Last week, we called on WVFC contributors to look back on the high (and low) points of 2010. Then we asked them to look ahead to 2011, and what they think is worth our keeping an eye on in the new year.
If you have a prediction of your own, feel free to join in.
I will be looking to see what happens to Lui Xia (right), the wife of Chinese Nobel Prize winner and human rights activist Lui Xiabo. She is currently under house arrest—19 countries, from Afghanistan to Serbia, declined Nobel invitations to Oslo because China is too important to their weapons programs and economies. I also want to see what contributions Burma’s Aung Sun Suu Kyi is allowed to make, now that she finally is no longer under house arrest, alledgedly. I want to follow the astonishing Solar Cookers international, led by Margaret Owino, which is empowering women across Africa and into Central Asia. I am very interested in what Shirin Ebadi (who herself won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003) and Mehrenguiz Kar are able to do for imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, now being held in Evin Prison, in Iran.
Female activists, heads of state, and game-changers are not influential because they are female or over 40. But they often have to be cannier, they are often braver, they are often more holistic in their approach. That is why girls’ education is so fundamental in the developing world. These prominent women can set the tone globally. I think women are ever more powerful in influencing global politics and events at home; I want to see that trend strengthen so that it is not, in and of itself, remarkable.
Though far from perfect, the health care and financial reforms enacted in 2010 are good beginnings. I want to see Democrats—in the White House as well as in Congress—fight for these nascent programs and protect them from being defunded or repealed.
Probably the single most important figure to watch in 2011 is the rate of unemployment. The economy is slumping because there is a shortage of demand, not capacity. Cutting back spending will help scale back the deficit in the short run, but it won’t increase demand. Without spending to help them meet their budget shortfalls, the states will have to fire many teachers, firefighters and police, thereby adding thousands more to the unemployed and stripping them of their buying power. Some of the long-term effects of increasing the numbers of unemployed are diminishing the tax revenues (which by itself increases the deficit) and further depressing the economy.
In terms of Supreme Court cases to watch in 2011, all eyes are on Dukes v. Wal-Mart, in which the Court has agreed to consider whether the women who won a multimillion-dollar antidiscrimination suit could legitimately sue as a class. Dukes is the highest-profile of the “class-action trifecta” to be decided this spring (including this one, which we noted in a recent “Wednesday Five” roundup).
Also expect new efforts on a revised Equal Pay Act, and a spate of full courtrooms discussing the women’s-health provisions of the new healthcare law.
I am keeping an eye on our movement in the medical community in this country to focus on maintenance of health and wellness. Attention is beginning to shift in a major way towards disease prevention. This is an exciting time in American medicine, as we are focusing new energy towards keeping our patients healthy instead of solely focusing on the treatment of their illnesses.
Women’s Heart Health
Although there are many exciting technologies being developed which will advance the treatment of heart disease, I believe our biggest challenge as a society is to live healthier. This disease is largely preventable, but we are losing the battle here.
Despite Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity, the only part of our country where childhood obesity did not increase this year was Washington, D.C. We need to be more active, trim our waistlines, stop smoking, practice stress reduction and get regular check-ups. Make 2011 the year to start taking care of you.
Unfortunately, 2010 was a year in which women lost a lot of ground in Silicon Valley, feeling a disproportionate share of the recession’s job cuts. So in 2011 the thing to watch is how women fare with the jobs and startup investments that will be coming back.
This is a tough one. I think it’s fair to say that our concerns with the form are prevalent over our worries regarding fresh content, and that will continue to be the case in the 12 short months to come. Ebooks, called (by now famously) the book’s “bastard cousin” by Andy Borowitz, will continue to haunt or enrich us. For me, the question comes down to creativity and copyright. The latter may just be a passing phase in modern history, coming to an end in a time of cutting, pasting, borrowing and meshing. As for the former—well, when you mesh and paste images, film clips, and sound bites into an electronic version of Alice in Wonderland or War and Peace, is the consumer’s experience still one of “reading,” or is it a new form of “multimedia intake?” And is that good or bad? (I know that for me personally it’s a bad experience. But I am, happily, old! And a luddite on my best days.)
This year saw the landmark collaboration between Lanvin and “fast fashion” powerhouse H&M. I think we’ll be seeing many more of these types of partnerships in the coming year. It’s already been announced that Emma Watson will be designing a line with Alberta Ferretti and Alice Temperly will be feminizing that British stalwart Barbour. That and the continuing trend of mixing high and low will afford women widening opportunities for creative styling on a more realistic budget. And with lines like Talbots and Ann Taylor upgrading their images to enter the more fashionable arena, I think 2011 will offer great choices for the over-40 woman to easily enhance her fashion profile.
In terms of celebrities, everyone is waiting to hear who will be chosen to design Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. That will certainly start a trend of sorts. And the unexpected departure of influential Carine Roitfeld from French Vogue leaves a huge void for someone—most likely fashion director Emmanuelle Alt—to step in and set the tone for European styles.
One upbeat prediction: more museum space and screen time for over-40 women artists, especially in New York. Here are two shows to kick off the 2011 calendar: Shifting the Gaze: Painting and Feminism, through January 30 at The Jewish Museum, and Lorna Simpson: Gathered, January 28-August 21 at the Brooklyn Museum. And on March 3 at MoMA, Gloria Steinem will introduce Lynn Hershman Neeson’s documentary on the Feminist Art movement, !Women Art Revolution. Enjoy.