Kunin to speak March 5



Madeline Kunin

In her new book, “The New Feminist Agenda, Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family” former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin revisits feminism. How far have we come since the 1950s and 1960s? Not far enough, believes Kunin, who will speak at Johnson State College on March 5.

Although there have been significant gains, and women now comprise nearly 60 percent of all undergraduate students and half of all medical and law students nationwide, the United States still falls far behind many other developed nations in the world in family-friendly leave.

Twenty years after the signing of the Family and Medical Leave Act, President Bill Clinton’s first bill signed into law after his having taken the oath of office, parents are still waiting for the United States to join the rest of the world, and to provide some sort of paid family leave.  There are three countries around the globe that fall in this category, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and the U.S.

“One of the consequences of America’s lack of sensible family/work policies, like maternity leave and access to workplace flexibility is our soaring child poverty rate,” writes Kunin in her most recent Huffington Post Blog. “At 22 percent we have the unfortunate distinction of having the highest child poverty rate of any developed country. That statistic, we know, will be a job killer when those children grow up, many of whom will not have the skills to be employed and contributing members of society.”
Not only was Kunin the first female governor of Vermont, but she also was the first woman to serve three gubernatorial terms in the U.S. She served as Deputy Secretary of Education from 1993 through 1996 and Ambassador to Switzerland from 1996 to 1999.
Kunin earned a B.A. in History from the University of Massachusetts, an M.A. in Journalism from Columbia University, and an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Vermont.

Kunin, who began her career as a journalist, is also the author of “Pearls, Politics and Power, How Women Can Win and Lead” and “Living a Political Life.”

She is a Marsh Scholar, a distinguished visiting professor at the University of Vermont, a commentator on Vermont Public Radio, and  founder and president of the board of the Global Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), a nongovernmental organization focused on climate change and civil society.

In 2009, Kunin visited JSC to discuss her previous book. “I have always been interested in her career and life,” said Director of Academic Support Services Karen Madden. “The last book she wrote … was used for a book discussion in the Women’s Center. It was well-received, and her talk was very good and well-attended. Now she has a new book out, and it is a really good read, and I just thought she would be a good speaker, again. And she was available.”

In her new book, “She’s looking back at when she was a young woman, and what she expected to see by the time she is at this point. So, it’s interesting to see what hasn’t happened that she thought would happen,” said Madden. “And then the book goes on to discuss how many of these issues, like good state-supported child care, paid family leave, the number of women in congress, and the number of women heading fortune 500 companies, [which] she thought would be different.”

She also noted that other countries  manage to do many of those things, and even though people are paying higher taxes, the benefits they’re getting from those are numerous.

Kunin will present in Stearns Performance Space at 4 p.m. She will speak for approximately a half-hour followed by a question and answer period.

The event is free and open to the public.