Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Women, Congress, and the Shutdown

This week, the New York Times reported on the role of women’s efforts in the ongoing budget problems. The concessions and deals that form the backbone of today’s bipartisan bill, which if passed, would reopen the federal government, were agreed on by a group of women from both parties. Most notably, three out of the four Republican women in Congress came together with Democrats to strike a deal. Female senators head the powerful Budgets and Appropriations Committees, and have been instrumental in supporting a deal.
In a climate of party-based polarization, women senators have been known to gather and debate across party lines, even more so than their male counterparts. The Republican women involved in this deal were especially willing to risk deviating from party lines for the sake of freeing the nation from this political deadlock. As the percentage of women in Congress to continues to grow, we can hope to see more collaboration and progress in the future.

Evan Vucci/Associated Press

Read the article here:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What Does Yellen’s Nomination Mean for Women?

Yesterday President Obama nominated Janet Yellen to replace Ben Bernanke as the Chair of the Federal Reserve. If confirmed, this would be a landmark moment for women in the USA. But it would also have reverberations around the world – she would be the first woman ever to head a major central bank.

Yellen’s distinguished and extensive career in economics began as an assistant professor at UC Berkeley in 1980, where she stayed for fourteen years and is presently a professor emerita at the Haas School of Business. In 1997 she moved from being on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve to Chairwoman of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors. Yellen became President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in 2004. After six years in that capacity she was confirmed as Vice Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, a position she holds today.

Aside from her considerable experience, Yellen is highly regarded in financial circles due to her knowledge of the economy and financial systems. She was among a small number of economists to warn about the dangers of the subprime mortgage market before the recent recession. Her nomination takes place following the withdrawal of Larry Summers from consideration. A top economic advisor to Presidents Obama and Clinton, he faced criticism about possible ties to Wall Street from both parties.

Her nomination follows an increasing trend of women taking an active role in the running of the nation’s most vital institutions. The last election cycle saw the percentage of women in Congress increase from 16.9% to a historic high of 18.3%. Under President Obama, 43% of his appointees to the administration have been women. Although this denotes significant progress, there is still a way to go before women reach their full representational potential in all levels of government.

In a vicious cycle where women don’t enter the heavily male-dominated field because of a lack of role models, Yellen’s nomination could prove to be a breaking factor for many and pave the way for women to shape economic and monetary policy in the US.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Angelina Grimke – An Inspiration in the 21st Century

Tonight the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus is proud to be a supporter of How Women Become Political, celebrating the 175th anniversary of Angelina Grimke’s speech to the Massachusetts State Legislature when she became the first woman to address a legislative body.
Angelina Grimke was an advocate for women and girls throughout her life. She fought for women’s rights and the rights of slaves by traveling around the Northeast, lecturing mainly about the abolition of slavery.
She came to the Massachusetts State Legislature in 1838 on behalf of 20,000 petitioners, mostly women, to address the need for Congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, which would be a huge step towards abolishing slavery in all states. She began her speech however, by making her case to speak. She was the first woman to ever address a legislative body in America, mainly because women could not hold office or vote, but also because it was a commonly held belief that women did not belong in the “public sphere.” Angelina Grimke, like Queen Esther of Babylon to use her own example, used her speaking position to advocate for another group of people who did not have a voice in government.
Her speech is still relevant today. Women and girls in the United States and around the world are facing backlash for wanting to enter into traditionally male dominated fields. While women can now vote and are allowed to hold office, the number of female elected officials is staggeringly low compared to their male peers. Girls are constantly told their duties as they grow up will be to raise a family and be a mom, while boys and men are encouraged to pursue the professional fields.
The MWPC works to encourage women of all political backgrounds to run for office in order to better represent the women and girls of our state. Angelina Grimke continues to inspire us and we are proud to be supporting this event in her honor!

MWPC Remembers Founding Member Polly Logan. “Grand Dame” of Republican Party Dies in New Jersey Home at Age of 88

Boston – Former Republican National Committeewoman Polly (Paula) Logan died on Monday September 30th at age 88 in New Jersey. MWPC was deeply saddened to hear of Logan’s passing, and the world will greatly miss such a strong woman who stood up for what she believed in for the greater good of her community. Logan was a founding member of the MWPC and played an active role in politics in Massachusetts and across the nation for decades.

Logan was a long time Republican who devoted her life to public service. She was known for speaking her mind, even against her own party in regard to a wide variety of disputed issues. She was an ardent supporter of reproductive health rights and the Equal Rights Amendment. For many years Logan was the Republican state committeewoman from Cohasset. Logan was also a mentor to many politicians including, Governor Deval Patrick, who noted her as one of the reasons he entered the political arena.

Logan was one of the founding members of MWPC and served on the Advisory Board for a number of years. In 1992, Logan was honored with the Abigail Adams Award from the MWPC. Logan created the Polly Logan Fund at the University of Massachusetts Boston that provides funding for research on public policy issues affecting women and allows for visiting professors in this field.

“Polly Logan was a dear friend to the MWPC, and leaves a remarkable imprint on all aspects of this organization,” MWPC Executive Director Prit Rao remarked. “Polly played an important role in ensuring women had a voice at the table. We are deeply sadenned by the news of her passing.”

Information about memorial services for Logan are not available at this time.