Monday, November 2, 2009

Women Leaders "SHOWER" CRCC

from Megan O'Bryan, Executive Director

Last week, an important first-time event happened in our community. Women elected officials gathered together in a bi-partisan effort to show support for each other and survivors of sexual violence.

Showing How Official Women Encourage Responsibility (S.H.O.W.E.R.) was born out of a call to action made to attendees at CRCC’s Stakeholder Breakfast in April 2009. Mayors Georgine Welo (South Euclid), Susan Renda (Moreland Hills), Deborah Sutherland (Bay Village), and Pamela Bobst (Rocky River) head the call and began organizing an event to raise support for rape victims. SHOWER’s host committee also included Mayors Eileen Patton (Fairview Park), Connie White (Gates Mills Village), Kathy Mulcahy (Orange Village), Beryl Rothschild (University Heights), and Marlene Anielski (Walton Hills Village).

The event was held October 22, 2009 at the Ritz Carlton downtown and attracted more than 30 judges, mayors, and councilwomen from east and west sides. The goal of the evening was to bring together women elected office-holders for professional camaraderie, networking, and education while supporting a critical women’s issue: sexual violence. The event was also part of Cleveland Rape Crisis Center’s 35th Anniversary year-long celebration. Attendees contributed $35 and gift cards to Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, raising more than $900 to support free, healing services for survivors.

It was an honor to be part of the first “SHOWER.” We were grateful to have the opportunity to meet, mingle and share some updates about sexual violence with women leaders and “change-makers” in our community. According to Mayor Welo, no event solely for women office holders in our county had ever taken place before. The hope is that SHOWER will continue into the future.

Historically our issue has been seen as a feminist priority. Rape crisis work has primarily “women helping women.” Over the past decade or so, the movement has embraced men’s involvement more than ever as a key strategy to preventing sexual assault and promoting gender equality. To end sexual violence we need to shift boy’s and men’s perceptions and behaviors toward girls and women. This is an effective and proven strategy that CRCC embraces, and we philosophically believe that sexual violence is a social justice and far-reaching community issue versus a “women’s issue.” However it was refreshing and extremely powerful to band together in a community of women to talk about how, together, we can make positive social and systemic change to end sexual violence.

Women can change the world in many ways. One way is to run for elected office. While women make up for 53% of the population, women represent only 24% of state legislatures across the U.S. and less than 17% percent of the United States Senate. Women policy-makers can create social change on all levels, federal, state and local. If this is of interest to you, reach out to a woman you respect who has held elected office. From the conversations I had at “SHOWER” our women office-holders want to teach, support and mentor other women who are interested in political life.

No comments:

Post a Comment