AAUW preps for 2021 action

The Los Altos/Mountain View branch of the American Association of University Women continued its celebration of the 19th Amendment’s centennial with a Zoom social and presentation Dec. 13.

Featured speaker Beth von Emster discussed the topic “Civil Liberties 101: Primer on Our Rights as American Women.” Von Emster is co-chairwoman of the San Mateo affiliate of the ACLU North Peninsula Chapter.

Von Emster outlined threats to women’s rights that continue despite advances over the past century, and also listed several opportunities that can be leveraged in the upcoming year. At the federal level, she cited the current U.S. Supreme Court in both categories: The conservative majority threatens to limit women’s options regarding birth control but also seems inclined to favor women’s rights regarding pay equity. At the congressional level, she reminded listeners that the Equal Rights Amendment has secured the required number of states’ approval for ratification, but still needs U.S. Senate approval.

The greatest opportunity to impact women’s issues, von Emster said, lies in action at the local level. She advocated getting to know local politicians and representatives, particularly that mostly invisible but influential elected official – Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen. She noted that the ACLU Northern California Chapter website offers a Scorecard showing how local representatives in the California State Legislature have voted on various civil rights issues.

At the end of her talk, von Emster provided a list of online resources for self-education on civil rights issues and opportunities for action.

The meeting concluded with a Zoom sing-along of “Auld Lang Syne” and the raising of cups and glasses in a toast to successes for women in 2020, and to hope for an action-filled new year.

For more information on the local branch of the AAUW, visit


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