NEW YEAR'S FORUM: Elizabeth Holtzman Demands We Not Forget About Women

January 9, 2009 posted by admin New years, new administrations, change itself generally elicits a feeling of optimism in me--and I can’t repress that sense now.  Here are my hopes and concerns. I feel glad to see President Bush and his team go: they wreaked such damage on our country and the world--and undermined our deepest values by riding roughshod over the constitution, thumbing their nose at the rule of law and torturing people.  I hope that the country will take proper steps to hold them accountable for their actions even after they are out of office.  The past Administration was also hostile to women, particularly to our right to birth control and choice, treating us as though we were children incapable of making critical decisions for our lives.  Relieved that is over, but am still troubled by the efforts of too many to continue to control what in the end are deeply personal decisions for women, decisions that define our humanity. I hope that these efforts diminish in the years ahead. Americans face a ruined economy, and I am deeply afraid that women and children will be the biggest victims.  With the safety net of welfare gone, what will happen to the poorest of the poor?  Welfare was a concept that President Roosevelt adopted as one way to deal with the devastation of the Great Depression; while deeply flawed, it still reflected a national commitment to poor women and their children.  I hope that in these dire economic times we don’t lose sight of the needs of this vulnerable group.

I also hope that in this year we can see some of the images and treatment of women in the media change.  Let us be depicted as full human beings--intelligent, capable, wise-- not just as sex objects.  Finally, I hope that the way women are brought up to solve problems, by talk instead of force, is valued as a way of dealing with world problems. There are still far too many wars.  I hope our next President will bring more nuance to dealing with the world and more of a commitment to try diplomacy first as a means of resolving problems.  I know it is going to be a year of good changes, but it will be a financially tough year for so many.  I hope the hard times are over soon.  --Elizabeth Holtzman, the youngest woman to serve as a U.S. Representative and the first woman to be elected New York City Comptroller This post is part of a forum

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