Why Women Need to VoteApril 05, 2012
A Facebook friend of mine who lives in Rwanda recently commented on an Internet meme posted on his wall. The picture showed some of the politicians who are leading the war on contraception. “I don’t even know how to express the amount of frustration I have listening to everything that’s happening back home,” he wrote.
This friend and I have only met once or twice, but I couldn’t resist a response: “Just wait for the elections. We’ll show ’em! Women are ready.”
My sentiments were echoed at the Feminist Majority’s Women, Money, Power Forum on March 29. If you missed the opportunity to attend the event, which was co-sponsored by AAUW, you can watch it online through the C-SPAN video library. (The forum was in no way related to the Time March cover article.)
At the event, the speakers tied their presentations — which covered topics ranging from birth control and abortion to religion and ballot measures — back to the importance of the upcoming elections for women on all fronts. Their message was clear: The change that women need will happen only if we vote for women-friendly leaders and against anti-woman ballot measures.
Feminist Majority Executive Vice President Kathy Spillar addressed amplifying women’s voices during a panel discussion about mobilizing the vote. She talked about the anger that comes from watching how women are still treated in the workplace, from the new rules that states are passing to make it harder for people to vote, and from the assault on contraception. And we need to harness the anger over the poor judgment of some of our country’s leaders on so many policy initiatives that are important to women — like the Equal Rights Amendment, the Violence against Women Act, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Title IX — to rally the women’s vote, she said.
But it wasn’t all bad news. The forum raised a rallying flag for turning anger into action. E. Faye Williams, president of the National Congress of Black Women, put it best during the closing panel. “We have to start acting like the majority,” she said.
To that end, the AAUW Action Fund has launched a new voter education and turnout campaign, It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard. There will be plenty of ways to get involved in the campaign in the coming months, but you can also take action right now.
Take a moment to call or e-mail three young women. Let them know that you value their opinions and that you want our country’s leaders to do the same. Ask these women to register to vote, and send them this link to register online. Share with them the AAUW Action Fund’s Congressional Voting Record, which they can use to look up how their senators and representatives have voted on important women’s issues. Or simply share the message on Twitter using the hashtag #MyVote, and follow @ItsMyVote for updates on the campaign.
By taking these steps, you are helping me fulfill my promise to my friend and fellow activist who feels so helpless in Rwanda. But more importantly, you are helping women win this fight.
This post was written by AAUW Marketing and Communications Intern Marie Lindberg.