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Presidents Day for feminists

"What is most precious to you that you will spend time protecting this year?"

by Kathy Magnuson

When the third Monday in February comes around this year, it will have a different significance for me. I haven't paid a lot of attention to this holiday in the past. This year had the potential to be one of celebration with a big "first" for women in the U.S.

Presidents Day began as a remembrance day for George Washington in the 1800s. In the 1960s, and continuing through the early 2000s, the holiday was established and given the official name, Presidents Day. It became popularly seen as a day to recognize all U.S. presidents - with a focus on Washington and Lincoln - and public offices and many schools are closed.

So what are we celebrating? What is there for women or men to celebrate in a country where over half the population is women and all of our presidents have been men? Are we celebrating the fact that almost 250 years after our country was formed we have had one president of color and no women presidents?

What if this year we skipped the car and shoe sales and flag waving and went to work towards having something more inclusive to celebrate in the future? What would a real feminist presidents' birthday party look like?

Here are worthy organizations to contribute the money you might have spent at that Presidents Day sale:
womenwinning recruits and develops women candidates early in the electoral process with training and funding. www.womenwinning.org
VoteRunLead supports women in transforming our country and democracy through their leadership. voterunlead.org
The League of Women Voters Minnesota, a grassroots organization with opportunities to learn and educate others about the government and take action on public policy. www.lwvmn.org or find your local league here: www.lwvmn.org/local-leagues/league-women-voters-local-leagues

Some of us may not see a woman president in our lifetime, but how do we insure that the girls in our lives will? How do we talk to girls about the importance of women in political leadership?

The next time you are about to tell a girl how cute her clothes are or comment on her hair, what if you told her how smart she is instead? What if you talked about how capable and creative she is?


How do we raise the next generation of girls to see themselves as leaders? Here are some organizations that welcome volunteers in raising strong girls.
Girls in Action helps girls use their personal power, develop their careers, become leaders and give back to their communities by mentoring or providing job shadowing. www.giaction.org
Girls on the Run inspires girls to find their inner strength and develop healthy life skills. Through discussions, activities and running games they learn about their potential and explore their dreams, do a community service project and run a 5K. Volunteers can coach a team or help with their events. www.gotrtwincities.org
Volunteer for Girls Rock! The Capitol, the annual leadership and civic engagement program for girls 13-18 organized by the Minnesota Women's Consortium. www.mnwomen.org

Ann Manning of the Women's Congress for Future Generations suggests:
• Think about what time commitment you are willing to give this coming year. Are you willing to 'tithe' a certain amount of time each week, each month?
• What is your superpower? What is unique to you? What is a rare or unusual quality about you that calls up a higher self, a soul-self?

My suggested question for you to answer right now: What is most precious to you that you will spend time protecting this year?

Where do you see women connecting and making change in your world? Send me your story, magnuson@womenspress.com

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