Editor’s Note: This is a guest post written by Kriste Stevenson

Thanks to CTWorkingmoms.com, I attended The Connecticut Forum’s event The State of Women 2012: Exploring Rights, Roles, Politics and Power. It was such an amazing event that I wanted to share my experience.

After juggling heaven and earth to get a babysitter, my best friend from college and I made our way out for a girl’s night of dinner and a…panel discussion on women’s rights and activism. Not how I pictured my first GNO (girls night out) in ages, but hey, I’ll take what I can get! I was far from disappointed.

First of all there were 3,000 people there! (How did all of these people know about this event, when I only found out about it when I entered the CTWorkingmoms.com contest? I have to get out more obviously.) Women and men of all ages were there and we were all brought to our feet at the end of the forum. The format of the night was a panel discussion with a moderator – picture watching a really smart talk show. NPR’s Michelle Martin moderated a panel of four women: Gloria Steinem, Ashley Judd, Connie Schultz and Michelle Barnard.

I have to say, that out of all the panelists, Connie Schultz was my favorite. I didn’t know who she was before I attended but you can believe that ever since I’ve been gobbling up everything she’s published. Check her out on Facebook if you get the chance.

I learned from all the panelists that it’s possible to be smart and funny, a concept that I personally struggle with. That is what struck me the most about these women, how freaking smart they all were. And Gloria Steinem had such modesty about her. You would never know that she changed the world for women. And holy crap she’s 78 years old.

Some quotes from the night:

On the perception of women in the media or politics:

“When they don’t like your politics, they attack how you look” Connie Schultz, who recently received an email from a reader calling her a “hairy-legged zoo woman who doesn’t care about the truth.” LOL

On why team sports are so important for women and girls:

“…for our bodies to become instruments not ornaments is huge.” Connie Schultz

On “having it all”:

Someone once told Ashley Judd that yes, we [women] “can have it all, just not at the same time”. She also said that “having it all” to her means “being at peace with my choices.” Best. Advice. Ever.

On women’s activism:

“It’s not about passing the torch to the younger generation of women. Keep the torch and light others’ with it.” Gloria Steinem

I am still in awe that I was in the presence of these amazing women. Makes me want to get out and DO something! And you know what? I think I will. I’ve got a daughter who is going to need a torch someday. May hers burn bright.

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