1995 by then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in an unforgettable speech at the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, are well-known and often repeated around the globe. They remain as important today as when they were first spoken.

In her speech, Clinton further stated, “As long as discrimination and inequities remain so commonplace everywhere in the world, as long as girls and women are valued less, fed less, fed last, overworked, underpaid, not schooled, subjected to violence in and outside their homes — the potential of the human family to create a peaceful, prosperous world will not be realized.”

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence Campaign was designed to bring individuals and groups together to fight such violence and discrimination. While the campaign officially ends on December 10, International Human Rights Day, we all know that there is no end until violence against women and girls — a violation of human rights — has been eliminated. This year was a transformational one as people, galvanized by social media, took to the streets in Egypt and Tunisia to claim their basic human rights. On International Human Rights Day, we also commemorate the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 63 years ago.

During the 16 Days campaign, women, men, and communities around the world called for the elimination of violence against women by bringing attention to the overwhelming inequities and depth of suffering of women. The 2011 campaign calendar is a remarkable, inspiring display of worldwide activism that included a variety of activities:

  • A purple ribbon campaign, during which volunteers placed ribbons on telephone poles to represent the number of reported spousal assaults and sexual assaults in a one-year period
  • The Candlelight Walk to End Gendered Violence and the Reclaim the Night March
  • 16 Books for 16 Days, a list of books pertaining to domestic violence, sexual assault, or any type of gender-based violence
  • Film screenings of Miss Representation, which explores how the media’s depictions of women have led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence in the United States
  • Public education seminars and outreach activities focusing on women’s participation in elections and seminars on the linkage between violence against women and violence in society

During the 16 Days campaign, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Violence against Women Act.  “Since VAWA’s passage in 1994, no other law has done more to stop domestic and sexual violence in our communities,” said Leahy. “The resources and training provided by VAWA have changed attitudes toward these reprehensible crimes, improved the response of law enforcement and the justice system, and provided essential services for victims struggling to rebuild their lives.”

So today, remember the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — because human rights are women’s rights. How did you spend your 16 Days?

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Forbes released its infamous lists this past week. And while women get their own list,  the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, I’m left wondering what story this really tells us about women’s leadership in the world.

While it’s a neat idea to honor women’s accomplishments, putting women in a list by themselves could be misleading. Once you look at the World’s Most Powerful People list, you see 68 names; only seven of them are women. That’s about 10 percent. Only two of those women are from the United States, and only one works for our government: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

It’s just one more disappointing illustration of the underrepresentation women have in politics and top decision-making positions in general. In addition, there is a striking imbalance across age groups. Being a younger woman myself, I appreciate Forbes taking a look at who they consider the 20 Youngest Power Women. Unfortunately, only six of them are under 40 years old. Are there really not enough women my age who are powerful? For instance, there is not a single U.S. woman politician listed on this “young” Forbes list.

Sure, we can analyze and possibly critique Forbes’ formula for determining the most powerful women in the world. But I think the story these lists point to is an even larger issue: the lack of powerful women leaders as role models. Women in the United States only make up about 17 percent of seats in Congress — less than one-fifth — even though we make up over half the population.

We need to jumpstart women’s leadership with programs like Elect Her–Campus Women Win and $tart $mart. Other groups have recognized this necessity as well, and that’s why AAUW collaborates with both Running Start and the WAGE Project to train women to run effective campaigns for student government and negotiate for equitable pay. If we can get more women to see themselves as political leaders on campus, they will be more likely to continue on in leadership positions after college. And if we can train more young women to be effective negotiators at work, they will be more likely to avoid the gender wage gap and have the confidence to ask for those promotions. By investing in these experiences in college, the next generation of women may well be named on Forbes’ list sooner rather than later.

What younger woman would you add to the World’s Most Powerful Women list?

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Last week, my attention was focused on the news surrounding German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s state visit. Her visit was significant because it marked many firsts for women in diplomacy. In addition to being Germany’s first woman chancellor, Merkel was the first female leader and the first European leader to come to the United States during the Obama administration. Merkel’s main purpose for visiting was to receive  the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She is only the fourth foreign leader to receive the award, joining the ranks of remarkable leaders like Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

I watched Merkel’s arrival at the White House last Tuesday intently from my desk via a live news stream as the events unfolded and President Barack Obama welcomed her. Speculation was floating around leading up to her visit about the tension between the two leaders and the status of their transatlantic relationship. All of that seemed to be set aside as the two leaders acted like old friends.

I got teary eyed at the end of Obama’s speech when he declared, “It’s obvious neither of us looks exactly like the leaders who preceded us.” The crowd roared with laughter, but it was a profound statement as Merkel is one of the most powerful women in the world, overseeing the fourth-largest economy in the world.

Later in the day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted a luncheon for Merkel honoring women in diplomacy. Merkel gave her speech in German, and at the end of her remarks, she gave a huge grin and joked that she had a small present for Clinton. Merkel seemed very amused with herself as she presented Clinton with a framed copy of a front page of Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, which showed a picture of the two women in nearly identical pantsuits — one in a purple jacket and black slacks, and one in a fuchsia jacket and black slacks — alongside the text, “Which one is Merkel and which one is Clinton?” Merkel took great care to tell Clinton, “You may take it in a playful mode.” But this was unnecessary. Clinton, who frequently jokes about her wardrobe, howled with laughter when she received the gift.

For now, the world of diplomacy may still be a man’s world, but Merkel and Clinton have paved the way for future female leaders by way of the pantsuit.

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Angela Stevenson Angela Stevenson, the public health general manager for the Wayne County, Michigan, Department of Public Health, talked with us last week about what inspires her to advocate for pay equity. Stevenson will speak at AAUW’s Equal Pay Day panel on Monday. Join us for this event and remember to commemorate Equal Pay Day on Tuesday, April 12!

Tell us about the first time you negotiated your own salary.

Only just recently, I was met with the opportunity to negotiate my salary. I was contacted by a previous supervisor who had moved on to another agency. He said that he had the opportunity to pick anyone he wanted to fill a particular position and that given that choice, he picked me. I asked him, “Why me?” He replied that my work speaks for itself and told me to “name my price,” within reason of course. I was happy to see the day that I could be someone’s first choice based solely on my work performance.

What hopes do you have for the next generation of women?

I have a 19-year-old daughter, and my hope for her is that she is successful. I hope that society will view her for who she is and that she can prosper in an environment that fosters equity.

What’s the most striking statistic or story you’ve heard about the pay gap?

I have had the pleasure of participating in a project that assessed the impact of pay inequity on health outcomes of women and children. Being a health care professional, it was innovative and exciting for me to examine what is typically thought of as a social issue or political issue and to study how it may affect one’s health and well-being. It is simply unbelievable to me that in 2011, women continue to earn less than men, whether they do the same job or different jobs.

What are your thoughts on the Wal-Mart v. Dukes case?

My strongest feelings are that I am happy that these women were courageous enough to band together to stand up for themselves and essentially all women. It will take large numbers with a strong, concerted voice to tear down the walls of structural discrimination asserted by [such large entities].

Do you do anything special to mark Equal Pay Day?

Not before this year. However, participating in AAUW’s Equal Pay Day event has increased my awareness and will be the start of a new tradition of recognition for me.

If you had to choose a pay equity theme song, what would it be and why?

I would choose the song “If I Were a Boy” by recording artist Beyoncé Knowles. It speaks about the differences in what is acceptable for men versus women.

If you could meet any famous women, dead or alive, who would you meet and why?

I would like to meet Lady Bird Johnson, Rosa Parks, and Hillary Clinton because they are all strong women who promote fairness.

More Equal Pay Day Q and A: Lisa FrehillDeborah FrolingBey-Ling Sha

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Volunteers braved freezing temperatures for a Congo vigil in Washington, D.C.

Want to start a movement? It’s not as hard has you may think.

Armed with chairs, six layers of clothing, and a simple sign, some brave Congo activists and I braced ourselves for a weeklong vigil — day and night — in front of the Department of State in Washington, D.C. It was kind of like a sleepover minus the Ouija board and gossip. Instead, it included hypothermia and sleep deprivation, all in the name of Congo. From December 6 through the 10th, we set up shop on the curb of the State Department and hung up a simple, yet serious sign that read “Congo Plan Now.”

With the temperature averaging 26 degrees and wind gusts up to 25 miles per hour, the wind chill made it feel more like it was 8 degrees. Paper-thin hotel blankets and willpower were the only things separating us from a hospital stretcher. However, each morning we all awoke realizing that our cold, uncomfortable night was nothing in comparison to what the average eastern Congolese woman has to endure, fearing for her life and that of her family every day.

The vigil was not a stunt but a gesture to demonstrate an Outcry for Congo and to inform the State Department about the growing grassroots movement to quell the deadliest conflict since World War II. War in the Congo has claimed the lives of 5.4 million people and ravaged the bodies of hundreds of thousands of women through rape.

Our message at the vigil was clear: We are done with words; these people deserve action. In addition to attracting celebrity support, our viral campaign yielded more than 638,000 Facebook page views in one week and inspired thousands of average Americans to post photos with personal messages to Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton. Our work garnered us three separate meetings with officials at the State Department, and Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson even came out to thank us for our efforts and reiterated that we were on the same page regarding diplomacy.

As our sign read, we want a coordinated, comprehensive, cohesive Congo plan now. Multiple organizations have outlined specific actions that need to be taken in order to create stability and long-term solutions in the Congo. It is a matter of continued foreign policy in the region and cooperation between the United States and Congolese governments.

The cast of Fox's "Bones" participated in the Outcry for Congo viral campaign.

One of the most rewarding aspects from this experience was that I served alongside women of all ages and from all walks of life. Intergenerational activism has been called into question lately because some people don’t see younger women steeping up to the plate (as AAUW covered in the fall issue of Outlook). But our collective of Congo activists ranged from East Coast twentysomethings to women in their 30s to our wonderful group mom, who is over 50 and from the West Coast. Some have children, while others don’t. Some have careers, while others abandoned theirs. We were all different, but we were all fighting for the same thing: a Congo plan now.

This post was written by Development Fellow Maureen Evans Arthurs.


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Last year, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, held its first gay pride festival, a seemingly significant move for equality. But last August, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community was reminded that their rights are still tenuous when Chennai police detained a 19-year-old lesbian woman named Kavitha after she moved in with her partner. Her parents — who reportedly wanted Kavitha to marry — filed a missing persons report, asking police to return their adult daughter “home.” Allegedly, officials asked Kavitha to come to the police station to sign paperwork, but when she arrived, they gave her an ultimatum: return to her parents’ house or be sent away to an ashram.

Photo by Steve Evans

After being held for more than 10 hours, Kavitha left for an ashram in Mylapore with a representative from sexual minority rights group Sangama. The group says that she was forced into her exile, while police say she went of her own volition. Regardless, instead of living with her partner, Kavitha is now sentenced to a life of celibacy and victimhood, her most basic freedoms of citizenship utterly decimated. Kavitha’s injustice earned one brief article in the Times of India. Her story remains largely untold.

Unfortunately, Kavitha’s story isn’t unique. Women across the world face attacks on their personal freedoms every day, with little legal recourse. Such stories underscore a harrowing truth. Women, we are in this together. Complacency in our own lives breeds complicity in others’ oppression. What can you do to help your global sisters?

Don’t let Kavitha’s story go untold. Tell your friends, family, and political representatives. Write an e-mail to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and leave your other ideas in the comments.

This post was written by Public Policy Fellow Emily Pfefer.

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