Wonk’s Saturday Reads: Women in Active Control

Rise and shine, news junkies.

Here are my Saturday offerings. Enjoy.

But former Obama administration official Anne-Marie Slaughter says that “this idea of the women going to war is wildly overplayed.”

“On the one hand, you get the women in the administration criticized because they focus on development issues and empowering women and humanitarian issues, and the next minute they are being stylized as Amazons — that’s ridiculous,” says Slaughter, who ran Clinton’s policy planning office at the State Department until recently.

Clinton initially took a cautious line on military intervention, turning only after she was assured that Arab states supported it and would play a role.

Only the day before, Mrs. Clinton — along with her boss, President Obama — was a skeptic on whether the United States should take military action in Libya. But that night, with Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces turning back the rebellion that threatened his rule, Mrs. Clinton changed course, forming an unlikely alliance with a handful of top administration aides who had been arguing for intervention.

Was President Obama “henpecked” into waging war on Libya by his “Amazon warrior” female advisors? Only if you’re shocked by the thought of women in positions of power actually asserting their power. It also helps if you consider skepticism of military engagement to be inherently “feminine” and think that getting convinced of something by a woman is in and of itself emasculating. And if you’re Maureen Dowd you repeat all that stupid, backward cant, because you’re the hard-charging award-winning New York Times columnist with the most retrograde conception of gender relations this side of Hays Code-era Hollywood.

  • Photo (at the beginning of this post): U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledges the crowd at a ceremony marking World Water Day at World Bank Headquarters in Washington, Tuesday, March 22, 2011 (Reuters).

The water crisis can bring people together. In fact, on water issues, cooperation, not conflict, is and can be the rule.

  • This year’s theme for the UN’s 19th annual WWD was

Water for Cities: responding to the urban challenge.

  • Heather Allen at NRDC, on the MOU (memorandum of understanding) agreement on water, signed by Hillary and World Bank president Robert Zoellick on WWD 2011:

Last year Hillary Clinton’s speech on World Water Day catapulted water to the top of the mind among the diplomatic and humanitarian communities. Previously water had done well in Congress (regularly receiving signficant appropriations and passing the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act), however focus from the White House or Administration had been lacking.

In Clinton’s 2010 speech she called water the ‘wellspring of all life’, and characterized it as central to international development. From that speech and other actions over the last year we have seen significant progress toward prioritizing water. Just last month the Rajiv Shah the Administrator of USAID appointed Chris Holmes to be the new Global Water Coordinator – a position designed to help build a water strategy across government agencies. In addition President Obama requested just over 300 million for water appropriations for 2012 – the largest amount ever, indicating an increasing focus on water.

This MOU will help to ground these advances and build support at all levels throughout government agencies for cooperation on water. Agreements like these can be powerful tools to support innovative projects on water, because they make it clear that the highest levels of government intend to see progress here.

Today’s agreement on water helps people in the World Bank and the U.S. Government focus attention where we need it most – to bring water and sanitation to the billions who lack it, a great reason to celebrate on World Water Day.

  • Hillary and Zoellick exchanging documents after signing the MOU (click to view larger):

  • Perusing through the various links I came across on water day, I was reminded of the Guardian’s John Vidal recently asking What does the Arab world do when its water runs out? (h/t Minkoff Minx for pointing to this piece in one of her roundups last month.)
  • Check out this brilliant slideshow of twenty photos from around the globe on World Water Day (via SacBee’s The Frame).

He raised the bar for what it means to be a public servant and set new benchmarks for what a private citizen can accomplish to make the world a better place. He also has more energy and travels more miles than anyone I know—aside from maybe his brilliant wife.

“With the passing of Elizabeth Taylor, America has lost one of its greatest talents and fiercest advocates for HIV/AIDS research. Born in England, Elizabeth became thoroughly American royalty. For more than a generation, she brought to life unforgettable characters on film, and her tireless efforts to combat AIDS brought hope to millions of people around the world. We were honored to host her at the White House in 2001 when she received the Presidential Citizens Medal for her relentless crusade for more AIDS research and better care. In founding amfAR, she raised both millions of dollars and our level of awareness about the impact of AIDS in the United States and around the world. Elizabeth’s legacy will live on in many people around the world whose lives will be longer and better because of her work and the ongoing efforts of those she inspired. Our thoughts are with her family, her friends, and her many fans. We will miss her talent, her heart, and her friendship.”

Taylor was an avid Hillary Clinton supporter during the 2008 presidential race and donated the legal maximum of $4,600 to Clinton’s campaign.

“I have contributed to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign because she has a mind of her own and a very strong one at that,” Taylor said in 2007. “I like the way she thinks. She is very savvy and a smart leader with years of experience in government, diplomacy and politics.”

As Walker’s biography indicates, Taylor wasn’t afraid to go public with these sorts of feelings. Although Taylor is widely recognized for her work as an AIDS activist, she clearly saw the world in feminist terms. One public event chronicled by Walker shows how fiercely vocal Taylor could be when she felt women were not taken seriously:

The senator was addressing a policy forum of Republican VIPs and saying that women should be exempt from the draft, when Elizabeth gave vent to a dissenting mutter and then, to the surprise of many, a prolonged boo. Warner, in what was interpreted as an attempt to placate her, succeeded in looking as if he were slapping her down. Women, he claimed, were volunteering for jobs in the services. Elizabeth’s hard-edged voice split the tense atmosphere….’What kind of jobs — “Rosie the Riveter” jobs?’ Laughter broke out. Emboldened by feeling that the audience was with her, she backed up her position. ‘Women have been in active control since Year One.’ Look at Margaret Thatcher, she said: look at Cleopatra. Warner, now flushed, appeared to try and subdue her with a wave of his hand — a gesture that brought her leaping to her feet. ‘Don’t you steady me with that all-dominating hand of yours.’

Today, 85 countries from every region of the world joined together in a historic moment to state clearly that human rights apply to everyone, no matter who they are or whom they love.

  • This next one is from a conservative think tank, so you’ve been duly warned — Christina Hoff Sommers, via the American Enterprise Institute — Tina Brown’s Post-Feminist Summit:

When panelist Anna Holmes, founder of the website Jezebel, denounced fashion magazines for retouching photographs of female models, Brown refused to see it as a pressing moral issue. “When I get photographed,” she quipped, “the first words out of my mouth are, ‘Am I going to be retouched?'” A dismayed Holmes replied, “But you still want to look human!” “No,” said Brown, “I just want to look great.”

  • For something more inspiring — Homa Sabet Tavangar met up with Hillary’s go-to person between sessions at Tina Brown’s summit in NYC the other week and posted this interview on Huffpo a couple days ago: Don’t Know Melanne Verveer? Why you Should.

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the famous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, which killed 146 workers and prompted labor reform in the United States, HBO is letting the basic-cable-subscribing public watch its recent documentary about the events.

“Triangle: Remembering the Fire” will re-air on CNN on Saturday, Mar. 26 at 11:00 p.m. ET — just one day after the anniversary.

That’s it for me. What’s on your blogging list today?

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]

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