Women and Politics

A blog from WCF about the state of women and politics

Justice Ginsburg Says Nine Women on High Court is Right Number

Jill Miller Zimon is one of WCF’s MsRepresentation bloggers in the final weeks of the 2010 election.

The Women’s Conference, an immense and intense three-day gathering of more than 150 influential speakers, took place in Long Beach, California Sunday through Tuesday of this week. In its last year of being hosted by California’s outgoing First Lady, Maria Shriver, it added a bi-coastal feature: an additional 500 women in New York City participated via simulcast and the White House Project’s Satellite Summit.

Women leaders, full of power from every segment imaginable converged on the site. Everyone from Jessica Simpson to Michelle Obama to Sandra Day O’Connor to Oprah Winfrey and all sorts of people in between attended and dished about everything from breaking barriers to body image.

Cindy McCain and her daughter Meghan McCain discussed mothers and politics, the country’s First Lady spoke almost exclusively about military families and Matt Lauer tried to exact an agreement for no more negative campaign ads between GOP gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown.

I watched at least two hours of the events, including Diane Sawyer interviewing Supreme Court Justices O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The highlight for me of that portion was listening to the new justices, Sonia Sotomayor and Elana Kagan, talk about what O’Connor and Ginsburg meant to them (read more here).

But if you have never heard about what the first two women Justices had to go through just to practice in the field they loved, and the kudos they give their husbands, then you really ought to know.  The word inspirational gets overused with events like this, but it’s hard to listen to them and not feel that way.

Consider this exchange:

“How many women would be enough?” Sawyer asked.

“Nine,” Ginsburg replied with a smile. “There’ve been nine men there for a long time, right? So why not nine women?”

Why not indeed. GOP candidate Todd “Gender Discrimination Does Not Exist” Lally aside.

You can watch many of the sessions and find a great deal more information here – including photos, video, how to do more for the causes championed during the conference (like Alzheimer’s) and the hashtag to use at Twitter so you can re-create the tweets that help describe everything as it happened.

Finally, for a nice recap, check out Robyn Ward’s post in which she includes Shriver’s 10 Ways Women Can Be an Architect of Change.

Five that seem particularly relevant just days before the 2010 general election:

  • Find your own unique voice and listen to what it’s saying.
  • Empower a young woman.
  • Act locally to make a difference globally.
  • Advocate for a cause that you care deeply about. Your time and expertise could help make a difference as a volunteer, counselor or board member.
  • Be an informed citizen. Educate yourself about the world you live in, share your knowledge, educate others and ignite a conversation.

You can almost hear her saying, “And don’t forget to vote!”

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