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Posts Tagged ‘Action Network’

Piggy Bank with back to school messageIn this installment of our ongoing Budget 101 blog series, we’re exploring what was in the “fiscal cliff” package passed by Congress over the New Year’s holiday. Late last night, the House of Representatives passed the Senate bill to pull us back from the fiscal cliff — the combination of tax and spending changes that were set to go into effect today and could have sent the U.S. economy back into a recession. But the deal, which President Obama is expected to sign, dealt only with the tax changes and merely delayed the spending cuts known as sequestration.

AAUW commends lawmakers from both parties for coming together to reach a true compromise (look up how your senators and representative voted). Like any compromise, the deal is far from perfect, but it includes several AAUW-supported provisions that will help women and their families, such as

  • Returning to the Clinton-era tax rates for high-income earners while continuing the current rates for individuals earning less than $400,000 and families earning less than $450,000
  • Extending the American Opportunity Tax Credit, an AAUW-supported $2,500 tax credit to help college students and their families pay for tuition and related expenses
  • Ending the payroll tax holiday and returning to the previous rate of withholding, therefore protecting Social Security’s long-term solvency
  • Extending federal unemployment insurance for another year, benefiting those unemployed for longer than 26 weeks
  • Delaying the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts for two months, giving Congress more time to find a way to protect key programs like K–12 funding, Pell Grants, and family planning from sequestration

Although the automatic spending cuts have been delayed, they are still dangerous. In the next two months, Congress will need to find a solution to avoid deep cuts to important investments such as education, funding for civil rights enforcement, women’s health programs, and workforce training programs.

obama fiscal cliffThe 113th Congress, which begins on January 3, is in for a bumpy next few months. The sequestration delay is projected to end at roughly the same time the United States hits its newly set debt limit (early March), setting the scene for a pitched political fight. This will likely be followed by another battle when the current appropriations bill that is funding the government expires in late March.

AAUW is a nonpartisan organization, but we’re also multi-partisan, representing a variety of political affiliations and viewpoints. Despite our differences, AAUW members come together to get things done and serve our communities. Congress should do the same. AAUW members will continue to press Congress to support budget policies that further the principles of fairness and fiscal responsibility and protect women and their families.

Make your voice heard! Sign up for AAUW’s Action Network and speak up for women and families.

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AAUW would like to pause this Thanksgiving to give thanks for the many opportunities and advancements for women and girls during 2011. Although there is no way for us to list all of the progress that we have seen this year, here are just a few things to reflect upon and give thanks for:

We’re thankful for AAUW’s new research report, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School, the most comprehensive, nationally representative report conducted on sexual harassment in middle and high schools in a decade. The report has been featured by the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Education Week, Capitol Hill Blue, and more than a thousand other press outlets.

We’re thankful for a successful Capitol Hill Lobby Day during the 2011 AAUW National Convention. More than 600 AAUW members lobbied Congress in one day. Their efforts and those of the AAUW Action Fund Capitol Hill Lobby Corps and AAUW Action Network e-advocates resulted in 50 additional co-sponsors for the Campus SaVE Act (House 38, Senate 12) and 26 more co-sponsors for the National Women’s History Museum Act (House 25, Senate 1).

We’re thankful for Marcia Anderson, who was the first African American woman to be appointed as an Army two-star general.

We’re thankful for the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which banned lesbian and gay Americans from openly serving in the armed forces.

We’re thankful that the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Labor announced a new Human Trafficking Enhanced Enforcement Initiative to streamline the investigations and prosecutions of federal human trafficking offenses.

We’re thankful for the AAUW representatives who joined more than 250 women from around the world for the 55th U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. The CSW’s theme of access and participation for women and girls’ education and training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics was greatly informed by AAUW’s recent report Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

We’re thankful that the U.S. Agency for International Development established a new Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.

We’re thankful for Lauren Hodge, Naomi Shah, and Shree Bose, who won the top awards in all three age groups at Google’s inaugural science fair.

We’re thankful that the Department of Health and Human Services adopted Institute of Medicine recommendations that preventive care coverage for women under the new health care law include birth control without patient co-pays or deductibles.

We’re thankful that President Obama told the U.N. General Assembly to make sure that the safety, economic security, and civil rights of women and girls are not overlooked.

We’re thankful that new federal regulations went into effect ensuring hospital visitation rights for patients’ partners or spouses and prohibiting hospitals from denying visitors’ entry based on gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnicity, or disability.

We’re thankful for enthusiastic recognition of Equal Pay Day 2011, including the reintroduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD); the success of AAUW’s Capitol Hill event New Voices for Pay Equity; the publication of AAUW’s new guide, The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, and of more than 20 AAUW Voices Project op-eds on fair pay; the publication of AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman’s op-ed in the Huffington Post; and the fun execution of AAUW’s first-ever fair pay flash mob on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

We’re thankful for Mississippi voters, more than 58 percent of whom rejected Issue 26, a measure that effectively would have banned all abortions and severely limited access to in-vitro fertilization, birth control, and other medical procedures and care.

We’re thankful for our stalwart allies on Capitol Hill, including Mikulski and DeLauro, who are working together to develop legislation that would address the Supreme Court’s problematic decision in Wal-Mart v. Dukes.

We’re thankful for our Lobby Corps, whose persistent and thoughtful volunteer advocacy efforts every year help to educate lawmakers and hold them accountable. This year, Lobby Corps members made more than 1,400 visits to Senate and House offices, reinforcing AAUW’s message and garnering many co-sponsors on key legislation.

We’re thankful for AAUW members and supporters who generously give of their time, talent, and treasures to help women advance their education and develop their leadership skills.

And of course, we’re thankful for our AAUW Action Network for their enthusiastic advocacy to break through educational and economic barriers to ensure that all women have a fair chance. Your thousands of letters and phone calls to members of Congress constitute a clarion call for the rights of women and girls everywhere.

From all of us at AAUW, best wishes for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving and a joyful beginning to your holiday season. 

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When I was in seventh grade, I spent my time thinking about school work, my friends, and my after-school activities. I did not give much consideration to my body and how it was developing. This all changed on the day that 40 of my female classmates and I will never forget.

Two boys (who were close friends with the group) thought it would be funny to make a list of all the girls and rate them based on various attributes. “The List,” as we referred to it, had categories such as chest, body type, personality, and the dreaded comments section. Some examples of their thought-provoking observations were “mosquito-bite chest” and “makes wide right turns.” The List was intended to be a joke and never to leave the boys’ homes, yet somehow it surfaced, and copies were distributed throughout my middle school.

As I reflect on this “typical” middle school situation (AAUW’s recent report, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School, says that 48 percent of the surveyed students experienced some form of sexual harassment in the last school year), a number of thoughts come to mind. First, this experience was mortifying for all of the girls who were targeted. For the first time, we were made aware of our physical characteristics, while they were displayed for everyone to read. Already vulnerable, we developed insecurities that stayed with all of us. I mentioned to my friend that I was writing about The List, and her response was “I am still haunted by the memory.” These boys’ words remain 15 years later.

Fortunately, there is legislation in Congress to help schools put an end to the bullying and harassment that still goes on. The Safe Schools Improvement Act (S. 506/H.R. 1648), a bipartisan bill, would ensure that states, districts, and schools have policies in place prohibiting bullying and harassment and that schools implement education programs designed to teach students about the issues around and consequences of bullying and harassment. The hope is to prevent situations like The List in the future. We have to teach students that their words are damaging, that victims have available resources in counselors and school authorities, and that schools must do what they can to prevent and respond to bullying and harassment. The Safe Schools Improvement Act is vital for students. Last week, through AAUW’s Action Network, more than 600 members sent a letter to Congress expressing their support.

Although both boys and girls experience sexual harassment, AAUW’s report found that it is much more common for girls. The AAUW Action Fund’s nonpartisan, nationwide My Vote campaign — a voter education and turnout effort — will certainly keep the pressure on candidates to stand up and prevent sexual harassment. You can learn more about the effort on AAUW’s blog and by visiting www.aauwaction.org.

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Caroline Talev.

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Thanks to the activism and generosity of AAUW Action Network activists, members, and staff, we can claim some impressive advocacy and programmatic achievements this year. We continue to be advocates and catalysts for sustainable change, and your contributions supercharge our efforts to break through barriers for women and girls.

So let’s look back and celebrate a few of our many accomplishments in 2010:

• We made enormous strides toward strengthening and updating the Equal Pay Act by advocating for the Paycheck Fairness Act. Although the bill was ultimately defeated by a procedural vote in the Senate, President Obama personally thanked Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz for AAUW’s leadership. We will continue the fight for strong pay equity legislation in the next Congress and for stronger equal pay enforcement through the executive branch.

• AAUW published Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, a comprehensive report on the underrepresentation of women in these fields. This report has been so successful that AAUW has already invested in a third printing. You can order a copy by mail for just the cost of shipping at ShopAAUW or download the report at no cost from our website.

• We awarded $3.2 million in fellowships, grants, and awards for the 2010-11 academic year to support 215 scholars, research projects, and programs promoting education and equity for women and girls. Since 1888, AAUW has provided more than $80 million to 11,000 fellows and grantees around the globe.

• Our members and public policy staff helped close the book on the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which bans gay and lesbian Americans from openly serving in the military. This policy has caused the discharge of thousands of trained and skilled service members and has cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

• We championed the inclusion of Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s (D-MD) Women’s Health Amendment in the health care reform bill. This amendment will prevent health insurance providers from discriminating against women, requiring the companies to cover additional preventive health care and screenings for women at no additional cost.

• AAUW earned a five-star rating from GreatNonprofits, a group dedicated to hosting reviews and ratings of nonprofit organizations, and AAUW was included on their list of Top-Rated Women’s Empowerment Nonprofits.

• We hosted nearly 500 college women for the 25th annual National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.

• We worked with our e-advocates to dramatically grow our voice on Capitol Hill. AAUW’s Action Network logged over 13,000 new subscribers this year, and we sent over 74,000 messages to legislators and the administration, influencing them on a host of issues from pay equity and women’s health to hate crimes and Title IX.

• We successfully fought for the inclusion and passage of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, one of the largest investments in higher education ever, in the health care reform bill.

• AAUW members and fans broke the readership record for the AAUW Dialog blog with over 100,000 readers. We also moved the conversation about equity for women and girls into other new media, including Facebook and Twitter.

• We celebrated the one-year anniversaries of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, hard-won victories for equal rights that could not have succeeded without the commitment and dedication of AAUW’s e-advocates.

• AAUW disbursed over $90,000 to five plaintiffs to help with their legal costs in precedent-setting sex discrimination lawsuits on campus and in the workplace.

• We celebrated the 35th anniversary of the AAUW Action Fund Capitol Hill Lobby Corps with 1,200 visits to members of Congress this year alone and a Capitol Hill reception.

• AAUW launched the Elect Her initiative, a comprehensive program to build the pipeline of women running for public office.

If you aren’t already, become part of the AAUW national community and get engaged with women’s issues in 2011. Join now and connect with AAUW online via our website, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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I am not so far removed from college that I don’t have strong, visceral memories associated with autumn.  At my alma mater, the University of Rochester, autumn meant a crisp bite to the air and changing leaves; it meant new classes and anticipation of new experiences, both educational and extracurricular.  Autumn felt like opportunity and never more so than in my final year, as my classmates and I looked forward to a last year of education before the challenges and prospects of the “real world.”

The real world, however, throws a nasty curveball at college women: gender-based pay discrimination.  I wonder how many of my female classmates knew and worried about the wage gap; how many of those who had experienced real equality during their educations felt as though they would lose it at graduation.  After all, evidence shows that just one year out of college, women working full time make only 80% as much as their male colleagues.  Ten years after graduation, women fall further behind, making only 69% of the male colleagues’ salaries.

My female friends in school had worked just as hard as I, had earned excellent grades and exciting internships and were more than qualified to begin the careers they’d sought since youth.  Why then, were they at this disadvantage?  Why were they making less immediately out of school?  Why is real, competitive opportunity denied to so many?  Not, as the absurd arguments of some critics would suggest, because they chose to be paid less or they chose to underutilize their hard-earned degrees.

Women college graduates make less, are less able to have economic independence right out of school, and have to fight harder and sacrifice more than men for the same pay because the wage gap is real.

Now, this autumn feels like opportunity too – an opportunity to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.  If we want college to provide just as many prospects for women as for men, if we want to fight the wage gap and support women just beginning what they hope is a long and productive career, we must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and we must pass it now, before this Congress ends and we have to start all over again.

So whether you’ve sent an email, a fax, called, or visited your Senators once, twice, or 50 times, now is the time to do it again.  Visit our Action Network, enter your Zip code, and take action now!

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Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released figures that show that the wage gap remained unchanged last year. According to numbers released this morning, women still make 77 cents, on average, for every dollar men earn.

Recent reports of the demise of the gender pay gap have been greatly exaggerated. Those reports, from the likes of NBC and USA Today, were incomplete at best and a real disservice at worst. Why? Because they relied on only one quarter’s data. Economists never rely on a single quarter—it’s simply not enough data to generalize.

As our economy continues to struggle, and more women assume the role of breadwinner, families need this money more than ever. That’s why AAUW is pushing harder than ever for pay equity—starting with getting the Paycheck Fairness Act passed this month. If you haven’t already, please urge your senator to bring a real, positive end to the gender pay gap.

Visit our Action Network to send an e-mail message, call the Capitol switchboard at 1-877-667-6650 and ask for your senator, or leave a message on her or his Facebook page. Every call, letter, and tweet matters now. We must get the Paycheck Fairness Act passed this month.

American families have waited long enough.

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Equity Issues Banner

February 27– March 10

AAUW Recognized by Bestselling Author at National Movie Event Sponsored by CARE

AAUW branches across the United States participated in Half the Sky LIVE, a one-night only movie event presented by CARE on March 4. Sheryl WuDunn, co-author of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide – the book which inspired the film, publicly recognized AAUW, saying: “We would like to especially thank CARE’s partner organizations, like the American Association of University Women, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and the Girl Scouts of the USA, which have rallied their members around the country to take part in this event. They are raising their voices on behalf of the mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and sisters around the world – those who may not have the platform to speak out.” CNN, the Huffington Post, and the St. Augustine Record, which highlighted AAUW branch participation, all covered the event.

Have you purchased your copy of Half the Sky yet? AAUW’s Barnes and Noble partnership provides discounts when you purchase books through the AAUW portal. Visit www.bn.com/aauw. Half the Sky is a New York Times bestseller and Tom Brokaw has said its stories “will pierce your heart and arouse your conscience.”

AAUW at the White House for International Women’s Day

AAUW Dialog (Tuesday, March 9)

President Obama told those gathered in the White House East Room that the story of America’s women, like that of the United States itself, has peaks and valleys, but that ultimately it has been one of progress against hardships that women continue to confront. The president pointed to some of what he called the “statistics of inequality” — women earning 77 percent of what men earn; one in four women becoming victims of domestic violence; women making up more than half of the U.S. population while occupying only 17 percent of the seats in Congress, and constituting less than three percent of Fortune 500 company chief executive officers. Read more on AAUW Dialog.

AAUW “Rocks the Red” for HIV/AIDS Awareness

AAUW Dialog (Wednesday, March 10)

Annually, the United States recognizes March 10 as National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD). This nationwide initiative aims to raise awareness about the increasing impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls; and to encourage them to make better lifestyle choices in the face of this epidemic. This year blogs, including AAUW Dialog, are participating in the Rock the Red PumpTM campaign by putting the logo on our blog in solidarity with advocates and women affected by or fighting the disease.

AAUW Analysis Figures Prominently in Forbes Woman Article

Forbes Woman (Tuesday, March 2)

AAUW research figures prominently in a Forbes Woman article on popular college majors. It said that while business has emerged as the No. 1 major for undergraduates, a business degree does not shield women from the gender wage gap. The article continued: “a woman one year out of college and working full time typically earns only 80 percent as much as her male counterparts. Why? According to AAUW’s 2007 ‘Behind the Pay Gap’ report, women with business degrees are twice as likely as men with similar degrees to enter administrative, clerical or support positions earlier in their career.”

AAUW Branch Sponsors Conference to Open Doors to Math and Science Careers

Redlands Daily (Monday, March 8 )

The AAUW Redlands (CA) branch received some great press for holding a conference designed to encourage girls to broaden their interests and consider careers they may never have thought about previously. The article began: “nearly 600 Redlands and Yucaipa students may be more inclined to pursue careers in math and science thanks to a conference held last week at the University of Redlands.”

AAUW Board Member Quoted in Story about Challenges Facing Rural High School Girls

KQCD-TV (Wednesday, March 3)

AAUW board member Connie Hildebrand was quoted in an article about junior and senior high school girls living in rural North Dakota. Research shows that those girls don’t have as strong a sense of opportunity as girls in urban areas. In response, Hildebrand said: “North Dakota cannot afford to waste either the development or the contributions of its talented young women, who support the economic health of their families and this state’s economic future.”

AAUW’s National Women’s History Month Celebration Generates Buzz on Blogs

On the Gender Across Borders blog, Emily Heroy wrote AAUW: “… has great listings for events going on throughout the month” while the WriteSisters.com blog made mention of AAUW’s  activities on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Flickr. “AAUW is promoting a host of activities in cyberspace, tapping pretty much every social media forum to spread the word and raise consciousness.” AAUW’s Women’s History Month kick off blog post was published on BlogHer.

AAUW Funds Record Number of Campus Action Projects

Harvey Mudd College News Service (Monday, March 1)

AAUW is funding a record 12 Campus Action Project (CAP) teams in the 2009–10 academic year. News about Harvey Mudd College receiving an AAUW grant is posted on the school’s website along with a quote from Kate C. Farrar, director of AAUW’s leadership programs. She said: “AAUW is breaking through educational barriers so that all women and girls have a fair chance, and that is exactly what the CAP teams selected this year are doing in their communities. Our teams are increasing the number of young women entering and staying in science and math-related fields by addressing the barriers they face in school, college, and the workplace.”

AAUW Supports Right to Choose

Wausau Daily Herald (Tuesday, March 2)

In a letter to the editor written in response to recent anti-choice actions, AAUW of Wisconsin State President Marian Seagren Hall wrote: “AAUW trusts that every woman has the ability to make her own informed choices regarding her reproductive life within the dictates of her own moral and religious beliefs… AAUW will work to support prevention first, comprehensive sex education, domestic and international family planning programs, and access to reproductive health services.”

AAUW’s Lisa Maatz Contributes to Book that Continues to Receive Praise

Christian Science Monitor (Friday, March 5)

An article about Secrets of Powerful Women, which features a chapter written by AAUW Public Policy Director Lisa Maatz, says: “for all the focus on women, the contributors neither demean men nor debate which gender leads better… The takeaway message to women is confident: Everyone benefits when more women lead.”  In her chapter, Maatz focuses on her early experience with the power of advocacy. Articles about the book have also appeared in People Magazine, on The Women’s Media Center website and on Vivid Living.

In an effort to further boost subscriptions to Action Network and Washington Update, and in honor of Women’s History Month, AAUW’s public policy and government relations department is running a contest during the entire month of March.

  • AAUW Action Network: anyone can sign up, member or non-member. AAUW will draw a name from among the new subscribers in March, and one winner will receive a signed copy of Secrets of Powerful Women. http://capwiz.com/aauw/mlm/signup/
  • AAUW Washington Update: This is a members-only weekly legislative update. AAUW will draw a name from among the new subscribers in March, and one winner will receive a signed copy of Secrets of Powerful Women. http://www.aauw.org/publications/washupdate/index.cfm

Vote now for your favorite images in the AAUW art contest with a link to the contest page. http://www.aauw.org/contests/.  The deadline for voting is March 11.

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