Opening Meeting 2012: Recap

Opening Meeting 2012: Robin Zweig, NCJW Greater Dallas Section President

On October 16, 2012 Lisa Maatz, Director of Public Policy and Government Relations for the (American Association of University Women (AAUW) was guest speaker for the NCJW Dallas opening meeting held at Temple Shalom.  She spoke about current government and policy trends aimed at reducing women’s rights, particularly family planning and reproductive rights, but also the educational and economic rights that can be impacted by reproductive control.

Maatz described a number of actions that restrict women’s rights, like efforts to deny coverage of contraception on medical insurance plans, government required transvaginal ultrasounds preceding abortion, legislation forcing a woman to carry a child conceived by rape or incest, or a fetus who endangers the pregnant mother’s life.  She posited that the boldness of some of the anti-women’s rights statements (e.g.“legitimate rape,”) and the recent publication of books and articles with  topics like “the end of men,” and “can we really have it all?”, reflect an anxiety about women’s current level of freedom and equality. There seems to be a renewed effort to reduce women’s empowerment.

Lisa Maatz asks the question, why are all these public policy efforts to limit women’s power and self determination happening now? Many view these current attitudes and initiatives as similar to the sort of anti-female empowerment that existed before the second wave of women’s liberation a generation ago.  Maatz postulates that these attitudes were not eradicated by the feminist movement, but rather suppressed for a time.

She advocates not only paying attention to political campaigns and the positions of candidates that support women, but also remaining engaged after elections to ensure that candidates actually follow through on policies that benefit women. Women will be best served when they are part of the power structure and the conversation in both political parties so that their issues can be taken seriously and solutions can be both proposed and enacted.

After the question and answer session and before goodbyes, attendees were encouraged to share the messages from the event with friends, to remember to vote, and to encourage other women to vote.

This event was co-chaired by Renee Karp and Barbara Muntz with the support of the Vice Presidents of Public Affairs, Debra Levy-Fritts and Caren Edelstein.

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