The Majority Rules

What will it take to achieve a society that prioritizes—and achieves—true equality? We are thrilled to present the Winter 2023 installment of Women & Democracy, created in partnership with the leadership of and community at Supermajority Education Fund, to answer that question. We welcome you to explore this artful series featuring the five Majority Rules and the inevitable Super Rule:The lives and experiences of women—particularly women of color—are front and center in addressing all of our nation’s challenges.  

Articulating the Majority Rules and the values they reflect—safety, respect, autonomy, full and fair representation—is the first essential step toward achieving gender equality. Immerse yourself in the various videos and essays narrated and penned by leading voices; scroll down for snippets of what our own teams have to say. We look forward to hearing from all of you, too—and to working together to ensure that an equality agenda prevails.

Women & Democracy is our collaborative series, spearheaded by Ms. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR PARTNERSHIPS AND STRATEGY, Jennifer Weiss-Wolf. Each quarter Ms. will publish a new microsite, together with a dedicated partner, that focuses on key issues impacting full and fair representation in our democracy.

  • Majority Rule #1: Our lives are safe

    Featuring Mariska Hargitay Alicia Garza

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  • Majority Rule #2: Our bodies are respected

    Featuring Cecile Richards

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  • Majority Rule #3: Our work is valued

    Featuring Reshma Saujani Ai-jen Poo

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  • Majority Rule #4: Our families are supported

    Featuring Stephanie Beatriz Amanda Brown Lierman

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  • Majority Rule #5: Our government represents us

    Featuring Alicia Garza Katherine Grainger

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Ms. Studios

On the Issues with Michele Goodwin

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This episode: Today, we’re diving into Rule #5, “Our government represents us.” During the 2022 midterm elections, women voters across the U.S. made their voices heard, demanding access to safe reproductive healthcare. And yet, state legislatures—which purport to represent the people—continue to attack reproductive rights, proposing increasingly restrictive bans on abortion, with collateral consequences for reproductive healthcare more generally. In the face of these challenges, how can we work towards a government that truly represents us—and protects us?

Previous Episodes
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Today, we’re diving into Rule #4, “Our families are supported.” The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many of the existing gaps in our care infrastructure, uncovering the millions of Americans who tragically fall through the cracks. In this moment, we’re faced with a number of questions—how can we ensure that our systems that are set up to help and support people? Specifically, how can we make sure they address the pressing needs of families, women who engage in caregiving, and individuals that come from communities where they are struggling to survive, let alone thrive?

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Today, we’re diving into Rule #3, “Our work is valued.” In a world that systemically erases and devalues the work of women, and that of women of color in particular, how can we ensure that our work is valued—especially care work, domestic work and other forms of work that often go unrecognized and are rendered invisible?

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Today, we’re diving into Rule #2, “Our bodies are respected.” In the wake of the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, it seems like our rights to our very own bodies are increasingly under attack. In South Carolina, lawmakers are calling for the execution of women who would have abortions. In Texas, five women are suing the state, individuals who wanted to carry pregnancies to term but their lives became at risk and their doctors were unable to help them fearing criminal punishments and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. In one of their cases, the woman was not helped in managing her miscarriage until she was septic and near death.

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Today, we’re diving into Rule #1, "Our lives are safe.” Our country continues to deny safety to women, and especially women of color. From physical to mental and emotional harm, women are consistently the target of violence, causing many to fear for their safety. So, we're asking: how can we create a better world, a world where all are safe?

Dissatisfaction with abortion policy is the highest it’s been in over 20 years—and the majority of those in positions of power pushing to ban abortion are men. Women make up over half the U.S. population. To ensure our laws are made by people who represent all of us, we need leadership that reflects the makeup of our people. Women need an equal seat at the table.

Kathy Spillar, Ms. magazine executive editor

The end of national abortion protections was a wake-up call for many Americans. In this time of crisis, it's important we harness this rage toward productive action and meaningful change.

Roxy Szal, Ms. digital editor

Our bodies. Our knowledge. Our collective power. When our bodies are respected, we can change the world.

Karon Jolna, Ms. Classroom program director and editor

For our lives to be safe—which is, I’d say, the bare minimum we deserve when it comes to being a human in the world—we need to build a culture that sees *all* of us as having inherent value, regardless of who we are—full stop. The right to continue existing and fully participating in this world cannot be conditional

Oliver Haug, Ms. magazine social media and newsletters editor

We already know what’s needed to show women their work is valued: provide paid leave when they need to care for an infant or a sick family member, offer government-funded daycare for any children they have, and pay a living wage for the jobs that they do. I say it’s long past time we put this knowledge to action.

Camille Hahn, Ms. magazine managing print editor

In 1851, Sojourner Truth delivered a speech best known as “Ain’t I A Woman?” Over 170 years later, the relevance of Truth’s plea endures. Black women continue to struggle against efforts to deny them reproductive autonomy and independence, including that guaranteed by the Constitution. A woman is 14 times more likely to die in childbirth than by having an abortion. In states most aggressively legislating against abortion rights, devastatingly high maternal mortality rates reflect glaring, grotesque racial disparities.

Michele Goodwin, Ms. Studios executive producer and chancellor’s professor at the University of California, Irvine

For me, safety for women should embody freedom. Freedom to be who you are so authentically and beautifully with your community uplifting you in that freedom. When we make progress and stand up for policies that protect women – especially women of color – we all win.

Vanessa Petion, digital media strategist of Supermajority Ed Fund

'Our bodies are respected' boils down to trusting that folks know what’s best for them. It means our pain is taken seriously the first time, our right to self-determination isn’t up for debate, and where we live or how much we make aren’t barriers to accessing safe and quality care when we need it.

Paloma Arroyo, Supermajority Ed Fund deputy director of national campaigns

Whether denying equal pay for equal work, under-valuing careers that involve caring for others, or completely ignoring the labor women invest in making our communities thrive, it's clear that this economy takes women for granted. When we truly value the work that women do, everyone in our economy benefits.

Taylor Salditch, interim executive director of Supermajority Ed Fund

Choosing between the people we love and the work we do should not be something that women wrestle with every day. That’s why it’s so important to me that we continue to fight for a system that supports and works for families. When we invest in paid leave for all, caregiving leave, and make childcare more accessible and affordable, our communities will thrive.

Gabriela Miller, Supermajority's development manager

Despite being a majority of the country, women—especially women of color—continue to work every day to remedy inequities and create policies that work for women. I believe in the collective power of women, and it’s time that our government does too.

Jara Butler, chief impact officer of Supermajority Ed Fund

The incredibly high stakes of the midterm elections—and direct attacks on abortion that literally put women’s lives on the ballot—reflect the harsh reality that we have much more to do to create a future where women are truly equal.

Katherine Grainger, co-founder of Supermajority Education Fund and managing partner at Civitas Public Affairs Group

When our families are supported, society benefits from women’s talent, labor and skills—and we should settle for absolutely nothing less.

Amanda Brown Lierman, former executive director of Supermajority

Respect for all bodies means that everyone, regardless of their job status, immigration status, the amount of money in their bank account, or any other factor, deserves access to affordable and accessible healthcare. It means that the health concerns of women and people of color are listened to and addressed by medical providers.

Cecile Richards, co-founder of Supermajority Education Fund and former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Women have been betrayed over and over by our government. But we still hope for a better future, and there are signs that this future is possible.

Alicia Garza, co-founder of Supermajority Education Fund and principal at Black Futures Lab