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National group launches women’s rights campaign

BY DANIEL SEIDL | NOVEMBER 15, 2013 5:00 AM

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While Iowa is a state never to have elected a woman to either the governorship or Congress, one national political group is trying to improve the standing of women in the state and nationwide.

The nonprofit group Organizing for Action is trying to increase equality for women with its nationwide Stand With Women campaign, said the Iowa chapter’s state coordinator, Zachary Davis.

“The launch of the campaign … is to highlight three things really,” Davis said. “Women’s health, women’s financial stability, and women in leadership roles.”

The campaign started nationwide a month ago, but the first event in Iowa was held in Des Moines last week. On Thursday evening, Organizing for Action hosted a Stand For Women event at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St.

These events focus on individual women sharing their stories, something that Davis said is important because it can connect these issues to the public.

“Women are our daughters, our wives, our sisters, our mothers,” he said. “We really feel that it’s important to get individual’s stories out there.”

Being a women in a leadership position is an every-day occurrence for Yotopia owner Veronica Tessler. Tessler, who attended the event to share her experiences, said economic equality for women is important for women to be self-sufficient.

“I want to be in control of my future,” she said. “I don’t want to be at the whim of the economy.”

The event was organized by a local Organizing for Action fellowship group. Shelby Vcelka, one of the members of the group and a senior at the University of Iowa, also shared her experiences.

While attending college in Alabama, Vcelka said, she was assaulted by another student. This event led to her withdrawing from school and falling into a deep depression, she said. With the help of a therapist, she said, she managed to recover and come to school at the UI. Vcelka said her experience still has an effect on her life, but not all of it is negative.

“These experiences taught me how to change the way I perceive the world around me,” she said. “We can turn it around and make it even better for us. We can really grow and learn from [these experiences].”

UI Associate Professor of political science Timothy Hagle said that with events such as this, the Democrat Party can attract more women voters, who are more likely to vote for that party.

“The demographics show that young, single women tend to vote more for Democrats,” Hagle said. “They’re looking to sort of keep their base organized.”

Davis said this campaign is part of a longer initiative to achieve more equality for women.

“We don’t see any of these issues being resolved in the next six months or year,” he said, noting that Organizing for Action is coordinating with other organizations such as Planned Parenthood to effect a long-term change.

The group is holding the event in Iowa City because the city is historically positive toward Democrats, Hagle said.

“This is friendly territory, so to speak, for a group like this,” he said. “Republican candidates … tend to do not as well in Iowa City.”

In addition to this, Iowa City has a good relationship with women, Tessler said.

“I think Iowa City is a really special place in that I’ve never felt marginalized [because I’m a woman],” she said. “[Unfortunately] it’s the exception, not the rule in Iowa.”


Editor's note: The headline and story have been edited to accurately represent that OFA is a non-partisan, non-profit organization.


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