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Democracy Talks: The Long Struggle for Women’s Rights

This Democracy Talks conversation focuses on the challenges facing democracies today, including the struggle for a more equitable system that better represents our country’s founding ideals.

Interview with Natalie Gonnella-Platts, Chequan Lewis, and Jenifer Sarver December 8, 2020 //   3 minute read

In this Democracy Talks conversation, Natalie Gonnella-PlattsChequan Lewis, and Jenifer Sarver each focus on the challenges facing democracies today, including the struggle for a more equitable system that better represents our country’s founding ideals. 

Gonnella-Platts serves as Director of the George W. Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative. Lewis is a leader in the private sector and is Pizza Hut’s first-ever Chief Equity Officer. Sarver, a public affairs expert and advocate for women’s political participation, is the National Board Chair of the Women’s Public Leadership Network. Both Sarver and Lewis were participants in the Presidential Leadership Scholars program. 

In this video interview with Farhat Popal, Senior Program Manager for the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative, and Chris Walsh, Senior Program Manager for the Bush Institute’s Human Freedom Initiative, the panel discusses the centennial celebration of the 19th Amendment’s ratification, which granted women the right to vote, and its legacy today.

Below are edited excerpts from their video conversation:

Jenifer Sarver on progress towards greater women’s political participation in the United States

Progress is painfully slow, but rapidly improving. So, after the elections this fall we’ll have more than 135 women in Congress, which is a record-breaking number, and of course we have an incoming vice president who is a woman of color. And I think regardless of political ideology, breaking that glass ceiling is something that should be celebrated.

Natalie Gonnella-Platts on the continuing journey for gender equality:

It takes work and perseverance and commitment. Yes, the 19th amendment gave most women the right to vote, but it didn’t assure that right for all and there were still barriers that existed to full active political participation for all women. And some of those barriers still exist today. And they will exist tomorrow.

Chequan Lewis on how women strengthen society:

 I think the reality of this country is that women don’t let us lose. Women don’t let us stay in the Stone Age. Women demand that we always press forward towards what we ought to be and what we might be.