International Women’s Day

March 8, 2012

“Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”
Abigail Adams1

SPOTLIGHT ON WOMEN:

International Women’s Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day2, a day to celebrate women and their political and social achievements. In honor of all women in America today, here are some facts highlighting the evolution of their empowerment and engagement in the political process:

On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution established voting rights for women.3

More women than men have voted in Presidential elections since 19644. In 2008, 60.4% of all eligible women voted in the U.S., compared to 55.7% of eligible men.

Women tend to be more generous in giving and donations. According to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, woman-headed households give between 28-49% more than male-headed households. Among the study’s middle-income group, women gave an average of $728 and men gave an average of $373.5

Jeannette Renkin was the first woman elected to Congress (1917)6.

Rebecca Felton was appointed the first woman to serve in the Senate (1922), but Hattie Caraway was the first woman elected to the Senate about 10 years later. In all, 39 women, including 25 Democrats and 19 Republicans, have served in the Senate. 7

Nancy Pelosi was the first woman to become Speaker of the House of Representatives.8

In 1933, Frances Perkins was appointed as Secretary of Labor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. She was the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet.9

In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.10

Despite progress, as of February, women only held 17 out of 100 seats in the Senate and 73 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives.11 Women only make 12% of state governors.

Profiles in Leadership

Angela Merkel is the chancellor of Germany and Forbes’ most powerful woman in the world. She controls the world’s fifth largest economy and has played a key role in negotiating the Euro Zone debt crisis.12

Hillary Clinton serves as Secretary of State and the 4th in line to the U.S. Presidency. She is the world ambassador for the world’s largest economy, and as the wife of a former President, has much significant clout in negotiations. She is Forbes’ second most powerful woman in the world.13 In 2001, Hillary Clinton became the only first lady to be elected to public office.14

Alice Rivlin is one of the most respected fiscal experts in the nation. She served on the President’s Deficit Reduction Commission15 and testified before the deficit super committee. As former director of the Congressional Budget Office, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute16, Rivlin has pushed for $4 trillion in deficit reduction.17

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords called on the super committee to slash the salaries of congressmen in order to reduce the deficit before she even returned to Washington following her shooting. In a bipartisan letter, she pointed out that congressmen are paid 3.4 times the salary of the average American.18

Sen. Claire McCaskill has taken lead a in the elimination of earmarks19 and has closely monitored a moratorium on earmarks, which was placed during the current Congress. She published a report claiming there has been $834 million in earmark requests by members, despite the moratorium.20

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  1. Letters Between Abigail Adams and Her Husband John Adams. Accessed March 7, 2012. http://www.thelizlibrary.org/suffrage/abigail.htm
  2. International Women’s Day. Accessed March 1, 2012. http://www.internationalwomensday.com/theme.asp
  3. Library of Congress. One Hundred Years Toward Suffrage: An Overview. Accessed March 1, 2012. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/naw/nawstime.html
  4. Center for American Women and Politics. Gender Differences in Voter Turnout. Accessed March 1, 2012. http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/fast_facts/voters/documents/genderdiff.pdf
  5. The Women’s Philanthropy Institute. Women Give 2010. October 2010. http://www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/womengive/docs/womengive2010report.pdf
  6. Center for American Women and Politics. Women in the U.S. Congress 2012. Accessed March 1, 2012. http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/fast_facts/levels_of_office/documents/cong.pdf
  7. Center for American Women and Politics. Women in the U.S. Senate 1922-2012. Accessed March 1, 2012. http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/fast_facts/levels_of_office/documents/senate.pdf
  8. Rutgers Center for American Women in Politics. Firsts for Women in U.S. Politics. Accessed March 1, 2012. http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/fast_facts/resources/Firsts.php
  9. Center for American Women and Politics. Did You Know? Accessed March 1, 2012. http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/fast_facts/resources/Didyouknow.php
  10. Rutgers Center for American Women in Politics. Firsts for Women in U.S. Politics. Accessed March 1, 2012. http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/fast_facts/resources/Firsts.php
  11. Center for American Women and Politics. Women in the U.S. Congress 2012 Fact Sheet. Accessed March 1, 2012. http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/fast_facts/levels_of_office/documents/cong.pdf
  12. Forbes: World’s Most Powerful Women in Politics. August 29, 2011. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2011/08/29/worlds-most-powerful-women-politics-hillary-clinton-angela-merkel-michele-bachmann/  and The Telegraph: Nicholas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel set a date to save Europe. October 9, 2011.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8817053/Debt-crisis-Nicolas-Sarkozy-and-Angela-Merkel-set-a-date-to-save-Europe.html
  13. Forbes: World’s Most Powerful Women in Politics. August 29, 2011. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2011/08/29/worlds-most-powerful-women-politics-hillary-clinton-angela-merkel-michele-bachmann/ 
  14. Rutgers Center for American Women in Politics. Firsts for Women in U.S. Politics. Accessed March 1, 2012. http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/fast_facts/resources/Firsts.php
  15. Fiscal Commission. Members. Accessed March 1, 2012. http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/members
  16. Fiscal Commission. Members. Accessed March 1, 2012. http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/members
  17. Brookings Institute. An Overview of the Domenici-Rivlin Budget Plan. November 1, 2011. http://www.brookings.edu/testimony/2011/1101_deficit_committee_domenici_rivlin.aspx
  18. Huffington Post. Gabrielle Giffords’ Office Urges Super Committee to Cut Lawmakers’ Pay. November 18, 2011. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/18/gabrielle-giffords-lawmakers-pay_n_1102144.html
  19. McCaskill. Toomey, McCaskill Launch Latest Effort to End Earmarks. February 7, 2012. http://mccaskill.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=1456
  20. Washington Post.  McCaskill-led earmark probe finds $834 million in requests. December 11, 2011.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mccaskill-led-earmark-probe-finds-834-million-in-requests/2011/12/08/gIQAl0MrlO_story.html

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