Three well known authors participated as panelists Wednesday for the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago’s empowerment series of taboo topics, which was hosted by the organization. Christie Hefner, Former CEO of Playboy Enterprises and current Executive Chairman of Canyon Ranch Enterprises acted as moderator.
CEO Dorri McWhorter opened up by addressing the organization’s mission. For more than 138 years, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago has served the needs of women and girls, with its mission being to eliminate racism and help empower women. Their programs and services reach more than 150,000 women, children and families a year. Their main area of focus includes personal safety and wellness, education and training and economic sustainability.
YWCA Empowerment Evening: Taboo Topics with Christie Hefner brought together these three women to discuss politics, sex and money. The after work event took place at the Public Chicago Hotel, 1301 N. State Pkwy. The Hobby Lobby case, where the company refuses to include birth control to employees under its health benefits was a subject brought up throughout the discussion. The panelists argued that its 2014 and women should be able to decide what they do with their bodies. The focus wasn’t only on that issue though. The bigger message for the evening was that women can do more to empower themselves and the authors offered tips on how the average woman can make small changes in her life to reach that goal. They shared how they empowered themselves.
Maggie Anderson, Author of Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy described to the audience why she and her husband made a commitment to only support Black owned businesses for one year. Through the journey she said she learned to be a more conscious buyer. As an African American woman, she explained to listeners that it was important for her to do this because there are not enough Black businesses in the country. Almost half a century ago Black businesses thrived, Anderson said, but over the decades they have faded away and people of color are left to survive in food deserts, purchasing groceries from liquor stores that aren’t even owned by African Americans.
Her advice to women of all backgrounds is to know where they are spending their money. Research the company. Be conscious consumers.
“Find something you do regularly,” she said. “Start at your bank or dry cleaner, find one who is woman-owned and when you find one thing, you get excited and want to do more.” Anderson said women should also support her nonprofit, Powered by Action.
Another panelist, Rebecca Sive, discussed politics. She is a faculty member of the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, Huffington Post contributor and author of Every Day is Election Day. A Woman’s Guide to Winning Any Office, from the PTA to the White House.
More women need to take political roles, Sive said. For those who don’t want to, then they should find a woman candidate who has similar values and support her. It is important for women to help those women candidates raise money to support their campaign.
After money and politics came sex. Doctor Lauren F. Streicher is an Associate Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University’s medical school, the Feinberg School of Medicine. She is also the author of Love Sex Again: A Gynecologist Fixes the Issues that are Sabotaging your Sex Life.
Just like Anderson, she become more conscious of the the businesses she supported. Creators of places like Hobby Lobby, Chick Fil A, and Forever 21 have religious beliefs that prevent women from being covered for contraceptives under their health insurance, Streicher said.
“The next time you go shopping, flip over that bag; if there’s a verse at the bottom, do your research,” she said.
Fighting for health equality is Streicher’s goal and she encourages other women to do the same. By signing an online petition at EvenTheScore.org, women can help.