TRANSITION FORUM—Says Women’s Media Center President Carol Jenkins, “Our Work Has Just Begun”

November 7, 2008 posted by Linda Basch Linda Basch: What is your vision for an Obama administration?  Who are your ideal Cabinet picks?  What new offices, government departments, or agencies would you like to see set up?(We invite your biggest-sky thinking here, far out of the box!)  Carol Jenkins: Wouldn’t it be wonderful, given that women determined this victory, that all of the photo-ops we are beginning to see included as many women as men—as many people of color as non. The early signals about an Obama administration are crucial. This is not the time to reflexively turn to the “old hands” of previous administrations. New ideas are needed, fresh thinking is needed. The “old hands” have brought us to the brink of economic collapse. As we’ve discussed women candidates for cabinet picks, we’ve heard “but she lacks…”—indicative of the exclusion of women from the high levels of finance and government experience. Let’s identify the great thinkers and problem-solvers who are women—and lobby for them. While I applaud the idea of a separate cabinet position for women’s issues, I’m concerned that it might marginalize us. The real solution is to appoint women at the top, and throughout existing departments and agencies. We should accept nothing less. And we should keep score. LB: How else do we move women and the issues women care about most from the margins to the center in this new administration? CJ: By pooling all of our individual efforts into one huge campaign for accountability. To understand that our work has just begun. LB: What's been most missing in Obama’s platform around women's issues, and what messages would you like to send the transition team to rectify this going forward? CJ: The Obama team has to manage the press around possible appointments to ensure that women understand we are being considered. So far, we have heard of almost all male potential cabinet picks. After the euphoria of the big win, the women who put Obama over the top should not so immediately feel betrayed.


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Thank you for engaging in our conversation on how to strategically ensure that women and issues that matter to women are included in the next administration. We hope you will continue to let us know your recommendations for moving us forward.