The State of Democracy: Gender and Political Participation

Scholar & Feminist 2008 event image

Keynote lecture by Lani Guinier.

The state of democracy in the United States is undeniably troubling. In the last Presidential election, only 55.27% of the voting-age American population cast their ballots. Amazingly, a participation rate of less than two-thirds is still the highest turnout since 1968. our representational political system represents few, particularly when we acknowledge the lines of race, class, and gender.

This year’s Scholar & Feminist Conference, The State of Democracy: Gender and Political Participation, is particularly timely, as we enter a Presidential election year with especially high stakes. We feel that there is no better time to examine not just who gets elected and how elections work, but the entire state of democracy in the United States. The conference will explore questions about representative and participatory democracy, about alternative models of democracy offered in various social movements and in other areas of the world, and about how to build a democracy that might involve all Americans at all levels. To help us tackle these questions, we’ve invited a number of political scholars, activists, and policy-makers, including New York State Senator Liz Krueger, Nancy Abudu, staff counsel with the ACLU Voting Rights Project, political cartoonist Signe Wilkinson, director of the Movement Vision Project Sally Kohn, and academic Christine Marie Sierra. Representatives from Code Pink, The White House Project, Make the Road New York, and Activist Response Team (ART) will run lunchtime workshops. The keynote address for this year’s conference will be delivered by Lani Guinier, the first black woman tenured professor in Harvard Law School’s history and author of several books on both race and gender in the political system and voter rights and democratic theory.

*We regret that Vandana Shiva, who was scheduled to deliver a lecture, will be unable to attend this year’s conference due to illness. Please note that the keynote lecture by Lani Guinier has been moved forward to 1:30 pm.