By Barbara Belknap
I just returned from the 2012 Vision2020/Drexel University Congress in Portland, Oregon. I’m still a bit depleted, but wanted to share some thoughts. Gather the Women is so in my bones that it takes an effort to segue from the ancient way of meeting in circle to sitting in rows of chairs facing a stage.
Vision2020 has two delegates from every state and Teri Tibbett, another Juneau woman, and I are the Alaskan delegates.
Vision2020 is an ambitious program to achieve equality for women in five areas by the year 2020:
* Increase the number of women in senior leadership positions in American life to reflect the workforce talent pool and demographics.
* Achieve pay equity, so that equal pay for equal work will be the norm in America;
* Educate employers about the value of policies and practices that enable women and men to share fairly their family responsibilities;
* Educate new generations of girls and boys to respect their differences and to act on the belief that America is at its best when leadership is shared and opportunities are open to all;
* Mobilize women in America to vote, with particular emphasis on a record-setting turnout in 2010, the centennial of the 19th Amendment.
I’m working on equal pay, and have been a delegate for two years now.The meeting on Thursday lasted from 7:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night, which is a very very long day. Adrenalin carried me through the evening because the women I met and heard speak were so inspiring. A few hundred Portland women of all ages joined us for the evening program and filled the cavernous Hilton Hotel Ballroom with female energy.
On stage, there were local women news reporters who spoke about women and the election. The movie star who created the movie “Miss Representation” was there to receive an award from Vision2020. I’m too tired to look her up right now, but she was very inspiring and made a special appeal to the young women in the audience to remain true to themselves.
I feel good about the work that is being done, but it doesn’t come close to the near-euphoria I felt after our Gather the Women gathering in Peterborough this past summer. Mary, Joy, Diane and I talked all the way back to Buffalo about it, and then late into the night over dinner. The next day we three flew to Arizona, California, and Alaska happy and already looking forward to the 2013 gathering!
I do feel that the women of Vision2020 are going to make a difference, just as I know Gather the Women makes a difference each time we sit in circle.