From the Grassroots to the Statehouse: Women’s Activism and Political Power


Associate Director, Graduate Program in Women’s History

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As there remain so many unknowns regarding the reach of the COVID-19 virus, Sarah Lawrence College has decided that the Women’s History Conference scheduled for March 27-28, 2020 will not be held this year. We look forward to the conference returning in 2021. The conference theme will remain the same.

If you have questions, please contact Tara James, Associate Director of the Graduate Program in Women's and Gender History, at

Thank you for your understanding during these challenging times.

When Liberian Nobel Peace Prize winner and anti-war activist Leymah Gbowee was asked “What one thing could be done to improve the status of women and girls around the world?”  Her answer was “More women in politics.” Gbowee’s response suggests that politically active women will ask the right questions and support the best policies to help women and girls achieve their full potential.  In anticipation of another U.S. Presidential election in 2020, this conference asks: How much of a difference does it make to have women in positions of power and focuses on the question what is the potential power of women’s leadership now and in the past?  From leadership in activist organizations to running in local elections to ultimately attempting to become leaders of nations- have women done what Gbowee fervently believed is possible? When women get into positions of political power, how much do they confront, change, and shake up the status quo? Or, do we find conversely that women are forced to modify more radical positions in order to serve a broader constituency? Does the phenomenon of forced compromise and de-radicalization occur only in electoral politics or can it be found in other places where women are in positions of power?

We hope that participants at this conference will grapple with these questions from a range of different perspectives, including examining the extent to which participation in electoral politics has or has not benefited women.