TRANSITION FORUM Recap

Last week, we asked prominent leaders of women's organizations to send us their messages to President-elect Obama and his transition team. We asked these leaders to speculate about how might life be different—more equitable, healthier, more secure—for women and girls in an Obama era. What are their visions for an Obama Administration? Who are their ideal Cabinet picks? What new offices, government departments, or agencies would they like to see set up? What’s been most missing in President-elect Obama’s platform around women’s issues, and what messages would they like to send the transition team to rectify these lapses going forward? How do we move women and the issues women care about most from the margins to the center in this new administration? On Friday, we posted their responses. Links to those responses are here: Women Leaders Dream Big and Urge Transition Team to Bring Women and Women’s Issues to the Center of the New Administration, Says Council President Linda Basch Says Women’s Media Center President Carol Jenkins, “Our Work Has Just Begun” Women’s eNews Founder and Editor-in-Chief Calls for Office of Maternal Health, Title IX Task Force, and More Women’s Funding Network President and CEO Urges New Government to Embrace Women as Experts and Decision Makers White House Project President Calls for Presidential Commission on Women and Democracy National Women’s Studies Association Leader Calls for Federal Dept of Women’s Affairs National Women’s Law Center Says The Nation Has No Time to Spare An excerpted version of this forum is also posted at Huffington Post. Please feel free to add messages of your own in the comments section here or over at HuffPo! And be sure to check out pages at other sites, like this one at RH Reality Check and this one at feministing, where women are similarly voicing their hopes and dreams.


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[...] Messages to the Transition Team [...]
Angela, what a wonderfully in-depth response to our blog posting! Thank you for pointing out the importance of women voters in our elections. As for women in Obama’s cabinet, please check out the many conversations happening on news blogs where numerous women are put forth as potential contenders. See, for instance, http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1008/15142.html and http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081107/ap_on_el_pr/obama_potential_appointees. We absolutely agree with you that we need more women in top government positions and hope you will continue to watch vigilantly with us as Obama announces his cabinet in the coming weeks.
In this election year I was a supporter of Senator Hillary Clinton, but switched my allegiance to Senator Barack Obama when she withdrew. In fact, I made what for me is a significant contribution to his campaign, attend the Women's Leadership for Obama conference in Chicago, put a bumper sticker on my car and a sign in my yard in a red state, urged family and friends to turn out in support for him, volunteered, and have plane tickets to the inauguration. I am thrilled that he not only won the election, but did so with such a decided margin. He'll be going to Washington with a strong mandate. To repeat, I began as a strong supporter of Senator Clinton. While I was never one of those Clinton supporters reluctant to switch their support to Senator Obama, I am disappointed that we lost the opportunity to push the first totally qualified, electable female over the top. And I have fully expected the Obama team to recognize and show that they understand 1) the significance of the 18 million different votes she received in the primaries and 2) that women voters were the deciding factor in this election as we were for the past several presidential elections. I didn't see evidence of that understanding in the Obama campaign. Many Clinton supporters, me included, hoped Senator Obama would have chosen Senator Clinton as his running mate. He didn’t, and the Democrats had an all-male ticket and the Republicans were the party to step out with a balanced ticket. Throughout the presidential debates, Senator Obama mentioned quite a few names of men he will have advising him when he becomes President – yet I never heard him mention a single name of a woman. And it's endearing that a husband would so often publicly state that his wife is his best friend. No doubt Michelle Obama positively influences our President-elect, as did his grandmother and mother. But this is 2008. That is all well and good as far as it goes. But it doesn't go far at all because women are qualified to lead, and should not be relegated to influence leaders through their roles in the home and family. Michelle herself is a strong, accomplished, career professional. I would, frankly, be surprised if more women who supported President-elect Obama did not share my reaction, particularly Ms. Pritzker and Ms. Winfrey who provided huge financial support and credibility that was reported to have drawn millions of voters to his side. The last thing I think of when I think of Oprah Winfrey is a "strong woman behind a man." This new administration, that is so highly identified with change, is not yet signaling they are going to make the most obvious, necessary change: fully utilizing women’s talents, expertise, and leadership skills. Thus far there is little in the way of buzz about potential appointments of women. Again, as you point out, women turned out for him in record numbers and, being the largest voting group, delivered the election. While I agree that women's issues need to be central to his administration's agenda, I believe that President-elect Obama must do much more. He needs to appoint qualified women to his cabinet and as heads of agencies, in proportion to our representation in the population. Via his party leadership, he needs to promote qualified women for national elected office in proportion to our representation in the population. Should he be given the opportunity, he needs to promote qualified women for Supreme Court Justice positions and, even so, we would not yet have proportional representation. The results for women in this election year, as The White House Project reports, were far from euphoric, they were dismal: Although more women than ever will now serve in both houses of Congress, our net gain was only four seats: one in the Senate and three in the House. Even with more women running for winnable seats, we raised the percentage of women in congress from just 16 to 17%, and assured that we would maintain our rank behind 70 other countries when it comes to the number of women in national political leadership. They go on to recommend a top level commission which we can all get behind: Without a top-down effort accompanying grassroots efforts like our own, we will continue at this snail's pace. That's why, as Marie Wilson announced in her latest Huffington Post blog, The White House Project is asking President-elect Barack Obama to appoint a Presidential Commission We have to make our voices loud and clear right now. There was division 6 months ago. Many of us felt that Senator Clinton was the candidate of choice and we certainly felt it was long past the time for a woman to be President of the United States. It didn't turn out that way. We switched our allegiance in full, and history was made in another respect. Women were the primary reason that was possible. Now, the new administration needs to appoint, support, and promote qualified women. If this is about real change, President-elect Obama will lead in that direction. I’m not advocating gender balance in this administration, or in Congress, or in the Supreme Court, or in federal agencies, for the sake of balance. Or for the sake of change. I’m advocating gender balance for the sake of shaping the policies our country needs and making the most informed, wise decisions. We sorely need more women in top positions in U.S. government.
[...] answers were posted on the Real Deal, and excerpts appeared on The Huffington [...]
[...] even MORE fun to think up new offices and agencies, like the prominent gals who participated in NCRW’s Transition Forum last week were asked to do. WHP President Marie Wilson thought there should be a Presidential Commission on [...]