Posts Tagged ‘Washington D.C.’

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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March 23 marks the two-year anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And on Monday, March 26, the U.S. Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments on the law’s constitutionality. As these significant dates draw nearer and as critics continue to call the law’s value into question, it’s worth reminding ourselves just what the ACA has already done for millions of young Americans — and how it will help so many more when it is fully implemented.

The law

  • Requires group health plans and insurers to make dependent coverage available for young adults until they turn 26, regardless of student status or financial support from their parents. As a result, 1.1 million young adults ages 19–25 were extended coverage under their parents’ benefits from 2009 to 2010.
  • Expands Medicaid to cover more people. The upcoming expansion in Medicaid will cover millions more Americans living just above the poverty line who find health insurance prohibitively expensive.

Research demonstrates how the odds of having access to insurance coverage are especially stacked against young women. Women benefit tremendously from the ACA. Through several of its provisions, the law

  • Covers preventive treatments with no co-pays. Many women forego preventive treatments such as breast cancer screenings or Pap smear tests because of the costs of these procedures. The law will also grant women access to contraceptives without co-pays or cost-sharing.
  • Prevents insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. For women, that could include being pregnant, having given birth via cesarean section, or being a survivor of domestic violence and receiving treatment for the abuse.

Americans cannot continue to refuel our economy as productive members of the workforce if they are sick, saddled with health care costs, or — in the case of young women — blatantly discriminated against by their insurance providers. As we mark the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act’s passage, it’s important to recall the law’s remarkable progress in fixing a broken health care system that, for too long, has cost too much and served too few.

As the Supreme Court case and other implementation decisions unfold, women and young people should agree that making sure the ACA reaches its full potential is something that is worth fighting for.

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

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A man threw a glass bottle toward my student’s head last week after she ignored his catcalls near Lehigh and Broad [in Philadelphia]. As a result, her father has discouraged her from attending our after-school program because she has to walk to and from the train alone.

Nuala Cabral, one of the co-organizers of International Anti-Street Harassment Week (March 18–24), posted this quote on Facebook recently. This upsetting story illustrates the negative outcome that gender-based street harassment has on the people who experience it.

From catcalls to sexually explicit comments, public masturbation, stalking, and even assault, pervasive, worldwide street harassment limits victims’— especially young women’s — access to public spaces.

Instead of being seen as the human rights issue that it is, street harassment is normalized, twisted into being seen as a compliment, or blamed on the people who are harassed because of where they were or what they were wearing. That’s why a week of awareness is necessary — to break down the stereotypes, cut through the normalization of the problem, and allow people worldwide to join forces and speak out.

From March 18 to 24, more than 100 groups from 17 countries and thousands of people worldwide will speak out together. From organizing rallies and street theater to hosting documentary screenings and discussions to online activism, our voices will be heard.

Join us:

1. Talk about street harassment with your friends, family, co-workers, classmates, and neighbors. Share your stories with them.

2. Raise awareness online.

  • Change your Facebook profile picture to the Anti-Street Harassment Week logo (see example on the right, or visit the tools page of our website to access logos in 13 languages).
  • Write and post a street harassment story on your blog, Tumblr, Twitter, or Facebook.
  • Tweet about street harassment using the hashtag #EndSHWeek. Participate in the #SheParty chat about street harassment that the Women’s Media Center is hosting on March 21 at 3 p.m. EDT.
  • Write an article, op-ed, or blog post about street harassment. Check out our idea guide, which includes instructions and a special offer from the Op-Ed Project, for inspiration.

3. See if there is offline action planned in your area, and if there is, join in. If there’s not, consider hosting your own. Add your event to the map so that others in your area can find out about it.

  • Engage your community. Hold an awareness-raising event or rally, hand out fliers on the street, or do sidewalk chalk messaging. Show a relevant documentary or hold a speak-out at the event to generate awareness and discussion. See our idea guide for more inspiration.
  • Evaluate your community. Conduct a survey or a community safety audit, or create a mapping project to document where street harassment occurs. Check out our idea guide for other opportunities.
  • Educate your community. If you’re a teacher, coach, mentor, or leader, talk to your students about street harassment. See our idea guide for other ways you can get involved.

In Washington, D.C., there are eight events planned. One will be held at AAUW on Thursday, March 22, at 5:30 p.m. AAUW Community Action Grantee Collective Action for Safe Spaces (formerly known as Holla Back DC!) will host a discussion about sexual harassment on the Metro, the subway system here in D.C. Staff members from the transit authority plan to attend.

No action is too small to make a difference. Let’s make all public spaces safe for everyone.

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Just the other day, I was talking with a classmate, and somehow we ended up on the topic of graduate school. As a junior in college, the time for deciding if grad school is the direction I want to choose is getting closer and closer every day. After talking with others, I realized that there are a lot of us who are unsure whether graduate school is for right for us. But after doing some research, I realized that more women than ever before are seeking graduate degrees. In fact, the Center for Education Statistics projected that 297,000 women will earn master’s degrees in 2011–12 — an increase of more than 30,000 in the last decade.

Given current economic trends and the lack of pay equity between women and men, a graduate education is a clear way for women in the workforce to upgrade their skills. Women now earn more advanced degrees than men, which could give them an edge in the job search process. In addition, women with master’s degrees will make $400,000 more over their lifetimes than those who only have bachelor’s degrees.

Higher income is not the only benefit of attending graduate school, however. AAUW Director of Leadership Programs Kate Farrar, who has a master’s in public administration, said, “The greatest benefits of graduate school for me were to gain specific skills for nonprofit management and to gain a network of peers committed to public service.” AAUW Leadership Programs Intern Jessica Kelly, who is finishing up her master’s, explained that grad school has provided her with a unique opportunity to learn new theories in class and put them into practice in an assistantship.

Still not sure of the benefits that grad school could offer you? The Graduate School Fair at the 2012 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) allows students to interact face-to-face with administrators to make personal connections and to explore the opportunities at these schools. Last year, attendees learned about 60 schools in just two hours. “I think it’s excellent,” said Rachel Kelly, a 2011 attendee. “I’m so excited NCCWSL has this available to us, because when else would you have so many grad schools at your disposal?”

The second annual Graduate School Fair at this year’s conference will be even bigger and better! Expect schools such as Johns Hopkins University and Duquesne University, both of which also participated last year. I can’t wait to explore what they have to share!

For more information about the 2012 Graduate School Fair, visit the NCCWSL website. We hope you encourage your current school or alma mater to participate!

And tell us, are you interested in grad school? What do you need to know to get yourself grad-school ready?

This post was written by AAUW Leadership Programs Intern Nzinga Shury.

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Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, which is observed on March 8 each year to honor and celebrate the economic, political, and social achievements of women. But at AAUW, every day is International Women’s Day!

AAUW states and branches hold weekly events in their local communities that focus on the empowerment of women and girls, including conferences, theatrical performances, lectures, awards ceremonies, book discussions, films, camps, career days, and political rallies. March 8 may focus worldwide attention on women, but AAUW does it every day as a part of our mission to break through barriers for women and girls.

For International Women’s Day 2012, we would like to salute our 239 current AAUW fellows and grantees who are making a difference in the United States and around the globe. And we’d like to spotlight our 2011–12 International Project Grantees former International Fellows who are working on innovative projects in their home countries. So take a few minutes to read about the important advocacy these women are doing on behalf of women and girls worldwide.

Rukeme Ake, Nigeria
Girl Skill Acquisition and Personal Development Project

Ake is implementing a capacity-building project for women who aren’t in school to provide vocational and life-skills training, which will enable them to become economically productive, improve their ability to protect themselves against abuse, and contribute to the advancement of society.

Nasreen Mazumdar, India
Natural Polymer-Based Iodine Supplementation to Combat Iodine Deficiency Disorders

Iodine deficiency disorders are a major public health concern in India. This project focuses on expecting and lactating mothers who are prone to developing iodine deficiency. The goal is to produce an iodine supplement that will prevent iodine deficiency in pregnant women.

Diedie Weng, China
Yongji Organic Farmer Video Network Training Program

International Fellow Diedie Weng films local Yongji women.

Yongji is traditionally one of the most important agricultural production bases in northern China. The Yongji Organic Agriculture Co-op, founded in 1998 and currently led by local women, is currently expanding because of the market demands for organic products. There is a strong local need for organic farming knowledge and skills. This project trains women to use participatory video to engage local farmers in documenting and discussing local techniques and challenges. The project is creating the first rural-based participatory video network in China that empowers women’s leadership in the organic agriculture movement.

Patience Ogele, Côte d’Ivoire
Graceland Fish Farms Project

Women and girls are expanding their fish-farming and fish-preservation activities to generate income for household needs. The project offers rearing and production techniques for tilapia and catfish, education workshops on improving fish-farming methods, and farm-management, preservation, marketing, and bookkeeping skills.

Anjali Srinivasan, India
Reclaiming Heritage — Traditional Artisan Glassmaking

Taking advantage of the growing interest in glass objects among interior designers and local markets, this project trains women in glassmaking: blowing (for vessels), flame working (for beads), kiln forming (for tiles), mold making (for sculpture), cold working (for finishing jobs), and management (as technicians and administrators).

Want to know what’s happening on International Women’s Day? Follow @AAUW, @AAUWGlobal, and #AAUWDialog on Twitter, and check out our Facebook page, where you can share your event or contribute to the conversation.

We’ve accomplished a lot, but there’s so much more to be done. Follow AAUW’s example and make every day International Women’s Day.

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