Just last week, the all-male Republican contingent of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee refused to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, legislation from 1994 that is literally the centerpiece of our national efforts to combat domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. For those who don’t know, since this bill was originally enacted, reporting of domestic violence has increased by as much as 51 percent. To say that this piece of legislation is a triumph and a necessary component to our efforts to ensure the safety and security of our citizens would be an understatement.
The Violence Against Women Act stalled in Congress when it was first introduced. It is no coincidence that only after a record number of women were elected in 1992, the so-called “Year of the Woman,” that it suddenly passed with overwhelming support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, leading to increased assistance and support for victims as well as decreased incidents of domestic violence. It should be noted that not only are there no Republican women currently sitting on the US Senate Judiciary Committee (the Democrats have two, Senator Diane Feinstein (CA) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN)), but also that there has literally never been a female Republican on the US Senate Judiciary Committee.
So what is the lesson here? We all know that increased women’s participation is a good thing for our politics and our public policy. But the question is, when is having more women involved in the process especially valuable?
The answer: When women’s rights – including our health, safety, and security – are especially at risk. And there is no better time to demonstrate that than the present.
This past year has seen unprecedented attacks, not just on women’s rights, but on women themselves. From legislation to grant fetuses the same rights as people to requirements for sonograms for women seeking abortions (which we should be referring to as State-Sanctioned Rape), the GOP’s “War on Women” has been spectacular in both its breadth and scope.
Which means one thing: women can’t afford to sit this one out.
Hosted by the New Organizing Institute, activists and organizers will descend on Washington, D.C. this weekend for the un-conference, RootsCamp. RootsCamp is about engagement, collaboration, and action – just the space we need to further the progressive agenda and promote our values of equal opportunity and social justice. That’s why Fem2.0 is proud to host this year’s first Women’s Caucus at NOI’s RootsCamp.
The Women’s Caucus will serve two purposes. The first is to exchange ideas about how we can get more women involved in the progressive movement, including facilitating RootsCamp sessions, leading campaigns, and developing professionally. How can we make our voices heard? How can we be sure the qualified among us have the support and resources they need to run for office? What needs to be done to get more women to take leadership roles in the progressive community?
The second purpose is to incorporate issues that uniquely affect women into the progressive agenda. If you were outraged by resistance to equal pay for equal work, bogus investigations into women’s health organizations, or cuts to domestic violence programs, we want you to join us in making sure people know that women’s issues are everyone’s issues.
As you all know, Fem2.0 brings together both the grasstops and the grassroots of online women’s communities to further the connection between today’s issues and women’s voices. We’re committed to exploring the ways in which women can participate more fully in our society as a whole, and in promoting the progressive values that respect the unique needs of its individual constituencies.
Join us this afternoon in preparing for RootsCamp and ensuring that both our issues and our voices are an integral part of the conversation about the future of both our country and our movement. RSVP here, or follow our conversation at #femroots12, where we’ll be live tweeting the discussion!