Political pioneer Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress and the first woman of any race to seek the nomination of a political party for the office of President of the United States, died on Saturday at her home in Florida the age of 80. The slogan of her many campaigns, “Unbought and Unbossed,” said it all. Chisholm challenged the system and fought for women’s rights and civil rights. She would accept no artificial boundaries of sex or race.
Chisholm was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1964 and to Congress in 1968 representing Brooklyn, New York until 1982. Chisholm an expert on early education and child welfare, introduced and fought for passage of a massive childcare bill in Congress, together with Congresswoman Bella Abzug. The bill unfortunately was vetoed by President Nixon, while serving as director of a nursery school in Brooklyn. In 1964, Chisholm ran for and won a seat in the New York State Assembly, and in 1968 successfully ran for Congress to represent Brooklyn’s 12th Congressional District.
According to the New York Daily News, Chisholm hired an all-female staff and became known in Washington, DC for being honest and outspoken. She fought for powerful committee assignments where she could have the most impact, such as the Veterans Affairs, Education, and Labor Committees.
Chisholm, together with Abzug, Gloria Steinem, and Betty Friedan, co-convened the founding conference of the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971. In 1972, Chisholm became the first African-American woman to run for President for a major party. Though she lost to George McGovern in the Democratic primaries, she inspired a generation of young women to seek higher political office. She was endorsed in her candidacy by the local chapters of the National Organization for Women (NOW). In Pittsburgh alone, the local NOW held a rally for Chisholm to a standing room only crowd of more than 5,000 people. “As a young feminist leader in Pittsburgh, her speeches were inspiring,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, who was a local NOW activist during Chisholm’s run for President. “She was such a powerful speaker that, despite her lisp, she was received by numerous standing ovations. I remember the audience leaping out of their chairs repeatedly during her speeches.”
Media Resources: New York Times 1/3/05; New York Daily News 1/3/05
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .