Sunday, March 1, 2020

In a Room of Great Women

Back on February 19th I had the opportunity to be in the the same room with some of the most powerful and influential women I have ever met! I went to UVU's Women & Leadership Project's The Status of Women Worldwide: Becoming Empowered as Global Citizens. I originally went to hear Valerie Hudson talk about the strength of societies in relation to how they treat women and Sharon Eubank talk about making a difference through worldwide organizations like LDS Charities, grassroots organizations, and individually. Valerie Hudson profoundly influenced my thought about ten years ago when I read her "Two Trees" article. I got to work with Sharon/Sister Eubank around 20 years ago when she hired on with LDS Employment Resource Services in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Welfare Department. I still have the toy she gave me for our first child when we had my work baby shower. I was astounded when Sharon eventually became HEAD of LDS Charities. Not that she couldn't do it, but she was the first woman to do it. Not only that, she was also asked to serve as part of the general Relief Society presidency, the largest women's organization in the world! I don't know how she has time for both because I know how busy the head of LDS Charities is because I was their staff assistant for a while.

So, not only were there cool speakers at this function, there were even other incredible women there! I found a seat on the front row (why not?), and after a minute or so, a tall woman asked if the seat next to me was open. Well, guess who it was? Vauna Davis. You might not know who she is, but she headed up Women for Decency and is involved with the Utah Coalition Against Pornography and additional anti-pornography programs. Seven years ago I was pretty involved in stuff and had actually volunteered to do Women for Decency's Pinterest page... well, it didn't last long, but I had an e-mail to show Vauna about it, lol. I, of course knew that she also knew my friends Michelle and Polly because of this work.

I'd seen a message that Sharlee Glenn was going to be there, too, and hoped to meet her. I hope you know who she is! Does MWEG - Mormon Women for Ethical Government ring a bell? This is what she had in the New York Times that very day:…/opin…/mormons-religion-trump.html… Not only did I meet her, but she also introduced me to another founding member of MWEG, Linda Kimball.

Then I walked over to say hello to the Big Ocean Women Ladies, including Carol Allen and Ann Takasaki, who I had the opportunity to go with to part of the UN's Commission on the Status of Women 5 years ago (which I never even wrote about on here). While chatting with the Big Ocean ladies, I met another woman, whose name I can't remember, who's involved with Days for Girls, another fantastic organization!

And to top it all off, one of the sponsors was MX, the company my husband worked for for around 7 months last year.

I don't know how many more amazing women were in that room, but I'm sure there were many, and I felt totally honored to be in their presence. I even got a little choked up about it on the drive home. There was real power in that room.

I'm not going to write a big summary, but Valerie Hudson talked about her new book The First Political Order: How Sex Shapes Governance and National Security Worldwide. She spoke a little about how the common measurements of literacy, participation in the labor force, and parliamentary representation are not real indicators of women's empowerment in life, but it's more about:
  • How much say does a woman have about getting married? How old is she when she is married?
  • How much say does a woman have within her marriage?
  • What types of property and inheritance rights do women have?
  • Are there are inequities in family law, such as in matters of divorce and child custody?
  • Is marriage patrilocal? Are brideprice or dowry paid? Is polygyny or co-[sorry, it got cut out of my picture] marriage prevalent?
  • Does the society view domestic violence and femicide as normal, even expected?
  • Is rape treated as a property crime?
It became very clear that even though some countries educate their women and get them involved in government, if they're not treated well on the home-front, all the education and government participation means nothing; the women are still trapped. Many of the things Trump does and says toward women does not create a secure feeling for women, and I don't think his example helps men in our country treat women better.

At the end of the lectures, someone mentioned that we need more women in Utah politics, and I thought, but if they're happy where they are because they're treated well, does it make a difference? Maybe they feel fairly represented, and that's fine. It reminds me of that quote from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, "Let me tell you something Toula; the man is the head, but the woman is the neck and she can turn the head any way she wants." Maybe more women have that kind of influence than we know. But heck, if you're a woman and want to get into politics, more power to you! I mean, GO JAN GARBETT! She's a great lady just like the ones mentioned above. I've met her. But, if you're happy where you are, and fairly treated, you may as well enjoy it, AND keep on making progress in your own circles as you see fit.