The Conversations Must Change!

By Deborah O’Rell About a year ago Marianne Williamson, author, speaker, student and teacher of A Course in Miracles, hosted an event called Sister Giant. She brought together a group of thought leaders to discuss the idea of inviting more women into the political conversation. She created a platform with speaker after speaker showing the group of mostly women how it was possible to BE the much needed change in the political discussion. The focus was on child poverty, mass incarceration, Citizen’s United and what next steps could be taken to encourage and support women into politics.

It was held in Los Angeles and streamed online. I couldn’t go but I enthusiastically spent the entire weekend sitting in bed riveted to my laptop watching all twenty something hours online. It was life changing for me. It motivated me to look into theWomen’s Campaign School at Yale University course and to volunteer my time to help local candidates, one of whom is female. Marianne reinforced the idea that if we want more women in positions of power, we all must support them at the seed level.

She pointed out how the conversation would naturally have to shift if there more women at the table. We were supposed to be so excited and grateful that women were now hitting 20% in the Senate. Imagine, she said, if it were 20 men walking into a room of mostly women. Do you really believe men would graciously tolerate that? And imagine how different those conversations and negotiations would be.

In this context, I was thrilled and inspired when I learned that it was five women in the Senate who were able to get talks moving again on resolving the shutdown over the weekend. Because these women stepped forward, found common ground amongst themselves and, some defying their parties, presented a starting plan.

Quoting from the NY Times article this morning, “Together, the five senators starkly showed off the increasing power of women — even those who are not on the relevant committees — as their numbers grow in the upper chamber. Of the 13 senators on a bipartisan committee who worked on the deal framework, about half were women, even though women make up only 20 percent of the Senate. Senator John McCain of Arizona joked at several points in their meetings, “The women are taking over.”

Maybe it’s a coincidence. Maybe it’s just a few of our elected officials genuinely doing the work we sent them there to do. Or maybe it is representative of what’s really possible when women step into their own power. The conversations must change.

Thank you Susan Collins-R, Lisa Murkowski-R, Kelly Ayotte-R, Barbara Mikulski-D and Patty Murray-D. And, thank you, Marianne.