Julia Gusse (submitted photo)

By Julia Gusse

I want to take this opportunity to thank all those involved with our first Women’s Conference in the City of Maricopa.  This single event was initiated to celebrate Women’s History Month (March 2019) and has inspired many of us to continue with the momentum and create a long-lasting organization; Women on the Verge, a nonprofit organization.  Thank you to the many volunteers and sponsors.

Those in attendance were treated to a night of inspiration from women who spoke their truth on various topics; determination, following your passion, success, overcoming failure, domestic violence, military sexual trauma, a female Marine recalled to combat with a young son, a mother’s experience with a disabled child and a young lady entrepreneur. Many of these topics are not easily discussed and I am very thankful for this event as an opening for follow up discussions.  Our goal is to continue the conversations as they relate to women within our community, for more information please email wotvnetwork@gmail.com.

This weekend many of us watched an interview of Notre Dame’s NCAA basketball Coach Muffet McGraw.  She answered what seemed to be a simple question regarding women in sports with a passionate precise response and plea for change.  Her expressions and frustration were visible as she mentioned the Equal Rights Amendment that was introduced in 1967 and “still has not passed”.  She also reminded us of the lack of female role models and the lack of gender equality in sports and politics with “no visible women leaders and women in power”.  Just last week my colleague on the city council, Marvin Brown, publicly shared his personal disappointment regarding the failure to ratify the ERA.

For those of you interested in the Equal Rights Amendment; there are currently two bills proposed (SCR1006 and SCR1009) ratifying the ERA in Arizona. For more information regarding local advocacy as it relates to this issue, please contact our Zonta International Organization (zontamaricopa@gmail.com).

Lastly, on April 24, 2019 wear denim jeans as a protest against sexual violence; “Denim Day” came about from an overturned rape conviction case.  An 18-year-old female was on a driving lesson with a 45-year-old male instructor who drove her to a secluded place, raped her and threatened her life if she spoke to anyone about it.  This man was prosecuted and convicted of rape, but this was overturned (1998 Italian Supreme Court), dismissed and he was released.  The argument was that “because the victim wore very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing her jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”

As mentioned, these discussions are not easy but let’s not bury our head in the sand. This is your opportunity to act, and in the spirit of Rosie the Riveter, “We Can Do It!”


Julia R. Gusse is a member of the Maricopa City Council.

 

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