Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Candidate blog for Poli 323, outlining Gillibrand's accomplishments in the US Senate, and discussing her viewpoints on relative issues in the 2012 Election.

October 20, 2012 at 7:57pm
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Women: A Right to Choose, and Off the Sidelines (Wikipedia)

            Kirsten Gillibrand’s most personal initiative is likely her champion of women’s rights and women’s issues in the US Senate. Gillibrand is a strong proponent of a woman’s right to choose, and supports unabated access to birth control.[1] Her support of women’s reproductive rights has earned her a 100% rating from the National Organization for Women, NARAL: Pro-Choice America, and Planned Parenthood.[2] Gillibrand’s advocacy on reproductive rights has to do with her liberal convictions, but also likely has to do with her womanhood as she recently suggested to Jon Stewart.

            In her interview on The Daily Show, she bluntly told Jon Stewart, “If we had 51% of women in Congress, do you think we’d be debating birth control? We’d be debating everything else that really matters.”[3] It is this sentiment, which seems to be driving Gillibrand’s initiative to get more women involved in politics, and into elected office. Gillibrand learned about politics from her grandmother – a secretary in the New York Legislature – and she is advocating for more female involvement in politics.[4] Inspired and committed to increase political participation among women, Gillibrand founded “Off the Sidelines,” as a means for attaining this goal.[5] Her initiative again serves as an example of her determination to accomplish her goals: she doesn’t just speak in favor of something, but she advocates for it, and ensures that it happens.

            Kirsten Gillibrand says that she got the idea to start her initiative after noticing that the number of women in Congress declined by a slight margin in the 2010 election.[6] Women have consistently faced obstacles in running for office, either because of societal sexist undertones, or their personal roles as mothers. It is feasible to assume that if a mother is making lunch for her kids, working all day, making supper, and helping her children do their homework, she will have little time for political advocacy. Gillibrand often speaks of her challenges as a wife and mother, and maintains that women should not leave important decisions about access to child care, and reproductive rights up to a male-dominated legislature.[7]

            From a political perspective, Rep. Debbie Schultz (D-FL) who heads the DNC said “the party stood to benefit,” while “stressing that Ms. Gillibrand … was the force behind the initiative.”[8] Again, it is refreshing to see a legislator who is willing to go beyond party lines do accomplish something she wholeheartedly believes in. The Republican Party – knowing their chances already low in New York – elected to choose a woman, Wendy Long to run against Gillibrand. While this is unlikely to propel the GOP to victory, it certainly cannot hurt them, and may slightly increase their odds.

 


[1] US Senate, “Right to Choose.” Kirsten Gillibrand: United States Senator for New York. http://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/issues/right-to-choose (accessed October 20, 2012)

[2] Ibid.

[3] Craig Berman, “Kirsten Gillibrand and Jon Stewart discuss women’s merits, light bulb changing skills.” NBC News, September 6, 2012. http://entertainment.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/06/13702309-kirsten-gillibrand-and-jon-stewart-discuss-womens-merits-light-bulb-changing-skills?lite (accessed October 20, 2012)

[4] Raymond Hernandez, “A Gillibrand Campaign: More Women in Politics.” The New York Times, July 4, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/05/nyregion/gillibrand-wants-women-involved-in-politics.html (accessed October 20, 2012)

[5] Kirsten Gillibrand, “Off the Sidelines.” Off the Sidelines KG, May 31, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUgSQHeduZE (accessed October 20, 2012)

[6] Raymond Hernandez, “A Gillibrand Campaign: More Women in Politics.”

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid. 

Bibliography

Berman, Craig. “Kirsten Gillibrand and Jon Stewart discuss women’s merits, light bulb changing skills.” NBC News, September 6, 2012. http://entertainment.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/06/13702309-kirsten-gillibrand-and-jon-stewart-discuss-womens-merits-light-bulb-changing-skills?lite (accessed October 20, 2012).

Gillibrand, Kirsten. “Off the Sidelines.” Off the Sidelines KG, May 31, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUgSQHeduZE (accessed October 20, 2012). 

Hernandez, Raymond. “A Gillibrand Campaign: More Women in Politics.” The New York Times, July 4, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/05/nyregion/gillibrand-wants-women-involved-in-politics.html (accessed October 20, 2012).

US Senate. “Right to Choose.” Kirsten Gillibrand: United States Senator for New York. http://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/issues/right-to-choose (accessed October 20, 2012).