Friday, March 8, 2013

Cecile Richards Speaks at WIN Awards


Last week, the Women's Information Network held their annual Young Women of Achievement Awards and boasted "20/20 Vision." They were celebrating 20 years of WIN and 20 women Senators in Congress.

"Headed towards a perfect vision," spirits were high and the room was full. In an auditorium that quickly became standing room only, Washington D.C.'s best and brightest gathered to praise one another for their commitment to pro-choice, democratic work.

Out-spoken Democrat Liz Chadderdon was the hilarious master of ceremonies, taking shots at Marco Rubio. Bob Woodward, and the Pope. WIN president Andrea Gleaves represented her organization and told the story of their founders.

WIN was born around a kitchen table in 1989. Now it's a fully-functioning network with sub-categories helping women find their way, and hopefully, their career. Every February, members gather for the YWAs to celebrate one another and their  amazing accomplishments.

It takes a certain kind of celebrity to impress a room full of WINners. This year, the keynote speaker was Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards.

Richards opened by remembering the increasing resistance to reproductive rights over the past few years. She confessed at one point she thought she had woke up in an episode of Mad Men.

"I love the vintage look, but not when it's running the U.S. Congress," Richards said.

Reminiscing over Glenn Beck's notorious suggestion "only hookers go to Planned Parenthood," Richards retorted, "we are proud to serve hookers."

Planned Parenthood has always provided affordable health and reproductive services for all, free of discrimination. And no one favors the organization like young women living without health insurance.

Fully aware who their strongest supporters are, Richards said, "Young women prove that if Congress won't give us a platform to testify on our behalf, we'll build our own."

Of course, men also contribute to restoring reproductive rights. Richards own son took time off from college to get in a van and drive to Ohio to rally for Planned Parenthood.

But 2012 proved one thing once and for all. As Richards put it, "Anyone who wants to run for office has to answer to women in this country."


Richards comes from a legacy of fierce, political, pro-choice women. Her mother, Ann Richards, was first woman Governor of Texas. Currently, Holland Taylor is performing a Broadway show titled "Ann" about her time in office.

Richards had one last thing to say to the WINners: "What you've accomplished is awesome and you're going to go on to do so much more. More than you can imagine."

She finished by granting them permission to take risks and say yes-- two things that will inevitably get them even further. 

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