Women’s voices matter. Make yours heard on Election Day – November 4th.
If you’re feeling like us, you’re more than ready for the bombardment of lawn signs, advertisements, phone calls, and mailers to end. But you know, too, that Election Day won’t just bring the end of campaign season. It’s the chance for our state-wide community to select who will have the power to make laws on the issues that matter most to our lives – economic security, access to health care, and your ability to make your own reproductive decisions.
The choices we make on Election Day will affect our lives for years to come. Mainers are electing our next governor, a U.S. senator, two U.S. representatives, 35 state senators, and 151 state representatives – as well as deciding numerous local offices and statewide ballot and bond questions. Your vote will help decide the future of our state.
When women turn out at the polls, it strengthens our power when policy decisions are being made.
There are several easy ways to vote now through Election Day.
Do you have questions about registering to vote, the location of your polling place, or what’s on the ballot? Visit the Maine Women’s Policy Center’s online voter resource for this information and more: bit.ly/mevoterhelp.
See you at the polls!
Eliza, Danna, Kathy, and Molly
P.S. Please remind your friends and family to vote, too. Together we can make sure women’s voices are heard loud and clear.
On September 27, 2014, we honored five inspiring women leaders at the Maine Women’s Lobby Gala: The Voice of Maine Women, Loud and Clear.
Mary Herman – Liz Crandall Spirit Award
Cheryl Miller – Catalyst Award
Attorney General Janet Mills – Trailblazer Award
Zam Zam Mohamud – Community Power Award
Abbie Strout – Spark! Award
Due to your many requests, we are sharing their remarks here.
Attorney General Janet Mills:
As I was driving down from Farmington it hit me how everything is moving on, but still staying alive. It is a season for change – breezy buzzy eye-openers, the brightening hue of bushes and trees, startling streaks of mid-afternoon sun, the evening chills, the unpredictable winds and sudden quietudes, heavy mists over the lake, geese and loons drawing south and eastward, as summertime escapes us.
Transition captures us all, makes us put on warmer wear, hunker down and wait for winter.
Sometimes there are tears, and sometimes there are celebrations such as this.
Sometimes, as it gets dark, it’s hard to find that little piece of joy in the world, the open door that lets in a path to progress, a light in the heart. Such transitions are hard.
This week others have certainly lighted the way for me. I have found in these last few days so much light in the hearts of others – the sisters I have in this room, those at work, my family, the people in my town, the messages and voices on the phone, the Internet and social media.
I would just like to bottle up the powerful force I have been feeling, package it up and send it out like seeds in the wind to all of you and to many beyond this room, beyond our very borders. Like some giant Chia Pet, it would sprout and grow in other people’s arms and hearts, and strengthen their shoulders.
Love is contagious, even as it leaves us.
Love was in the air in 1978. And positive forces abounded in that very different time of transition.
Nineteen of us – including Cynthia Murray Beliveau, Lois Reckitt, Pat Ryan, Kate McQueen and our friend Linda Smith Dyer – had returned from the National Women’s Conference in Texas, the brainchild of Bella Abzug, where we listened to Barbara Jordan exhorting us, saying, “Not making a difference is a thing we cannot afford!”
Jimmy Carter was President.
He authorized the first Susan B. Anthony dollar coin. It is still worth…about a dollar.
All of the Nobel Prize winners that year were men.
Title Seven of the Civil Rights Act had finally been amended to prohibit pregnancy discrimination.
In San Francisco they held the very first “Take Back the Night” demonstration.
…We are still trying to take it back.
In 1978 we had energy. We were determined to enact legislation to put women on the path to progress. We were full of pip and vinegar, eager to make change and get things done.
On the radio Debbie Boone crooned romantically, “You Light Up My Life.”
But we danced to the Bee Gees, who reminded us every day, we were “Stayin’ Alive!”
We lobbied for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. But it failed.
We worked for Equal Pay for Equal – and Comparable – Work. That failed.
We worked for bills to help survivors of domestic violence, victims of sexual assault, displaced homemakers. Those bills failed in the waning hours of the legislative session, with no one there to protect them.
Disappointed but undeterred, the merry band of nineteen bipartisan Mainers that had bonded at the National Conference put their heads together.
We hunkered down as the legislative session died. There were very few women then in the smoke-filled halls of power in Augusta. So we brainstormed, and came up with the seed of an idea – an organized professional lobby focused on women’s issues, as we would define those over time.
We put out a call to others to organize a “Maine Women’s Lobby,” to have a fulltime presence for women in the halls of the State House and to put an end to the death-by-neglect of major bills significant to women in the notorious late night bargains at the “Appropriations Table” or in closed back room deals.
It was a time of transition.
The beginnings of the organization were difficult. We had no money. We had no structure, we had no benefactors. We had no visibility. But we had hope, friendship, good ideas and determination.
We started with the premise that there is strength in numbers. So to grow the membership quickly, we decided to ask for the grand sum of $2 a year dues!! Hundreds of people took the bait.
Now the Maine Women’s Lobby has lighted the way for thousands of women and families. It is a beacon of progress, of positions smartly delivered, proposals and programs methodically lobbied and implemented.
Over the years, The Maine Women’s Lobby has brought us:
Family violence prevention programs,
Funding for shelters,
Civil rights and nondiscrimination measures,
The Reproductive Privacy Act
Effective laws against sexual assault
Workplace safety rules,
Living wage legislation
The first in the nation employment leave for victims of domestic violence
Unemployment benefits for part-time low wage workers
Insurance coverage for mammograms
Girls Day at the State House
Human Trafficking laws
The Women’s Leadership Agenda Coalition
And the Maine Women’s Policy Center, created in 1990, the brainchild of Barbara Alexander.
Issues have changed. Faces change. Seasons change. But the Lobby has endured through many transitions because of our love for the cause.
On a personal level, I would never have dreamed of running for District Attorney – an office always held only by men; I would not have dreamed of campaigning for the legislature in my hometown for a seat never before held by a woman; I would never have run for Attorney General – a job I love more than any other – a job always before held by men – without the strong shoulders of the people in this room, the power of numbers slowly building, the voice of those who work for change.
We have taken full measure of the 20th century and are forging our way well into the 21st.
We have grown, matured. We deny stereotypes. We decry sophistication. We defy stagnation.
We lean on each others’ shoulders. Our hearts are strong. And our will endures.
We cringe when pundits stereotype womanhood, when politicians angrily tell us to just “Do the right thing!” – whatever that means, and when some people take umbrage at the word “feminist.” For, as Maya Angelou put it:
“I’m a feminist.
I’ve been a female for
A long time now.
I’d be stupid not
To be on my own side.”
And, as Emma Watson, the young Harry Potter star, said recently:
“Inadvertent feminists are changing the world today.
It is not the word that is important. It’s the idea and the ambition behind it….”
The Maine Women’s Lobby has improved the lives of thousands of Mainers.
At the same time, you have fulfilled and sustained my life as well,…more than you will ever know.
It is because of our strong shoulders and strong hearts that we will endure for years to come.
So, in this season of change, of remembrance, of transition and celebration, as stardust fills my eyes a little earlier each day, I take comfort in the friendship, the steadfastness, the legacy and the drive of the Maine Women’s Lobby and of all who have joined hands with us over the years, those who stir things up, who choose to make a difference, who lead in the march of women’s progress.
After all these decades, more than a generation come and gone, at 35 years young, the Maine Women’s Lobby – and I – are most definitely “Stayin’ Alive,”…Stayin’ Alive.
Thank you for this honor. Thank you for all you do, every day, every year.
My heart is always with you.
Thank you! It is such an honor to be here today and to be recognized by The Maine Women’s Lobby. I have admired this organization, the work they do and their mission since I first got involved in feminist activism. As Audre Lorde said “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” The Maine Women’s Lobby understands the complexities of women’s lives and uses that framework as they work to ensure that women and girls in Maine can lead healthy and productive lives free from violence and discrimination. I am so proud to be here with you tonight supporting the Maine Women’s Lobby as well women and girls in our beautiful state!
I was asked speak about what motivates me, what sparks my passion, ignites my activism.
I will start with simple fact that I DO NOT like to be told what to do. When I was 5 years old I ended up in the ER because I could not play follow the leader – but that is a story for another time.
When I got to college I discovered that there were powerful politicians who wanted to tell me (and all women) what to do – by taking away our right to abortion. I learned that there were women across the world, in the United States and even in my community who could not access their right to choose. I began to understand that their human right to make the most intimate, personal, life changing decision was being denied to them by bad policy and oppressive social norms. I realized that this struggle was not over. That sparked my passion.
But what sparked my passion and what keeps it lit are two different things.
I am kept motivated, engaged, and fiercely committed by the following:
The women who pass through the Mabel Wadsworth Center every day who deserve to make decisions about their bodies free from shame and intimidation.
Feminists- I can vote, show my ankles, use birth control, and so much more because of feminists! I am inspired by the possibility of gender equality which I am convinced is within our reach.
My nephew – because I want him to grow up in a world where his sensitivity is considered strength and where he reads just as many stories with female heroes as male.
And finally, I am motivated by being here tonight – It is inspiring to be in this room full of people who know we can do better. The collective energy here is a reminder that the following quote by Arundhati Roy is absolutely the truth: “another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.”
Thank you for this amazing honor. I am humbled and deeply touched. I am astonished to see so many precious faces in this audience. To the Maine Women’s Lobby – what an honor you have bestowed on me.
To Samantha, Gerry, Paul and Katie, David and Sarah, Alden, Nate, Conor, Maddie, Anna, Bohden and most especially My Big Guy….you are the wind beneath my wings!
To Sybil, and Kevin, Emily and Evan – what love you have expressed, coming all this distance.
To the staff of MDF – what a ride we have had! My deepest thanks.
And to Laurie Lachance, a fearless leader – together we pumped sunshine, and will continue to be limited only by our imaginations!
How I love Maine – its natural beauty, all 4 seasons, and its people! For the past 14 years, MDF gave me the gift of working with the best and the brightest each year. My ”job” was to motivate and inspire – to empower leaders to reach beyond what they thought they could be, and begin to live their dreams. All the while, I was living mine! If you have found that our work together moved you forward/catalyzed you to change more quickly than you would have without me, I am forever grateful. You have given me far more than I have given you.
I have been asked what one thing would catalyze women’s leadership in Maine? I will answer instead – what would unite leadership in Maine?
Maine does not lack leadership. Just look around the room! We have strong voices, passion, commitment, strength, and power.
What we don’t have is a unified purpose, a long term vision and plan for Maine. What a tall order, but without it, we will continue to shift from one philosophy to the other as leaders and political parties come and go, and we will continue to become more polarized.
Consider what you would like Maine to look like 10 -15 years from now. Who would need to be around the table to begin to create a unifying vision? Who would we need to work at the plan to bring it to fruition?
In my work at MDF we believe in a high quality of life for all people in Maine. I have experienced the hearts, resiliency and creativity of Maine people. I have experienced their personal kindness during times of loss. We are worthy of the time and effort to create a unifying vision and plan.
As I close tonight I leave you with this – Try on a new lens, and dream about what you would like Maine to be.
I see a Maine with bustling downtowns, a Maine with the best educated and healthiest people in the nation, a Maine with abundant natural resources, preserved and serving our people with economic and recreational opportunities. I see a Maine where our children and grandchildren can live and prosper.
“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” Woodrow Wilson
Join me, and think about what it would take to truly make Maine “the way life should be.” It will take all of us!
Zam Zam Mohamud:
Good evening. Thank you for this award. I love my community so much that it means a lot to me to receive this honor.
I don’t know exactly how I’ve gotten so involved in so many activities in my community, but it actually started on my second day in Lewiston in 2001. The night before, my children and I had moved into our apartment. Unfortunately, my son stepped on a broken VCR and hurt his foot. So the first thing we got to do in the morning was find a hospital. We went to the emergency room and he finally got in to be checked. While we were waiting to find out what needed to happen, the nurse who had been with my son came to me and asked for help. He had a patient that was having chest pains, but they didn’t have a translator and he hoped I could help. I was surprised. And at first I said no. I didn’t know anything about medicines or treatments. What did I know about chest pains? But the nurse insisted that I wouldn’t need to translate medical words. It would be simple questions. What could I say? Of course I said I would do my best. It worked out ok and the nurse ended up connecting me to the public relations department – and that’s how I started out at the hospital.
Not very long after that, I was at Lewiston Adult Education and one of the teachers invited me to a supper at one of the local church. It was a supper to help bring the community together. It was only a ten minute walk from my apartment so I cooked some food and went. It was good to meet more people in my community and I went back again to help with the soup kitchen. As time went by, I was asked to come for other activities. One day they asked if I would like to make anything out of wood. I said, “Wood? What do I know about making anything with wood?” But this was an activity for people to do together to get to know each other better so how could I say no? I thought about it and decided it would be good to make a Koran holder. And I invited other Somalis to come with me. It was good to make the Koran holder together – we learned about each other and got to know one another.
People ask me all the time, “How do you know all these people? How do you do all these things?” It’s hard for me to explain because it is so simple. I just put myself out there. I just ask people, “How can I help you? Is there anything I can do?” That’s really it.
I try to be positive and recognize the good things that people have done in the community. We can build relationships and work together.
It’s not always easy or fast. When I first went to the police or schools and asked, “What do you need? Is there anything I can do?” they didn’t know me. But I knew that they had a hard job and that there must be things they needed. So I went back and kept asking. And over time, we got to know each other and I found ways to help. And I let others in the community – not just Somalis, but the other people in the community – know about ways they can help, too.
How do we empower a community? How do we overcome our differences? How do we come together no matter what race or religion or profession? I picture the community that know Lewiston really is. I see a safe place, a place where people meet in the middle, a place where we join together to help each other like we did with the fires last year, like we did last week when we lost one of our sister in a Hit and Run accident.
We can all do this. We can concentrate on the good spirit in each of us and see each other as individuals – not just a white woman or a Somali man, not just a mail man or nurse. We can see what each person does and get to know what makes them special. We can show respect and make sure we say out loud that we appreciate when someone does something positive – instead of just complaining about the negative. We can put ourselves in each others’ shoes.
Our community is so small. We can make it what we want if we just show up and ask, “How can I help?”
Excerpt from Mary Herman’s Remarks:
“What do we want elected officials to know…. My answer is simple: that all Maine children will face a strong future, have a strong healthy start, health care, day care, public pre-K programs, family literacy programs. And I challenge and support all of you–women and men–to continue to be loud and clear advocates for Maine.”
As the leaves change and the air cools, the election season is heating up and we’re beginning to look ahead to 2015. Read on for some of our highlights from the past month as well as upcoming opportunities to get involved.
On Saturday, September 27th, we celebrated the power of women’s leadership at the Maine Women’s Lobby Gala: The Voice of Maine Women, Loud & Clear. During the evening, we honored five incredible women who each work to make a better future for Maine:
Mary J. Herman – Liz Crandall Spirit Award
Zam Zam Mohamud – Community Power Award
Attorney General Janet Mills – Trailblazer Award
We’ll share photos and some of our favorite moments soon. We’re so grateful to all the sponsors, volunteers, and friends who helped make the evening such a success. Thank you!
Lisa Gorman * Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights * Elizabeth R. Hilpman * Acadia Insurance Company * Congresswoman Chellie Pingree & S. Donald Sussman * Unum * Elaine Cinciva * Elizabeth Ehrenfeld * Mainebiz * Congressman Mike Michaud * Hon. Lisa Miller * Tambrands, A Procter & Gamble Company
Corey Hascall (Co-Chair), Anya Trundy (Co-Chair), Paula Armstrong, Nicola Chin, Stephanie Clifford, Maureen Duggan, Devin Dukes, Tracy Eames, Kate Elmes, Kathy Garrard, Megan Gean-Gendron, Caitlin Gilmet, Aimee Grindon, Paige Holmes, Shondra Jin Robbins, Mary Alice Scott, Heather Shields, Charity West
The candidates who want to be Maine’s next governor are all seeking women’s votes. That’s why the Maine Women’s Policy Center is presenting a gubernatorial forum for the candidates to answer questions about the issues that matter most to the economic security of Maine women and our families. We’re pleased to announce that our moderator for the evening will be Susan Sharon from MPBN.
Both Eliot Cutler and Congressman Mike Michaud have confirmed that they are participating in the forum. Governor LePage is not participating. We hope you’ll join us!
Maine Gubernatorial Forum on Economic Security
for Women and Their Families
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Reception: 6:00 PM
University of Southern Maine
88 Bedford St., Portland
RSVP by joining our Facebook event page at bit.ly/mewomenforum.
AAUW of Maine, Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights, Maine Center for Economic Policy, Maine Children’s Alliance, Maine Family Planning, Maine People’s Resource Center, National Council of Jewish Women—Maine Chapter, USM Women & Gender Studies Program, WMPG
Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, Maine Centers for Women, Work, & Community, Maine Equal Justice Partners, Maine Women’s Fund
Election Day – November 4th – is just five weeks away. It’s important that Maine women register to vote and turn out on Election Day because having a strong presence at the ballot box adds to our strength when policy decisions are made by our elected leaders all year round.
You can help. Volunteer to register women to vote in your community and then work with us to remind voters to go to the polls on Election Day. As a volunteer you’ll join a team of dedicated volunteers around the state as well as training and support. Interested? Contact Molly at 207.622.0851 x2 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last month, the Maine Women’s Policy Center released a new set of policy recommendations – Building a Prosperous Maine: A Roadmap to Economic Security for Women and Their Families. It’s a multi-strategy approach to improving the economy of Maine by strengthening our middle class by:
Now the Maine Women’s Lobby needs your help to turn these ideas into action. Become a Regional Leader and engage women in your community on the issues that matter to them. Emailinfo@mainewomen.org. Make a donation to support the work of the Lobby so we can be in the halls of the statehouse and beyond when the policy decisions that affect all of our lives are made. Visit our website or call 207.622.0851 x2 to make your gift today.
Tell us your economic security policy priorities at bit.ly/mwlsurvey. We want to hear from you!
August 26th is Women’s Economic Security. It’s the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which established the right to vote for women in America. It was a hard and long fight to win that right and on Women’s Equality Day, we also honor the hard work that continues to make sure women have full equality.
One important aspect of equality is having economic security for ourselves and our families. As we’ve said before, when women thrive, our whole economy thrives. That’s why the Maine Women’s Policy Center chose August 26th to release a set of policy recommendations titles Building a Prosperous Maine: A Roadmap to Economic Security for Women and Their Families. The recommendations would bring our workplace policies into the 21st century, meet the basic needs of working families, ensure that our children get a strong educational foundation and adults have the tools they need to support themselves, and make sure all Maine people have access to a full range of health care services.
We’ll be sharing more about these recommendations throughout the next few months and we’ll be working to turn these ideas into reality in 2015 and beyond. Support that work by making a membership gift to the Maine Women’s Lobby. You can multiply the power of your gift by making a recurring donation as a Loyal Lobbyist.
Read what the speakers at the press conference said:
Remarks by Eliza Townsend, MWPC/MWL Executive Director
Quotes from Susan Feiner, economist
Remarks by Robyn Merrill, co-chair of the Maine Working Families Coalition
Remarks by Paula Silsby, Maine Early Learning Investment Group
Remarks by Andrea Irwin, co-chair of the Maine Women’s Health Campaign
Read Susan Feiner’s Women’s Equality Day column in the Portland Press Herald: Much inequality remains as we mark Women’s Equality Day
To learn more about how you can help turn these ideas into action, contact Kathy at 207.622.0851 x3 or email@example.com.