Women and the Impact of the Midterm Elections Panel Kicks Off SNAP Conference
Updated On: Jan 25, 2019
Video provided by Tanya Hutchins (IAM), CLUW Media and Technologies Committee
The November 2018 SNAP Building for the Future Conference kicked off with a fantastic panel exploring “Women and the Impact of the Midterm Elections”. Moderated by CLUW Executive Director Carol Rosenblatt, the panel brought together local women activists who spoke on their experiences changing the political culture in Arizona and how their successes model what effective leadership can look like across the county.
The panel started with Athena Salman, AZ State Representative of Legislative District 26, who spoke on how seeing the injustice of wage inequality at her job in the hotel industry inspired her to run for office in 2016 at only 27 years old. She saw that “the money is there for us to have a state and a country where one job is enough,” so she was committed to run for office to work to make a livable minimum wage a reality. She sees that she has already begun to make a difference representing working class issues as a Latina, an Arab-American, and a young person.
Sharon Kirsch, Ph.D., also shared an inspiring win during the panel. She is the Director of Research at Save Our Schools Arizona, a young organization which has nevertheless been able to utilize women’s drive and anger at an unjust Arizona public school system to push change through the state legislature. She educated the crowd on how “for 20 years Arizona has been .. ground zero for privatization efforts which want to change our public schools into profit making mechanisms.” But through the grassroots organizing of angry moms, Save Our Schools Arizona was able to successfully bring forward and pass a public ballot measure which halted further funding for the corporate privatization of Arizona’s public education.
Jodi Liggett, Vice President of External Affairs for Planned Parenthood Arizona, spoke on the continuing issue of protecting women’s reproductive rights. She noted that 1 in 4 American women will have an abortion in her lifetime. Saying, “these culture wars are artificial, we are being used by partisans on the other side who want to make women’s health into a political issue.”
Panelists Tricia Sauer, AZ Statewide Organizer for the Indivisible Project, and Alejandra Gomez, Co-Executive Director for Living United for Change in Arizona, both talked about building on women’s power and continuing to activate and empower women at all levels of political organizing. Sauer emphasized “the person sitting next to you could run for office, you just need to ask her.” While Gomez made clear that the women working behind the scenes as campaign managers, field directors, staffers, etc. are also just as important to successful movements and campaigns.
Audience member and conference attendee, Tamika Johnson-Smith (APWU), said of the panel “all five panelists were very informative about how women in Arizona have taken on the challenge and stepped up to change the grand, and day to day, issues that women face.” Other attendees called the panelists enlightening, inspiring, diverse and dynamic. If you would like to learn more about each of the panelists click here to read their full bios.
The accomplishments of these women truly energized the room as they shared their strategies and wisdom for creating lasting change. Please take the time to watch the video clip of the panel above.