Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation: Honoring Dianne Feinstein’s Legacy; India’s New Gender Quota Law Is a Win For Women

Weekend Reading for Women’s Representation is a compilation of stories about women’s representation. 

This week: To honor Senator Feinstein’s legacy, let’s pave the way for a new generation of women leaders by addressing the barriers women face in politics as candidates and as elected officials; we need to adopt feminist foreign policies, as 16 countries have done around the world; India’s legislature has recently passed a new bill that will reserve one-third of the seats in parliament for women, but gender parity remains far out of reach for most countries; and more.

Rest in Power, Sen. Dianne Feinstein: ‘The Feminist Movement Has Lost a True Friend’

Sen. Dianne Feinstein—the first woman president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the first woman mayor of San Francisco, and one of two of the first women elected to the U.S. Senate from California, the same year (1992) as Sen. Barbara Boxer—died on Thursday, Sept. 28. She was 90 years old. 

As the longest serving woman in the Senate, Feinstein was also the first woman to have chaired the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee, as well as one of the first women to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee. She was known for her advocacy on many feminist and progressive issues, including abortion rights, the Equal Rights Amendment, voting rights, banning assault weapons and gun reforms, LGBTQIA+ equality, the rights of children, the rights of prisoners, and healthcare access. Her legislative efforts—from reproductive rights and equal pay, to combating gender-based violence—have consistently reflected a deep understanding of the challenges faced by women in various spheres of life. 

Here’s what some of her colleagues and friends had to say about her legacy.

In Novel ‘Bessie,’ Linda Kass Takes on Antisemitism Through the Story of the First and Only Jewish Miss America

“Bessie was not raised to be a beauty queen,” said Bessie novelist Linda Kass of Bess Myerson, the only Jewish Miss America. “She sought to have a voice, to make a difference.

“Antisemitism, racism and sexism were virulent, and homophobia was taken as a given. The arguments voiced then are similar to what we’re hearing and seeing today.”

‘Banned! Voices From the Classroom’: Reflections From a Small Liberal Arts College in New York

For those of us in so-called liberal states, what happens in our backyards is connected to the nationwide suppression of teaching about people of color, queer and trans folks, and women.

(To be featured in our “Banned! Voices From the Classroom” series, submit pitches and/or completed draft op-eds and reflections to Aviva Dove-Viebahn at adove-viebahn@msmagazine.com. Posts will be accepted on a rolling basis.)

The History of Asian American Labor Activism Is Essential for Today’s Students

The impact that Asian immigrants and Asian Americans have made in labor history is frequently missing from the media and textbooks, despite numerous roles of unionizing, rallying and organizing to inspire workers to fight for justice and better workplace conditions.

As legislation to teach Asian American history in schools increases, teaching Asian American labor activism is essential to prepare the next generation of leaders and civic actors concerned with solidarity and coalition building.

Biden Challenges Congress to Take Action on the ERA

President Joe Biden issued a challenge to Congress on Saturday “to act swiftly to recognize ratification of the [Equal Rights Amendment]”—part of his official proclamation on Women’s Equality Day.

“It is long past time to definitively enshrine the principle of gender equality in the Constitution,” said Biden. “Together we can and must build a future where our daughters have all the same rights and opportunities as our sons, where all women and girls have a chance to realize their God-given potential, and where we can finally realize the full promise of America for all Americans.”

Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation: How Black Suffragists Fought for Voting Rights; Women’s (In)Equality Day; Former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell Challenges Rick Scott

Weekend Reading for Women’s Representation is a compilation of stories about women’s representation. 

This week: Despite Women’s Equality Day celebrations, the disparities in women’s representation—particularly in employment, wages and government—are still significantly low compared to our male counterparts; the numerous Black suffragists forgotten by history: Mary Church Terrell, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida B. Wells, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Fannie Barrier Williams, Sojourner Truth, Lugenia Burns Hope, Mary McLeod Bethune and Nannie Helen Burroughs; Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is running for Senate, posing a challenge to incumbent Republican Senator Rick Scott; and more.

Reviews Are In for ‘50 Years of Ms.: The Best of the Pathfinding Magazine That Ignited a Revolution’

50 YEARS OF Ms.: THE BEST OF THE PATHFINDING MAGAZINE THAT IGNITED A REVOLUTION (Alfred A. Knopf) is out Sept. 19, and we couldn’t be more excited to share it with our readers—and with the entire world. We sent the book to some readers, publishers and editors, ahead of its September release—and we are thrilled that they love it too.

Here are some of our book’s early reviews.

50 Years of Ms. will be released on Sept. 19, 2023; you can pre-order your copy now. (This piece will be updated as new reviews become available. Last updated: Monday, Sept. 18, at 8:05 a.m. PT.)