Women around the world are watching to see if the U.S. elects its first female president in 2016. Kathleen Parker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, will talk about the global significance of this election during her Thursday, Nov. 12, presentation as the fall 2015 Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics.
Parker’s presentation, “The Global Tide of Women Rising,” will explore how the well-being of a nation is related to the well-being of women. Her presentation starts at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 12 in Benton Auditorium of the Scheman Building, Iowa State Center. The event is sponsored by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics and the Committee on Lectures, which is funded by Student Government. It is free and open to the public.
For her presentation, Parker plans to use Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina, who are seeking the 2016 Democratic and Republican nominations for president, “as a way to talk more broadly about the rise of women globally. There is a direct corollary between the well-being of women and the well-being of a nation. Countries where women thrive are usually thriving countries. Where women are oppressed, nations fail,” Parker said.
In 2007, Parker traveled with then-First Lady Laura Bush to the Middle East. They met with Kuwaiti women who, having just been given the vote, had run for office. “None won, but I was in awe of their courage,” Parker said. “Witnessing suffrage on the ground floor was life-changing for me.”
In Saudi Arabia, Parker and Bush had dinner with then-King Abdullah's wife. “Every woman in attendance wanted to talk about one thing: Hillary Clinton,” Parker said. “Would she win? They were very excited about the prospect that a woman might be president of the United States. Having a woman (not just any woman, obviously) lead the free world would have a global effect that we can't even fathom. It really would shift the tides and realign the stars,” she said.
Parker writes a nationally syndicated column on politics and culture, which appears in more than 500 newspapers with a readership of approximately 80 million people. She is also a political analyst for MSNBC and a regular guest on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Describing herself as "slightly to the right of center" politically, Parker addresses politics, culture and contemporary issues in her writing and speaking engagements.
With a selection of political opinion columns, Parker won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for "her perceptive, often witty columns on an array of political and moral issues, gracefully sharing the experiences and values that lead her to unpredictable conclusions." She is also the 1993 winner of the H.L. Mencken writing award presented by the Baltimore Sun. The Week magazine named her one of the nation's "top five columnists" in 2004 and 2005.
Parker is the 28th woman to visit Iowa State University through the sponsorship of the Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics. The chair was established in 1995 to honor the Iowa native and longtime political and civic leader. Smith – the first and only woman to chair the Republican National Committee – was a mentor, friend and role model to many in the world of politics and civic, government and community affairs.
The purpose of the chair is to bring nationally known political leaders, scholars and activists to Iowa State to enrich the experiences of students and educate citizens about the role of women in the political process.