Posts Tagged ‘Washington D.C.’

Every four years, the country watches as the chief justice of the United States swears in the president. The 57th presidential inauguration is only two weeks away, and AAUW has everything you need to know to celebrate the occasion in Washington, D.C., or from the comfort of your own home. Start by watching this newly released video (“January 20th, 2009” By Tanya Somanader) about the inauguration, and read below for our tips!

The basics

  • Inauguration Day, including the public swearing-in ceremony, inaugural parade, and official inaugural balls, will take place on Monday, January 21, 2013. Many states throw their own inaugural balls — ask your members of Congress if your state is hosting one.
  • You can request free tickets to the swearing-in ceremony from your members of Congress. Each office uses a different process to distribute a limited number of tickets — tickets are very limited, so be sure to request tickets as soon as possible to increase your chances of receiving them.
  • If you are unable to get a ticket to the swearing-in ceremony, public viewing areas will be set up along the National Mall beginning at Fourth Street Northwest. No tickets are required to watch the swearing-in ceremony from these areas.
  • The Presidential Inauguration Committee website should be your first stop, whether you are coming to Washington, D.C., or participating from home. The site contains information about the festivities and the National Day of Service on January 19, an opportunity to sign up for e-mail updates, and fun facts about past inaugurations.

If you’re coming to Washington, D.C.

  • Contact your members of Congress. They have staff trained to help you plan your trip; in addition to inauguration tickets, your member of Congress may also be able to get you tickets for a tour of the U.S. Capitol, White House, Library of Congress, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Supreme Court, or Pentagon. Visit your member of Congress’ website for more information. You can look up your representative’s contact information on www.house.gov and your senators’ contact information on www.senate.gov.
  • The Presidential Inauguration Committee website contains a schedule of events, information on volunteering and requesting public tickets to the 2013 inaugural balls, and other useful information. Make sure to sign up for e-mail updates so you can receive the latest details!
  • Another good source is the D.C. government’s Inauguration 2013 website, which includes information on getting to and around D.C., a list of prohibited items for inauguration events, maps of the area, and tips for the weekend. While you’re in town, don’t forget to check out the national monuments and parks and the Smithsonian museums.
  • Don’t miss the Newseum’s AAUW-sponsored exhibit, Every Four Years: Presidential Campaigns and the Press, which explores the evolution of media coverage of presidential campaigns.
  • Of course, we’d love for you to visit us here at AAUW headquarters! We are fortunately situated at 1111 16th St. NW, just a few blocks away from the White House. Call ahead at 202.785.7793 or e-mail us at advocacy@aauw.org to arrange for a tour of our building, where you can meet AAUW staff and view treasures from our 132-year history.
  • The inauguration is an exciting time, with events happening around every corner! Special events are available through places such as the Newseum and M Central (a new venue for millennials to connect during inauguration weekend).

If you can’t make it to Washington, D.C.

  • Key events throughout Inauguration Day, typically the president’s speech and excerpts from the inaugural parade and balls, will be televised on news networks. Why not host an inauguration watch party for your AAUW branch and potential members? The parade will begin on Monday, January 21, at 2:30 p.m. EST, and the timing of other Inauguration Day events will be announced shortly. E-mail us at advocacy@aauw.org to let us know if you’ll be hosting an inauguration watch party, and remember to take (and send us) pictures!
  • The Presidential Inauguration Committee website has many suggestions for participating virtually, including e-mail updates and social media. You can share your favorite memories from the 2009 inauguration on the site and follow the official inaugural committee on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Join your fellow citizens nationwide in the National Day of Service on Saturday, January 19. Consider starting your own volunteer project or volunteering as an AAUW branch. As always, AAUW’s Facebook and Twitter pages are a great resource for receiving updates on current events, including the inauguration. “Like” AAUW and the AAUW Action Fund on Facebook, and follow AAUW, AAUW Public Policy, and the AAUW Action Fund on Twitter.

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With the 2012 elections over, it’s time to hold legislators’ feet to the fire. AAUW now has a high-tech legislative tracking tool to help us take effective and timely action on policy issues not just at the national level but also in your state.

CQ StateTrack allows AAUW staff in Washington, D.C., to work with state leaders to track local bills that affect our priority issues. We will use CQ StateTrack to create a profile for each state, which will include a set of key words and pertinent committees and legislators. This information will allow us to find relevant state bills by searching certain terms. The system will e-mail you when state legislation containing one of the key words is introduced, being heard in committee, or ready for a floor vote. You can also generate web reports that give us a snapshot of what bills state legislatures are considering at any given time.

CQ StateTrack is a game changer for advocacy on AAUW priority issues. Through our policy experts in Washington, D.C., AAUW already has the capability to track federal legislation down to this specific, instantaneous level, and CQ StateTrack will extend that capability to state legislation.

AAUW can embed the CQ StateTrack legislative report on AAUW state or branch websites so that they become a go-to resource for up-to-date information on legislation affecting women and families. CQ StateTrack will help you make quick decisions about taking positions on new bills and leading the charge for or against particular legislation.

Throughout December and January, AAUW is holding conference calls with state public policy chairs to walk through the CQ StateTrack system. If you would like to be involved or have questions, please e-mail advocacy@aauw.org.

This post was written by AAUW State Grassroots Advocacy Manager Kimberly Fountain.

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During the first weekend in November, 10 college women leaders traveled from across the country — from as far away as Washington and Oregon and as close as the Washington, D.C., area — to the AAUW national office for the AAUW National Student Advisory Council retreat. These outstanding women with diverse backgrounds and leadership experiences make up this year’s National Student Advisory Council. Throughout their one-year term on the council, the members will advise AAUW about issues facing college women, promote AAUW programs on their campuses, write for AAUW Dialog, and serve as leaders at the annual National Conference for College Women Student Leaders in May.

The 10 SAC members stand in front of the AAUW national office after the first day of their retreat.

The retreat began on Friday afternoon with a half-day information session aimed at introducing the SAC members to AAUW staff and giving the college women a deeper understanding of AAUW’s mission and programs. The students discussed events they have hosted on their campuses and issues they would like to target on their campuses over the next year. They also had a chance to get know each other and the AAUW staff better and to meet two local AAUW members over dinner.

The SAC members volunteered at Walk Now for Autism Speaks on Saturday morning.

On Saturday morning, SAC members volunteered for Walk Now for Autism Speaks on the National Mall, where they helped register walkers, prepare donated refreshments, and cheer on the participants. To keep warm on the chilly morning and to keep spirits high, the students did jumping jacks together, took photos with mascots, and danced to the live band.

Following the walk, SAC members had a busy afternoon visiting the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the U.S. Capitol, and the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, where they learned about the historic National Woman’s Party, the fight for women’s suffrage, the Equal Rights Amendment campaign, and the political cartoons of Nina Allender. Huong Nguyen, a student from Washington and Jefferson College, said visiting the museum was her favorite event from the retreat. Nguyen said she liked the museum because she “learned a lot, and the museum sparked my curiosity to learn more.”

The retreat wrapped up on Sunday morning with a brief session at the hotel to answer

SAC members pose after their private tour in the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum.

questions and to set the SAC’s leadership goals, which included forming relationships with AAUW local branch members, encouraging women to join AAUW and to attend NCCWSL, becoming more involved with their campuses’ women’s centers, and executing events on campus. SAC members also noted what personal skills they hope to develop or improve, including public speaking, programming implementation, networking, and blogging. The students are looking forward to reuniting at NCCWSL and using their skills to mentor other student leaders.

The retreat left me feeling inspired and encouraged by these fantastic women student leaders. I look forward to getting to know them better throughout the year. If you have SAC members in your area, please reach out and involve them in your local activities. They will tell their stories of student leadership on campus through guest blog posts on AAUW Dialog. We look forward to welcoming them back to the D.C. area for NCCWSL in May.

SAC members hear from Public Policy staff members Kimberly Fountain and Deborah Swerdlow about get-out-the-vote efforts and other ways to engage students on campus.

This post was written by AAUW College/University Relationships Intern Courtney Douglas.

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Members of academic departments tend to stick together like peanut butter and jelly, forks and knives, or in my case, grants and early coffee trips. Students within the same major or minor usually connect during academic events, from poetry readings to trips to the forest to study the local fauna. At the start of my fall semester in 2011, there was only one other student in St. Mary’s College’s women’s studies program who had self-designed a major, which made my academic community quite sparse. Through the support of my women’s studies sidekick, Catherine Cleary, I was fortunate enough to learn about AAUW and hear firsthand about her wonderful experience on the National Student Advisory Council the previous year. Just a few weeks after submitting my application, I was thrilled to be selected as a member of the 2011–12 SAC.

Within the next month, amid my courses and the quickly approaching Thanksgiving break, I flew to Washington, D.C., to meet the nine other SAC members at our orientation. This weekend excursion created such excitement for a subject I already had great passion for. After the events on our packed itinerary — including my favorite stop, the Sewall-Belmont House — I returned to South Bend, Indiana, with even greater excitement for the upcoming year. Through weekly conference calls, writing blog posts for AAUW, and preparing for and participating in the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, I got to know the other SAC members and the women at AAUW who helped us and kept us informed about opportunities throughout the year.

During my term on the SAC, I was given a plethora of opportunities, ideas, and programs to apply to my own campus and community. Teamed up with my academic sidekick, I successfully completed a Campus Action Project, which was based on AAUW´s research report Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School, to draft a letter to the South Bend mayor asking for a declaration of Equal Pay Day and to hold a $tart $mart program on our campus. AAUW gave me a golden year of opportunity that I will forever appreciate. In addition to meeting amazing women like fair pay advocate Lilly Ledbetter and cartoonist Liza Donnelly and presenting our Campus Action Project at NCCWSL, I expanded my interests and strengthened my network of supportive women. I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to apply for the SAC — it was the most exciting and enjoyable year I have ever had. One of the best parts is that even though my term on the SAC is over, my connection and time with AAUW truly has just begun.

Applications for the 2012–13 National Student Advisory Council will be available on August 27 and are due September 30. Visit the SAC page to access the application, instructions, and information about qualifications. Students at AAUW college/university partner member institutions receive preference.

This post was written by former National Student Advisory Council member Laura Corrigan.

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A Facebook friend of mine who lives in Rwanda recently commented on an Internet meme posted on his wall. The picture showed some of the politicians who are leading the war on contraception. “I don’t even know how to express the amount of frustration I have listening to everything that’s happening back home,” he wrote.

This friend and I have only met once or twice, but I couldn’t resist a response: “Just wait for the elections. We’ll show ’em! Women are ready.”

My sentiments were echoed at the Feminist Majority’s Women, Money, Power Forum on March 29. If you missed the opportunity to attend the event, which was co-sponsored by AAUW, you can watch it online through the C-SPAN video library. (The forum was in no way related to the Time March cover article.)

At the event, the speakers tied their presentations — which covered topics ranging from birth control and abortion to religion and ballot measures — back to the importance of the upcoming elections for women on all fronts. Their message was clear: The change that women need will happen only if we vote for women-friendly leaders and against anti-woman ballot measures.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) (far left) was honored as a 2012 Fearless Trailblazer at the Feminist Majority’s 25th anniversary luncheon. Feminist Majority Foundation Board Member Mavis Leno (right) presented the award.

Feminist Majority Executive Vice President Kathy Spillar addressed amplifying women’s voices during a panel discussion about mobilizing the vote. She talked about the anger that comes from watching how women are still treated in the workplace, from the new rules that states are passing to make it harder for people to vote, and from the assault on contraception. And we need to harness the anger over the poor judgment of some of our country’s leaders on so many policy initiatives that are important to women — like the Equal Rights Amendment, the Violence against Women Act, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Title IX — to rally the women’s vote, she said.

But it wasn’t all bad news. The forum raised a rallying flag for turning anger into action. E. Faye Williams, president of the National Congress of Black Women, put it best during the closing panel. “We have to start acting like the majority,” she said.

To that end, the AAUW Action Fund has launched a new voter education and turnout campaign, It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard. There will be plenty of ways to get involved in the campaign in the coming months, but you can also take action right now.

Take a moment to call or e-mail three young women. Let them know that you value their opinions and that you want our country’s leaders to do the same. Ask these women to register to vote, and send them this link to register online. Share with them the AAUW Action Fund’s Congressional Voting Record, which they can use to look up how their senators and representatives have voted on important women’s issues. Or simply share the message on Twitter using the hashtag #MyVote, and follow @ItsMyVote for updates on the campaign.

By taking these steps, you are helping me fulfill my promise to my friend and fellow activist who feels so helpless in Rwanda. But more importantly, you are helping women win this fight.

This post was written by AAUW Marketing and Communications Intern Marie Lindberg.

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Despite recent stories about how women are poised to out-earn men in coming generations, the stark reality is that worldwide, women still make an average of 18 percent less than their male counterparts at work.

Messed up, right?

Despite a narrowing of the wage gap in the United States from the 1960s to the 1990s, no significant progress has been made in closing the global gender pay gap for over a decade. So perhaps my skepticism toward reports celebrating my lucrative future is warranted when, despite women’s remarkable gains in educational achievement, progress toward our equal compensation remains entirely stagnant.

Bleaker still are the adverse effects of childrearing and higher education on women’s wages. AAUW’s report Behind the Pay Gap confirms that among college-educated men and women within the same majors and occupations, a pay gap exists in the first year after graduation and continues to widen over the first 10 years in the workforce — even when controlling for factors known to affect earnings such as education and training, parenthood, and hours worked. The absurdity persists when it comes to having kids, as women with children earn less on average than their childless counterparts, while men with children tend to receive a “child premium,” meaning that they earn more on average than men without children.

Equal Pay Day this year falls on Tuesday, April 17, a date that symbolizes how far into 2012 women must work to earn what men were paid in 2011. But losing three months and 17 days of earnings doesn’t worsen outcomes for women only. The wage gap hurts families, who, as recent stories rightfully report, are increasingly likely to depend on women as their primary breadwinners.

Since our initial research on the issue back in 1913, AAUW has been fighting the good fight for equal pay. It’s clear that we’ve made remarkable gains. Yet as we prepare for Equal Pay Day 2012, generate additional research deciphering who is affected by wage inequality and why, and publish another blog post to debunk false notions about the end of the wage gap as we know it, it is strikingly clear how far we still need to go in our quest to earn equal pay for equal work.

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Julie Seger.

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“AAUW representatives supporting the healthcare law. Although most Americans’ attention is on arguments about the law, the Court has made several important decisions.”

Although all eyes are turned to this week’s U.S. Supreme Court hearing about the health care law, the court has already made several other important decisions so far this term. Three of these decisions will significantly impact key AAUW issues.

In Coleman v. Court of Appeals of Maryland, the court decided that state employees cannot sue in federal court under the “self-care” provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The plurality opinion in this 5–4 decision distinguished this case from an earlier one that held that state employees could bring FMLA claims based on the “family-care” provisions to federal court.

Justices Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, and Samuel Alito reasoned that Congress did not pass FMLA to counter sex discrimination in granting leave due to an employee’s own illness or incapacitation. Therefore, they argued, the right to sue a state should not extend to the self-care provision. These justices also specifically said that the fact that single parents — who are predominantly women — would be more negatively impacted by the gender-neutral policies is not enough to make the self-care provision discriminatory. The family-care provisions retain the special right that FMLA grants to sue states.

The troubling analysis used by the plurality of the court prompted Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to read her dissenting opinion from the bench. She said that the majority decision would make it hard for women “to live balanced lives, at home and in gainful employment.” AAUW led the advocacy charge that resulted in the enactment of FMLA and agrees with Ginsburg’s analysis. AAUW will continue to work to strengthen FMLA, especially in light of this unfortunate decision.

In Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the court was asked to determine if employees of religious institutions are protected by federal anti-discrimination laws. In this case, Cheryl Perich was fired from her job as a teacher at a religious school when she tried to assert her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The school claimed that federal anti-discrimination laws did not apply because of the “ministerial exception” — a court-made interpretation of the First Amendment intended to protect freedom of religion. In its 9–0 decision, the court found for the first time that the ministerial exception applies to employment discrimination laws. AAUW was disappointed in this ruling, as we oppose all forms of discrimination and support constitutional protection for the civil rights of all individuals.

The third case offered a small slice of good news. The court’s decision not to hear Alpha Delta Chi-Delta Chapter v. Charles B. Reed  — a challenge to the anti-bias rules that San Diego State University uses to deny recognition to student groups that refuse membership to certain people because of the groups’ religious beliefs — means that the court’s 2010 ruling on this issue still stands. In that ruling, the court upheld the rules of the University of California Hastings College of Law despite a religious student group’s argument that the anti-bias policies were inconsistent with their beliefs. AAUW supported the Hastings decision and applauds the court’s decision to let that precedent stand.

AAUW firmly supports a fair, balanced, and independent judiciary because so many of our fundamental rights and liberties have been established and are protected by the federal courts and Supreme Court precedents. To learn more about AAUW’s work on these issues, please visit our position page.

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The Affordable Care Act prevents health insurance companies from denying me coverage or charging me higher rates because I happen to be a woman. I am grateful for this, and you should be too. Vocalize your appreciation for the ACA on Tuesday, March 27, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, where oral arguments regarding the law will be heard. Come show the media and the world that you support the ACA and its benefits, which are already improving the lives of millions of Americans.

Thanks to the ACA, earning valuable internship experience and maintaining my health care coverage are not mutually exclusive. Under a provision of the law, I’ve maintained health insurance coverage through my mother’s plan and can continue to do so until I turn 26. Having health insurance has enabled me to accept low-paying internships — amazing learning opportunities that would be financially beyond my reach if I were among the millions of uninsured Americans struggling under the burden of their health care costs. Under my mom’s plan, my prescriptions remain covered, and I can see my doctor without facing exorbitant walk-in rates or co-pays. Those savings help me manage other expenses like groceries, rent, and student loan payments.

Americans around the country are doing fantastic work to educate our citizens about the benefits they’re now entitled to under the Affordable Care Act. I was lucky enough to attend the White House Champions of Change event, where 10 inspiring individuals from the medical, nursing, social services, advocacy, and faith communities were honored for going above and beyond to ensure that Americans understand how the ACA helps them manage their health care needs.

As implementation of the ACA continues, the law’s champions recognize the critical need for America’s medical professionals, nurses, public servants, and community leaders to educate their patients, colleagues, families, and friends about the numerous consumer protections and benefits that the law provides. Sharing personal stories about the law’s benefits — like I have above — helps strengthen public understanding of how the ACA already has and will continue to save and improve the lives of American citizens.

Learn about how your state is implementing the ACA, recognize its benefits in your life, and rally in support of the Affordable Care Act outside of the Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 27, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Julie Seger.

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Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

—    Section One of the Equal Rights Amendment

On this day in 1972, Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment. In the 40 years since, it has been ratified by 35 states — it needs 38 to be added to the Constitution. Given that the ERA was first introduced in 1923, the process has been long, strenuous, and oftentimes disheartening. Undoubtedly, we should celebrate this 40th anniversary, but as we celebrate, we must also reflect on the work still left to be done.

Every time I study the ERA, I am always shocked both at how long it took to get through Congress and at how stagnant it has been since. What needs to be done to persuade the skeptics? What can we do to ensure that women in the United States will be permanently guaranteed equality? This last question deeply resonates with me. The past few months have brought one attack after another on women and women’s health — so many, in fact, that the term “war on women” is becoming commonplace. With such a battle being waged against women’s basic human rights, the passage and adoption of the ERA seems not only fundamental but urgent.

I am not so naive that I believe that the ratification of the ERA would completely eliminate gender-based discrimination, and it is indisputable that women have more rights now than when Congress passed the ERA 40 years ago. But how are we to successfully dismantle the discriminatory practices in our country if there is no mandate in our Constitution that says that we must? The ERA would build a solid foundation on which to continue — and to grow — the work of ending gender-based discrimination.

Only three more states must ratify the ERA to make it the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — only three more states are needed to make history for women.

Today, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced a resolution in the Senate to extend the timeframe for ratification and to help move forward the three-state strategy, which would pick up where the previous ratification by 35 states left off. He joins Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who introduced a similar proposal in the House, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who have introduced resolutions to pass the ERA all over again. It is my hope that women focus their surge of advocacy in response to the war on women to ensure that we finally see the ERA ratified by 38 states and added to our Constitution.

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Jordan Jones.

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The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights made headlines earlier this month when it released new data showing that black and Hispanic students across America face harsher discipline, have less access to rigorous high school curricula, and are more often taught by lower-paid and less experienced teachers.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that the Civil Rights Data Collection findings are a wake-up call to educators at every level, and he issued a broad challenge to work together to address educational inequities.

AAUW agrees. We’ve done our own analysis of the data, which also shows troubling trends along gender lines — most notably that 14 of the 20 largest school districts in the country reported zeros across the board for the following categories: allegations of sexual harassment, disciplinary actions as a result of bullying or harassment on the basis of sex, and students who reported being bullied or harassed on the basis of sex. Those numbers fly in the face of the harassment and bullying that our research shows is actually going on in schools.

AAUW encourages everyone to take a close look at the Civil Rights Data Collection data and at our analysis below. As  AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz said, “The groundbreaking, easily accessible data shows clearly that the administration feels sunlight is the best disinfectant. Now, every parent, teacher, school administrator, or interested citizen can find information on key civil rights indicators in their school districts.

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