Author Archives: Guest

Tale of Two Elizabeths: Bringing Hope to New Hope

By Tamara Fagin, Guest Blogger

I did not grow up watching Elizabeth Taylor on the silver screen. If I did, I’m sure that like many young people who did come of age with her (like my parents), I would have been utterly distracted by her dark-haired beauty, her striking violet blue eyes and all of those marriages. She was a superstar.

I, on the other hand, came of age during the 1980’s. During a period of tumultuous change – somewhat like now come to think of it. I witnessed (on television) the fall of the Berlin Wall, the fallout of Chernobyl and individuals, families and institutions grappling with the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The Elizabeth Taylor that I grew up with was the most famous AIDS activist in the world.

Posted in Pop Culture, Women's History | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

For Afghan Women, “Finding Voice” Is a Revolutionary Act

As Egypt continues to roil with change and I receive news daily about the UN Commission on the Status of Women 55th session that will convene in New York starting February 22, my No Excuses focus on women in the U.S. is shifting to global mode. And when my fabulous feminist journalist friend Lynn Harris told me about her work with the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, I immediately asked if I could share it with you. Please read her post below, let us know your thoughts, and if you’re moved to action you’ll find out how you can help.

Posted in Economy, Feminism, Gender, International, Media, Women's Rights | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Women’s Eye Sees the 9 Ways

Interview by Pamela Burke of The Woman’s Eye Blog: Gloria Feldt On 9 Ways To Embrace Your Power
29 Dec

Gloria Feldt has a passion for bettering women’s lives. She’s a renowned activist, commentator, teacher, and author. In her early years as a mother of three living in west Texas, she called herself a “desperate housewife.” Yet she rose to find her voice as President and CEO of Planned Parenthood from 1996-2005.

“It’s up to us to develop a more positive relationship with power, to define power on our terms and embrace it…” Gloria Feldt

Her most recent book “No Excuses–9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power” has been received with widespread praise. It’s been called “groundbreaking” and “attitude-changing,” and “the most daring.”

I’ve known Gloria for several years now and have attended her inspiring lectures. She’s certainly embraced her own power as her book is climbing best-seller lists. I am delighted I had the opportunity to ask Gloria how she finally found her own identity and to get her advice for others we begin 2011…

EYE: You’ve wrestled with finding your own voice throughout your life. Do you think the struggle is finally over?

Posted in 9 Ways Blog, Feminism, No Excuses, Power, Women & Politics, Women's Rights | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Want to Help Start a Girlution?

My friend Tamara Kreinin (pictured here), who is executive director of the United Nations Foundation Women and Population program,  sent me several e-mails during the last couple of weeks announcing that she was about to begin blogging. Seemed a little quaint that she was fretting about whether she was getting the art of the blogpost right, given that I get messages from e-consultants daily telling me blogging is already dead.

Well, you and I know blogging is alive and well. So all of you  who can’t fit an entire story into a 140-character tweet or a text, please join me in welcoming Tamara to the international league of bloggers. I am delighted to cheer on the inspiring new girls’ movement she’s initiated by re-publishing her first blogpost as a guest post here at Heartfeldt. If you want to help the Girlution in the U.S. and overseas, check out the Girl Up website to learn how.

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“Real” TED and TEDWomen: What’s Next?

I’ve been meaning to cross post CV Harquail’s excellent wrap up of the TEDWomen conference and the panel held in New York to discuss ways of fostering greater inclusion for women, people of color, and ideas that have not traditionally been chosen by the TED curators. Here is it is, full force and unedited.

My only additional comment is to suggest that the value of the controversy that emerged from TEDWomen has been significant. I hope that by raising consciousness we have opened up a path for gender parity in all such conferences and other “thought leader” events. Because after all, women do have at least half of the big ideas!

I’d love to know your thoughts now that the conference is over and we’ve all had some time to process it.

“Building on TED and the TEDWomen Conference: How Can We Make Conferences More Inclusive?”

We made a big start towards answering this question at our roundtable conversation after the TEDx636 NYC/ TEDWomen simulcast event. Our panel, organized by Natalia Oberti Noguera and sponsored by NYWSE, included  Brittany McCandless (moderator), Adaora Udoji, Liza Sabater, Ritu Yadav, and me.

201012131218.jpgThis post offers my personal, subjective summary of the conversation and the actions steps that were recommended. As my fellow participants, organizers, and allies share their perceptions of the event and ‘next steps’, I’ll share these ideas and resources too.

Although our panel was diverse in terms of age, expertise, professional domain, culture, and racioethnicity, we shared the same over-arching goal: inclusivity and diversity not only at conferences, but also in the larger ‘world of ideas’.

Posted in Gender, Leadership, Women's Rights | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Wearing the Shirt: There are No Excuses for Anti-Gay Bullying

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing convictions put into action. Thanks to Jessica Haney of Crunchy Chewy Mama for writing this blog post inspired by the power tool “wear the shirt” and for submitting her photo.

Although I mostly think Erica Jong was wrong-headedin her Wall Street Journal piece last week where she said attachment parenting keeps women in a prison and out of politics (see my response and other links here), I do have to admit that, in choosing to stay home with my children, I am not out there in public schools being an active straight ally for LGBT youth as a classroom teacher. And with another suicide now by a boy who left behind a note that he was sick of being called “faggot” and “sissy,” I feel sad to be out of that role.

I used to sponsor the Gay/Straight Alliance at the high school where I taught English, and I attended a handful of Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) conferences then and before that while I was an undergrad and a graduate student. I got on the email list for film producer and distributor (and Respect for All Project creator) GroundSpark (formerly Women’s Educational Media) which recently sent a newsletter with this information about the sad story of Brandon Bitner, who took his life last week, leaving a note that said he didn’t want to be called names anymore.

I am so sad for this latest victim of society’s narrow ideas about gender.

Posted in 9 Ways Blog | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

It's Up to Women to Organize

Marylene Delbourg-Delphis reviewed No Excuses on her blog Grade A Entrepreneurs. She has generously allowed me to reprint the article here on Heartfelt.

Gloria Feltd at Marian'sLast Friday, Marian Scheuer Sofaer invited a few friends for a breakfast in Palo Alto, CA with Gloria Feldt, who presented her now famous book, No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think about Power. A great intimate setting early in the morning that did not diminish Gloria’s energy and determination to fight for the cause of women: “Women today,” she said, “are in the midst of an unfinished revolution.” While it is true that women have come a long way (“maybe”), parity is still not here – women’s salaries are still lower than men’s, and as of September 2010, the United States ranks 73rd among 186 countries in its percentage of women serving in national parliaments (not to mention the dismal percentage of women in the boardrooms, etc.). “Women need to lead their own way forward.”

Gloria Feldt states the problem unambiguously: “By far the most confounding problem facing women today is not that doors aren’t open, but that women aren’t walking through the open doors in numbers and with the intention sufficient to transform society’s major institutions once and for all.” The former president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (who had given birth to three children by the age of 20), Gloria Feldt offers a relevant flashback on Margaret Sanger (1879–1966), who opened a birth control clinic in 1916. Not only did she transform her convictions into actions, she did not ask for permission: she did it.

The book evolves around a very interesting analysis of the relationship of women to power. Most of the time, “power” boils down to being a demonstration of force, through attitudes, rhetorical means and the like; in other words, the word denotes a “power over” things, situations, or people. This is a vision of power with which women are traditionally uncomfortable, as it reeks of centuries of servitude and bullying. Implicitly getting back to the actual etymology of the word, Gloria Feldt exhorts women to understand the term as designating “the ability to,” and speaks of a “power to…” This means: the capacity to accomplish things, and before anything else, the faculty of ridding oneself from the fear of coming across in an unfeminine fashion or a sort of “bluestocking.”

This latter is a term that ended up being used derisively to stigmatize educated women in the 18th century, targeting the members of the Blue Stockings Society, an important educational and social movement created in England by Elizabeth Montegu (and to which the first woman-programmer in history, Ada Byron Lovelace belonged!)

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It’s Up to Women to Organize

Marylene Delbourg-Delphis reviewed No Excuses on her blog Grade A Entrepreneurs. She has generously allowed me to reprint the article here on Heartfelt.

Gloria Feltd at Marian'sLast Friday, Marian Scheuer Sofaer invited a few friends for a breakfast in Palo Alto, CA with Gloria Feldt, who presented her now famous book, No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think about Power. A great intimate setting early in the morning that did not diminish Gloria’s energy and determination to fight for the cause of women: “Women today,” she said, “are in the midst of an unfinished revolution.” While it is true that women have come a long way (“maybe”), parity is still not here – women’s salaries are still lower than men’s, and as of September 2010, the United States ranks 73rd among 186 countries in its percentage of women serving in national parliaments (not to mention the dismal percentage of women in the boardrooms, etc.). “Women need to lead their own way forward.”

Gloria Feldt states the problem unambiguously: “By far the most confounding problem facing women today is not that doors aren’t open, but that women aren’t walking through the open doors in numbers and with the intention sufficient to transform society’s major institutions once and for all.” The former president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (who had given birth to three children by the age of 20), Gloria Feldt offers a relevant flashback on Margaret Sanger (1879–1966), who opened a birth control clinic in 1916. Not only did she transform her convictions into actions, she did not ask for permission: she did it.

The book evolves around a very interesting analysis of the relationship of women to power. Most of the time, “power” boils down to being a demonstration of force, through attitudes, rhetorical means and the like; in other words, the word denotes a “power over” things, situations, or people. This is a vision of power with which women are traditionally uncomfortable, as it reeks of centuries of servitude and bullying. Implicitly getting back to the actual etymology of the word, Gloria Feldt exhorts women to understand the term as designating “the ability to,” and speaks of a “power to…” This means: the capacity to accomplish things, and before anything else, the faculty of ridding oneself from the fear of coming across in an unfeminine fashion or a sort of “bluestocking.”

This latter is a term that ended up being used derisively to stigmatize educated women in the 18th century, targeting the members of the Blue Stockings Society, an important educational and social movement created in England by Elizabeth Montegu (and to which the first woman-programmer in history, Ada Byron Lovelace belonged!)

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Help Girls Make Change

Friends, I received this from Tara Roberts, a young woman with a mission to empower girls that I think is so worthy. I’ve voted and encourage you to do so too.

I traveled around the world interviewing girl and young women change makers for 10 months last year. Now, I hope to create an interactive online network called “girltank” to connect these dynamic young women and support them in changing the world.

And all I need is your vote. By October 31st. For a $15K grant to build the site.

The site will offer video clips of the young women, forums, blogs, how-to podcasts, a resource directory, and online workshops. Each element will allow the young women to get to know each other, grow their capacity as leaders, learn more about areas that have a global impact on women, and receive support around their work to change the world. I also hope the site will inspire other girls and young women to get involved.

I promise that it will be very exciting! :)

Thanks in advance for your help!

http://youtopia2010.uservoice.com/forums/81825-youth-issues

(Psssst – And feel free to pass the word!)

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Investors Put Gender on the Agenda

This article was originally published in Businesswire. Whatever works . . .

A coalition of global investors, managing over US $73 billion in assets, called on companies across the world today to increase representation of qualified women on boards of directors and in senior management. The call from Pax World, Calvert and Walden Asset Management, comes in response to a survey of 4,200 global companies that found only 9.4 percent of directors on corporate boards were women.

These findings have led a number of mainstream investors to identify gender balance and diversity as a strategic issue in their investment activity. The investors in this new coalition have asked 54 selected companies from across the business spectrum for greater clarity about gender balance within their organizations.

“We view gender equality and women’s empowerment as strategic business and investment issues,” said Joe Keefe, President and CEO of Pax World. “When women are at the table, the discussion is richer, the decision-making process is better, management is more innovative and collaborative and the organization is stronger. Because companies that advance and empower women are, in our view, better long-term investments, we are encouraging companies in our portfolios to enhance their performance on gender issues.”

The investor initiative is a response to the Women’s Empowerment Principles1 recently developed by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Global Compact. The Women’s Empowerment Principles are designed to help companies take specific steps to advance and empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community.

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