Women’s History Month Wrap Up: Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories

Last month, we celebrated Women’s History Month, and in keeping with this year’s theme – Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories – we have assembled a series of videos from lady leaders with important stories to tell. The experiences these exemplary women share are varied and, hope, resilience, courage and freedom are enduring themes.

Cat Mortensen, ALEC’s Director of Policy Advancement and Public Affairs starts us off with an inspirational video that briefly describes the videos in the series. She also emphasizes that ALEC’s work would not be possible without the commitment of the hardworking women on whom we depend. Staff and members alike, ALEC relies on women for insights, innovation, and leadership.

More than 107,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2021, and most of these deaths were caused by fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid that has become ubiquitous in illicit drugs as Deena Loudon and her sister Paula Butler know well. Deena suffered every mother’s nightmare when her son succumbed to a fentanyl overdose in November 2020. As Paula observed, “It was like a bomb went off in our family!” This crisis’ impact is not limited to the victims but is felt by entire families and communities. Deena and Paula are making a difference by telling Matthew’s story to try to prevent other parents from losing a child to drugs. As Deena put it, “Not only do we need to educate ourselves about [fentanyl] but we have got to educate our children. We’ve got to empower them with the information to make good choices for themselves and not to experiment with [illicit substances].” Watch Deena and Paula’s powerful and moving video here.

Michelle Bekkering, Director of National Engagement at the US Global Leadership Coalition underscores that women’s empowerment is not just a social issue, it’s an economic imperative in this provocative video. Trillions of dollars could be added to global GDP just by achieving universal gender parity, and the nations with the greatest degree of equality between men and women tend to be more prosperous. She also shares with us the horrors that women face in Afghanistan where any semblance of female empowerment has disappeared describing the Taliban takeover of that nation as a “catastrophe for the country, the region and the world.” She urges us to remember Afghani women and the Afghanis who worked closely with US and NATO troops for two decades, an idea consistent with ALEC model policy. Michelle ends on a hopeful note and reminds us that “what happens internationally absolutely affects us locally!”

In this video we hear from Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, a Member of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada or Parliament who heads her nation’s Parliamentary Committee on Ukraine’s Integration into the European Union. Russian troops have brutalized Ukrainian civilians and military personnel and organizations like the International Red Cross have failed to adequately monitor Russian human rights violations. Ms. Klympush-Tsintsadze describes the charges that the International Criminal Court have brought against Russian president Vladimir Putin – abducting and relocating Ukrainian children to Russia in what international observers consider an act of genocide intended to erase their Ukrainian identity. This war is a struggle between democracy and autocracy and a rules-based order and global chaos. Undoubtedly, China’s Xi Jinping is watching carefully for cracks in Western resolve to support Ukraine, and our actions or inaction will inform his response toward Taiwan. Integrating Ukraine and other nations in the region into western institutions is consistent with ALEC model policy and the surest way to prevent future wars.

Nothing keeps mothers awake at night more, both literally and figuratively, than ensuring their babies receive proper nutrition! A video featuring the Cato Institute’s Gabriella Beaumont-Smith who will describe the ongoing shortage of baby formula including how trade barriers exacerbate the problem will be added to the series next week, so stay tuned!

ALEC depends on the vital contributions made by women, and Women’s History Month is the perfect time to recognize their work; the accomplishments of women around the world; and the challenges women everywhere face.