Contemporary Women in Social Justice + Politics You Need to Know About

What comes to mind when you think of SXSW? Musicians on the brink of discovery, new and revelatory films, exciting art installations, and of course, Torchy’s Tacos. There is, however, an entire sphere of social, political and scientific events at the festival known as the Innovation Track. We were lucky enough to drop-in on some of these talks and learned all about the world around us from some of the coolest women making positive and actionable change. We were inspired by big names we are used to seeing in the media like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and her talk on “The New Left,” as well as Elizabeth Warren and her discussion on breaking up big tech companies, but have you heard of Senator Amy Klobuchar? Or Senator Mazie Hirono? Check out our list of the five coolest women working in politics we discovered at SXSW19!

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Amy Klobuchar

We saw Amy Klobuchar, the Senator from Minnesota, in discussion with Elizabeth Warren about America’s Future. Klobuchar and Warren are opponents for the 2020 nomination and had similar yet also somewhat different opinions on 21st century trust-busting. Klobuchar is very passionate about data rights for the individual. "I have bipartisan legislation to give you notice of breaches, to let you opt out of having your data shared, and then most importantly, to making this understandable, when you decide whether or not you want to have your data shared," Klobuchar was a Yale graduate and a lawyer in Minneapolis before being elected to the senate in 2006. Klobuchar was also notably the first elected female United States senator in Minnesota.

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Mazie Hirono

Hirono has been in the media lately as Trump has referred to her as “the crazy female senator from Hawaii”. She also strongly opposed the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. Mazie Hirono was the first female senator in Hawaii and the first Asian - American woman senator. Hirono was born in Fukushima, Japan and came to Hawaii when her mother emigrated the family to escape an abusive relationship and seek a better life for her children. Hirono served in the Hawaii House of Representatives and currently sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. For her work supporting Hawaii’s tourism industry and visa reform, Hirono has gained a reputation as “an advocate for consumers and workers.”

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Valerie Jarrett

You may remember Ms.Jarrett’s name from last year’s Roseanne Twitter debacle. Valerie Jarrett is an Iranian-American woman who served as a senior advisor to the Obama Foundation and is also a businesswoman and an activist. Jarrett spoke about her upcoming book titled Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward. The book focuses on her work reforming the justice system and women’s equality.

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Amy Hinojosa

The president and CEO of MANA, the oldest and largest Latina membership organization in the United States, spoke at an event called “Are There Civil Rights in a Digital World?” Hinojosa’s role in MANA has her working primarily in leadership development, advocacy and community service. Her grassroots work with Hispanic communities and mobilization of young voices is inspired and made her perspective on whether or not we should extend civil rights protections to the internet extremely interesting.

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Francesca Rossi

Francesca Rossi is the IBM AI Ethics Global Leader and a research staff member at IBM Research. Her work spans the topics of artificial intelligence, constraint reasoning, preferences, multi-agent systems, computational social choice, and collective decision making. What makes her work particularly distinctive is that this badass genius lady also studies how ethical and societal issues affect the development of AI systems. In the wake of the college admissions fraud scandal, Rossi’s insights during the “Algorithms Go To Law School: The Ethics of AI” felt especially poignant. She urged those modernizing admissions systems to be wary of the limitations and capabilities of new technologies and to rely on the knowledge of experts to maintain ethical practices.