Rest in Power: Peg Yorkin, Feminist Trailblazer and Supporter of Women in Politics
Peg Yorkin—leading U.S. feminist, philanthropist and strategist, as well as theater producer—died on Sunday, June 25, 2023, at the age of 96. In the midst of our collective grief, we honor and pay tribute to a co-founder as well as the one and only chair of the board of the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF), publisher of Ms. Since the day FMF started in 1987, Peg Yorkin was important in conceptualizing the organization’s mission and potential significance in the struggle for equality and women’s rights.
“Above all, Peg was a feminist philanthropist, leader and activist, who also was a truth teller,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation and publisher of Ms.
“Peg was impatient. She wanted to see change now,” said Kathy Spillar, executive editor of Ms. and executive director of FMF. “She would constantly remind us of her age and wanted to see the changes in her lifetime. She thought big and had total confidence we could make a difference.”
Two of Yorkin’s favorite campaigns were the Feminization of Power campaign, to increase the numbers of women in elected office; and the FMF campaign to bring mifepristone, the abortion pill, to the United States.
Both were wildly successful:
- When the Feminization of Power campaign was first announced in the late ’80s, only 5 percent of the members of U.S. Congress were women. Today, that number is almost 29 percent—thanks in large part to the work of FMF and its legislative and political arm, the Feminist Majority.
- Today, the abortion pill mifepristone is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and more than half of U.S. abortions are conducted with the use of mifepristone. The medication has great potential to treat many diseases and cancers primarily impacting women.