Who Better to Help Women at the Department of Labor Than NOW President Kim Gandy?

Feb 9, 2009 by

Kim GandyVictories are beginning to add up for American women.

President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He’s signed a law expanding health care benefits for women and children under SCHIP. And now, there’s a chance that Kim Gandy, longtime women’s activist, feminist leader and President of the National Organization for Women is a contender for the slot as the head of the Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor.

To say that Gandy would be the perfect person for the slot is an understatement (and I’m not just saying that because I hear she’s read my blog every now and then!) 😉 The mission statement of the Women’s Bureau is:

To improve the status of wage-earning women, improve their working conditions, increase their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment.

Gandy has devoted her life to fighting for the rights of women. It started for Kim when, according to her Wikipedia entry, she had to get her husband’s permission for employee benefits when she worked for AT&T after getting out of college. Yeah. His permission. That would have inspired me to do something, too.

Seriously, Gandy has worked tirelessly for women ever since, but apparently the people behind The New Agenda blog believe that NOW’s support of Barack Obama for president disqualifies her for a potential position in the Obama administration. Really? ‘Cause this is part of her resume:

Since 2001, Gandy has led NOW’s campaigns on issues ranging from Supreme Court nominations to the rights of mothers and caregivers, from Social Security reform to ending the war in Iraq. Through grassroots political action, Gandy helped increase the women’s vote and change the face of Congress in 2006 and is leading the organization’s efforts around the pivotal 2008 elections.

That’s exactly the kind of person I want in charge of women’s issues at the Labor Department, especially now as the administration contemplates how more women will be able to employed in the jobs creation aspect of the stimulus package.

Gandy has been a champion for women’s rights her whole life, and that’s who I want working hard to make sure women get an equal slice of the job creation pie. I’m sure Gandy isn’t the only person who could be good in that job. But I have to wonder what’s behind such a public dissing of Gandy by a group that claims to be all for advancing women’s rights? If you’re looking for a qualified, dedicated woman to lead efforts to promote and benefit women over the next four years, no one is more qualified. And, if you look carefully at the stated goals of The New Agenda, it seems that Gandy would be perfect for the, too.

I’m not sure what this preemptive strike is all about, but I’ve come to learn the hard way that if something smells a little fishy, odds are it’s worth taking a look around to see where the odor is coming from.

Kim, for what it’s worth, after everything you’ve done for women (and girls) in your lifetime, you’ve got as much support as I can give you. You deserve it.

Cross-posted from Joanne’s place, PunditMom.


  1. I'm so disappointed. I didn't think I'd feel this way in FEBRUARY 2009.

  2. The executive order you refer to is actually pretty clear when it comes to rendition, in my opinion. Obama ordered the formation of a special executive task force "to study and evaluate the practices of transferring individuals to other nations in order to ensure that such practices comply with the domestic laws, international obligations, and policies of the United States and do not result in the transfer of individuals to other nations to face torture or otherwise for the purpose, or with the effect, of undermining or circumventing the commitments or obligations of the United States to ensure the humane treatment of individuals in its custody or control."

    This does leave the door open for removal of prisoners to other countries, but the order specifically states that such removal, as a matter of policy, should NOT result in torture or undermine U.S. treaty obligations (including the Geneva conventions). So, theoretically, the U.S. could transfer a prisoner to Sweden, but not Egypt.

    That said, I am very disappointed that the President is not allowing this lawsuit to proceed. A key step in preventing torture from happening in the future is punishing those who ordered it in the past. We must hold the people responsible for violating the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Conventions accountable; if we don't we all become their silent accomplices.

  3. Frank S.

    I agree on the disappointment, but a whole new administration has only come in a few weeks ago. Holder only got confirmed to take over last week. The staff (I conjecture) still has a nest of Bush moles doing what they do. The last thing you'd want is a snap decision that ends up opening up agents identities and effective tactics for truly sensitive operations.

    For, bluntly, we don't know the details of the case, or what state secrets may be revealed aside from the whole torture question. And I expect even the best of attorneys would be pressed to get up to speed; I heard that the Bush people didn't even bother to make case files for some of the Gitmo detainees, since legal prosecution wasn't their concern. A simple answer in such a short time may be expecting too much.

    I tend to think blogger Andrew Sullivan is on to something in his posts about the topic, describing this as a possible holding pattern ("no change") until this and other messes (such as dissolving economy) get under management.


  4. Kristin

    I worked for Kim at NOW in the late 90's and have stayed in touch with her since — I can't tell you how smart, committed, and resolute she is. I completely adore her. She's also very funny and a very caring person who takes every responsibility seriously — just a great person to be around.

    Hiring Kim in this capacity would be an outstandingly smart thing for Obama to do. What can I do to push this?

  5. Frank S. —

    I'm not a lawyer so I'm only speaking as a reasonably informed citizen when I say that the state secrets defense for dismissing whole cases is utter crap. In United States v. Reynolds, SCOTUS said that there "must be a formal claim of privilege, lodged by the head of the department which has control over the matter, after actual personal consideration by that officer." SCOTUS stressed that such privilege was not to be undertaken lightly.

    In this case, why not have the state secrets — whatever they might be — examined in camera as Reynolds intended?

    Sure, it is possible that the new administration is stalling (Dahlia Lithwick offered up a couple of ideas on that front: http://www.slate.com/id/2210915) but if so, why not just ask for a stay?