Who speaks for women?

Let’s talk about politics for a second.  The statistics are startling for women leadership in politics. Women represent half the residents of the United States, yet we don’t even come close to the same representation as men.

There are 6 woman governors, out of 50 (CAWP).  Women hold 90, or 16.8%, of the 535 seats in the 112th US Congress ; 17, or 17.0%, of the 100 seats in the Senate and 73, or 16.8%, of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives. In addition, three women serve as Delegates to the House from Guam, the Virgin Islands and Washington, DC (Stats here).

There are volumes of books dedicated to why this is true so I won’t get into it.  What I do want to discuss is what we can do about it.  It’s an interesting time in politics because women’s issue are at the forefront of the presidential campaign: health insurance, access to women’s health, birth control, abortion, rape, and the  fundamental question who gets control over a woman’s body yet we lack seeing women discussing these issues.  Not only had I thought we had finished this debate, but I thought more women would step up.

I’ll always remember learning about Abigail Adam’s letter to John Quincy Adams telling him to not ‘remember the ladies’.  In her letter, she writes, “do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

How do we remember the ladies now?  One way we can do this is by increasing women leadership so we have someone to speak for us in a more broader scale.  This isn’t to say women speak with one voice; women can come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences that shape their opinions.  However, we can elect people and showcase women who represent the idea that a woman should chose.

Look at the Democrat and Republican National Convention.

Sixteen women spoke at the Republican National Convention the first day compared to twenty eight at the Democratic National Convention.  Less than five women spoke on the second day of the RNC compared to twenty one for the second day of the DNC (Miss Representation).  The DNC doubled the amount of speakers in two days.  Which party is more favorable to women?  Democrats.

This isn’t a political issue persay, but it is clear that one party has done more for women.  What are you looking for in a candidate?  Do women issues persuade you towards one party?

For a full list of women in state executive offices, see the statistics at Center For American Women and Politics

For more information about women at the DNC and RNC, visit the Miss Representation website. 


How JCPenny’s is Changing

Ron Johnson.  Do you recognize the name?  I didn’t either, but he’s had a profound impact on your retail experience.  He is the innovator behind both Target and Apple’s retail experience.  My friend Jasmine and I were having a conversation today about how where you purchase clothes is almost as important as what you purchase.  Even though they may sell the same shirts at Wal Mart as they do at Old Navy or Macys, no one wants to say they got it at Wal Mart.  Further, going to Target is a lot more fun and feels more upscale than shopping at Wal Mart but they sell the same items.

His key changes for JCPenny are reducing the number of sales they have so shoppers are more likely to shop all the time as opposed to waiting and hoping for a sale, creating smaller sections of JCPenny, and offer specialty services although we don’t know specifics to what these services will be quite yet.  They idea behind these changes is that shoppers go to particular stores because of experiences and brand image.  Ron Johnson also changed the JCPenny logo to look like an American flag.

JCPenny’s market share has fallen to 31 percent last year.  More stores are trying to compete and succeeding while JCPenny’s is falling behind.  He hopes that making these changes will lead JCPenny to become a premier retailer, one of America’s favorite stores.

Ron Johnson encourages you to look at Apple for evidence of his success.  From an interview with Ron Johnson he says,

“You’ll start to see the experience change month by month. Everyone thinks it’s an overnight success but it never is. I was at Apple from 2000 to 2011, but it wasn’t until 2004 that the iPod became an important part of people’s lives. It wasn’t until 2007 that Apple reinvented the phone. It wasn’t until 2009 that Apple launched the iPad. But we look at it today and we feel Apple had always been beloved. It took time and this will take time as well.”

Do you think this will be enough?  Will you try shopping at JCPenny even if you didn’t before?



I Stand with Planned Parenthood

Abortion is a hot topic.  People tend to feel very passionate on either side.  I totally get it: one one side women believe abortion ends a human life and on the other side women feel no one should tell her what to do with her body.  In the end, the only person who can decide what’s right for them is oneself.

I also get Planned Parenthood is controversial in itself.  Pro-life activists have many examples of Planned Parenthood acting in opposition to rules, laws, and their own stated principles.  But behind each event is also a story.  We don’t hate someone because he or she made one mistake in their life.

I am pro-responsibility.  I wish we lived in a world where our sexual education was so good and preventative care was so meaningful that no one ever needed an abortion.  However, things happen.  And it’s not Planned Parenthood’s fault.  The Susan G. Komen organization pulled their funding from Planned Parenthood this month due to strong pressure from anti-abortion organizations.  As a daughter of a breast cancer survivor I find it disheartening that we would give up any resources for women to get female medical services.  Below is a graph of what Planned Parenthood does.  The vast majority of their services are preventative care.  Even though Planned Parenthood performed some abortions, they also prevented  around 620,000 unwanted pregnancies.  It’s not worth giving up the many services Planned Parenthood provides just to stop a few abortions.  Regardless of how you feel about abortions, you should support women’s health.

With that in mind, below is a petition going around the internet to stand with Planned Parenthood to focus on the positive that they do for women.

This is for all the anti-choice, anti-women people out there.

Listen up.

You can spend every minute of every day trying to force the rest of us to live by your ideology. You can go after federal funds for health care and pressure private organizations like the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to stop funding breast cancer screenings for poor women. You can try to make it impossible to get birth control.

But you know what you can’t do? You can’t win. You can’t break us. Planned Parenthood isn’t just a family of organizations. It’s a movement. It’s women and men of all ages who believe that health care — including reproductive health care — is a basic human right. We are millions strong. We are everywhere. We act, we give, and we do whatever it takes to make sure that Planned Parenthood is there for the women, men, and teens who rely on them.

Know this: When you go after Planned Parenthood and the people they serve, you go after ME. I stand with Planned Parenthood. I stand with them against anyone who wants to stop women from receiving the health care they need. I stand with them today, tomorrow, and for as long as I need to.

Sign the petition here.

**I wanted to keep this post as noncontroversial as I can, but abortion is a controversial topic.  This post is not in opposition to abortion or in encouragement of it.  I do, however, support debate and research.


Good News For Student Loans

President Obama announced critical changes to federal loans for college students.   Under his new plan, recent grads are responsible  for only paying 10% of their income to federal student loans for 20 years and anything left will be forgiven.  This is fantastic news!  I still have a ton of private loans, but once I take out loans for law school next year I will have an easier time paying them off.  It also means I don’t just have to look at salary when choosing a job.

Democracy works. Students have been yelling at the Obama Administration to pay attention to the rising costs of higher education and the crushing debt and unemployment rates that faces them after graduation.  Recently, student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt.

From Obama in Colorado pushing student loan relief:

The price of attending the average public university rose 5.4% for in-state students to $21,447 this fall, according to a report released Wednesday by the College Board. The cost for one year at a typical private college rose 4.3% to $42,224.

The average student loan debt for the graduating class of 2009 at four-year nonprofit colleges was $24,000, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.

While college costs are rising, employment prospects for new college graduates are dimming. In 2010, the unemployment rate for college graduates age 24 and younger rose to 9.4%, the highest since the Labor Department began keeping records in 1985.

Thank you Obama!


A New Hope

I had to call into AT&T Customer Care the other day and I was greeted by a message that said my call would be answered by a disabled military veteran.  This was the first time I had heard this message or even of this program and I had called into customer care hundreds of times before.  The man who helped me was probably the most helpful of any of the representatives and went above and beyond to assist me with my problem.

From the AloriCare article. :

AloriCares was established with AT&T in late 2010 to provide customer care services staffed entirely by veterans with disabilities. The new hires joined the initial team of disabled veterans, 60 percent of whom suffer from combat-related trauma, in early July.

President Obama also passed a measure similar to what AT&T is doing.  He is calling for health centers across the country to employ 8,000 military veterans over the next three years.  The funding for this project already exists from the health care bill.

From Kaiser Health News article:

W.H. Seeks Health Care Jobs For Veterans
Tom Van Coverden, president of the National Association of Community Health Centers, said veterans are a natural fit. “They bring almost an unparalleled focus on mission and desire to serve, and they understand clearly what teamwork means.”

I was impressed with both of these policies when I discovered them.  I am so tired of the United States’ hypocritical principles.  No person who has ever risked death and mental illness fighting for this country should be homeless, without health care, and without a support system.  This is a small step in working to keep military veterans off the street and appreciate them a little bit more for all that they’ve done.