By Kathryn Lauer Hoover
Vision 2020 National Delegate – Representing Michigan
I am honored to have taken part in the first Congress of women to officially come together from all 50 states to have “An American Conversation about Women in Leadership.” It was not a conference. It was amazing leaders coming together to converse about barriers and issues women still face today. We had eight conversations and a few long days identifying and summarizing what barriers women face and why we still face them. The following eight areas were discussed:
1. Engineering, Science & Technology
2. Business, Law & Finance
3. Communications & Media
4. Philanthropy, Faith &Volunteerism
5. Arts & Culture
6. Politics & Government
I had the opportunity to briefly contribute to the conversation on Education where I had the chance to share about my Student Leadership and Mentoring Model and its success at my school. One of the main overriding themes that surfaced in every conversation was that the lack of self-confidence in women is just one of the internal barriers many women still face in addition to the external ones. All of the topics brought insight and understanding to many other specific barriers that were addressed. As a trained school counselor in combination with the programs I have developed, I can help to address the self-confidence issue with my Student Leadership and Mentoring Model. The other main message I took away from these American Conversations was this is not just about women. We talked about how we want to see our nation as an America that brings our youth up to have values. Values like respect for one another and compassion.
Women’s issues are not just “women’s issues.” When we’re talking about the wage gap where women are still earning less on the dollar to men, this is a family values issue. When women now make up 40-50 percent of the workforce in this country, children, men and women alike are all affected by this wage gap. The economy has taken a horrible blow especially in Michigan. My own father, an automotive engineer, had been laid off from Ford. My mother, a school teacher, has now been the main bread winner. I’m sure my father would appreciate there being no wage gap for her when her wages are supporting them! So this convening in Philadelphia was really discussing the state of our country and the inequalities women still face is a values issue affecting all of us.
The Signing of the Declaration of Equality
Friday, Oct. 22, was a truly memorable day that will go down in history as a day where the women of this great nation did not ask if we could move forward. We simply declared that we will move this country forward towards a more perfect union. True democracy can only exist when equality exists among all of its citizens. The signing of the Declaration of Equality was an emotional ceremony for me that I will never forget. After suffering through domestic abuse and finding my life completely worthless at that point in time, I found my spirit and chose to rise up. The fact that I have turned my life around and said “no more” gives me the passion and compassion I need to help move VISION 2020’s goal of equality into a reality in the next 10 years when we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment when women gained the right to vote. The proudest moment was when I stood on the stage at the National Constitution Center, the birthplace of our Declaration of Independence, and said “I Kathryn Lauer Hoover ratify this declaration for the Great Lakes State of Michigan!” I signed my name for all of us women and men alike. I signed for our children and families. I signed as a proud American who loves her country. My name represents all of us here living in Michigan. What an incredible honor. I want to contribute to moving our state forward into the hopeful future we all deserve.
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