Harvard WLA Conference: “Binders Full of Women” and Electing More Female Leaders
I doubt anyone on the debate room floor during the second debate could have predicted the way Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” explanation would take off. Of course, the moment the quote hit the airwaves social media exploded. By the time the tumblr and facebook pages appeared, the appeal of the phrase was clear: it seemed ridiculous that a business man and public servant with a resume like Mr. Romney’s would have had so little interaction with qualified women to require staffers to compile binders full of qualified female candidates.
Post-election, I’ve been thinking about an entirely different set of “binders full of women” – the overflowing intake binders at domestic violence shelters and women’s health clinics across the country.
With the Violence Against Women Act on life support, and women’s health clinics under attack by state legislators, women’s gains in the 2012 election – making up a record-breaking 19% of Congress – are as crucial as ever. A government that can let the Violence Against Women Act die is one that clearly minimizes American women’s safety and experiences, as we so often witness in the reproductive health context: who can forget the senate contraception hearing without a single female panelist?
The 7th Annual Harvard Women’s Law Association Conference, “19%: When Will Women Have The Floor?” could not come at a better time. Congresswomen’s reactions to both the VAWA crisis and the all-male contraception hearing highlight the importance of achieving gender parity in government. The conference will provide an opportunity on February 8th for female leaders and our community to celebrate and assess our recent victories, and to brainstorm ways to sustain our momentum in the years to come.
We’ve still got 31% to go!
Stephanie Davidson is a third-year student at Harvard Law School and is the Harvard WLA President.