Attention suburban women: It’s time to vote.
If there’s anything I support, it’s women of all walks of life working together. Last week I attended the League of Women Voters meeting at the College of the Canyons Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center. What I love about the nearly 100-year-old organization is its nonpartisan ground rules. It was founded in 1920 as a merger of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and National Council of Women Voters.
The League of Women Voters meets locally to explain confusing aspects of elections such as wordy ballot measures. Various members of the nonprofit, from teachers to physicians, rotated from table to table discussing propositions/bond measures with attendees. There was a great turnout.
Next week there’s another wonderful opportunity for women to unite in a friendly, bipartisan manner. And it’s free.
The Women2Women Conversations Tour is coming to the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Tuesday, Oct. 30 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The tag is #CountMeIn.
It’s a national program created by a GOP strategist, but involving women from all political leanings. The purpose is to connect with business and political leadership to discuss issues that matter to women. Previous stops on the tour covered such topics as health care, opioids, the economy, terrorism, roads, bridges and transportation systems.
The event at the Hyatt will begin with a networking reception and follow with a panel that includes actress and businesswoman Vivica A. Fox and Nicky Dare, who is president of the International Association of Women Santa Clarita.
Gloria Mercado-Fortine, president/CEO of Global Education Solutions, is also on the panel, chosen because of her leadership experience in education, including past service on the Hart school district board, and as a small business owner and mentor. She has been a longtime advocate for women’s issues and provided mentoring to young women and future leaders.
“The event provides an opportunity to engage with other women both locally and across the country to have conversations about shared concerns and goals,” said Mercado-Fortine. “It is also about engaging women in the political process to make their voices heard. There is also a focus on small business and entrepreneurship to assist women’s access to capital.”
I asked her what women are doing to counter the constant refrain of disrespect, such as leadership that calls women names like Horseface and Pocahontas.
“Degrading and derogatory remarks and violence against women cannot be tolerated,” she said. “It goes against human decency, our core values as a nation and it threatens our democracy. We cannot allow anyone, not our leaders, not anyone, to legitimize bullying, hate or violence against women and others.”
The former educator sees that today’s women are turning up the volume.
“Women are no longer staying silent,” Mercado-Fortine said. “This is certainly evidenced by several women’s empowerment movements spreading worldwide, such as the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. Here in Santa Clarita, I am proud to be part of a professional women’s organization, the Zonta Club of SCV, who sponsors a project called Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women. Our goal is to bring awareness and education through various activities and community outreach.”
Local women who plan to attend on Tuesday, such as Karen Gardner of Acton and Cherilyn Boswell of Canyon Country, are seeing the Women2Women Tour as a new opportunity.
“Someone tagged me on my Facebook page,” said Gardner, director of marketing and customer relations at CBC Cleaning and Restoration. “I read it was a networking group about women and about family and business. … What caught my eye was the relationship between work and family and networking with women in our community.”
Gardner noted the event’s strong push for women to vote. The Tour exists, in part, because women make up more than half the population, but maintain only 20 percent of the seats in Congress.
“I have been attending women’s networking events in other parts of Los Angeles, but haven’t come across anything like this in Santa Clarita,” Boswell said. “It seems like a great opportunity to network and build an empowering and supportive environment of women in our local community.”
Boswell has been a stay-at-home mom for the past nine years after working as a therapist and adjunct faculty member at a small university in Arizona. She’s been looking to build a community of like-minded women, and she recently joined the team at Bellame, a Northern Cal beauty company that will launch in January.
“Not only do they adhere to the same standards I look for in product quality, they empower women in a way I have never experienced before,” she said.
Weeks like these remind me that women can bring people together. My hope is that our mutual encouragement will set an example for our counterparts, as well as drown out the cruel and dishonest statements coming from the loudest men in leadership.
For free tickets, visit W2WTour.com.
Martha Michael is a contributing writer for The Signal.