Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky is quite a woman—she is a mother, a former journalist, a former Congresswoman (D-PA), a teacher at a leading university graduate program, and President of the Women’s Campaign International, a global organization dedicated to advancing women’s status around the world.
Born in Philadelphia, PA, she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1963. She went on to work as a television journalist at WCAU-TV from 1967 to 1971, and then with NBC from 1971 to 1991. For her media work, Margolies-Mezvinsky won five Emmy Awards and became a CBS News Foundation Fellow at Columbia University.
In 1994, she became one of thirty-four Democratic incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives. That same year, she completed her autobiography, A Woman’s Place, which chronicled the first term of the exceptional women who revolutionized the gender disparity problem in the United States Congress.
Margolies-Mezvinksy was later appointed Chair of the National Women’s Business Council, and the Director and Deputy Chair of the United States delegation to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. She founded the WCI in 1998 and continues to actively provide advocacy training for women throughout the world via the organization. Margolies-Mezvinsky also currently serves as a professor at the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.
Throughout her several career accomplishments, Margolies-Mezvinksy found the time to raise a family of eleven children, some adopted, some biological, and others gained through marriage—all of whom she proudly calls her greatest priority.
Tell me about your childhood and life growing up. What is it about your background that made you interested in women’s rights and international human rights throughout your life?
My biological sister and I were fortunate enough to grow up with extremely supportive parents. For as long as I can remember, my parents were just kind people. My family—even my extended family, such as my aunt—was really instrumental in constantly saying, “You go girl!” They were truly my mentors. When I was about sixteen, I heard of a sponsorship program in which young women from developing countries could come to the U.S. and get sponsored by a family. I heard about one girl, an engaged 18-year-old, whose sponsor had backed out of the program last-minute. I asked my father if we could take her on as her sponsors, and my father simply said, “Absolutely.” My parents became hers.
We became sponsors again when I was at Penn for a girl named Rosemarie. Both of these girls became like sisters to me. These experiences were great; they were personal experiences but also provided an international perspective. My time studying abroad in my junior year at Penn, in Balboa, Spain, and Florence, Italy, were also eye-opening experiences.
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