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The AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard voter education and turnout campaign represents an unprecedented investment in making women’s voices heard in the 2012 election. Follow us on Twitter and on Tumblr for the latest updates, and check out our biweekly Campaign Update for news, resources, and ideas.

From registering voters to mobilizing millennial women, the 2012 election has its challenges. But with a little help from some friends, AAUW and Fem2pt0 are ready to take it all on.

Today at 2 p.m. EDT, we’re hosting a tweet chat to tackle your questions about voting. Reproductive rights advocate Sandra Fluke will be on hand to talk about how to inspire and motivate women voters. And Dan Vicuna, a staff attorney with Fair Elections Legal Network, will cover voter registration and voter-identification laws. Submit your questions and follow along on Twitter by using the hashtag #itsmyvote.

Oh, and if you’re looking for some material to read ahead of time, check out Fluke’s voting pep talk, and learn about our It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign. You’re registered to vote, right?

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AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz reported from the Republican National Convention this week and will report from the Democratic National Convention next week. Follow her updates at AAUW Dialog, on Facebook, and @LisaMaatz on Twitter.

The final night of the Republican National Convention brought the expected — Gov. Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech and the balloon drop — and the unexpected — actor Clint Eastwood’s conversation with an empty chair. Regardless, it capped off an exciting few days during which I talked about AAUW priorities with delegates, party power brokers, and advocates by day and live-tweeted speeches from the convention hall at night. I was able to share my reactions and interact with you as the events unfolded. Catch up on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s action, and read below for an on-the-scene look at Thursday’s speeches.

August 30, 2012, 8:12 p.m.

#AAUW #GOP2012 RT @ezraklein: Condi and Jeb Bush have put heavy emphasis on education reform — as George W. Bush did in 2000.

THIS RT @realsaramerica: Which is why we get morons elected. RT @DrLearnALot: ‘Honey :Boo Boo’ beats GOP in ratings http://t.co/AJNWDy5a

‘What the *#@% Is Wrong With Republican Men?!’ asks GOP columnist Kathleen Parker http://t.co/v9tUuWic via @newsweek #GOP2012 #AAUW

While GOP convention emphasizes diversity, racial incidents intrude http://t.co/M8VI6fUx #GOP2012 #AAUW

Check out @RepPaulRyan’s record with #AAUW: Congressional Voting Record | @AAUWActionFund http://t.co/a8p9KEFb #GOP2012 #itsmyvote

RT @140elect: The #RomneyRyan2012 tag has been used about 7,500 times today, and their campaign is spending at least $120,000 to promote it. $16 per tweet.

RT @2012twit: Top tags in mentions of @MittRomney past 24hrs: #GOP2012 #WeCanChangeIt #tcot #RNC2012 #RNC #RomneyRyan2012 #WeBuiltIt #p2 #gop #Megaupload

RT @2012twit: 700,000 Twitter mentions for the #RNC today — twice the volume of yesterday. See the top tweets and speech reactions http://t.co/nzmdnsCJ

I got 2 meet Kerry Healey Tues. She’s co-chair of Political Parity, a bipartisan group working to get more women into office. #GOP2012 #AAUW

Jan Edmunds talking abt Romney’s commitment 2 put more women in leadership. Increased numbers in MA. I’d like 2know more #GOP2012 #AAUW

Five-time Olympic Medalist Kim Rhode: “It’s safe 2 say we showed the world that American women are a force 2 B reckoned with.” #AAUW #GOP2012

RT @CNNPolitics: Eastwood says Obama administration hasn’t done enough for economy. “It may be time for someone else to come along and solve the problem.”

This is simply bizarre. Rambling, talking to a chair. Am I dreaming? Clint? Crowd is making best of it, but lots of cringing #AAUW #GOP2012

What is this, the state of the union speech? Hmm. What do you think? Is this entry via convention floor a good idea? #GOP2012 #AAUW

“I accept ur nomination 2 B president of United States!” w/those words, Mitt Romney opens flood gates of general election $$. #GOP2012 #AAUW

Mitt Romney’s mom: “Why should women have any less say in the gr8 decisions of this country than men?” #AAUW #GOP2012

“I knew her job as a mom was harder than mine. I also knew it was more imp than mine.” — Mitt Romney. Sincere or pandering? #GOP2012 #AAUW

RT @richardwolffedc: I wonder if Mitt Romney will make any mention of his previous job in public service. When he reformed health care. And was pro-choice.

Crowd is trying hard 2 B excited abt Mitt Romney. To like him, to connect. A lot more effort 2 do that than last night w/Ryan. #AAUW #GOP2012

Yikes. #AAUW #GOP2012 RT @Lehigh389: RT @danprimack: Today’s Bain Capital has 22 managing directors in private equity group. Zero women.

Is it working? #AAUW MT @sullydish: If #GOP2012 has been abt anything its abt trying 2 narrow gender gap. It’s been almost overwhelming http://t.co/HesDkAlp

That’s one way to describe it, I guess. #AAUW #GOP2012 RT @WSJwashington: Clint Eastwood Offers Off-Script Moment http://t.co/udez2Mzn

Twitter is just killing it right now RT @ibenjaminbarnes: hmm .. RT @elmorse: I hope at #DNC Betty White interviews Romney’s tax returns

August 31, 2012, 12:16 a.m.

I’m packing my bags and heading north to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Democratic National Convention, where I will again keep you posted through blogs, Facebook, and live-tweeting of the major speeches. I hope to see you in Charlotte — or online — to discuss AAUW priorities and convention happenings.

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On Tuesday, January 24, President Barack Obama will give the annual State of the Union address. Obama has heard from organizations all over the political spectrum about what they think his priorities should be for the next year. AAUW is no exception. Below, in no particular order, is our wish list for President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address.

  1. Make “women” part of the speech. In last year’s hour-long speech, the president said “women” once and “woman” twice. Our national priorities should reflect women’s priorities — and that includes acknowledging women’s critical role in our nation’s economy and civil society.
  2. Promote pay equity and economic opportunity for women. Obama should prioritize funding for programs that promote equal economic opportunities for women and funding for technical education for women in nontraditional fields. While passing any legislation is tough in this environment, he should take steps to prioritize all executive branch equal pay enforcement initiatives.
  3. Affirm women’s reproductive rights. The president should reaffirm his commitment to protecting every woman’s right to safe, affordable, and comprehensive family planning and all reproductive health services. He should warn Congress that he will vigorously oppose attempts to restrict these services or to limit coverage of preventive health services, including contraception.
  4. Prioritize the Violence Against Women Act. Since the Violence Against Women Act was first passed in 1994, it has played an enormous role in strengthening anti-violence efforts and helping to protect women nationwide. The act, which has always been bipartisan, is now up for reauthorization. The president should make it a priority and challenge Congress to pass it this year.
  5. Make sure higher education is within everyone’s reach. Higher education is the key to success in today’s economy. Obama should reaffirm his past pledge to increase college graduation rates, especially for women and nontraditional students, and urge Congress to fully fund the critical Pell Grant program.
  6. Provide a world-class education for every child. The president should urge Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to provide all students with equal opportunities to learn. Obama should also reiterate his commitment to holding schools accountable for the success of all students as Congress works on this legislation. He should challenge Congress to enact legislation to protect educational quality by preventing the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers.
  7. Enforce Americans’ civil rights and demand funding to do so. Obama should demand that Congress fully fund the federal agencies that protect and enforce Americans’ civil rights.
  8. Help women who serve in our armed forces. Women who serve in the military and women veterans face unique challenges, ranging from elevated risks of sexual assault while on active duty and higher rates of unemployment after leaving the military. Obama should commit his administration to implementing robust reforms that help these women, who have spent years serving their country.
  9. Call on the Senate to move on judicial and executive nominations. Obama’s judicial nominees have been confirmed at significantly slower rates than those of previous presidents, creating judicial vacancies throughout the country. Delays in confirming executive nominations mean that the government cannot operate at peak efficiency, a critical need in this economy. Coincidentally, these nominees include greater percentages of women and minorities, who are still underrepresented in these roles. The Senate should be prompted to act on judicial and executive nominations without delay.

This is our wish list. What is on your wish list for the State of the Union?

AAUW and the White House will be using Twitter to talk about the State of the Union all week. Leave questions you have about the speech in the comments section below, follow AAUW on Twitter @AAUW and @AAUWPolicy, and learn more about what the White House is doing at www.whitehouse.gov/state-of-the-union-2012#get-involved.

Administrator’s note: House Republicans are hosting a State of the Union digital fact check and social Q&A on GOP.gov/SOTU tonight. Tweet your question for House Republicans using the #SOTUGOP hash tag or by visiting GOP.gov/SOTU.

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Over the past 25 years of the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, more than 8,000 women have been empowered by this signature leadership event. Presenting the workshop From Cover Girl to Campus Girl: A Discussion of Body Image and the Media last year with my colleagues was an amazing experience. I was able to connect with phenomenal college women who are committed to being change agents on their respective campuses.

They passionately spoke to us about their commitment to implementing programming that teaches women to love their bodies and increases self-esteem. I look forward to presenting this session again this year with renewed resources to another group of women who will “learn and apply everything [they] learn when [they] get home,” as Kiauna Hemsley, a 2010 NCCWSL attendee said she plans to do.

As AAUW’s leadership programs fellow, I have been afforded the opportunity to be involved in planning the conference. With all the exciting things happening to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the conference — the Women of Distinction Awards, the Secrets of Powerful Women panel, Laurie Westley’s keynote speech, and the variety of ways to engage and share through social media — this is going to be one conference to remember.

There will be 490 attendees this year, and I look forward to meeting and connecting with them, sharing stories, and, most important, learning from one another to continue the strong cycle of women’s leadership across the nation. There is nothing like the feeling of being surrounding by supportive, strong, and inspirational women. I remember last year when each corner I turned I met a new woman who had amazing insight to share.

As Aimee Barrett-Battle, a 2010 NCCWSL attendee said, “My goal for NCCWSL is to absorb the greatness that will surround me.” I couldn’t agree more. Having just finished my graduate work in higher education administration and student affairs, I look forward to continued opportunities to engage with college women and empower them to pursue their full potential as leaders and citizens.

Stay tuned throughout the conference for student testimonials on all of the exciting events posted to YouTube; for blog posts, Facebook, and Twitter updates; and for a showcase of photos on our Flickr account. Stay engaged and share your thoughts; we look forward to hearing from you!

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Red Pump Widget

Wednesday, March 10, marks the fourth annual National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The day calls for people to get informed, get tested, and take action.

One idea for getting involved was started last year by bloggers The Fabulous Giver and Awesomely Luuvie. They recruited more than 100 bloggers to begin a conversation about the increasing impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls and created the Red Pump Project. 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. You can also tweet or post messages on Facebook (hashtag #redpump) during a Twitter town hall.

AAUW & Red Pump Project

AAUW Staff Rockin' the Red Pump!

Other efforts to raise awareness are also taking place. New domestic campaigns, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Act Against Aids” and “i know” social media effort aim to reach the most at-risk audiences and reduce the incidence of new HIV cases. In Washington, D.C., with the highest number of AIDS in the country by population, a $500,000 grant from MAC Cosmetics is allowing for free distribution of female condoms at the same locations where male condoms are made available for free.

Another key way to take action is to support comprehensive sex education programs that provide clear and unbiased information about HIV/AIDS and explain how women can protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases.

While much has changed in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, the news has not been all good. Just last week, the United Nations announced that AIDS is now the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age (15–49) and that violence against women is a contributing factor to the rise in new infections. In the United States alone, a woman tests positive for HIV every 35 minutes. African American women and Latinas disproportionately reflect the largest number of new cases, accounting for 75 percent of new HIV infections despite making up only 25 percent of the population. And AIDS is now the leading cause of death for African American women between the age of 25 and 34.

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is an opportunity to focus on HIV/AIDS prevention and to directly and actively impact the lives of women and girls facing the disease.

AAUW's Red Pumps

AAUW's Red Pumps

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AAUW Supporters with signsMarch 1 marks the start of National Women’s History Month, and AAUW has strong ties to this annual celebration of women history makers. AAUW is an established historic organization that has helped — and continues to help — women make history.

With that in mind, AAUW is excited to partner with the National Women’s History Project in its 30th anniversary year, which has the theme “Writing Women Back into History.”

There will be many ways for AAUW members and supporters to get involved this year, and AAUW’s Women’s History Month celebrations will include the following:

A Flickr stream of photos

If you have photos of a Women’s History Month event to share, please upload them to AAUW’s Flickr stream by e-mailing the photos to mess90zap [at] photos.flickr.com*. Please be sure to include a short caption for each photo in the subject line or in the text of your e-mail message and indicate that the photos are for National Women’s History Month. Women’s History Month-related photos will be available for viewing directly on the Flickr account.

A YouTube video campaign

AAUW staff members will be filming short videos about women they are honoring during Women’s History Month that will be uploaded to AAUW’s YouTube channel. If you would like to share a Women’s History Month-related video that you’ve made, just upload it to your own account and send in the link via e-mail. We will collect videos from AAUW branches and members and online supporters and share them through the blog and/or Facebook.

A discussion thread on Facebook

In addition to regular postings of videos, blog entries, and articles on AAUW’s Facebook fan page wall, there will be a discussion thread available on Facebook for members and online supporters to use to share Women’s History Month information, including, but not limited to

  • Event information
  • Women’s history facts
  • Inspirational quotes by/about women
  • Individual stories people would like to share
  • Websites and/or online articles about women’s history

SuffragettesTweeting about women’s history

AAUW will use the #wmnhist (Women’s History) tag every day in March instead of just on Wednesdays. And @AAUW, as well as our followers and online supporters, will be tweeting women’s history facts, quotes, links to Women’s History Month-related videos, articles about women’s history, relevant blog posts, and so on. To follow the women’s history conversation on Twitter, log in to Twitter and then search for the #wmnhist tag.

Blogging

AAUW’s fantastic blog team will be highlighting various women throughout the month of March. In addition, there may be some guest bloggers, including the filmmaker behind the documentary Seneca Falls. You can order the video for screening parties.

On March 4 AAUW will blog about Half the Sky Live, the CARE event that is related to Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

AAUW will be blogging for International Women’s Day on March 8 and will be participating in the National Engineers Week Foundation’s 2010 Global Marathon: For, by and about Women in Engineering and Technology. The marathon will take place March 10–11.

As part of the part of the Red Pump Project, AAUW will blog for National Women and Girls HIV/Aids Awareness Day on March 10.

Finally, AAUW also has pledged to blog on March 24, which is Ada Lovelace Day, to celebrate women in technology and science.

Other ways you can get involved:

Host a screening party

A number of movies are great for celebrating or recognizing Women’s History Month, including Seneca Falls and Iron Jawed Angels.

Commenting

Another way to help celebrate National Women’s History Month and add your perspective to the conversation is by having your say in the “comments” section of the AAUW blog. Please comment on the blog to share more information about the women and topics that will be written about during this month.

How else will you be celebrating National Women’s History Month? AAUW would love to hear your ideas and looks forward to your participation in our Women’s History Month activities.

*To send an email to this address, delete the brackets and add an “@” symbol in their place.

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AAUW’s newest social media campaign—whipped up by members of the public policy team, AAUW’s junior designer, and yours truly—aims to garner support for pay equity via Twitter through a Twibbon, which is a small image that overlays avatars (profile pictures) on Twitter.

Incorporating these kinds of campaigns within social media helps to supplement on-the-ground support and action and allows online supporters to express themselves. Individuals on Twitter can promote their support of a certain cause while recruiting their friends or others to join them. And it all starts with one little image.

Why add this Twibbon to your avatar? In addition to supporting AAUW’s efforts to see true pay equity laws enacted, you’ll become part of a larger movement that supports social equality. Equal pay is only one of the issues AAUW addresses, and it has wider repercussions because equal pay issues aren’t just women’s issues—they affect everyone.

We can work to enact change and ensure equal pay for equal work. Contact your senators and urge them to co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act. Then, get your Twibbon and let your followers on Twitter know why you have it. Tell them just how important pay equity is—it affects their short-term earnings as well as their long-term economic security and retirement, not to mention the overall economy. That’s why they should contact their senators and get their Twibbons, too!

Stay tuned for updates. AAUW’s last Twibbon campaign, Stop the Stupak Amendment, received four “Twibutes” and 648 supporters. C’mon, tweeps, let’s build on that success!

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