Tuesday, January 25, 2005

hillary seeks common
ground on abortion!

it is no surprise that president bush has not yet responded to my letter (see below), but i didn't want you to think i only pick on democrats to help women achieve equality in this country...but it came as a bit of a surprise to hear hillary clinton seeking common ground on abortion in her roe v. wade speech to pro-choice supporters yesterday in albany.

she called on anti-abortion and abortion rights activists to form an alliance to support sex education -- basing efforts on the facts of the matter, not ideological wishful-thinking. and she did so without giving up her own pro-choice views. (more details..)

this could the beginning of another clinton centrist presidential bid, but whatever it is i must applaud. abortion rights has not only divided the country, but deeply divided women -- and been a key reason that more women haven't helped more women get elected to congress and state legislatures.

abortion rights is NOT a black-and-white, cookie-cutter issue. there are just too many complicated angles, and we must agree to disagree -- not keep ourselves locked in mortal combat over something not winnable by either side. then we'd be free to achieve critical mass and create a real political power base for women. what a concept!

(courtesy of withoutboundaries.com)

open letter to g.w.bush

president bush:

today the 109th congress was sworn in, an especially exciting time for the new representatives. i watched as you greeted those members at the white house yesterday. as you know only 8 new members are women, all in the house of representatives -- closely mirroring the fact that women hold barely 15% of the seats in the u.s.house (42 D, 23 R), even though we make up nearly 52% of the population. thus the united states ranks 57th in the world for electing women to national parliaments/congresses/assemblies.

many americans continue to believe that we live in the world's greatest democracy. history and the numbers, however, tell us differently -- that women continue to be embarrassingly under-represented in government. How can there be true democracy without equal representation for women?

at the same time, the provisional iraqi constitution guarantees women 25% of the seats in the transitional national assembly -- a number that would tie them for 22nd in the world. your administration is also talking about guaranteeing seats for sunnis whether they are elected or not. yet, no one ever guaranteed us anything or considers any rule changes that would accelerate the rate of electing women to the u.s.congress so that gender balance can finally be achieved -- this 229 years after independence. why, mr.president?

hopefully you will take the lead in making real change, so that women will have their fair share of seats at the table and a real voice here at home. women bring skill sets, experiences, and viewpoints to the table that can only enhance government at all levels for the good of this nation. it is a shame that we do not take full advantage of the talents of half our population, especially in the realm of public service.

we are watching with interest as you make your cabinet appointments, and hope that you will beat bill clinton's record of appointing 11 women to the cabinet in his eight years in office. it should be noted that your father made only three such appointments. on the other hand, the most recent prime minister of spain appointed women to 50% of all cabinet seats, as did the current president of colombia when elected. a number of countries have had women presidents or prime ministers, and two women are currently running for president of chile. perhaps it is now time for a u.s.president to step boldly forth and create a department of women's affairs at the cabinet level to make sure that women are fairly treated and represented -- and that these inequities are eliminated once-and-for-all.

you could also make history by embracing the non-partisan "every OPEN SEAT a woman's seat" strategy for recruiting and supporting women candidates for Congress and state legislatures. this would help women catch up -- and it is something you can do without legislation or formal rule changes. indeed, the progress made by women in so many countries has been facilitated by visionary political leaders who embraced similar strategies and made a real commitment (not just lip service!) to equal representation for women.

mr.president, as you prepare for your second term and inaugural address, please consider making the above a priority and part of your national agenda. all women, especially young women -- like your own daughters barbara and jenna, whose futures lie before them -- deserve no less. advancing equality for women in real terms to rightly fulfill the promise of our democracy is central to enhancing our status in the world. you can make a significant difference, if you so choose.

women throughout the country and all the along the political spectrum look forward to your response.

most sincerely,
paula xanthopoulou

Sunday, January 02, 2005

shirley chisholm

"I want to be remembered as a woman who fought for change in the 20th Century."

-- Shirley Chisholm
"Unbought & Unbossed" (1924-2005)