Thursday, May 1, 2014

Influential Women: It's About TIME

As a feminist myself and — especially — as the mother of a teenage daughter, I get emotional when it comes to women's rights. Depending on the situation, I may feel anger, disappointment, sadness, rage, incomprehension. I'm rarely neutral.

It boggles my mind that my sixteen-year-old will likely face economic, political and health care discrimination, social prejudice, maybe even physical danger because of her gender. In this country, in this day and age? A half a century after the women's rights movement? Nearly a century after the 19th Amendment gave us the right to vote?

It boggles my mind.

I was one of those women who felt personally injured when Hillary was forced to pull out of the 2008 presidential race. (And I'll be first in line to cast my vote for her in 2016 if all goes well.) 

Women still make less than men for the same work. The statistic commonly cited is 77¢ to the dollar. This accuracy of this is widely debated, but I don't think anyone would say  there's parity.

Only 20% of U.S. Senators are women, and only 18.5% of the U.S. Congress. And, as I've already bemoaned, we have yet to have a woman in the White House. In this particular category, the United States is lagging behind. According to, there are currently 32 women ruling other countries. These include: 2 Queens, 3 Governor Generals, 15 Prime Ministers, 11 Presidents and a Captain Regent. 

And, let's not even get into CEOs. For every high-powered female Sheryl Sandberg, Virgina Rometty or Oprah Winfrey, there are at least 10,000 male CEOs (and about 1,000,000 thwarted female executives). We hear about the exceptions, not the rules.

I could go on all day, but I'd rather celebrate a rather exciting development. This week, TIME magazine published it's annual "100 Most Influential People In The World" issue. An unprecedented number — 41! — of the influencers included are women.

I love seeing so many women of every age, from every sphere. I love it that this isn't some manufactured (and thereby diminished) "Best Women" list — that the women were judged alongside their male counterparts.

They range from teenage education activist Malala Yousafzai and golf champion Lydia Ko, to notable women up into their sixties. Hillary Clinton's there (of course), but so is Donna Tartt, Alice Waters, Beyoncé, Megan Kelly, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Many familiar names, many new ones. As I read their bios, I am lost in wonder, admiration and pride.

Women do not control their share of wealth. They do not control their share of political authority. In some places (and sadly, in some parts of this country), they don't even control their own reproductive health. But, hallelujah, they can influence this world.

TIME explained it this way: “Power is a tool, influence is a skill; one is a fist, the other a fingertip.”

Here's to us, our mothers, sisters and daughters (especially our daughters). Power be damned. May the reach of our fingertips continue to grow.

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