Women pow­er­ful or­ga­niz­ing force, ac­tivist says

The Detroit News - - News - BY JEN­NIFER CHAM­BERS The Detroit News Ce­cile Richards, ac­tivist and former pres­i­dent of Planned Par­ent­hood Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­ica

Farm­ing­ton Hills — March­ing in protest, knit­ting a pink “pussy hat” and call­ing elected of­fi­cials are “great ways” to fight for women’s rights, ac­tivist Ce­cile Richards said Thurs­day.

“But vot­ing — that is the whole deal; that is how we will fun­da­men­tally change the di­rec­tion of this coun­try. It’s not enough un­less we vote as well,” Richards told nearly 430 peo­ple at the Na­tional Coun­cil of Jewish Women, Michi­gan’s an­nual “Women of Vi­sion” ben­e­fit lun­cheon.

Richards, past pres­i­dent of Planned Par­ent­hood Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­ica and a women’s rights ac­tivist, said women are the most pow­er­ful or­ga­niz­ing force in the coun­try.

“And we have work to do,” Richards said. “I think we are on the verge of a ma­jor break­through in this county . ... To­gether we are a move­ment and we are un­stop­pable.”

Richards, whose mother, Ann, was the first elected fe­male gov­er­nor in Texas, said she likes to point out that women aren’t a spe­cial in­ter­est group.

They are a ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion of the coun­try, make up nearly half the work­force, ac­count for half of col­lege stu­dents and more than half of vot­ers, she said.

Yet they are not treated equally, Richards said.

“When Dr. Chris­tine Blasey Ford tes­ti­fied, she spoke for mil­lions of women in this coun­try who has been si­lenced or shut out for too long,” Richards said of Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh’s ac­cuser. “And I feel like the tidal wave of ac­tivism and com­pas­sion she un­leashed is proof that women aren’t go­ing to be si­lenced any more in Amer­ica.”

Women want full equal­ity, Richards said, so­cially, eco­nom­i­cally and po­lit­i­cally.

“Women want a lot more than just to stop what’s hap­pen­ing and just re­sist. I think what women want is to no longer be an af­ter­thought or an ac­com­mo­da­tion,” Richards said.

“We don’t want to have to ar­gue just for in­cre­men­tal achieve­ment or equal pay . ... It would take 145 years to get equal pay in this coun­try and I don’t have 145 years left.”

In gen­der equal­ity and pol­i­tics, Richards says the United States is be­hind Saudi Ara­bia and Su­dan. And the num­ber of fe­male gover­nors in the United States has de­clined from nine to six.

“We know if we are not at the ta­ble, we are on the menu,” Ri-

chards quipped.

Richards told The News that Ka­vanaugh’s ap­point­ment to the Supreme Court is a cause of con­cern for women’s rights.

“His at­ti­tudes to­ward women, women’s is­sues and re­pro­duc­tive rights are very trou­bling,” she said. “There are sev­eral cases in line to go to the Supreme Court all over this coun­try where states have tried to un­der­cut the prom­ise of Roe, of hav­ing equal ac­cess.”

This is not just about one case over­turn­ing Roe, she said.

“It’s about evis­cer­at­ing the whole prom­ise,” Richards said. “The dan­ger of Brett Ka­vanaugh is that he does not fun­da­men­tally sup­port this right. And there are many many ways you can un­der­mine it.”

Richards is well-known na­tion­ally for her com­mit­ment to re­pro­duc­tive health care for women. Her book, a mem­oir and so­cial ac­tivism play­book, “Make Trou­ble: Stand­ing Up, Speak­ing Out, and Find­ing the Courage to Lead” was pub­lished in early this year and be­came a New York Times best­seller.

Pro­ceeds from Thurs­day’s event at Adat Shalom Sy­n­a­gogue will sup­port the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s com­mu­nity ser­vice projects and so­cial ad­vo­cacy work.

Rochelle Up­fal at­tended the event Thurs­day, say­ing Richards has been a brave ad­vo­cate for women across the United States at a dif­fi­cult time in the na­tion.

“She has been such a leader and ad­vo­cate re­ally a voice of all women for rights over our own body. Be­ing able to stand up as women for what we be­lieve in whether it’s our body, our po­lit­i­cal views,” Ufal said. “We can’t re­main si­lent. We can’t as­sume oth­ers will speak for us.”

Pho­tos by Jose Juarez / Spe­cial to The Detroit News

Ce­cile Richards talks about women’s rights at the “Women of Vi­sion” ben­e­fit held at Adat Shalom Sy­n­a­gogue in Farm­ing­ton Hills.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.