New Hampshire Women's Caucus

Announcement of the 2011 New Hampshire Women’s Caucus Platform Nov. 12, 2011, at Sawyer Center Theatre

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

These words come from the Declaration of Sentiments, the result of the historic two-day Seneca Falls Convention held in New York State in 1848, a time when women were civilly dead.

Since gathering this morning for the first New Hampshire Women’s Caucus, 163 years after that group of women and men gathered in New York, it is clear that women have made a great deal of progress on almost every front, but still have a long way to go. This progress is represented in part by the women who spoke in our morning panels to educate us about important issues. They are professors, directors of organizations, dream makers, world shapers. They are women.

We came here to look to each other for the answer to the question: What do women want now in advance of the New Hampshire state primary and the 2012 state and national elections? And now we have an answer.

At the caucus held today at Colby-Sawyer College, we ranked not our choices for elected officials, but for the issues most vital to women. and on which we can work together to effect positive change in society.

There are many issues women care about with intense passion. Our panelists argued for nine issues this morning and other issues were introduced by the nearly 200 invested and engaged participants who came here to learn and take action to improve the status of women here in New Hampshire and planetwide.

Every issue introduced had merit. Our caucus participants considered the urgency of the issue, the size and vulnerability of the affected populations, whether the issue has a history of unmet needs, and the issue’s level of support.

After this process, the top three answers to the question what do women want now, the issues voted on and adopted for the NHWC Platform are:

  1. Make health care, including reproductive health care, affordable and accessible to all;
  2. Require equality and flexibility in our workplaces, including equal opportunities and pay, and affordable, quality child care;
  3. Move the U.S. toward ratification of the U.N. Women’s Rights treaty, which calls for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

This is the New Hampshire Women’s Caucus Platform, announced on Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s 195th birthday. We know she would be proud of the work done here today. This platform is what those who are in and who are running for office need to know women want now.

It is hard to spread innovation. It is hard to make change. It is hard to make people listen and learn to see issues they thought they knew about with new eyes. But women’s issues are America’s issues. We all have to vote, and we have to speak up. Educate yourself and engage. The journey continues after the caucus ends. Vote. Run for office. We need your talent and energy!

Don’t let disagreements stop the conversation before it starts. We can work together. Women must always be advocates for change.

This announcement was made as part of the New Hampshire Women’s Caucus by Assistant Professor of Humanities Margaret Wiley and was written by Kate Seamans, assistant director of Communications at Colby-Sawyer College. The announcement was made prior to the event’s keynote address by Sheryl WuDunn.

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