“The first responsibility of leadership is the creation of meaning.”—Warren Bennis. Welcome to the Sum, where I share my take on the meaning of sum of the week’s parts. I want your voice too. Leave comments here or @GloriaFeldt. The word of the week is MOVE. As in a movement has to move to be…

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“The first responsibility of leadership is the creation of meaning.”—Warren Bennis. Word of the Week is: Heat  I landed in Phoenix @ 120 degrees. Or 122, but who’s counting. Yes, it feels like putting your head in an oven even if it’s a dry heat. There’s lots of heat everywhere.  They say if you can’t…

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“I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.” – Alice Paul, suffragist and author of the still-not-ratified Equal Rights Amendment

Yesterday, March 22, was World Water Day. That got a modicum of press. But did you know it was also the 39th anniversary of the date on which Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) passed out of the U. S. Congress and was sent to the states to be ratified? Probably not. And yet, if there is a resource women need as much as clean water, it must be the guarantee of equality under the law.

The original ERA, introduced in Congress in 1923, was written by Alice Paul, a women’s rights activist instrumental in the 1920 ratification of the 19th amendment, which guaranteed women’s right to vote. Paul also started the National Women’s Party, believing that without a political organization’s clout, women’s concerns would never be taken seriously by politicians. Paul was also one of the few women’s suffrage leaders who realized that getting the right to vote was necessary but not sufficient to enable women to be equal partners in society. She argued that those who had fought for suffrage should then shift their work to getting laws passed that would continue to expand women’s rights.

“When you put your hand to the plow,” Paul said, “you can’t put it down until you get to the end of the row.”

How right she was! And we aren’t there yet.

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Like many women who identify themselves as feminists, Kathleen Turner and I are divided in our presidential candidate pick. We spent 18 months collaborating on her just-released memoir, Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles.

During that time, we talked about politics quite a bit, because she sees herself as an activist as well as an actor. I rolled my eyes last summer when she announced to me that she’d decided to support Barack Obama and was going stumping for him in North Carolina’s August heat.

I thought it a naïve choice, but Obama had the good sense to invite her to a meeting with a few prominent women and had asked directly for her support. She’d been impressed, as I was when I first met him soon after his 2004 election to the U.S. Senate. And like many people, I was thrilled that the Democratic candidate lineup looked more like America, whereas Republicans were still mired in cookie-cutter white male political hegemony. Nevertheless, it seemed at the time that Hillary Clinton was surging to an unassailable lead for her party’s nomination, so I didn’t need to press too hard on Kathleen to join me in supporting her.


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