Tag Archives: women in Congress

Bella Abzug and Florence Feldt: Contrasts in Women’s History

Since we’re wrapping up Women’s History Month, this tribute to my mother, Florence Feldt, and feminist icon Bella Abzug–two very different women from the same generation who died on this day in 1998–seems a fitting close.

I hope that you’ve been inspired by this month’s posts, and that they help you create the future of your choice!

My mother Florence Feldt died March 31, 1998.

Me, my cutie pie sister Candy, and our mother, Florence

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Remembering Jeannette Rankin, First US Congresswoman

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.

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Copyright 2010 Gloria Feldt