A Political Conversation that Addresses the Modern Realities of American Women

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Now that the Republican primary campaign seems to be winding down, I’ve been thinking about our current political discourse and how little it reflects the actual needs and modern realities of American women and families.

I spoke recently at a Harvard Kennedy School “Forum on the Road” event here in Los Angeles. It was a fascinating bi-partisan conversation and we had a huge turnout.

One of the messages I tried to convey was the importance of moving beyond the divisive political discourse that so many of us see on television and hear on the radio, so we can get to what really matters, to what can make the lives of Americans fundamentally better.

For the last few months, women have been at the forefront of the political discourse for all the wrong reasons (see: contraception debate).

Yet our country is in the midst of a cultural and societal upheaval that is impacting all facets of women’s lives.

Women are fast becoming the primary breadwinners and caregivers in the majority of American families. Women are more likely than men to graduate from college and earn graduate degrees, yet a significant wage gap remains.

The facts and statistics are all there, but all of you know this revolution is occuring because you are living it every day.

Everything is changing around us, yet as The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything showed, our major societal institutions (government, business, faith-based, media) are failing to adapt to how women and families actually live and work today.

Our institutions are simply out of touch with the modern realities of women’s lives.

The good news: women will likely be the key “swing” voters in our presidential election.

So, let’s talk about where our country needs to go and what we need to get there. Let’s talk about how our societal institutions can better support modern American families. And let’s begin that conversation here at MariaShriver.com.

Please watch the video below and then join the conversation in the comments section.

Tell us: What do you think our political candidates should be talking about right now? What do you wish was included in our national political conversation? What issues and policies do you think should be front and center in the campaign? What are you going to be looking for as you decide which candidates to vote for?

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I’m looking forward to reading your comments.

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About the Author

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Maria Shriver is a mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor covering the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. Since 2009, Shriver has produced a groundbreaking series of Shriver Reports that chronicle and explore seismic shifts in the American culture and society affecting women today. Shriver was California’s First Lady from 2003 to 2010 and, during that time, she spearheaded what became the nation's premier forum for women, The Women's Conference. Shriver's work is driven by her belief that all of us have the ability to be what she calls Architects of Change -- people who see a problem in their own life or the community around them, then step out of their comfort zone and do what it takes to create the solution.

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