When Liberian Nobel Peace Prize winner and anti-war activist Leymah Gbowee was asked “What one thing could be done to improve the status of women .. Read more and girls around the world?” Her answer was “More women in politics.” Gbowee’s response suggests that politically active women will ask the right questions and support the best policies to help women and girls achieve their full potential. Considering all that has happened in the past year, including a global pandemic, the US presidential election and a racial reckoning, this conference asks: How much of a difference does it make to have women in positions of power and focuses on the question what is the potential power of women’s leadership now and in the past?. When women get into positions of political power, how much do they confront, change, and shake up the status quo? Or, do we find conversely that women are forced to modify more radical positions in order to serve a broader constituency? Does the phenomenon of forced compromise and de-radicalization occur only in electoral politics or can it be found in other places where women are in positions of power?. We hope that participants at this conference will grapple with these questions from a range of different perspectives, including examining the extent to which participation in electoral politics has or has not benefited women. We welcome proposals that go beyond the category of “women” to include the powerful activism of LGBTQ populations, immigration activists, the Black Lives Matter movement to name just a few of the perspectives we hope to engage with through this conference.
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