Throughout the 2012 election, clear distinctions were made between the positions promoted by President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, and the positions promoted by the Republican Party. Included in the issues at the forefront of the political discussion were subjects often deemed traditional “women’s issues,” even though they impact the lives of every American. For the majority of women, there was simply no contest as to which candidate better represented our interests on equal pay, access to health care services, choice, and protections from domestic violence.
Given the significant role that women voters played, we believe that a strong mobilization of Jewish Democratic women should be a cornerstone of the National Jewish Democratic Council. Therefore, we are proud to announce the formation of the NJDC’s new Women’s Leadership Network (WLN)—and we are honored that all of the Jewish women in Congress, as well as former Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), have partnered with us as Honorary Co-Chairs.
WLN will amplify the voices of Jewish Democratic women as advocates in the national discussion—whether in person, in the press, or through social media, ensuring that our voices are heard on the issues impacting all women in America. WLN will also provide opportunities for members’ voices to be part of the dialogue among elected and decision making officials, and will ultimately augment NJDC’s broader mission of maximizing Jewish support for Democrats at the federal and state levels of government.
What are the issues at stake?
As the Republican-controlled House of Representatives considers the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), it is essential that House members hear our voices. Since it was first introduced by then-Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), VAWA had been repeatedly reauthorized with strong bipartisan support—until last year, when Republicans stymied reauthorization because it expanded protections to same sex couples, Native Americans living on tribal reservations, and undocumented immigrants.
This month, the Senate passed VAWA—against “no” votes from 22 male Republicans. Now the bill’s fate rests with the House Republican leadership. We will not remain silent. Too many women depend upon VAWA’s protections. Reauthorizing VAWA is critical. WLN will be encouraging our members to call their Representatives to ensure that this important piece of legislation passes.
As the Obama Administration and Congress continue their work to stem the epidemic of gun violence in our country, it is essential that members of Congress hear our voices. When the broader faith community joined together to urge Congress to support new gun control measures, WLN issued an action alert to NJDC’s membership—and we will continue to speak out in support of legislation and executive actions to reduce the level of gun violence and keep our children safe.
Because women still receive less money than men for equal work, it is essential that members of Congress hear our voices. The Paycheck Fairness Act—the next step in winning equal pay—was reintroduced in Congress last month. Remember the Lily Ledbetter Act—the first bill signed by President Obama? Paycheck fairness is the next step. We plan to speak up for this important bill as it moves on the Congressional agenda.
As we were making our plans for WLN, we learned the results of the latest Israeli election—27 women now serve in the Knesset out of 120, a record number! We cheer the good news about women’s leadership in Israel—another example of the shared values that underlie the U.S.-Israel relationship. We look forward to continuing to increase communication and connections with Israeli women leaders.
Our time is now—and your voice will make a difference on the issues we care about and the political choices that put our values into action!
Ann F. Lewis is former White House Communications Director for President Bill Clinton, and former Senior Advisor to the Presidential campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Barbara Goldberg Goldman is the president of Regal Domestics, Inc. and principal in Quorum, LLC. Both Lewis and Goldman are co-founders of NJDC’s Women’s Leadership Network.