Steve Rosenthal on the GenderAvenger Pledge and Not Waiting a Moment to Improve the World

After a recent national election, I was asked to be on a panel at a conference of progressive organizations addressing why the Democrats did not do particularly well in turning out their base voters, including people of color, young voters, and single women. I suppose I should have been shocked to find that all four panelists were men. But in fact, I wasn’t shocked at all, because all too often that is the case.

For over thirty years I’ve been part of the American political process, working in the labor movement, organizing issue and candidate campaigns, and serving in a presidential administration. In America, women make up 51% of the population, yet according to the Center for American Women and Politics only 12% of our nation’s governors are women, only 20% of the US Senate and House are women, and roughly one quarter of state legislators are women. And while we’ve made great strides over the past thirty years, women are woefully underrepresented in our political system — and unfortunately, in most American “systems.”

With that in mind, I was thrilled to see that GenderAvenger has given men a simple, straightforward, and potentially very effective tool to help bring about positive social change.

Now, we can do something to help ensure women are central in the public arena. We can take the GenderAvenger Pledge, which states, “I will not serve as a panelist at a public conference when there are no women on the panel.”

I was so happy to see the pledge on the GenderAvenger website that I signed on immediately and then posted it on Facebook asking others to do the same. A longtime male colleague from my generation (I’m 62) commented, “I can’t believe we’re still fighting this battle in 2015.”

And it’s outrageous, but of course, we are. And I’m sick and tired of it, and hopefully you are, too.

If you believe that America will never be as vibrant and strong as it can possibly be without gender equality, then don’t wait a single moment. Join in taking the GenderAvenger Pledge. And here’s a plea: I am hoping someone will start a pledge that addresses the terrible lack of racial diversity in the public arena. Whoever does can count on me to sign on and make sure others know they should as well.

Remarkably, Anne Frank wrote, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Here’s the GenderAvenger Pledge… Let’s do this.

Steve Rosenthal is founder and president of The Atlas Project and The Organizing Group, and he is the former political director of the AFL-CIO. He has been active in progressive politics and policy for over thirty years.