Can the legal system be used to address the continuing income gap between women and men? This is the main question guiding Danli Lan’s probing look into the concept of democracy and its impact on gender. Using a series of milestone legal cases, Lan highlights how institutional and social barriers have prevented women from being treated equally when it came to salaries and pension benefits (the Lily Ledbetter case and subsequent law is one of the better knowns.) Based on her reading and interpretation of these cases, Lan concludes that a better coordination of judicial and symbolic laws needs to happen in order to lessen the income disparity. Acknowledging that laws in themselves won’t change inequality, Danil Lan encouraged the audience to think about productive solutions themselves.
It is 9:00 am and SpARC is starting. Four women stand at the front of the room – Xinyu Zhan, Su Myat Thu, “Lexis” Xi Wang, and Eia Gardner. They have traveled abroad to Ghana and Burma, and home to China and California, working on public service projects funded by the Hubert Scholars Program. They are busy before the presentation working with the computer – one of their number, Danli Lan, is studying abroad at Oxford this semester and is hoping to Skype in. Wifi and Skype aren’t cooperating though, and the presentation starts without her.
Danli Lan gave a presentation on “A Case Student of Amnesty International Southern USA” based on her internship with Amnesty. Lan introduced AI as an international organization that fight for human rights. AI has many missions as told by Lan. Some of the mission include helping countries in poverty, ensuring refugee and migrant rights, and ensuring the rights of women, LGBT, as well as children’s rights. AI works through different campaigns such as Demand Dignity and Security with Human Rights.
AI has over three million supporters, members, and activists in over 150 countries; but their headquarters is in New York. Lan explained that campaigns are easy to start and join if interested. Campaigns are based mainly on whether or not AI can pressure the issue. This was a problem to Lan. She felt that people should not be pressured to support a campaign if they do not feel the need to.
I found this to be universally true. Many people get caught up in the “hype” of a situation and feel that everyone should join. We as a people have to remember that there are so many universal issues going on that everyone may not be able to participate in every campaign.