It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
In 1975, San Jose’s Janet Gray Hayes made headlines when she became the first woman elected mayor of a major American city. Six years later, San Jose was dubbed the Feminist Capital of the World, and rightly so. Women held a majority of the seats on both the San Jose City Council and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
Then came the Year of the Woman in 1992. Californians elected Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to the U.S. Senate, and a record 47 women won seats in the House of Representatives.
It created the illusion that women’s issues would be front and center in American politics. And that it was only a matter of time before a woman would become president
Fast forward to 2018.
A s****t misogynist sits in the Oval Office with views that would resonate with Archie Bunker. He has created a War on Women that knows no borders.
It’s time for the Valley’s women to get to work.
Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez is doing just that. She is convening a Women’s Policy Caucus at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the county’s government center conference room. Former and current elected female local office holders will meet to discuss what can be done at the local level to push for national change.
The women will share what initiatives they are pushing and ideas for what more can be done about issues such as housing, pay equity, wage theft, human trafficking and violence against women.
Together, the local city, county and transportation budgets are in excess of $10 billion. Are those budgets prioritizing funding on issues important to women?
The current Board of Supervisors, for example, has increased its budget for fighting intimate partner abuse by 400 percent, to $5 million, but is that enough? Cities could consider matching grants and leverage the money to help additional women.
They also will talk about how they can contribute to the growing movement to elect more women to public office.
Today, there are only three women — Sylvia Arenas, Magdalena Carrasco and Dev Davis — on the San Jose City Council, and Cindy Chavez is the only woman on the county Board of Supervisors
Contrast that to the year 1982.
Women such as Hayes, Susanne Wilson, Diane McKenna, Zoe Lofgren, Susan Hammer and Blanca Alvarado were major players in the Valley’s political scene.
They were smart and articulate. They won not by pushing a feminist agenda but by focusing on issues important to all Valley residents, including women. It was a less divisive era, marked by an aura of optimism that the Valley could and would address its challenges.
Silicon Valley’s ethos is rooted in thinking about what innovative approaches can be taken to change the world.
There’s work to be done. Wednesday’s conference is a great place to start.
Editorial: Putting a focus on women’s issues in the era of Trump