Embassy Brings Women Speakers to Poland to Support European Women’s Congress
September 21, 2011
Women political leaders from Podkarpackie, Swietokrzyskie, and Malopolska participated in a conversation with former U.S. Congresswomen Pat Schroeder and Connie Morella at the International Cultural Center on Tuesday, September 20. The event, which was co-organized by Przestan Kobiet and the U.S. Consulate General, brought together leaders from different parties, academia and the business world to learn about Schroeder and Morella’s experiences as Congresswomen, and to talk about accomplishments towards equality for women in Poland and strategies to move forward.
Simultaneously in Sosnowiec, the Slaskie Active Women Association hosted a women’s leadership workshop that was energetically guided by political strategist Erin Vilardi of the White House Project. Over 30 women political activists and political candidates participated in the interactive workshop, planning their short-term actions and long-term goals for success in the political arena.
Guests attending events in both Krakow and Sosnowiec were then hosted by Consul General Allen Greenberg and his wife, Haruko, at their Krakow home, to allow a continuation of the conversations among “sisters” in the fight for equality in politics. Schroeder and Morella, who had participated earlier in their visit to Poland in the European Women’s Congress, praised the efforts of Polish women and encouraged them to continue pressing forward.
Ms. Schroeder and Ms. Morella cumulatively served for 40 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and made great strides in advancing women’s issues in the U.S., including in health care, family, equal pay for equal work, and opportunities for women in the military.
Ms. Schroeder served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1972 to 1997. She served on the Armed Services and Judiciary Committees, chaired the Children Youth and Families Committee and co-founded the Congressional Woman's Caucus. At one point in her career she even explored running for president in 1987, but after several months decided the country was not ready for a woman president. Since retirement from Congress in 1997 Ms. Schroeder has taught at Princeton University, served as President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers, and served on the boards of several organizations.
Ms. Morella served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 to 2003, where she developed a national reputation as a leading advocate for women, children, and families. She served on the Committees on Science and on Government Reform and chaired the Subcommittees on Technology and the District of Columbia. After leaving Congress Ms. Morella served as Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) from 2003 until 2007. She currently is Ambassador in Residence at American University School of Public Affairs where she teachers “Women, Politics, and Public Policy” and serves on many boards.
Ms. Vilardi recently worked as the Leadership Strategist of Program and Communications at the White House Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to advance women’s leadership. While at the White House Project, Ms. Vilardi developed Vote, Run, Lead – America’s largest political training program readying women for public office and civic life – training over 12,000 women since 2004.
The women’s speaker program is just one example of steps the U.S. State Department is taking to promote the empowerment of women worldwide. In 2009 the State Department established the Office of Global Women’s Issues in recognition of the need to support the political, economic, and social empowerment of women as a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy.
After the European Women’s Congress in Warsaw, U.S. Ambassador to Poland Lee Feinstein remarked on the emphasis that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton places on women’s issues, “It is a foreign policy priority for the U.S. to initiate programs that help ensure that women have not just equal rights, but equal opportunities. As Secretary Clinton has said, ‘The status of the world’s women is not only a matter of morality and justice. It is also a political, economic, and social imperative. Put simply, the world cannot make lasting progress if women and girls in the 21st century are denied their rights and left behind.’”