The Maine Women’s Policy Center (MWPC) was founded in 1990 to improve the economic, social, and political status of women and girls in Maine through research, public policy, and leadership development. MWPC works for systemic change by organizing, training, and supporting women and girls to effectively participate in the policy-making process.
Too much to do and too little time this holiday season? To help lighten the load, here’s a handy list of gift ideas honoring women public leaders – perfect for the women (and men!) in your life who appreciate the role that women play in shaping our democracy, as well as the kids who will carry the leadership torch in years to come.
TheCOMPASSProject has designed a collection of special artisan-crafted True North bracelets, and a portion of sales supports CAWP’s Ready to Run® Network of nonpartisan campaign trainings for women. We wear our bracelets every day as a symbol of hope that one day women in America will have the power to govern as equals. Yes, this is a shameless plug to support our work, but you’ll also help women break some marble ceilings while shopping. See, everyone wins!
Speaking of ceilings, this shattered glass ceiling necklace pays tribute to the accomplishments of empowered women everywhere. Enough said.
Every baby needs this Ruth Bader Ginsburg bib, because it’s never too early to start kids on embodying the spirit of powerful women.
We can’t all be on the Supreme Court, but we can enjoy a cup of coffee with this record-breaking, history-making squad any time we’d like.
Statement t-shirts are fun; why not make them empowering ones? Suffragist Alice Paul said, “There is nothing complicated about ordinary equality,” and we agree. Every woman has a mind of her own. And in case anyone needs reminding about where women belong.
What better way to spend a cold winter’s night than curled up in front of a good show? Equity is about the hard road women face making it in a man’s world. The binge-worthy drama Borgen covers challenges faced by Denmark’s first female prime minister.
Last, but not least: books that teach kids and adults about women’s public leadership. (Note: this is by no means an exhaustive list of books on women leaders. The biggest challenge is the lack of titles on the subject of women’s political leadership. Take note, publishing houses and authors! We need more. In the meantime, additional book suggestions are available on our Teach a Girl to Lead™ site.)
Preschool and Elementary: Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison; She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger; Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx/La juez que crecio en el Bronx by Jonah Winter; Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio ; If I Were President by Catherine Stier; Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton and Raul Colon. Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies by Cokie Roberts and Diane Goode; Mary America: First Girl President of the United States by Carole Marsh; Hillary Rodham Clinton: Do All the Good You Can by Cynthia Levinson; A Woman for President: The Story of Victoria Woodhull by Kathleen Krull and Jane Dyer.
Pre-Teen: Yours Truly, Lucy B. Parker: Vote for Me! by Robin Palmer; With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote by Ann Bausum; Scholastic Biography: Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I A Woman by Patricia McKissack and Fredrick McKissack; President of the Whole Fifth Grade by Sherri Winston; Margaret Chase Smith: A Woman for President by Lynn Plourde.
Teen: 33 Things Every Girl Should Know About Women’s History: From Suffragettes to Skirt Lengths to the E.R.A. by Tonya Bolden (editor); Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony by Geoffrey C. Ward and Kenneth Burns; Still I Rise: The Persistence of Phenomenal Women by Marlene Wagman-Geller.
Adult: Pearls, Politics, and Power: How Women Can Win and Lead by Madeleine Kunin; Political Woman: The Big Little Life of Jeane Kirkpatrick by Peter Collier; Unbought and Unbossed by Shirley Chisholm; My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor; Mankiller: A Chief and Her People by Wilma Mankiller; Fighting for Common Ground: How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress by Olympia Snowe; The Autobiography Of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Through dedicated outreach, education and skill training, the Center for Women’s Leadership empowers women and girls in Oregon to embrace their voice, lead confidently, and change the narrative of their leadership. The Center aims to be an advocate, an authority, and a resource that provides women with the knowledge and networks needed to take on leadership roles throughout Oregon.
These days, a lot of conversations around the office of the Center for American Women and Politics (and our larger home, the Eagleton Institute of Politics) tend to start or end with someone saying “Wow, what an interesting year to be studying politics, huh?” or “I’ve just never seen anything like it before.” While presidential election years can be great opportunities to teach kids about democracy and elections, the heated rhetoric and tone from this election cycle have, at times, made it difficult to approach as an educational tool. I have three young daughters, and they have repeatedly peppered me with questions over the past several months: “Why don’t people want girls to be president?”, “Why is everyone so angry about this election?”, and “Why does the sign on that guy’s house say ‘X for President, X for prison’?” Whether I like it or not, my kids are learning about this election, and some of what they’re learning is quite disheartening. I’ll admit my instinct has sometimes been to answer quickly and then change the subject. Because, frankly, I’m not sure where to begin.
But it’s important to talk to our kids about this election in particular and about democracy in general. Civic engagement is the cornerstone of our democracy, after all. And in a year when gender plays a dramatic role, it’s more important than ever to address the subject with an eye on the messages girls and boys receive about who can be public leaders. The Washington Post spelled out why this election could have a negative impact on the girls in this country, regardless of the winner. This line is particularly sobering: “To be sure, electing the first female president would show American girls that women truly can overcome gender bias and win elections at the highest levels. But they will also have witnessed another truth: They will pay a price for trying.” That shook me out of my election fatigue. If my girls must learn this lesson, I also want boys to hear that girls may pay a steep price just for wanting to lead.
To get inspired, I found some resources to use for engaging young people in discussions about politics, women’s leadership and democracy:
- IGNITE, an organization dedicated to grooming young women to become the next generation of political leaders, launched the #DeclareYourAmbition campaign earlier this week to help inspire more girls. The campaign video should be required viewing for every elementary school kid in this country. IGNITE also has “Empower Your Daughter” discussion guides by age group to help you engage girls in election activities and politics. Watch the video below and then tell a girl to run for office!
- For younger kids, PBS Parents features this handy “Helping Kids Understand the Election” page with loads of resources about how presidential and other elections work, voting rules, and election craft ideas. They can even “Meet the candidates” and form their own opinions!
- Judith Myers-Walls, a child development expert at Purdue University, offers these tips for talking to your kids about the 2016 election, civility, fear-mongering and responsible citizenship.
- If you are already grooming a girl or young woman political leader, head over to our Programs and Places map, which features leadership programs to engage girls in politics, including Running Start, Girls in Politics, the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute, the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill, and many others!
The Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill (ERVK) inspires and empowers individuals and organizations to use their time, talent and resources to build a just and sustainable world, close to home and abroad. We accomplish this mission by providing cutting edge programs and experiences epitomizing Eleanor Roosevelt’s passion and commitment to human rights, principled leadership and social justice for all.
The following is a guest post by North Dakota State Representative Gail Mooney. Elected to the legislature in 2012, Rep. Mooney serves on the Government Services Committee, the Human Services Committee, and the Government and Veterans Affairs Committee. Rep. Mooney participated in our Grace for President Reading Project during Women’s History Month.
In late March, I had the pleasure of reading Grace for President to the second graders of Hillsboro (ND) Elementary School. Mrs. Liedholm and Mrs. Ferguson were gracious enough to open up their classes for an hour of reading, visiting and LOTS of questions!
When I started, I asked them all….Who wants to be President of the United States??!! Without hesitation they all raised their hands – boys and girls. Then I told them that in the really old days, when I was in the second grade, if anyone had asked me if I’d like to be President, it would never have occurred to me to raise my hand. They laughed and thought that was funny.
We read Grace for President, and they loved it. They were so engaged with the story, and they all agreed Grace should be President.
Afterwards we talked about dreams. I shared that when I was a little girl, my dream was to be an artist. Then they shared their dreams – artists, farmers, teachers – and presidents. 🙂
Then we talked about women in history – they shared a whole litany of GREAT women in history. I told them how impressed I was that they’d paid so much attention to all these wonderful women. But I also asked them: what about our great moms and great teachers?? Aren’t they historical in their own way?? They LOVED that!
We talked about the state legislature and what my job is all about. When I told them part of my job is to listen to them – to their parents and friends – they loved that. Mrs. Ferguson asked about any bills that didn’t pass that were disappointing. One that came to mind involved a requirement for seat belts in school buses. After discussing it, we decided we’d have a classroom vote on this bill so that I could bring that back with me in the next legislative session. They voted unanimously for safety and to have seat belts. I told them I will bring that bill forward in the next session and be sure to share their vote with my fellow legislators!
In the Q&A one little guy asked me if I’d ever found my dream of being an artist. So sweet that he remembered. I told them that YES! I had! And that I then discovered another dream of being in public office.
We finished with hugs galore – and a huge THANK you for the book donation.
So – with that – thanks so much to Teach a Girl to Lead™ for initiating this in honor of Women’s History Month. It was a hit on every level!
(Editor’s note: Thank YOU, Rep. Mooney, for helping teach the next generation – both girls and boys – about women’s public leadership!)
Women In Government Foundation, Inc., headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a national, non-profit, non-partisan organization of women state legislators that provides leadership opportunities, networking expert forums, and educational resources to address and resolve complex public policy issues to all 1,783 women state legislators.
In recent weeks, several parents have called out big national chain stores for their poor selection of girls’ Halloween costumes, including this one. Melissa Wardy of the blog Pigtail Pal & Ballcap Buddies wrote a great piece a few years ago summing up the problem. Unfortunately there are too many “sexy” costumes for young girls and never any that help girls exercise their own power.
So how about giving your daughter – or son! – costume ideas based on a real woman public leader? Here’s a round-up of some of our favorite costumes and costume ideas, plus some reading suggestions to help you both learn about these important trailblazers.
1) Supreme Court Justice
This baby blows us away with his Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg costume. Three other women have also served on the nation’s highest court: Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Elena Kagan, and former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Any of these women would be fine choice for a girl looking to make her own case.
For inspiration, read: Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World, Sonia Sotomayor’s My Beloved World, For young kids, check out Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx.
2) Madam President
Does your little one have presidential aspirations? Fortunately there are a number of women to choose from, including current candidates Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina.
Many other women have run for president in US history, including Carol Moseley Braun and Shirley Chisholm. [We can’t get enough of the Because of Them We Can series featuring girls dressed as famous Black women leaders. Check out their site and get some amazing posters!]
Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for the US presidency. There are also several women currently serving as presidents in other countries, including Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. Wilma Mankiller was the first woman to serve as chief of the Cherokee Nation.
For inspiration, read: Chisholm’s Unbought and Unbossed or Sirleaf’s This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President. For kids, read: A Woman for President: The Story of Victoria Woodhull; Madam President: Five Women Who Paved the Way; or Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman’s Race for the Presidency.
In this country’s history, 37 women have served as governors in 27 states. Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming was the first woman to serve as governor in the United States when she was elected in 1925.
There are six women currently serving as governors: Mary Fallin (R-OK), Nikki Haley (R-SC), Susana Martinez (R-NM), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Kate Brown (D-OR), and Gina Raimondo (D-RI).
For inspiration, read the autobiographies of past women governors, including Up the Capitol Steps: A Woman’s March to the Governorship by former Oregon governor Barbara Roberts and Straight from the Heart: My Life in Politics & Other Places by former Texas governor Ann Richards.
4) Member of Congress
There are plenty of women trailblazers in US Congress to pick from.
Patsy Mink was the first woman of color and first Asian woman to serve in the US House of Representatives. Barbara Jordan was the first Black woman elected to Congress from the deep South.
For inspiration, read: A Heart in Politics: Jeannette Rankin and Patsy T. Mink and Barbara Jordan: American Hero.
The new Suffragette movie reminds us that many women fought for our right to have a voice in our democrazy. Girls and young women can pick specific woman suffragists to emulate or simply be themselves.
For inspiration, read: Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. For kids, read: You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?, Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage.
Happy trick or treating!