Since a military junta grabbed power of the country in 1962, it has secured its power by rigging elections and suppressing opposition. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi spent 15 of the last 20 years under house arrest after her party, the National League for Democracy, won an overwhelming victory in the 1990 elections but was denied power. In November 2010 elections, Myanmar’s main military-backed party won in a vote again engineered to assure the military’s continued grip on power. The National League of Democracy boycotted this election and called it what it was—undemocratic.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi—who was released from house-arrest November of 2010—and her party, the National League for Democracy, have chosen to participate in elections this time around. On April 1 of this year, Suu Kyi and other pro-democratic candidates will run for 47 of the 48 open seats in Parliament.
Her campaign speech, which will appear on National TV, will mark the first time the Nobel Peace laureate has been given the opportunity to use state media to promote her party’s platform. She calls for amending the 2008 constitution,
Just in time to celebrate International Woman’s Day, Catherine Eng contributes this blog post that celebrates a medical solution to family planning that many take for granted and yet remains out of reach 52 years later to millions of women around the world.
Country music legend Loretta Lynn was known for lyrics that bluntly addressed issues in the lives of many women. She believed no topic was off limits, as long as it spoke to other women.
In 1975, Lynn released The Pill, a single considered to be the first song to discuss birth control. The song tells a story of a wife who is upset about her husband getting her pregnant year after year, but is now happy because she can control her own reproductive choices. The song’s frank discussion of birth control was unprecedented at a time when many would have considered contraception a risqué subject matter. Some radio stations refused to play her song on these grounds.
“There’s gonna be some changes made right here on nursery hill…‘cause now I’ve got the pill.”
Be sure to click on the video link below to listen and laugh.
In an interview later in life, Lynn recounted how she had been congratulated after the song’s success by a number of rural physicians, telling her how The Pill had done more to highlight the availability of birth control in isolated, rural areas, than all the literature they’d released.
Fifty-two years after the inception of the pill in America, conservative newscaster Rush Limbaugh felt free to call Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown university student who asked her university to cover hormonal birth-control, a prostitute and a whore. His ignorant comment reminds us that there still exist widespread misconceptions and stigmas surrounding contraception. Let’s take the opportunity on International Women’s day to clear up any misconceptions, to examine the many social benefits of contraception and family planning.
“If women want any rights more than they got, why don’t they just take them, and not be talking about it.”
— Sojourner Truth, 1797-1883. Former slave, abolitionist,
women’s rights activist, Methodist minister.
Truth’s admonition seems archaic now. Why are we still “talking about it?”
Is women’s history of struggle for equal rights relevant in a world where women have outpaced men in earning college degrees, equaled their numbers in the workplace, and snatched the family purse to make 85% of consumer purchases?
Since “The End of Men” has been declared and women dubbed “Mistresses of the Universe” shouldn’t young women today, at least those in the industrialized world, feel powerful enough to be and do anything they want?
Could there be a more perfect day for a book urging women to embrace their power?
Thank you for making No Excuses “the little book that could.” It had a 9-month stint on amazon.com’s leadership and feminist theory bestseller lists. It has inspired many, even changed a few lives, and moved me to create a new No Excuses Leadership Workshop in addition to keynotes and panels.
I interviewed amazing women for the book, and I was curious what they’ve learned about power and leadership since then. Today, the “She’s Doing It” weekly series will start answering that question.
The first is a woman I admire greatly for her astute political analysis and smart writing. Keli Goff is the author most recently of The GQ Candidateand you can catch her regularly on The Dylan Ratigan Show. She’s a contributing editor at Loop21.com and blogs at www.TheHuffingtonPost.com. Follow @KeliGoff on twitter. Now, read more from her here:
Gloria: Was there a moment when you felt very powerful recently?
This question intrigues people, but rarely does anyone have as clear and direct answer as Merle Hoffman, this week’s “She’s Doing It.” She seems to have been born knowing, and born quite willing to buck the norm of being the archetypical nice and compliant “good girl” in favor of getting done the things she believes are important.
Merle, the President and CEO of Choices Women’s Medical Center, has recently published a memoir I highly recommend, Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman Who Brought Abortion Out of the Back Alley and Into the Boardroom.
Merle was kind enough to answer some questions about her life and times for 9 Ways:
Tell me your personal story…why and how did you come to be doing what you a doing?
I really fell into it serendipitously. My early years and adolescence were spent preparing to become a concert pianist. After I graduated from Music and Art, I also dabbled in painting and drama. When I finally decided to go to college at the age of 22, I need three part time jobs to pay for tuition—and one was with an internist , Dr. Martin Gold, for whom I worked as a medical assistant. At just this time (1970), abortion was decriminalized in New York which was three years before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationally. Dr. Gold, one of the architects of HIP, wanted to start a service for women subscribers. I got involved in the beginning of this project and it has become my life’s work.
What motivates you? What’s your passion?
I am motivated by very deep feelings of responsibility which began with the first patient who came to Choices.
I can’t wait to read Joanne Tombrakos’s new and first novel, The Secrets They Kept and you are going to see why below. After reading Joanne’s story, I think you’ll join me in running out to buy her book. At least I hope so.
Joanne and I met at an 85 Broads breakfast a couple of years ago when we shared our stories of making purposeful life transitions. I’ve admired her writing on her blog ever since. And just look at how she’s applied the 9 Ways Power Tools!
When Gloria Feldt extended the invitation for me to be profiled in this column I quickly accepted. And who wouldn’t? After all this was Gloria Feldt. Best selling author and activist for whom I hold such high esteem.
I was honored. I was excited. Until the waves of nausea washed over me. What was I doing that was worthy of a profile in this column? Certainly not curing cancer or feeding the starving in Africa.
Not a particularly commanding statement when invited to write on a blog whose subject matter is about women and power.
But forced, as I have been to think about it, the truth is I am doing it. My way…
That question comes up every time I speak with women about their career aspirations.
A second question just as surely follows: if we can’t be authentically who we are, why would we want to “succeed” in male-dominated organizations or professions? Many women who leave the corporate world to stay home with children or enter entrepreneurial or nonprofit fields—or alternately, remain quietly in their jobs put only to find themselves doing the work but not getting the promotions—say they do so because they don’t want to become like men.
Yet all signs point to a potential breakthrough moment for women even as we debate the pros and cons of taking on male camouflage.
After my keynote at the AAUW national convention last Sunday, I overheard an attendee tell her friend about the graphic I’d used of a hot dog with “No More” written in mustard on it. I didn’t have to say a word when I put the graphic on the screen for the entire audience to start laughing at the shared awareness that I was referencing now-former NY Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-Stupid). And that by implication I was referencing the fatigue and disgust so many people feel about the seemingly unending waves of philandering politicians who thus far have been almost entirely male.
If women had held the preponderance of political leadership roles for the last few millennia, would peace have become more of a central organizing theme of history than war?
Jeannette Rankin, a Montana Republican and lifelong pacifist, was elected to Congress in 1916; that’s four years before the Constitution gave all women the right to vote. Not only did Rankin lead the way as a first for women, she defied all semblance of political tradition by opposing both World War I and World War II.
Rankin’s leadership style has many lessons for us today, especially since she did not shy away from controversy. The subject of Rankin’s very first Congressional vote (against President Wilson’s WWI war resolution) set the stage for her destiny. Rankin lost the support of most of the women’s suffragists who had campaigned for her, because they feared her anti-war vote made women look weak and hurt the suffrage movement. Embracing controversy can be tough when we ruffle the feathers of our opponents, but it’s even tougher when we lose the support of our closest friends and allies.
Tuesday’s elections were disappointing, to say the least, for me as a progressive woman. But this isn’t the time to throw up our hands in defeat. It’s time to regroup and lead ourselves forward. Today I listened and tweeted up with the Name It Change It campaign. I learned that their polling data backs up my contention that it’s a good thing to embrace controversy, rather than run away from it, if you’re a woman in politics (Republican or Democrat–as pollster Celinda Lake commented “Sexism is one of the very few bipartisan things”).:
Celinda Lake, of Lake Research Associates, spearheaded research measuring how gender-based attacks negatively affect voter perception of female candidates…Lake explains, “Up until this research was conducted, I often advised women to ignore toxic media sexism. But now, women candidates are equipped with evidence that shows they can recover voter confidence from sexist media coverage by directly addressing it, and standing up for all current and future women leaders.”