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Former Congresswoman and International Women’s Advocate Marjorie Margolies Visiting Simmons

October 22, 2012

Marjorie Margolies, former Pennsylvania Congresswoman and Emmy-winning journalist, will visit Simmons College for a full week beginning today (October 22) as part of the distinguished Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow program. The founding president of Women's Campaign International – a global advocacy program that empowers women to become effective agents of change – Margolies currently teaches two courses at the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania and is a member of the Vietnamese Education Fund, a Presidential Committee focused in scientific education and exchange between the United States and Vietnam.

In addition to her many accomplishments in journalism and politics, Margolies was the first single white woman to adopt a foreign child, and her son, Marc Mezvinsky, is married to Chelsea Clinton. Margolies caught up with Simmons the week before her arrival on campus to talk about the 2012 Presidential Election and the challenges women face in politics today.

What messages do you want to convey to the Simmons community during your visit?

Fundamentally, I really want them to understand that they should go for it. One of the things I always told my kids is that you can only win if you're not afraid to lose. You have to get out on the playing field. In politics, when women run and lose, they often don't run again. You've got to redefine was resilience is for you. The winning moments and the victories are very important, but it's how you get up after you've been creamed that really counts.

The other thing is: you can do it all, you just can't do it with the same intensity. You have to scale back if you're having a child. You have to figure out what your own bliss is, and you have to get a whole bunch of people around you to support you. You can do it all, you just can't do it all at once.

What is the biggest barrier facing women in politics and leadership positions? How should we be addressing them?

Getting there is the biggest barrier. It's very inconvenient to run, and in many areas, the decision on who runs still comes from those smoky back rooms. It's also hard because of the juggle. Even if you have a supportive husband, you're still the one who holds the family together. No matter how you slice it.

In this presidential election year, what are the biggest issues facing the country?

Jobs are a big issue, as well as trying to figure out how we can spend less and spend more responsibly. I think in this race, women's issues are on the table, period. We've got to respect a woman's right to choose. I think that we, as women, have to be more respected.

What areas of the world is your organization Women's Campaign International targeting?

We have a three-year project in Liberia, we're going to be going into Angola, Afghanistan, and Iraq. A lot of it is post-conflict, because those are the places where women need us most. Sometimes the State Department will come to us and say ‘we need you here,' and sometimes we'll type up an RFP and say ‘we want this.'

"Women Changing Lives: Perspectives on Gender, Politics, & Social Change," begins October 22 and includes a week of inspiring community dialogues led by Woodrow Wilson Fellow Marjorie Margolies and Warburg Chair of International Relations Ambassador William Bellamy. For a full schedule of events, click here.