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These Are the Women Giving Me Hope in a Dark Summer

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In January, over half a million people (by conservative estimates) attended the Women’s March in Washington, DC. I went with two fellow moms; a good friend from law school and a friend of hers in the technology space, whom I had never met but now regard with great fondness. We all kissed our little nuggets goodnight from our hotel room via FaceTime—and then put on our hats and sneakers the next morning to stand up for our principles.

The energy on the Mall was electric. It felt visceral and empowering. We could take heart that there was a strong, smart, confident faction of people in this country (many men included) who would never accept bigotry, discrimination, or policies that would harm Americans. Congresswoman Maxine Waters told a roaring crowd that she was not afraid—and we believed her.

A lot has happened since then, and let’s be honest: much of what you read or see on the news is not encouraging.  And every few weeks, I see another article pop up questioning whether the energy of that movement is sustainable.

But over the last few weeks, I observed a sequence of events that gave me renewed hope.

First, my professional mentor was elevated to her rightful place at the top of the department in a male-dominated industry. She is a whip-smart, approachable and empathetic leader who naturally makes reasoned decisions and stands by them with confidence. Her elevation was met with resounding cheers across the board.

Then, a friend decided to leave her lucrative, longtime job—where she has been under the thumb of a male superior and unable to progress–in favor of a new, unfamiliar employer where she will be challenged and have more room to grow. She is taking a calculated risk and facing down her fears and self-doubt.  I am so thrilled for her.

A day later, a single mother in a Facebook mommy group I’m in announced that she has succeeded in getting out of a shelter and will be moving into an apartment with her infant daughter. Immediately, fellow moms were stepping up to offer her everything they could think of, from furniture to career coaching. Her community of moms banded together to help her stay in her new home.

And it’s not just personal friends, either. In the wee hours of a Friday morning, after months of relentless work by millions of women around the country who took the lead on this issue, two female senators crossed party lines and saved millions of Americans from losing their healthcare. Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski did so boldly and unapologetically, in the face of demoralizing opposition and ugly threats.  A third woman, Senator Mazie Hirono, made a heroic effort to be there for the vote–in spite of her battle with stage four kidney cancer.

Every vote was crucial.

We all know things have happened in the last few weeks and months that do not engender hope or optimism. But we have to see the light when it appears.

Everywhere I’ve turned this summer, I’ve seen competent, confident women claiming and standing their ground.  Being faithful to principles of logic and fairness: standing up for what is right and lifting others up.  And in some cases, even getting their due recognition.

I read that Senator Collins received a standing ovation in the Bangor airport after her vote.  And later that day, there was widespread applause on social media for Rep. Waters’ dogged determination to “reclaim her time” every time the Treasury Secretary attempted to obfuscate her questions during a House Financial Services Committee hearing.

These have been moments of true empowerment, and we need them. I am overcome with “hakarat hatov” (Hebrew for gratitude) for these remarkable women who make it possible to remain hopeful.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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