A Flame Turns Into Wildfire: Leading the Charge for Gender Equality in Politics

By: Sara Marcus  |  October 16, 2018

By Sara Marcus

On October 16th, the YU Feminists Club will be hosting a panel on women in government titled “Women and Democracy.” Esteemed panelists include Assemblywoman Aridia Espinal, Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa, and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. Opening the panel will be Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, a celebrated political gender equality activist, with a speech of her own.

The panel consists exclusively of politicians leading the charge for gender equality in NYC. Councilwoman Rivera chairs the Committee on Hospitals and co-chairs the NYC Council Women’s Caucus, an organization made up of female-identifying members who stand up for gender equality in NYC politics.

The first panelist, Assemblywoman Espinal, has a reputation of fighting for the people, as shown by her involvement in Carlos’ Law, which holds developers accountable for accidental on-site construction deaths, proposed after Carlos Moncayo died on a Manhattan construction site in 2015. Assemblywoman De La Rosa and Assemblywoman Rozic are members of the specially-formed Task Force on Women’s Issues.

“Women and Democracy” will be the Feminists Club’s sixth event and its first to feature women in politics, according to its Co-President Atara Huberfeld.

Huberfeld shared that the focus of the event is “primarily about being a woman in politics, but it’s also about being a woman in a public space. The women we are hosting are public figures; every aspect of their life is on display and under scrutiny … How do you act in public as a woman when people are holding you as an example of ‘what it means to be a woman?’”

The idea for the panel began with the Feminists Club’s Co-President Molly Meisels. As a political science major and intern at YU’s Department of Government Affairs, Meisels remarked that she had always been fascinated by the intersection of gender and democracy. She noted that women are seriously underrepresented in the country’s political representation, but that has begun to change, with women running for office in record-breaking numbers. “A candle has been lit, and it’s turning into a wildfire,” commented Meisels. “I want these specific women, leaders and inspiring figures in New York politics, to speak about the trials and tribulations of a woman in the political and democratic system. I want these women to speak about the movement towards female representation in government, even on the local and state levels – because that’s where it begins.”

Jon Greenfield, YU’s Director of Government Relations, told The Observer that “[The] participants in this event are true trailblazers, each with inspiring careers and a wealth of knowledge to share with the Yeshiva University community. I applaud Molly and the YU Feminists Club for their hard work in organizing this event and highlighting the importance of female political empowerment.”