WeWalk: Behind the Scenes of Opening the Way

Opening the Way is a walking tour celebrating women's history in downtown Manhattan. It is a multifaceted new project developed by the award-winning nonprofit organization Women's eNews. The walk honors the achievements of women such as Margaret Sanger, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Ida B. Wells -- 21 women in all. This blog has been created to update fans of the walk on its exciting developments and expansion. Please join us in revitalizing history that has been ignored or forgotten!

Friday, August 19, 2011

HBO Premieres Inspiring Documentary of Gloria Steinem

On Tuesday night, activists from across the entire nation tuned in to a special HBO feature about the life of prominent feminist activist Gloria Steinem and her role in jump-starting the national movement for equality in the 1960s and 1970s. Called "Gloria: In Her Own Words," the film profiles the nationally renowned speaker and author through both archival and recent interviews, footage, and first-hand accounts from Gloria herself.

The documentary embraces Gloria’s aspirations as both a journalist and a feminist. Starting out as a writer, one of her most ambitious projects was going undercover as a Playboy Bunny to expose the working conditions for what much of society assumed was a glamorous job. She found that there was nothing fun about it, but that the work was long and difficult. Gloria regretted having written the piece shortly after it was printed, as media outlets didn’t take her seriously because of it. But as feminism became a more integral part of her identity, she was grateful to have had the experience.

Gloria's next awakening came after she got an abortion at 22 years old. “I suddenly realized—why is it a secret?… I began to understand that my experience was almost a universal female experience.” She began attending abortion hearings and rallies in New York and Washington, DC, and reminisces about reactions from the media—for example: “We were accused in the press of having penis envy.” People thought feminism was irrelevant and destructive; but as Gloria points out in the film, “hostility is a step forward from the ridicule.”

In addition, living in New York City at the cusp of the gender equality movement in the mid-twentieth century was not encouraging. “There was no word for sexual harassment—it was just called life,” Gloria recalls. There were preconceptions about what it meant to be a single woman, and it was impossible for a woman to be both attractive and serious. This affected Gloria on a profound level. “I work really hard,” she says, and to have her successes attributed to her looks was “really painful.” Such notions continue to haunt her even after decades of accomplishments, but she would not change a thing about who she is. “Maybe I helped to break a false stereotype,” she reflects.

Gloria’s advocacy and commitment to equality has been an inspiration for multiple generations of women. “She became a vessel through which some women discovered themselves, their potential, and the strength to advocate for their own truths,” writes Marcia G. Yerman for the Huffington Post. “I first became a feminist because Gloria Steinem made feminism look appealing,” recalls Michele Kort for Ms. Magazine (the feminist publication that Gloria co-founded), noting her revelation that feminists included students, moms, professionals, and even men. “She was a feminist at a time when many dismissed women’s rights as a joke. She chose not to marry in an era when women were wives and mothers. And she did it all with wit, style and grace,” comments ElectWomen Magazine. 

Don’t miss out on this unique portrayal of one of the most inspiring women of the twentieth century. The documentary premiered on television Tuesday night, but if you haven’t seen it yet, upcoming showings also include August 20 at 2 PM, August 23 at 1:15 PM and 12:30 AM, and August 28 at 5:15 PM.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Women's eNews Hosts "Opening the Way" With a Special Movie Screening for Women's Equality Day


Date: Sunday, August 28
Time: 11am Start, WeNews' Headquarters
Price: $20.00 Per Ticket

WeWalk for Equality

Join Women’s eNews to celebrate Women's Equality Day and discover women’s history in downtown Manhattan on a guide led walking tour.
The tour brings to life both famous and forgotten women and emphasizes their shared experience of overcoming obstacles in a society that, although always improving over time, was consistently unreceptive of their achievements.
The walks will be led by Women's eNews founder and Editor-in-chief Rita Henley Jensen and Women’s History Associate Angela Dallara and last a maximum of two hours. Limited to 40 tickets. 
RSVP: events@womensenews.org or purchase tickets online at: http://www.womensenews.org/donation

Women's Equality Day Screening: Iron Jawed Angels

Time: 1.00pm - 4.00pm
Join the celebrations for Women's Equality Day with a screening of Iron Jawed Angels, a film about three women who put their lives at risk to get women the vote in the suffrage movement starring Hilary Swank, Angelica Huston and Frances O'Connor.
Women in the United States were given the right to vote on August 26, 1920. Women's Equality Day exists in the U.S.A. to commemorate the giving of the vote to women throughout the country on an equal basis to men.
Women's eNews celebrates Women's Equality Day every year to continue the conversation around equality for women around the world today.
Iron Jawed Angels is a HBO film and appropriate for all ages. Lydia Dean Pilcher, a Women's eNews 21 Leader for the 21st Century 2005, was an executive-producer on the film.
Limited Seating, RSVP to events@womensenews.org

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New York City Women's History Walk Goes on Mobile Scavenger Hunt!

(NEW YORK)--Women’s eNews and Stray Boots are launching on Sunday July 24 a new partnership for fun-seeking tourists in New York City: A cell-phone-based, scavenger-hunt style interactive tour based on our women’s history walk of Lower Manhattan.

Women’s eNews and Stray Boots, both members of New York City’s tourist board NYC-GO, will blow the lid off the idea that New York was built with the power and ideas of men alone.

The women's history walking tour, called Opening the Way, takes walkers from sites commemorating historic figures from Susan B Anthony and Sojourner Truth to the female first responders to the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Opening the Way was launched by Women’s eNews first as a guided tour in October in partnership with the New-York Historical Society. The tour has since become accessible online as a downloadable audio tour or a dial-in cell phone tour with contemporaries such as Gloria Steinem and Kathleen Turner giving voice to female heroes of past eras.

Women's eNews is partnering with Stray Boots, an organization that puts on interactive tours in other areas of the city, to create a fun and accessible twist to the women's history tour.

The July 24 interactive tour leads participants on a loop past the ornate architecture and hidden visual treats of old New York, from City Hall to Wall Street, and provides a rich narrative of the lives of women who changed the city, the nation and the world.

The launch event includes prizes donated by the Feminist Press, the Women's Museum, the Body Shop, the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco and Ms. Magazine.

Tickets for the launch event cost $50 per group, groups of up to 4 allowed and can be bought online at the Women's eNews website or over the phone at 212-244-1744.

Tickets will be $20 per download via the Stray Boots website after the launch.

About Stray Boots Interactive Tours:
Stray Boots LLC offers fun, interactive text-message based scavenger hunt-style tours for locals and visitors to explore New York City, Las Vegas, Boston and Philadelphia - with future tours planned for San Francisco, Los Angeles and London later this year. Launched in New York City in 2008, "NY: The Game" was recently awarded a 2011 Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor.
To learn more about Stray Boots and other city offerings, visit www.strayboots.com

A B O U T  W O M E N ' S  e N E W S
Women's eNews is an award-winning nonprofit news service covering issues of concern to women and women's perspectives on public policy in English and Arabic. It enhances women's abilities to define their own lives and to participate fully in every sector of human endeavor.
6 Barclay Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10007 Tel: 212-244-1720

Monday, May 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Margaret Fuller, Correspondent for Equality

On this day in women’s history, we celebrate the birth of Margaret Fuller, a woman whose name is associated with several important contributions to American history.

Fuller was born on May 23, 1810 in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts to Unitarian parents, and received a strong classical education from an early age, becoming well-versed in languages such as French and German. She became a passionate advocate for transcendentalism, a philosophy that developed as a critique to the state of ideas in society and at Harvard in particular. A core belief of transcendentalist philosophy was the belief in an ideal spirituality that goes beyond the physical and empirical and is fulfilled only through a person’s intuition rather than organized religious doctrine. It affected literature, poetry, art and music from about 1835-1880. Fuller worked with prominent figures such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman, and gained a respected reputation in this field, becoming the first editor of the transcendentalist journal The Dial in 1840.

In 1844, Fuller came to New York to work for Horace Greeley’s New-York Daily Tribune, one of the most influential newspapers in the country. There, she became the first full-time female book reviewer in America. She was considered one of the most well-read people in New England, and became the first woman admitted to use the library at Harvard College. In 1845, she published Woman in the Nineteenth Century, which is considered the first major feminist work in the United States. The book was based in part on a series of “Conversations” or seminars she had held for women social reformers while in Boston, to compensate for their lack of access to higher education.

In 1846, Fuller left for Europe as the Tribune’s first female international correspondent. She settled in Rome and covered the Italian revolution. She had a son with Giovanni Ossoli, whom she married; and the three of them left on a ship on May 17, 1850 to return to America. But en route to New York, their ship was wrecked and the family tragically perished.

Margaret Fuller died at only 40 years old, but left a legacy in which she is considered one of America’s first feminists. She fought fiercely for women’s rights, particularly in the areas of education and work. She continues to be celebrated through the Margaret Fuller Bicentennial Celebration, which will remember her this year on Wednesday, May 25, in Boston.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Celebrating Margaret Sanger's Role in the History of Birth Control

I was resolved to seek out the root of evil, to do something to change the destiny of mothers whose miseries were vast as the sky.” – Margaret Sanger, recalling the death of a woman who was desperate not to bear any more children.

Today in 1960, the birth control pill was finally approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This victory came about primarily through the work of Margaret Sanger, with support from Katharine McCormick, who was just the second female graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sanger and McCormick first met in 1917, when Sanger was already a well-established activist and McCormick had a sizable inheritance, eventually becoming a major sponsor of the pill’s research.

Sanger began as a nurse on the Lower East Side, but became discouraged as she saw more and more poor women come in for treatment from self-induced and botched abortions. She left nursing in 1912 and founded the monthly publication The Woman Rebel, which included birth control information. Sanger founded the American Birth Control League in 1921—the predecessor to what would become the Planned Parenthood Federation in 1942. In 1916, Sanger opened the nation's first birth control clinic in Brooklyn. Nine days later, police shut it down and confiscated its literature, contraception, and other materials, and Sanger served 30 days in prison. Nevertheless, in 1923, Sanger opened the first permanent birth control clinic in the United States. Today, the Margaret Sanger Center on Bleecker Street continues to be named for her.

But these accomplishments were hardly met without opposition. In 1914, Sanger was indicted on nine charges of obscenity deriving from the Comstock Act. Passed in 1873, the Comstock Act defined contraceptives as obscene and illicit, making it illegal for birth control—or even just information about abortion—to be distributed through the mail or across state borders. This federal law was named after its crusader Anthony Comstock, whose ideals of Victorian morality led him to create the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice and advocate censorship in a number of areas.

Sanger witnessed the approval of the pill as an 80-year-old widow living in Tuscon, Arizona, and celebrated by herself with some champagne. She lived to see the Comstock Act’s repeal as well, and died in 1966. Margaret Sanger undoubtedly left her legacy, and today, 80% of American women have used the contraceptive pill.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy April Birthdays to Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald

Billie Holiday

This month, we celebrate the birthdays of two jazz legends who have much in common, not the least of which is that New York City was integral to the success they made throughout their careers.

Bille Holiday was born Eleanora on April 7, 1915, to her mother Sarah Julia (known as Sadie), who had been kicked out by her parents for getting pregnant at 13 years old. Sadie was absent for most of her daughter’s childhood, leaving her to be raised by others. Eleanora skipped school often and was sentenced to attend Catholic reform school when she was 10 years old. At almost 12 years old, Eleanora and Sadie wound up working in a brothel, where Eleanora first heard the records of Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith that would greatly influence the rest of her life.

In 1929, Eleanora and Sadie moved to Harlem, and Eleanora teamed up with a neighbor and began performing at various clubs. She changed her name to Bille Holiday, taken from her favorite actress Bille Dove and her father, Clarence Holiday. She was recording for Columbia Records in the late 1930s when she came across the song “Strange Fruit,” based on a poem about lynching. Although too controversial for Columbia producers, she recorded it for Commodore and later Verve Records, and became a huge hit. Her popularity skyrocketed, and she became known for her sultry, emotionally charged voice. She gave performances to packed audiences at Carnegie Hall and popular New York nightclubs, until she was banned from them after a conviction of drug possession. Her last performance was on May 25, 1959, at the Pheonix Theater in Greenwich Village.

Holiday died in New York at a young age after complications due to drug abuse. “Miss Holiday set a pattern during her most fruitful years that has proved more influential than that of almost any other jazz singer,” wrote the New York Times in her 1959 obituary. Today, the Billie Holiday Theatre is an independent, non-profit theater specializing in African American dramatic arts and named after the legend, located in Brooklyn, New York.

Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald was born shortly after Holiday on April 25, 1917. Her parents separated shortly after her birth, and she grew up in Yonkers, New York. After her mother died of injuries she suffered in a car accident, Ella became increasingly upset and entered a difficult part of her life. Her grades dropped, she frequently skipped school, and she was eventually sent to a reform school.

At 17 years old, Fitzgerald won a lucky drawing to compete in “Amateur Night” at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, and there she made her debut appearance. She intended to dance, but when she became intimidated by another dance duo, she opted to sing instead—and won the first prize of $25.00. In the next years, she began performing with several Harlem-based bands, and in 1942 began a solo career under the Decca label. She joined Verve Records in 1955 and released “Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook,” the first of eight Songbook sets she recorded, which eventually became her most commercially successful work.

By the end of her career, Ella recorded almost 70 records, sold over 40 million albums, and won 13 Grammy Awards. She was honored with the Presidential Medal of FreedomAmerica’s highest non-military honor—in 1992 by George H. W. Bush, and is considered one of the foremost American jazz musicians of all time. Called “the First Lady of Song,” her impressive three-octave vocal range changed the world of music. She died in 1996 after a long-term struggle with diabetes.

The two African-American jazz divas set high standards for their genre of music, and contemporary singer-songwriters are still influenced by each of them today. They both came from modest backgrounds and made their mark in different parts of New York City, contributing to its importance as an artistic and cultural landmark. Let us know what you think of their classics in the comments section below!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pro-Choice Demonstrators Join Budget Battle Today | Womens eNews

Pro-Choice Demonstrators Join Budget Battle Today | Womens eNews

Pro-choice demonstrators and a variety of allied interests will demonstrate on April 7 as part of the major budget battle taking place in Washington. With a federal shutdown looming, GOP lawmakers are pressing a radical reshaping of health care policy.