MANCHESTER>>The Manchester Community Library will host a film and discussion on women in politics featuring the Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Deborah Markowitz on March 31.
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) "MAKERS: Women in Politics" film will start at 6:30 p.m. profiling the first woman elected to Congress in 1916, a woman running for Detroit City Council in 2013 and other current women leaders in America.
The guest of honor, who never thought about going into politics until she decided to run for Secretary of State, said she was raised in a family that believed in careers to help make a difference in the world. When she waitressed during her years at University of Vermont, she got to know Madeleine M. Kunin, first female governor of Vermont and her family, which inspired her to get to where she is today.
"She [Kunin] was inspiring to me as somebody who really put herself forward and at one point she said that women had been doing the work behind the scenes forever, but only when we're willing to risk failure and step out and put our names forward that we'll ever get to the head of the table to have the impact on the lives of women and family," Markowitz said. " From the beginning I was interested in jobs that would have a positive impact on society."
Markowitz served as Vermont Secretary of State from 1999 to 2011 and founded the Vermont Women's Leadership Initiative, according to a release from the library, and also ran in 2010 for governor. The secretary is also largely identified for her efforts in customer service at the Secretary of State's office as well as bettering access to government and the state's democracy.
The Women in Politics film will talk about Hillary Clinton, Senator Barbara Mikulski, Olympia Snowe who is the youngest Republican ever to be elected to the House of Representatives, Shirley Chisholm who is the first African-American woman to serve in Congress, and Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim-American woman elected to the Michigan House.
It will also reflect on today's female leaders, who make up of Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, who is the first female state senator in that state, Susan Collins, R-ME, who helped resolve the government shutdown, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard, D-HI, who is currently the youngest woman serving in Congress.
Markowitz took Kunin's words and put them forth when deciding to run for office. She said she sees similarities in the gender difference by watching candidate for Governor Sue Minter run now. Markowitz was once told to make her voice deeper and to get a man's validation for her proposed economic policies.
"When the opportunity came up, almost 20 years ago when I was first considering elective office and wanted to the work at the state office that I decided that I needed to take the chance and be brave enough and risk losing in order to achieve that goal and it was successful," Markowitz said.
Markowitz sits on the Chair of Vermont's Climate Cabinet and also represented the state on the White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Other participation includes the Executive Board of the Environmental Council of the States, the Board of Advisors for the Georgetown Climate Center and the University of Vermont's Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.
"I've had a long lucky life full of opportunity to make a positive impact on the world and I have not held back because of my gender," she said. "I'm looking forward to talk about my own experience and political life and looking at barriers to women. I'm excited to hear from others, especially younger people who attend and what they think the prospect is for a woman running for president, governor, or senator and figure out what we could be doing together about the barriers that still exist."
"MAKERS: Women in Politics" originally aired on November 4th on PBS and was produced and directed by Grace Lee, and produced by Rory Kennedy. The event is free and open to the public and is a collaboration between the library (138 Cemetery Ave.) and Vermont PBS. For more information call 802-549-4577 or visit www.mclvt.org.
—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.