Page 1

The Bella Bulletin MAY 2018

Women Win the fight Political op-Eds to Drive in Saudi Read political opinions editorials written by our Arabia




Women in Saudi Arabia are finally permitted to drive. Read about the work of activists and how Princess Hayfa is making headlines.

very own alumnae. Laney Macken, Rachel Mintz, and Maggie Pahl have written about youth votes, gun control, and a student worker strike at Columbia, respectively.

Table of Contents This month at BALI…………………....…....3 This Month in Women’s History.......……6 2017 Leaders of the month………….….…7 ALUMNAE Political Editorial …….......…..8 Trailblazer Tribute.………………….….….10

Featured Article of the Month…..…..….11 Featured Headlines of the Month….......12 Enrichment Opportunities......................13 BALI STAFF & Board of Directors….........15 BELLA BULLETIN STAFF ….........……….........16

THIS Month at BALI Thank you to all of our supporters who made the Bella and Bella Fella Awards a success! We appreciate your commitment to empowering girls and young women to lead the future. We awarded the Bella Award to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, “a leader with boundless energy, commitment, and action.” The Bella Fella Award was given to Gary Ireland, Esq., “a great leader, lawyer and BALI parent always fighting for equal rights of all.” Additionally, three alumnae

received the Emerging Leader award. Serena Lu, Adriana Rodriguez, and Gisselle Rodriguez Benitez were recognized for their contribution to BALI as program interns and for their leadership in their schools and communities. This night was a remarkable success, from a cocktail hour with stunning views to the presentation of awards to our esteemed honorees. It could not have been possible without BALI Staff, Board of Directors, volunteers, and special guests. Enjoy some our favorite photos from the night!



Women’s History of the month:



CLASS OF 2017: Leaders of the Month "My favorite BALI experience was the Dare to Dream activity. Through voicing my hopes and aspirations, I grew more selfassured and confident in who I am and what I aspire to achieve. Further, the activity propelled me to conquer fears that were holding me back from fully pursuing my goals. " — Sarah Tessone, Grade 12, Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School

“I am going to strive towards my goals and as BALI taught me, I won’t let fear get in the way. That's only our insecurities trapping and taking our power. My long-term goal is to help others. I know that if I don't like what's being done in my community, I can change it. BE THE LEADER, NOT A FOLLOWER!” — Tyara Alexander, Grade 11, Landmark High School


Political Opinion Editorial: alumnae voices The Importance of the Youth Vote Lainey Macken Beacon High School BALI Class of 2017 The current political system in America is intensely divided along socioeconomic and political lines. Our current administration shows extreme disregard for the rights of immigrants, has dangerous ties to a threatening world power that may have meddled in the last election, and has made other irresponsible decisions including the raising of tariffs, resistance to tightening gun restrictions in any effective way, and an evident reluctance to cooperate with the special counsel investigation into potential collusion with Russia. This is why, at this turbulent time, focus on the voting age and the drive to register young people for the coming 2020 presidential election is so vital. In my opinion, the recent debate over gun laws is perhaps the most important issue facing young Americans who are still of school-going age. Politicians appear to represent the public only up to a certain point, until it becomes clear that the large majority of older, white male lawmakers in the Capitol prefer to ignore the need for tighter gun control even after the latest devastating mass shootings. Young people are both the future and the present, and issues such as the possible repeal of DACA and the lack of gun control are an immediate concern of young voters everywhere. This is why the youth vote will play a paramount role in the 2020 elections, and why there are grounds for lowering the voting age to 16. Young people, primarily those in their later years of high school, are largely perceived as illogical and incapable of making smart, independent political decisions. We must first consider that this assumption would imply that adults don’t make bad political decisions; one needs only to look to the 2016 presidential election to prove that wrong. In addition, what is not considered by the majority of the populace is that young high school students have the highest stakes in current conflicts, and have displayed their remarkable affinity for creating change, especially in the past few months. Massive organization coming from high school students across the country has allowed mass walkouts and marches to take place in honor of the lives lost in the Parkland and other school shootings. And it is

recently that we have seen companies such as Dick’s Sporting Goods ban the sale of assault rifles to anyone under 21 years of age. The youth of America can and will continue to push for change in policy that will keep our schools safer, and are not only capable of voting at 16 - they have a right to it. If teenagers are allowed to drive, have private bank accounts, get married, and fight for their country in the military at 16, then there is no reason that they should not be given the right to vote in issues that directly affect them. To address the issue of feasibility of the lowering of the voting age: it has happened before, in times when issues directly affecting young adults were in full swing. During WWII, President Roosevelt had lowered the military draft age to 18, prompting the argument that if you were old enough to fight, you were old enough to vote. The 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18, was passed in March of 1971, after youth movements had mobilized in protest of the Vietnam War. According to History.com, “youth voting-rights activists held marches and demonstrations to draw lawmakers’ attention to the hypocrisy of drafting young men and women who lacked the right to vote.” Let’s compare this to the current state of affairs: just as youth activists protested the Vietnam War and the voting age in the 1970s, youth movements today have organized to protest loose gun restrictions that allow 18 year olds to easily acquire assault weapons without checks and balances. Akin to the anti-war movement in the 1970s, today’s youth activists protest a lifethreatening issue in the lack of gun control in America,which has claimed lives in 57 mass shooting since the start of 2018. On Saturday, March 24, more than 800 “March For Our Lives” rallies were organized across the country, the largest of which took place in Washington, DC [Bloomberg View]. The March for Our Lives organizers estimated that at least 800,000 people participated in the march, which would be a larger number than the first Women’s March in 2017. This number alone is justification for a lower voting age, because it demonstrates the power of youth movements largely comprised of high school students. However, we must not ignore the issue of voter participation. According to NPR, millennials have had incredibly low voter turnout in the past few presidential elections. In 2016, only 46% of people from ages 18-35 voted, despite being arguably the most important voting block [NPR 16]. It is clear that the primary issue we need to address is lack of participation, through larger voter registration drives in high schools and8 colleges throughout the country. Youth movements such as March for Our Lives have stressed voting as the key to

attaining better gun control, because with marches and walkouts aside, the biggest changes happen at the voting booths. Whether or not the voting age is lowered, the youth vote will be the most important factor in the coming elections, and the youth movements across America will continue to energize and improve our country. As former President Richard Nixon stated in July 1971: “The reason I believe that your generation, the 11 million new voters, will do so much for America at home is that you will infuse into this nation some idealism, some courage, some stamina, some high moral purpose, that this country always needs."

The Generation that Will End School Shootings Rachel Mintz Livingston High School BALI Class of 2017 Gun safety is not an issue that can be ignored by anyone. Our generation will be known as the generation of school shootings, yet if we continue to lead this movement we can also be known as the generation that ended school shootings. Our silence is not an option; silence represents a full endorsement of an ineffective system that puts us in danger. As students and young people, is important that we use our voices to create better future for everyone. To ensure that my school participated in the ENOUGH movement, I took the initiative to organize a walkout along with two of my friends. We hosted a poster making session after school and also meetings about the importance of student activism to get as many people involved as possible. We also had meetings with the administration and representatives from our town to ensure that the walkout ran safely and smoothly. During the walkout, our school chorus sang and two students read poems about gun control and the importance of speaking up. I also spoke about the power we have as students to influence our futures. Over half of the school participated in the walkout; it was inspiring to see my peers taking a stand together and dismantling the notion that it is uncool for high schoolers to care about anything. We care, and we are here to make a change.

Thank you to our contributors this month! To submit an Political Op-ed CLICK HERE

Student Workers Strike Columbia University


Maggie Pahl Barnard College, Columbia University BALI Class of 2014 At Columbia University during the last week of class, graduate student workers formed a picket line in the center of college walk. Students taking Columbia classes will tell you that teaching assistants have an immense workload. Many are responsible for grading long papers in large lecture classes and tests. In some classes, teaching assistants are responsible for teaching a significant portion of the class. In my experience taking classes at Columbia, TA’s have been an indispensable resource. Many student workers are ‘on duty’ 24/7, answering student emails and freeing up their schedule to provide resources for research projects. However, they are not given the benefits of a full time worker. The protest that spanned from April 24th to April 30, and focused around the right to negotiate as a union. The workers desired negotiations to secure better pay, adequate working hours, guaranteed health care, and protection from sexual harassment. The University, unfortunately, has a history of protecting professors that have repeatedly sexually harassed graduate students who are not protected as full time workers. Student workers refused to work for a whole week with the intention to demonstrate how invaluable they are to professors and to Columbia. Some professors stood in solidarity with the student workers, moving classes off-campus to avoid crossing the picket line. One of my classes was held in a church recreation room a few blocks uptown. For the whole week, faint chants were heard from every corner of the campus. Picketers incorporated instruments and held signs inviting cars and trucks on Broadway to honk. Many students and community members heard the calls and joined in on the picketing. Student workers then began circulating a petition to extend the strike indefinitely. Cynthia Nixon, a New York Gubernatorial candidate, stopped by and joined the picket line. However, the requests fell on deaf on the ears of University President Bollinger who refused to negotiate. Columbia acts as a Sanctuary campus and is located in a democratic leaning city. However, Columbia University is not the liberal institution many believe it to be. They refuse to provide basic working conditions to graduate students. The picketing chants may have quieted down for the summer, but student workers continue organizing to secure their well deserved rights. 9

“Wonder Woman,” Margot Kidder, Passes Away at 69

Driving Princess Graces the Cover of Vogue Arabia

Original article from https://www.nytimes.com/, by Neil Genzlinger

Original article from https://www.nytimes.com/, by Megan Specia

On May 13th, Margot Kidder, known for her iconic portrayal of Lois Lane in the 1978 Superman movie and its following sequels, passed away. Kidder, who was an actress as well as a political and environmental activist, was also known for a public breakdown, which was caused by a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Born in British Columbia, Kidder had exposure to performing arts since childhood, participating in various shows at her boarding school in Toronto. As a preteen, she obtained her first TV and movie jobs, acting in smaller roles until her big break came as Lois Lane. Kidder’s Lane was known for her “raspy voice and snappy delivery,” and took her to stardom. As an actress, Kidder continued her political pursuits, such as her support for Jesse Jackson’s candidacy for president, her campaigning against fracking, and the antinuclear movement. However, her activism spanned all her life; she was arrested for protesting the Keystone XL pipeline at the White House in 2011. Kidder’s diagnosis of bipolar disorder and her breakdown allowed her to take up another cause- mental illness. She spoke out against stigma and bias against those who are mentally ill, and was also treated until she felt that “If I were a cancer patient,” she said in 2008, “I would today be considered cured.” Margot Kidder is revered as a spectacular actress, an important activist, and as a great person from directors and fans alike.

Weeks after Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman elected to lift a ban on women driving, Princess Hayfa bint Abdullah al-Saud, one of the late King Abdullah’s 20 daughters, sits behind the wheel of a car on the June Issue of Vogue. The front cover, released May 31, was subject to both praise and criticism, as people around the world appreciate the ban’s demise, but also wonder what this means for Saudi women activists who are stuck behind bars. The law is to be lifted on June 24, but in mid-May, 11 female activists were arrested and labeled as “traitors” for protesting against the law, and other rights that they feel have been infringed upon by the Saudi government. Many on Twitter spoke to this irony, photoshopping the faces of jailed activists onto the cover. The Princess, who has responded to the controversy, expressed that: “she was happy that her “country women are being celebrated- but also urged readers not to forget the detained activists.” Vogue Arabia, which launched in November 2016, has attempted to connect the “burgeoning Muslim fashion scene” with lifestyle content, emulating the Western magazine’s format and style. Released to 22 countries of the Arab League, Vogue Arabia has become an increasing force in pop culture; this issue is no exception- its creation of a larger conversation about traditional conservative ideals and progressive pushback 10 reflects the magazine’s pervasive message.

Headlines of the Month Feat for Transgender Rights in Pakistan This month, Pakistan’s parliament passed one of the most progressive trans rights bills in the world. The bill officially became law on Friday, May 18th, and was signed by acting president Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani. While the country has yet to see how effectively the law will be enforced, activists have championed this legislation as significant progress in the fight for transgender and non-binary rights in Pakistan. The bill allows transgender and non-binary individuals to self-identify their gender on official government documents, requires government-run medical and educational facilities for the trans and non-binary community, and explicitly makes discrimination against and harassment of trans and non-binary individuals illegal. Many are hopeful that this bill will initiate more rights for the whole LGBTQIA+ community in Pakistan, where homosexuality is still criminalized.

10 Victims Murdered in Santa Fe High School Mass Shooting On Friday, May 18, Santa Fe High School saw the 22nd mass school shooting in the United States this year. The gunman, 17 year-old student Dimitrios Pagourtzis killed 10 people and injured 10 others using his father’s legally owned .38 revolver and shotgun. Pagourtzis also brought several nonfunctioning explosives onto the school campus. The majority of casualties were students, except for substitute teacher Cynthia Tisdale and Pakistani exchange student Sabika Sheikh. Pagourtzis has implied to police officers and investigators that he arrived at school with specific targets in mind, and that he spared those he liked because he “wanted his story told.” Following in the footsteps of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors, students of Santa Fe High School are now calling for changes in gun control laws.

Stacy Abrams is First Black Women in US History to be Nominated for a Major Party Stacey Abrams made history on Tuesday, May 22 by being the first black woman to be a major party nominee for governor in the United States and Georgia’s first black nominee for governor. Abrams, elected to be the democratic party nominee, has a multifaceted career. She has experience as a state House minority leader, a business owner, and an author of several romance novels. Abrams won the race against Stacey Evans, a more moderate democrat with whom she served in the Georgia House of Representatives. Abrams’ platform primarily centered around minority empowerment, while Evans dedicated her campaign to a promise to bring back the Hope scholarship, a state grant that would give any student with a GPA of 3.0 free college tuition. Abrams will now either have to face Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle or Secretary of State Brian Kemp in the race to be governor.

Ban on Women Driving to be Lifted in Saudi Arabia Next month, the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia will formally be lifted. This month, however, several women’s rights activists have suddenly been detained or arrested, much to the concern of human rights activists across the globe. Among these activists are the women that fought for lifting the driving ban, including Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Youssef. The location of the detainees is unknown, and are not allowed any contact with their friends and families. Allegedly, the activists have been accused of “suspicious contact with foreign parties”, but many believe that this is simply an excuse to detain them for their human rights work. If they are found guilty, they could face up to 20 years in prison. The international community is currently trying to call on11 Saudi Arabian authorities to let these activists go.

Featured Article of the Month

Stop Criticizing Meghan Markle’s Choices

By Kara Alaimo, contributor to the Hartford Courant , May 13, 2018 Meghan Markle's wedding to Prince Harry hasn't happened yet, but that hasn't stopped people from judging the brideto-be for her wedding-day choices. Australian feminist Germaine Greer is already criticizing Markle's religious ceremony and predicting that her marriage will end in divorce. The betrothed have even come under fire for their wedding cake. Markle certainly isn't the first woman to be condemned by others, including feminist leaders, for their personal choices. Hillary Clinton recently changed her Twitter bio after the feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie criticized her for starting it with the word "wife." Greer and Adichie's statements were profoundly antifeminist. Women shouldn't be forced to explain or apologize for their relationship-related decisions — and it's wrong to criticize them for the personal choices they make. According to the Harvard Study of Adult Development — one of the most rigorous and lengthy examinations of human beings — good relationships are the key to health and happiness. They even make our brains sharper. So women shouldn't be shamed for celebrating their marriages. And having relationships doesn't diminish our contributions to our professions or communities; indeed, the study suggests it enhances them. The whole point of feminism was to give women the freedom to make their own decisions. We now seem mostly to agree that women shouldn't be told how to lead their lives by men. Why should being told what to do by other women be different? That's because different choices make sense for different women. At my wedding, my husband and I walked down the aisle together, which I thought symbolized the decision we'd freely made to enter into marriage. I didn't think it was appropriate for my father to give me away because I didn't

think he'd owned me in the first place. On the other hand, Markle has chosen to be walked down the aisle by her father. Maybe for Markle — who was raised by her mom — the act will symbolize replacing a man she didn't get to choose with one she did. Whatever the reason, she doesn't owe me any explanation. Markle should make decisions that will make her — not Greer or anyone else who isn't involved — happy on her wedding day. Of course, Greer suggested that Markle's Church of England ceremony reflected the wishes of the royal family rather than those of the bride, who was raised Catholic. That's certainly possible. But compromising on some things to have a good relationship with her future family doesn't mean Markle is not a feminist. Another problem with much of the judgment coming Markle's way is the retrograde focus on her appearance. This is especially anti-feminist because men are rarely assessed based on their physical features or sartorial choices. In her bestselling book "The Female Eunuch," Greer asked: "What more could women want? Freedom, that's what. Freedom from being the thing looked at rather than the person looking back." Greer might have reread her words before disparaging Markle's "cow turd hat." Public discussion of Markle would be more appropriate if it focused on what she does — for example, her work with World Vision Canada to raise awareness of the importance of clean drinking water around the world. To be sure, Markle must have known that marrying into the British royal family would make her a source of great public interest. But that doesn't mean she should live her life based upon other people's beliefs. Clinton, on the other hand, has chosen to be a political figure and presented herself as a role model for other women. But being proud of her relationship doesn't make her any less of a good example. So, here's my advice to Greer and Adichie: Let's give other women the freedom to make the choices that make sense for their lives. Critical Questions: 1) What do you think about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Germain Greer’s comments about Hillary Clinton and Meghan Markle? 2) Should all feminists act a certain way? 3) What is the relationship between feminism and gender roles? Can you be a feminist that subscribes to traditional gender roles for women? 12

Looking for Enrichment Opportunities? Black Girls Code offers programming and events in coding for African American girls. Brotherhood/Sister Sol offers afterschool and summer programming in relationshipbuilding, self/global awareness, social justice, leadership development, and more. Some of their programs are gender-specific. ChickTech offers programming and mentorship in STEM for high school girls. Curious Jane offers classes and summer programming in science, theatre, arts and crafts, and more for girls. Digital Girl, Inc. works at high schools to provide programming in STEM and offers tech workshops for the community. Girl Be Heard works in high schools to teach girls about gender, race, and class through theatre, and offers workshops and performances. Girl Vow offers education, mentorship, advocacy, and life skills training for girls. Girls for Gender Equity offers programming in community advocacy, leadership, and social justice for girls. Girls Inc. offers programming in statistical analysis, economic literacy, leadership and community action, STEM, media literacy, athletics, sexual health education, substance abuse prevention, self-defense, and more for girls ages 6-18. Girls Leadership offers Parent & Daughter workshops, parent education, and summer day camps for girls entering grades 4 and 5. Girls on the Run offers a physical activity based youth development program for girls in grades 3-8. Girls Who Code offers afterschool and summer programming in coding for middle and high school girls. Girls Write Now offers mentoring programs in writing, digital media, and college preparation for girls. 13

Click on programs names For More Info! GOALS for Girls offers year-round programming, a summer intensive, weekend forums, and internships in STEM for middle and high school girls. LOVE Mentoring works at high schools to deliver small-group mentoring for young Latinas. Life is Precious offers individual and group counseling, arts therapy, academic support, and nutritional and fitness activities to prevent suicide among young Latinas. Lower Eastside Girls Club provides programming in STEM, business, art, leadership, and advocacy, as well as mentoring for girls in grades 6-12. NYC GREAT! offers programming and mentoring in college and career readiness for high school girls. NYU GSTEM is a six-week summer program for high school girls during the summer between their junior and senior years who have high aptitude in STEM subjects. Powerplay NYC works in elementary, middle, and high schools to offer afterschool programming in physical activity and healthy living. Sadie Nash Leadership Project provides afterschool and summer programming in leadership and social justice for girls ages 14-22. Soul Sisters Leadership Collective works in schools to offer workshops to explore issues faced by young women of color. Vibe Theatre Experience offers theatre and media programming for girls ages 13-19. Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls offers afterschool and summer music programing for girls. YWCA provides programming in leadership and advocacy, STEAM, career and college exploration, and more for girls.


BALI Staff

Liz Abzug

Oriela Baliaj

Gabriela Valette

Founder & Executive Director

Senior Program Associate

Program Coordinator

BALI Board of Directors Liz J. Abzug, Founder/Executive Director Erica Forman, Board-Chair Meg Holzer, Secretary Cynthia McKnight, Treasurer Erica Forman, Chair Eija Ayravainen Gloria Steinem Joanne Davila Maya Catherine Popa Maya C. Popa

Claire Reed Harold Holzer Jonathan Greenberg Judy Lerner Liz Cooper

Betsy Scheinbart-Norton Jerry Goldfeder A.J. Lederman Kylie Reiffert Kai Gilchrist 15

The Bella Bulletin Staff Gisselle Rodriguez Benitez Editor-in-Chief School: Northeastern University Major: Economics BALI Class of: 2016 Email: gisselle@abzuginstitute.org

Wilma Abam-Depass Section Editor School: Croton High School Grade: 11th BALI Class of: 2017

Zoe Donovan Section Editor School: Bard Early College Grade: 11th BALI Class of: 2017

Adriana Rodriguez Section Editor School: Brown University Major: Political Science BALI Class of: 2016

for inquiries and suggestions, email gisselle@abzuginstitute.org




Profile for Bella Abzug Leadership Institute

Bella Bulletin | May 2018 Edition  

May 2018 Edition of the Bella Bulletin

Bella Bulletin | May 2018 Edition  

May 2018 Edition of the Bella Bulletin