Posted by Sandi on Jan 30, 2012 in Women's Rights
This is so well put. Listen to Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland talk about the “ambition gap” and the continual inequality between genders in the workforce due to social norms that begin in childhood and are perpetuated throughout our adult lives.
In the developing world these inequalities are much more obvious when it comes to the accessibility of education for girls vs. boys and basic freedoms that are often restricted by government and/or religious tradition. But in industrialized countries like the United States the gender gap is more muted. Our social norms have still not changed and our ways of thinking about how women and men should act are so ingrained in us that we fail to notice unless it is pointed out. My favorite quote from Sandberg who explains that it all begins in how we are raised when she points out: “little girls are called bossy . . . I challenge you go find someone who calls a little boy bossy.” Sandberg then goes on to link this social norm and way of thinking to adults in the workforce by noting that “success and likability are positively correlated with men and negatively correlated for women.” Watch the full 6 minutes below:
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Posted by Sandi on Sep 10, 2011 in Uncategorized
It’s 3AM on September 10, 2011 and I can’t sleep. This hasn’t been the easiest week for me. It has taken me 10 years to admit to myself that I must suffer from a mild form of PTSD. I like to think I’m a strong and resilient person. I am. But, when the recent earthquake hit DC, my first thought was that it was a bomb, and I was terrified. And for some darned reason whenever the anniversary of 9/11 creeps up on me it’s like I relive it in my mind all over again. Images, stories, articles, or just mention of the day triggers uncontrollable chills and tears.
10 years ago, in the days following 9/11 I tried to be strong for my friend whose father was in one of the towers. And as I was coming home from her house one night – I had a moment of realization. It could have been my Dad. And in that moment everything I had been feeling just came out. I broke down. It was probably one of my most vulnerable moments.
I was only 17, but at the time I felt so grown up. It was the beginning of my senior year of high school, the world was my oyster and it was ironically such a beautiful clear day. I was one of the first students in school to find out, because my speech teacher had the radio on before class and when the bell rung she closed the door and informed us all. Few people in my 3rd period class had heard, so I had to break the news to them. For the rest of the day, lesson plans were tossed aside and it was the only thing discussed. Since our school was so close to the city, and within a 10 mile radius of the Indian Point power plant, we were on lockdown. We weren’t allowed to use cell phones in school, but I tried to reach my Dad anyway. He worked in Queens, and since no one really knew what was happening at the time I wanted to make sure he was safe. I also tried to reach my Mom, but since too many people were trying to call loved ones at the same time neither could be reached. I eventually got ahold of my mother from a landline in the school’s main office. My Dad was fine.
When we were finally let out of school, my sister and I drove to a high elevation area near our house where we could see the cloud of smoke from the World Trade Center. Then when I got home I found out my close friend’s father worked in one of the towers. It was real. It wasn’t a dream.
The following days were a bombardment of images and sounds that remain ingrained in my mind. Every station, including MTV was now the news, with images of people jumping, the towers on fire and then eventually crumbling down. The radio stations played mixes that merged 9/11 coverage soundbites in with popular music. And I spent evenings calling hospitals looking for my friend’s father, who was never found. My friend is and will always be one of the strongest people I know.
Less than a year ago I went to the World Trade Center site for the first time. And all I could feel was anger. Anger about what had happened. Anger towards those who preach hate, intolerance or violence. Anger that “it” was still a construction site almost 10 years later. Anger that most of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations had yet to be fully implemented.
And now the day before the 10th Anniversary I still feel all those things . . . but, nonetheless I’m resilient and I do have hope and faith that things will get better. I am a New Yorker.
Always Remember, Never Forget.
Posted by Sandi on Apr 8, 2011 in Political Thoughts
, Women's Rights
As I’m sure you’ve all heard, its extremely likely that the U.S. Federal Government will be shut down if Congress does not agree upon and vote on a budget (H.R. 1) for the fiscal year. All throughout the day I’ve been getting news alerts saying they are close to a compromise . . . I’m sure you are wondering what is holding things up? Is it a disagreement on how much should be cut?
All I can say is that the disagreement over spending cuts has been settled for hours now, in fact the Dems met the GOP request of $30+ billion in spending cuts, but then the GOP decided to change their mind because the Tea Party wants more. And then there is the fact that Republicans attached more than 80 riders to their initial funding bill, including several that actually increase federal spending. As Senator Reid explained, ”The two main issues that are holding this matter up are the choice of women, reproductive rights, and clean air.” Thats right – the GOP/Tea Party is going to shut down the U.S. Government because ideological policy issues that will only hurt low income and middle class Americans. More so it appears that the Tea Party conservatives are launching a “War on Women.” As evidenced by the riders that include: eliminating Title X Family Planning funds for low income women (Planned Parenthood), not allowing women to purchase health coverage with their own money if it includes abortion services, redefining rape as “forcible rape,” allow hospitals to refuse to provide abortions/medical care even to victims of rape or incest, eliminate funding for programs like Head Start and WIC and limit the EPA from being able to set regulations for carbon emissions, etc (learn more about these riders here). And as Speaker Boehner explained: ”We will continue to insist that the policy riders passed in H.R. 1 are on the table. It’s just as important to many of our members as the spending cuts themselves.” It appears that compromise is not in the GOP/Tea Party vocabulary.
Here is the thing, It may be important to freshman Tea-Party members to infringe on my rights and access to safe affordable reproductive healthcare, but it is insanely irresponsible to put ideology before your primary responsibility, which is to keep our country and government running. GOP get your people in line and stop letting your freshman members act like children who really want their dessert before dinner. Because at this point dinner may not be served on the tables of many working families. There are those families who are struggling to put food on the table because our economy has yet to begin producing enough jobs to get our country back on track — and then there are those who will not be allowed to report to work or be paid because of a government shutdown. Your attempts to hold the U.S. Government and American people hostage because of extreme ideological views is childish and if you can’t put the country’s interests ahead of your own you don’t deserve to be there.
*Images from this post are from the Rally for Women’s Health and Lobby Day in Washington, DC on April 7th 2011 (organized by NARAL Pro-Choice America & Planned Parenthood). Thousands of women came to the Capital from around the country via car, bus, plane or train to tell their representatives in the U.S. Government that their bodies and access to basic reproductive healthcare are not to be toyed with. Millions of women (and men) utilize the comprehensive health services Planned Parenthood provides which include cancer screening (breast & uterine), access to preventative contraception, STI/HIV testing, etc. Attendees met with Congressional staffers and Members of Congress to explain the importance of access to reproductive and preventative family planing care that is covered by Title X funds.
While some staff members from either side of the aisle were welcoming and willing to listen, others (Nan Hayworth, M.D. R-NY – I’m talking to you) were not! Congresswoman Hayworth has said publicly that she is both pro-choice and supports access to reproductive healthcare, but actually voted in favor of cutting Title X funding to Planned Parenthood. You see where we might find issue with that? Her staff had 20 of us stand in the hallway (we “couldn’t fit in the office”), looked as if we were torturing him (its not hard to just smile and nod, even if you disagree) and refused to explain her rationale for voting no despite her public statements. When he finally stated that for “fiscal reasons” she voted to cut Title X – a staff member from Planned Parenthood pointed out to him that for every $1 cut from Title X funds that Medicaid spending would actually increase by $3. A statistic which the staffer of course never wrote down. So here is to hoping that the Congresswoman gets her views and numbers straight in time to vote for the best interests of her constituents who utilized Planned Parenthood’s services.
For additional information about the GOP H.R. 1 riders which would greatly effect women, please read my post titled “It’s All About Jobs, Stupid! Not My Uterus!”
This past week we lost two giants whose lives were not only marked by their own successes and failures, but also by their service and dedication to ensure that others had those same opportunities for success. They were women who didn’t allow social norms to dictate their opinions or actions.
I sometimes wonder if Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011) and Geraldine Ferraro (1935-2011) ever crossed paths? They were so different, yet also so much the same. One was married once, the other eight times. One was in Hollywood, the other in our Nation’s Capital. Both were working mothers. Ferraro stood by her husband and son during extremely difficult times, despite the impact to her career and Elizabeth Taylor was said to be a wonderful mother & step-mother (according to Carrie Fischer) and both were known as tireless advocates for their friends. Its funny that both Elizabeth Taylor and Geraldine Ferraro are forever engraved in my mind as women who truly had grit, because of things they did in 1984 – the year of my birth.
Everyone knows that in 1984, Geraldine Ferraro became the first female candidate for Vice President to be on a major party ticket when Walter Mondale chose her as his running mate. As Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright explained to POLITICO, “When she stepped up on the stage at the San Francisco convention, that really opened the door in so many different ways . . . People questioned, frankly, whether a woman could do foreign policy. They asked her if she could press the nuclear button – questions they don’t ask men. But she cut through it all.” She cut through it all so that the girl I was at the time, and the woman I became knew running for Vice President or even President of our great country was a possibility, not a pipedream. The 1984 election loss didn’t bring her down. Ferraro went on to serve as United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights under Clinton and she continued to fight and support other women who ran for office across the country. As she put it, “When women run, women win.”
In the same year, Elizabeth Taylor became one of the first celebrities and public personalities to raise awareness and advocate for the prevention of HIV/AIDS by organizing and hosting the first AIDS fundraiser in 1984, to benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles. In the 1980s HIV/AIDS was barely acknowledged, despite the fact that it was causing hundreds of deaths each year (including the death of my Great Uncle in 1985) because it was a “Gay Disease.” Some of Taylor’s friends, including actor Rock Hudson, were stricken by the disease. So despite the controversy associated with the disease she refused to stay silent by publicly advocating for funding and research to find a cure. In 1993 she founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. Former President Bill Clinton said it best, ”Elizabeth’s legacy will live on in many people around the world whose lives will be longer and better because of her work and the ongoing efforts of those she inspired.”
Both these women paved a path for us . . . the least we can do is fill in a pot hole every now and then to make sure the road continues to allow safe passage for all.
Posted by Sandi on Mar 7, 2011 in Political Thoughts
, Social Media
This past Friday I was fortunate enough to have a conversation (and virtual tour) via Skype with POPVOX‘s Marketing Director Rachna Choudry, who along with co-founder Marci Harris, was recently highlighted in Fast Company’s – 25 Woman-Run Startups to Watch. POPVOX is the newest eAdvocacy and civic engagement platform, which is currently being beta-tested and seeking investors.
According to Choudry, POPVOX is based off of the Latin words “populi” and “vox,” which means “People’s Voice.” The goal of POPVOX is to ease the communication between Congress, organizations (trade, union, advocacy), and the greater public on specific pieces of legislation. Oftentimes people and organizations don’t necessarily know the best way to get their voice heard on particular issues when reaching out to Congress. Likewise, Congressional offices don’t have the most efficient methods in place to find information on constituent opinions or organizations’ policy positions on specific legislation. Choudry and Harris utilized their backgrounds on Capital Hill to envision and ultimately create an advocacy platform that would close this communications gap.
In my opinion, POPVOX is truly Gov 2.0 at its best and will do what LinkedIn did for career networking and what Change.org did for social change advocacy. POPVOX’s non-partisan platform allows for individuals, organizations & congressional staffers to not only track real-time legislative action (via Thomas.gov) in Congress, but also gives these stakeholders greater opportunity to advocate (orgs), track public opinion (congress) and have their voices heard (individuals)! Here are a just a few functions that I’m looking forward to watch develop as POPVOX participation grows:
1) Public Opinion by Congressional District! - Organizations and congressional staffers have the ability to track constituent/voter views on specific pieces of legislation. Just by looking up a specific bill number – you can see what % of individuals have the majority opinion. Simply utilize a drop-down menu through the Congressional portal or a U.S. map providing numbers that show majority opposition or support by location. Right now the numbers are small by each Congressional district, but as POPVOX grows in popularity this will be the ultimate tool.
2) Individuals‘ positions on legislation are counted and have greater impact. Constituent addresses are verified and their stances on particular pieces of legislation go directly to Congressional staffers, not through a 3rd party organization. My favorite piece is the option for individuals to share their story and why they support or oppose the legislation. This is a great way for constituents to express themselves and a wonderful tool for electeds to be able to share these stories while promoting their own positions in Congress.
3) Organizations can post policy statements or press releases on specific bills. Individuals and congressional staffers can see which organizations oppose/support a bill and why. Every organization is given the option to upload a policy position for each Congressional action/bill. This is a great resource for my friends on Capital Hill who are looking to get a better idea of which organizations share a Member of Congress’ stance on a bill.
4) Launch advocacy campaigns & increase list building. Organizations have the ability to create advocacy campaigns around particular bills by emailing their membership and directing them to POPVOX to show their endorsement or opposition to legislation. These campaigns will also be listed under the organization’s page on POPVOX, which would allow for non-members to participate as well and for organizations to collect new emails/potential members. Congress will have direct & immediate knowledge of these campaigns and/or the percentage of individuals for or against particular legislative bills or actions.
While I could go on for quite awhile touting all the awesome functions this new platform has – I’d rather you check it out for yourself, by clicking on the “POPVOX: Tell Congress what you think” widget above.
I strongly encourage my friends in Congress and the non-profit world (state affiliates too) to register your organization with POPVOX and get started!