By Christine Palm
In a perfect irony, on Wednesday more than 250 people listened to high school senior Kristen Hinz read her award-winning essay about the importance of fighting sexist imagery even as one of the state’s most prominent media outlets used offensive film footage in reporting the event.
Women’s Day at the Capitol, held each year by the Connecticut General Assembly’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women to mark both advances and challenges in overcoming gender discrimination, was attended by a diverse crowd from throughout the state, as well as numerous legislators, Constitutional Officers, and representatives of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation.
The keynote speaker, Marcia Gillespie, is a nationally renowned journalist and social justice advocate.
Two high school seniors received accolades for their essays.
They were joined by women-owned business proprietors, academics, students from New Haven’s Metropolitan Business Academy, proud grandparents, and individual citizens who gathered to hear Gillespie, former editor-in-chief of Ms. and Essence magazines, speak on the importance of staying vigilant in the face of the national attack on women’s rights.
Meanwhile, Fox CT News, twice during its morning newscast, ran close-up footage of anonymous women’s breasts. Although the station later apologized for the incident, many people in Connecticut and throughout the nation expressed outrage.
In her essay, Hinz said, “…while I live in the body of the society-defined ‘weaker sex’ – I can have power…I can be the voice of change, of revolution. I can use my words – both verbal and written – to halt those who mock the destruction of a woman’s body…”
“While we are grateful for the support PCSW has received from many in the Legislature, advocacy groups, and women and men from throughout the state and country, we hope this incident will shine a light on the ongoing, pervasive, and unacceptable discrimination against women that continues to erode our health and safety, and even our economic security,” said PCSW Executive Director Teresa Younger.
“Women’s Day commemorates women’s history, raises awareness of public policy issues, is a forum for women’s voices, and encourages civic engagement. So we urge everyone who was appalled by the sexist film footage to learn about the work we do as one of the nation’s longest-standing and most effective non-partisan women’s commissions. And we encourage everyone to raise their voices – as Kristen has done – to stop such examples of sexual harassment.”
The PCSW, now in its 40th year, supports the General Assembly through public policy research, analyzes and testifies on bills for their effect on women and families, publishes reports on women’s health, safety, and financial security, monitors hospital mergers to ensure protection of women’s reproductive healthcare, promotes women’s leadership, and raises awareness of such issues as human trafficking.
In honor of Women’s Day at the Capitol, U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro read into the Congressional Record an official statement marking the PCSW’s four decades of public policy work.
The PCSW also received congratulatory proclamations from Gov. Dannel Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and the Connecticut General Assembly.