ON THE CUTTING EDGE: New Non-Partisan Group To Promote Women's Agenda
August 11, 2008 --On Monday, 30 women from around the country who are leaders of various women's organizations or have worked as community activists came together in Westchester, NY, to found a group called The New Agenda, a non-partisan organization to advance women’s issues.
"We will pool our talents and leverage already established 'friends of the family' organizations to launch a grass roots and grass tops effort to register women voters, organize a national 'get out the vote' effort around women’s issues," says Amy Siskind. "Our long-term goal is to cultivate and groom women to run for public office at all levels of government – including the presidency," adds Siskind, a former Wall Street executive who is active in Democratic politics and is a founding member of Together4US, which is supporting efforts to put Hillary Clinton's name on the ballot at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
"The first order of business for our group is to persuade candidates for the presidency, Senate and House to incorporate a number of women’s rights goals and policies into their platforms," says Siskind. These include:
Mandating paid maternity leave;
Ensuring that affordable healthcare is available to women and children;
Passing the Fair Pay Act in the Senate;
Helping women establish and run small businesses;
Reducing domestic violence;
Allocating 20 percent more party money to female candidates than to male candidates until the number of women elected to Congress is on par with their percentage of the population; and
Strengthening FCC regulations to penalize content that denigrates women.
"One women’s rights issue conspicuously missing from our list: abortion," Siskind points out, adding, "It’s not that The New Agenda doesn’t view choice as a central women’s issue, it’s that Roe v. Wade has been used a single defining issue to hold women voters hostage in the past. There are many other issues that are important and relevant to a broad spectrum of women."
The New Agenda also will look to hold men and women in the public eye accountable when they treat women with disrespect and are dismissive of issues important to them. "Although several names were put on a 'to do' list, Chris Matthews was our unanimous choice as the worst offender on women’s issues, therefore the first person on whom we will focus," says Siskind.
Many of the women who attended The New Agenda's first meeting got to know each other as a result working with pro-Hillary groups. Attendees included founding members of such groups as Together4US, Party Unity My Ass (PUMA), IOwnMyVote, Just Say No Deal and Vote Democracy ’08.
"This group is comprised of women who are "gravely concerned about the mistreatment of Hillary Clinton during the primary season, and the passion and emotion that resulted from Hillary’s mistreatment brought us together.," says Siskind.
"There was enough brain power in that room to do just about anything. We are looking to help the women of our country, who often have no voice. We are hoping to make life better for women in all walks of life."
The New Agenda has already contacted representatives of the McCain and Obama campaigns to press its concerns.
"While we have had a much better dialogue with the McCain campaign, I believe both sides increasingly understand that the votes of women over the age of 40 will determine this race," says Siskind.