How Do we Make Progress? We Support Women’s Leadership

On Wednesday I had the great privilege of attending the Make Progress National Summit 2013 hosted by Generation Progress in Washington DC.One of the last plenary sessions at the conference was entitled “A Conversation On Women Changing Politics.” So, basically embodying the entire reason I wanted to attend the conference in the first place. It was a fierce panel of women to say the least. The panel consisted of: Alex Wagner from NOW with Alex Wagner; Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard; Amy Dacey, the Executive Director of EMILY’s List; and moderator Sarah Audelo, the Director of Domestic Policy at Advocates for Youth.Talk about women who Take The Lead.TammyBaldwinMost recently, Amy Dacey worked at the Service Employees International Union, where she served as The Director of Government Relations. Amy also served as Senator John Kerry’s National Political Director at Keeping America’s Promise Political Action Committee, worked as Senator Kerry’s Traveling Political Director on his 2004 presidential campaign, and was also the Regional Political Coordinator for the primary campaign, where she was responsible for political structures in 30 different states. Can you say Powerhouse?Representative Tulsi Gabbard is one of the first two female combat veterans, first Hindu, and first female of Samoan ancestry to ever serve as a member of the U.S. Congress. I don’t think she could break any more records if she tried.Alex Wagner was the Executive Director of Not On Our Watch, served as the Editor and Chief of Fader Magazine, and currently has her own show on MSNBC . Alex is 35 years old.And that’s not all.The conference concluded with Senator Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin’s first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate and the first openly gay member elected to the Senate. Whoa.Needless to say, I was in Take The Lead heaven.I wanted end this post by highlighting three quotes, from three obviously incredible women, that really stood out to me at the conference:

  1. Message to Men: “We thank you. We welcome you. We need you,” Says Amy Dacey. Fact. Just as the women’s movement has gotten the word out that women make up 51% of the population and we are not to be ignored, another PSA worth spreading is that it is men that make up the other 49%. We need them in this fight for women’s fair and equal share of leadership positions just as much as we need women fighting for it. We will not reach true equality unless we get there together, as a collective human race. Discrimination based on gender is just as confining to men (albeit in different ways) as it is to women, and neither gender benefits from it.
  2. Working Collaboratively Across Party Lines: “Don’t just call your Democratic members of congress, call your Republican members of congress too,” Representative Gabbard reminds the audience. As much as the Democrats may wish the Republicans didn’t exist and vise versa, neither party is going anywhere anytime soon. And so, let’s find ways to work together.  Gabbard is a true visionary in that her statement changes the narrative of “us vs. them” and moves towards a “we”. We can no longer continue to ignore the people who disagree with our own approach. To be truly progressive, I think that this whole battle between the Democrats and Republicans needs to end. And it is going to start with political candidates such as Tulsi Gabbard to make that a reality.
  3. We Are The People We’ve Been Waiting For: “I didn’t run for US Senate to make history, I ran to make a difference,” states Tammy Baldwin in the closing address. You go girl. Baldwin epitomizes Take The Lead.  She saw her rightful place as a U.S. politician because she knew she could make a difference, not because she was a woman and said to herself: wouldn’t it be cool if I were the first lesbian in the U.S. Senate? Of course Tammy Baldwin did make history just for being herself, but more importantly, she is strong leader who has enacted her own inner power and happens to also be a woman. 

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