Last Saturday evening was the Speaker’s Ball in Oklahoma, an event that signals the Legislative Session is drawing near. I penned a few reviews of past Speaker’s Balls we attended while Cliff was in the Legislature. You can read about those HERE, HERE and HERE. The theme, venue and beneficiary of the proceeds changes with every Speaker of the House, which keeps things interesting.
We did not go this year because I was in charge of another event benefiting the Oklahoma Contemporary Museum of Art. So, still had a chance to play dress up and momentarily feel like a princess just at a different venue! It was fun and my Senator in a tux did not disappoint.
If you read this and attended the 2020 Speaker’s Ball, please send me your pics!! Dying to know what I missed!
The official start to the legislative session in Oklahoma begins next week and the Governor appears to be on a goodwill tour speaking about his agenda and providing people with a glimpse of his goals for our state. Honestly, he needs all the goodwill he can get considering he is still in a dispute with the Tribes…but, I’m not gonna go there. And, it’s also rumored that his Senior Advisor, (Donelle Harder), the individual who is writing the State of the State is resigning. Oy!
My Senator will have an opportunity to hear the Gov. speak at Rotary today. Did you know, that Rotary Club 29, located in Oklahoma City, is the largest Rotary Club in the WORLD!? Who would ever guess that to be the case considering the size of our City…unless you know the people who live here and their dedication to serving others. Can’t wait to hear about today’s meeting and kinda of bummed I didn’t get the invite to go as his guest haha.
At the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), there is much discussion about the issues impacting women around the world. Depending on where you are from, the issues vary in their level of impact and importance.
For example, access to affordable childcare might rank high on the list for the American mom, but for mothers in Sweden, the economics of the socialist government depend on new mothers quickly re-entering the workforce, so the social mechanisms to deliver care are solidly in place.
Sounds great, right? Well, not exactly. During my time at the UNCSW, I have engaged in discussion with moms from Sweden who are deliberate and are conflicted about this very issue. My Swedish mom friends are very aware of the studies which show that the ages of zero – to – three are critical for young children and many Swedish mothers are choosing to stay at home with their kids for these first three crucial years of development. These same social protections that afford women access to quality childcare also frown upon mothers who drop out of the national economy to stay at home with their children.
Access to an education is an issue for many women in under developed countries and is often met with unequal treatment under the law. In America, you could successfully argue that those rights are engrained in the American constitution and innate for all American women. While you can argue about the quality of a public education, it would be difficult to say that American women and girls are forbidden to go to school in the United States. There is one issue however, that is discussed at length during the CSW which seems to be a topic without borders or boundaries – and that is Human Trafficking. Panels are conducted annually at the CSW on who is impacted by this scourge, how to help the survivors, how to negate the traffickers. This year, with the theme of the CSW being about Gender Equality and Social Protection Mechanisms – trafficking was not at the forefront, but it was there, in discussions and being talked about and what panels were addressing the issue were standing room only.
I am still haunted by a conversation we had with a Central American woman prior to a panel on women in the media. I am not sure she was there for the information or if she was there hoping to speak to members of the media about the horrible kidnappings taking place in Central and South America and along the northern border of Mexico. She handed us a card and spoke of how women with children, both boys and girls, are afraid to leave the house for fear their children will be taken from their arms and used as pawns at the US border by the smugglers, traffickers and cartels. She told of how women live with this fear and that so many children have been kidnapped for these purposes…and that this is really happening.
I remain haunted by her emotional plea and passionate voice. So, if you find yourself complaining about the children who have been separated from their families at our southern border…you might want to take another look.
I spent a few days this week attending the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York as a delegate for American Mothers, Inc. This organization has been an NGO (non-governmental organization) at the United Nations since Mamie Eisenhower was the First Lady and as such, can take a delegation of up to 20 women to attend this event each year. In the case of my organization, we take moms, because that is what we are all about. This year, there were eight of us attending -representing all parts of the country…Delaware, Illinois, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Puerto Rico…
We attended numerous panel discussions covering a broad range of topics.
The UN has little boxes with headsets available in case the panelists speak a different language. Laughing as I type because it’s the UN and everyone speaks a different language! Anyway, my friend Kim and I sat in on panel sponsored by the Foreign Minister of Morocco about social protection mechanisms and took full advantage of those little boxes.
Looks like our friends, Emily and Nadine did the same. Although the subject matter of the panel was nothing to smile about really.
Thank goodness the opening remarks from Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason (Ireland), were in English because there was a shortage of headsets! As far as opening sessions go, her comments were solid considering the status of women worldwide varies from country to country. In fact, our group sat in on a session about women and the media, and those variances in status were evident.
Our delegation was also able to attend a special reception sponsored by UN Women.
The really cool part about this reception is that everyone is encouraged to wear their native dress.
The Ukrainian women own the art of embroidery. Their attire was lovely to look at and just as interesting as the members of their delegation.
Enjoyed a brief visit with a soft spoken woman from the Congo. What makes this reception stand out is the attire. You seriously want to meet everyone there and learn what issues impact moms in their country- the outfits make for the perfect icebreaker!
Lucky Kuar Gill was the most beautiful soul from Canada. Pictured here in her native dress from India, she told us how she was married off at a young age by her parents and had children while in her teens. She was able to move to Canada where she started Global Girl Power. Look it up and follow this inspirational woman. Her story was moving and powerful and will hopefully encourage other young women who have been oppressed. She spoke on a mental health panel earlier in the day that some members of our delegation attended, so we were at no loss for words with her.
On a side note, and probably a highlight was getting to meet former French President, Francois Hollande.
My group was in the hotel bar trying to determine which amazing New York restaurant we were going to hit up for dinner while the former French President was filming a segment for a news outlet. As we watched him woo his audience, we plotted on how to grab a picture with him. Fortunately, my friend Kim speaks beautiful French and asked (in French of course) if this group of American Moms could have a photo.
He was very kind and gave us a lovely sentiment in French: ‘Le meres Americaines les gens important.’ That even he knows how important the mothers of America are….
So I’m gonna overlook the fact that he left office with the worst approval ratings in French history and a scandalous affair because he was spot on about American moms. Bien Fait Monsieur
Alternative Headline: Why I voted for Kevin Stitt!
I had the opportunity to meet Kevin Stitt last spring. The story of how my family met Kevin is probably no more unique than the next persons, but it has been a pretty cool experience in politics from the sidelines and worth a post. Especially since my last post was nearly TWO YEARS AGO!!!
So here is how this happened…..My dad belongs to a group in Oklahoma City comprised of some CEO’s and businessmen who meet once a week to hear a speaker or learn about something of interest going on in the state. Each member is responsible for inviting a speaker and planning the meeting. When my dad’s turn rolled around in January of 2018, he asked me and the Senator if we had any ideas for a political figure since it was an election year. The Lt. Governor (who was running for Governor) and the Mayor of Oklahoma City (also running for Governor) had already addressed the group which narrowed the field of high profile choices somewhat.
In full honesty, I hadn’t much thought about the 2018 election cycle to be able to point him in the right direction, so I did a little research and stumbled upon a candidate in the Governor’s race who peaked my interest. There was a guy, originally from Norman, who went to college in Stillwater and was currently a successful businessman from Tulsa… an outsider to politics. The more I read about him, the more I liked and encouraged my dad to reach out to his campaign with an invitation to speak. So he did.
As you might imagine, not many people had heard of this candidate and most people in my dad’s business club had already hitched their wagon to someone else’s gubernatorial campaign. Stitt was not familiar with government or politics and like many Oklahomans, hadn’t even voted in recent elections much less been involved in the political process. I am sure that didn’t go over well with my dad’s business club….or maybe it did, because this Stitt guy from Tulsa was in the Governor’s race for ALL the right reasons.
Kevin came to speak at that early January meeting and then circled back to speak at another meet and greet my mom and dad enthusiastically hosted in their home.
He talked about making Oklahoma a top ten state in everything from education and infastructure to addressing our incredibly high incarceration rates. What made Kevin different from other candidates (who also talked about those very same topics), aside from not being a career politician, was his realization that the state needs to make some structural changes in the way we do business. (Can we get an Amen!!!)
From that point forward, the Senator and I were ALL IN – in terms of helping Kevin get elected. Our state was in desperate need of structural change and new ideas. Being slightly familiar with the political scene (said ever so smugly), we were convinced he had the right vision, business acumen and leaderhsip for moving our state forward. We also knew that more people needed to hear his message!! The Senator and I sent out letters to friends and extended friends, held two fundraising events in our home, waived signs by polling stations and kept both Kevin, Sarah and their six kids in our prayers. Politics is rough and this guy needed a full suit of armor and support.
Fast forward to today and the official inauguration of Oklahoma’s 28th Governor, Kevin Stitt. Incidentally, the sun is shining. Energy, optimism and hope are abundant. Oklahoma’s turnaround has commenced.
When your oldest and dearest friend gets inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, you have no choice but to get all dressed up and go watch!
Such a well deserved accolade for my famous BFF. Despite being a celebrity and constantly in the public eye, she is oh, so humble. I am honestly surprised (but thrilled) she accepted the recognition. All of Oklahoma, but especially the town of Pawhuska, are proud and honored to call you friend!