Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘White House’

via Andreas PraefckeThe Obama administration invited leaders of national women’s groups to the White House Tuesday for a conversation on the budget and other issues facing the country. Just a week after the election, AAUW Executive Director Linda Hallman was at the table with President Obama; senior adviser Valerie Jarrett; Cecilia Munoz, director of the Domestic Policy Council; and Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, to discuss AAUW priorities.

The president’s decision to meet with women’s group leaders — and the tone at the meeting itself — reinforced the significance of the role women played in helping to re-elect the president. For AAUW, this high-level, small-group conversation represented an important post-election step in keeping a policy focus on issues critical to women and families.

“AAUW’s advocacy efforts throughout the presidential campaign sought not only to encourage women to vote but also to make clear that their work did not end with the election,” Hallman said. “With their votes, women positioned themselves to be an important and influential voice in the conversations ahead. We hope Tuesday’s meeting at the White House proves to be just the beginning of opportunities for women to be at the table and to be heard.”

AAUW set out immediately following the election to remind the White House and Congress of women’s key role in holding politicians accountable. We will send the Obama administration a list of AAUW priorities for the new term. These include issuing an executive order outlawing federal contractors from retaliating against employees who ask about compensation, requiring federal agencies to conduct Title IX compliance reviews at all institutions receiving federal funds, and working with Congress to pass an inclusive Violence Against Women Act. We outlined many of these priorities in our September 2012 report on the Obama administration.

AAUW also hosted a Twitter campaign to compile recommendations for the president and the new Congress to address on their first days of the upcoming term, and we have educated our members and blog readers to be prepared for sequestration talks in the next month.

“The president sent a message to women Tuesday that he wants to work with us on the issues we care about,” Hallman said. “Now women have to send a message back to the president and Congress that makes our priorities known and says we are ready to work together to improve the lives of women and families. We’re here to make progress — our vote was just the beginning.”

This post was written by AAUW Political Media Coordinator Elizabeth Owens.

Read Full Post »

Last Thursday, more than 100 AAUW members came together for a call hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Council on Women and Girls. In a jam-packed hour, we heard updates about White House activities around science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); the Violence against Women Act; and health care.

We received great questions from our members. See how the Twitter conversation unfolded!

When I joined AAUW last week as a public policy intern, I had no idea that I would have opportunities to listen in on calls such as this one. It made me appreciate the vast network AAUW has created across the country. And participants brought to light how important AAUW issues are!

Special Assistant for the White House Domestic Policy Council Steve Robinson noted that we need to acknowledge the barriers that exist for women and girls as we encourage more STEM participation. Robinson praised AAUW’s recent research report on this subject, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Women make up close to half of the jobs in our economy, yet they hold fewer than 25 percent of the jobs in STEM fields, which tend to pay more. He also highlighted President Barack Obama’s new plan for a national STEM teacher corps to increase STEM education in schools.

AAUW’s research also received praise from White House Advisor on Violence against Women Lynn Rosenthal, who called Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School “the gold standard” in sexual harassment research. Rosenthal updated AAUW members about the status of the Violence against Women Act, which expired at the end of 2011 and has yet to be reauthorized. She expressed support for the Senate version of VAWA (S. 1925) and mentioned the “1 is 2 Many” public service announcement that the White House produced earlier this summer as an example of what the administration is doing in the absence of congressional action. In response to an AAUW member question, she said that congressional action is needed and explained that VAWA cannot be enacted as an executive order. Rosenthal also recommended that AAUW members who want to help immigrant women who have been victims of domestic violence should meet with their state’s VAWA grant coordinators and immigrant community activists. AAUW strongly urges Congress to pass the Senate version of VAWA, which addresses the needs of all victims of violence and includes the Campus SaVE Act. Ask your representative to support the Senate version of VAWA!

The last speaker on the call was Department of Health and Human Services External Affairs Specialist Tamia Booker, who talked about the women’s preventive services that all health insurance plans have to cover as of August 1. These services include well-woman visits, support for breastfeeding equipment, HIV screening, domestic violence screening, birth control, and more. AAUW is celebrating these services with our preventive care Facebook event — join in and share your story.

A question-and-answer session followed, during which members from across the country had the chance to ask White House officials tough questions about their policies. We heard from Pat Stocker, president of AAUW of Maryland; Roberta Guise, public policy co-chair for the AAUW San Francisco (CA) Branch; Lisa Schaefer from the AAUW Vienna (VA) Branch; and Susan Nasrani, public policy chair for the AAUW Hazleton (PA) Branch.

AAUW is glad to have had this opportunity to hear from the White House and appreciates the work being done to advance equity for women and girls. Thank you to our members for joining in and asking such great questions. We hope you enjoyed the call and are motivated to share the information you learned with your AAUW state chapters and branches!

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Dani Nispel.

Read Full Post »

This month, AAUW was recognized as a top-rated women’s empowerment organization by GreatNonprofits, which catalogs and shares reviews of nonprofit organizations from around the world. The website allows the public to post stories about and rate their experiences with nonprofits and to find out more about organizations they are interested in supporting.

Here are a few of the wonderful reviews of AAUW.

“So proud to be a member — in the past year of buildup of attacks on what we thought were long-established rights and freedoms for women, AAUW is taking [the] lead in coordinating women’s voting projects, media campaigns, legal challenges, support for organizations providing health care, and other social services to women. Lobbying for equal pay and other issues on Capitol Hill and at the White House has focused attention on AAUW. AAUW staff have also modeled campaigns against street harassment and [have] use[d] social media to educate people on women’s issues. The scholarship program practices what AAUW preaches about educational opportunity for women. International outreach is also on the rise. Such a dynamic organization, so committed, so well-managed!”

— Marti S.

“As a volunteer AAUW leader on the national, state, and branch levels, I have many opportunities to raise a powerful voice — individually and collectively, in person and electronically — to make lasting changes that advance gender equality  … AAUW’s means of achieving equity (advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research) are effective, influential, and resonant with multiple generations of equality-minded individuals. I give this organization my highest rating.”

— Amy B.

“I was selected as one of 10 university students from across the country to be an AAUW Student Advisory Council member for the academic year 2011–12. Through my association with AAUW, I have met amazing and incredible women. … I have garnered lots of support and mentoring to enable me to start an AAUW [student organization at my university]. I also will have the opportunity to mentor the next group of SAC members. AAUW has enriched my life and given me opportunities I otherwise would not have had.”
— Maria M.

“I love their research reports — important issues, timely, and actually readable — unlike so many policy papers. It’s nice to know that gender inequality is not a forgotten cause, because we are far from done.”

— shcollina

The GreatNonprofits 2012 women’s empowerment campaign extends through June 15. With so many women’s organizations to choose from, find out why AAUW received a top rating. And share your own AAUW story!

This post was written by AAUW Development Intern Sarah Spencer.

Read Full Post »

“I’m writing again, I’m living again,

I’m [inhale] breathing again.”

Mayda del Valle left her audience in awe after she performed “The Gift” on Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry. As a spoken word performer, I too was left amazed. The feeling of getting on the stage and pouring out every feeling is always amazing — even better is having the audience connect with and feel what you’re talking about. It is something every artist looks forward to. Del Valle did just that — she used her words to captivate the audience, tell her story, and leave her mark. I must admit that I reached for my pen and started writing after I saw her performance.

Midway through her act, I came to realize how the beauty of words can inspire people, and del Valle has a way with her words. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago and began performing her work during her high school years. It wasn’t until she relocated to New York City in 2000 that she began performing competitively. A regular at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, del Valle won four out of her first five slams. The rest is history! In 2009, she even performed at the White House for President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, and she continues to perform today.

The most inspiring part of del Valle’s story is that she has taken her passions for writing and performing and used them to encourage her community. She went on a spoken word tour with Norman Lear’s Declare Yourself, which encourages young people to register to vote. Thanks to her experiences as a woman growing up in a diverse neighborhood under the influence of hip-hop music, del Valle is able to relate to women from different backgrounds.

I am truly excited that del Valle will be a keynote speaker at this year’s National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. I am looking forward to her performance and anticipating the ways in which she will use her words to inspire everyone in the room. She is sure to leave the audience transformed and ready to lead.

Have you ever used your words to lead?

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

Read Full Post »

 

Daniel Schwen [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Last summer, National Student Advisory Council member Odunola “Ola” Ojewumi was an intern at the White House, where she hosted a briefing on the importance of youth mentorship in low-income communities. Ojewumi, who is herself passionate about disability rights, recently spoke with White House Director of Priority Placement Rebecca Cokley about her work as an advocate for disabled youth.

As a woman living with a disability, what experiences sparked your interest in advancing the lives of disabled youth?

When I was in junior high school, a younger friend of mine at another school was thrown into a dumpster by some bullies at lunchtime and could not get out. No one in the school reported him missing from class, and it wasn’t until later that evening when he didn’t come home from Boy Scouts that his parents went to look for him. The next day, he carried an 18-inch baseball bat to school to defend himself and was expelled for harboring a weapon. When his parents reached out to a number of advocates — including my mom — to mediate with the school, the principal responded that “boys will be boys” and that my friend “should just get used” to the teasing.

The teachers and administrators at the junior high school I went to would never have tolerated that type of behavior, and it blew my mind that there were people in the world working with children who thought it was OK to treat young people with disabilities horribly.

I was lucky — until I got to high school and my guidance counselor told me, “Kids like you don’t go here.” I was enrolled in honors classes, was already taking steps toward becoming a nationally recognized [disability] advocate, and had been planning on ending up on the U.S. Supreme Court someday, and here was this man telling me that he didn’t think people like me should attend his school. Unlike most youth with disabilities, both of my parents had the same disability as me, and both were college-educated advocates in their own right. My mother quickly stepped in and appealed to the principal, who was embarrassed and apologetic for the behavior of his staff member. But I never got over the idea that an adult, a leader in the school, just by looking at me decided that I wasn’t eligible.

You are a mother, a wife, and a key member of the Obama administration. How do you juggle all of these roles?

When I had first joined the administration and wasn’t yet pregnant, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was hosting a conference call, and someone asked her about balancing work and family. And she responded that if you want a family, you have to make it a priority — you can’t wait until the time is right, because there’s never a time that’s right. In a lot of ways, this really spoke to me and in some ways gave me permission to start a family. I also have a completely amazing husband who is truly my best friend and champion. He makes me a better person in every respect, and from the moment I found out I was pregnant, he has worked to make his life more flexible. It also helps that I have a boss who has children of her own.

What are your responsibilities and goals as White House director of priority placement?

The president has asked us to create an administration that reflects the diversity of America. It matters who sits at the table. My role is reaching beyond the Beltway to communities that often don’t get a seat at the table and bringing those voices into the administration. The best part of my job is reaching out to a candidate who has submitted their information on whitehouse.gov and telling them that I’m calling from the White House and would like to talk to them about a potential role in the administration. Most of the time people think that I’m prank calling. But to reach out to someone who truly believes in the work that we’re doing and wants to improve the lives of all Americans and say “hey, we want your voice in this discussion” — it’s amazing.

As a youth development specialist for the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, you created new avenues for employment. What does equal employment opportunity mean for the thousands of young people who are living with disabilities?

Equal employment means — to me — going beyond a functional shift and resulting in a philosophical shift in the expectations of young people with disabilities so that in elementary school when students present what they want to be when they grow up, no one will say that a kid with a disability cannot be an astrophysicist, a lawyer, a chef, or whatever they may want to be. Equal employment opportunities mean that youth with disabilities do not have to limit themselves to working in the eight F’s of disability employment: food, filth, filing, flowers, fetching, folding, friendly, or festive. That’s not to diminish those important jobs, and it doesn’t mean that if that’s what you want to do that you shouldn’t pursue those paths. But you should not find your goals limited to just those things.

July 2010 was the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. How has the ADA impacted your life?

A few years before the ADA passed, my mom was on the tenure track at the college she worked at. She ended up being denied tenure, and one of the reasons she was denied was that she was only able to use the bottom six inches of the chalkboard. My mom had worked her whole life to improve the lives of students with disabilities, and here she was being directly discriminated against because of her own disability. Post-ADA, she received tenure.

How is the Obama administration working to increase the presence of people with disabilities in the American workforce?

The president believes that the government must serve as an example. In 2010, he signed Executive Order 13548, which was designed to make the federal government serve as a model employer for people with disabilities. Agencies are developing training programs for their [human resources] staff, and agencies are to develop model recruitment and hiring strategies. I think the president also understands how important it is for the public to see people with different types of disabilities in his administration.

What do you believe is the largest obstacle facing youth with disabilities?

False expectations — from our families, from society, and from ourselves.

What words of wisdom or advice can you give our readers, some of whom are among the thousands of disabled young women and girls the White House is advocating for?

My desire for you is that you be successful in whatever you want to do in your life. You don’t need to be officially working as an advocate at a disability organization or a center for independent living. We need people with disabilities succeeding everywhere in the public and private sectors. If you want to be a chef, then go for it, but I better see you being awarded Michelin stars. That’s how you lead — by serving as an example and being successful in something you love to do and not conforming to anyone’s expectations of what they think you should do. I’d also encourage you to look for mentors outside of your community. In joining the Obama administration, two of the best mentors I’ve had are leaders in the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] community. They’ve taught me so much about being an effective political appointee, working with diverse communities, and how to maneuver the challenges of leadership. I don’t doubt I am more effective in my job because of both of them.

As an Obama administration official, which of your accomplishments has been most meaningful?

I feel like we accomplish something extraordinary every time we appoint someone to a position in the administration who brings a new voice to the table or a new set of personal experiences that contribute to the carrying out of the president’s vision for America.

When did you decide to become involved in public policy?

I grew up with a passion for politics. I remember being a little kid and getting to stay up late on election night watching the returns come in. I came to Washington in 2004 in large part because I felt that I hadn’t done my part in the 2000 election and wanted to make a change.

When a family friend, Paul Miller, was appointed as the deputy director of the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs and White House liaison to the disability community in the Clinton administration, it really struck home that someone like me could be asked to serve the president. And when I’d hear Miller talk about it, he’d sound so matter of fact about it when speaking to crowds but among friends was so excited about the chance to serve, the chance to show his colleagues on a daily basis that people with disabilities could and should fully contribute alongside their non-disabled peers.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Ola Ojewumi.

Read Full Post »

White House Equal Pay Task Force ReportAAUW applauds the White House’s release of a progress report detailing the activities of the president’s Equal Pay Task Force. The report was released along with a presidential proclamation to mark April 17 as Equal Pay Day, the day women’s earnings finally catch up to what men made last year. The task force was created in 2010, and their report showed the group’s achievements to date on a host of equal pay and workplace sex-based discrimination issues.

In a tough economy, technical assistance to employers and civil rights enforcement are especially critical. Right now, most women are just relieved if they have work. They’re worried they might jeopardize their jobs if they ask too many questions, making them that much more vulnerable to pay discrimination.

The task force’s progress report noted areas in which they have been actively promoting full compliance with equal pay laws, working cross-departmentally to address gender pay disparities. AAUW is pleased to see special attention paid to enforcement and litigation efforts at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), as well as increased interagency cooperation between EEOC, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), and the Department of Justice. Of particular note, OFCCP has evaluated the pay practices of more than 10,000 federal contractors, helping to ensure a fair shot at equal pay for more than 4.3 million workers.

AAUW is excited by the administration’s commitment to addressing pay discrimination. We hope they continue to use the bully pulpit to remind employers and employees of the centrality of the issue. After all, we’re all in this together – and when women aren’t paid equally, their families and entire communities suffer.

Read Full Post »

I am an African American. I am a woman. I am disabled.

I stand as a triple minority, and each of these identities has afforded me a variety of unique life experiences. As I enter a room in my wheelchair, I am faced with the inevitable stares of pity and discernment. The world seems to view my wheelchair as a hindrance, but I see my disability as a blessing that has provided me a platform for social change.

When I was younger, I was a leader in transforming the legal treatment of people living with disabilities. I observed that disabled students were dropping out of high school at an alarming rate. The underlying reason behind this startling pattern was the pervasive notion that students with disabilities are incapable of being educated.

Though many of you may not notice us, young people with disabilities are on the cusp of a social revolution for equality. I am inspired by those who are working to effectively eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities. In order to ensure that the rights of disabled people are recognized, we must tackle the issue of ableism — the institutionalized oppression of persons with disabilities. Ableism creates a system of privilege for those without physical or mental limitations.

University of Maryland women’s studies doctoral candidate Angel Miles is leading a second disability rights movement to fight ableism and other injustices. Miles says, “My liberation is dependent on the eradication of injustice associated with all of these identities, not just one of them.”

The daily challenges that Miles and I face range from being unable to utilize basic methods of public transportation, reaching a public event to find steps we cannot climb, or working to receive accommodations in employment and educational environments.

In spite of these challenges, we continue to press on in our fight to ensure that inequality is eradicated. When I interned at the White House, I grew to admire Director of Priority Placement Rebecca Cokley. During the 2008 presidential campaign, she worked on President Barack Obama’s committee on disability policy.

The Obama administration has given Cokley the opportunity to advance equal employment for disabled Americans. According to Cokley, “Equal employment means to me going beyond a functional shift and resulting in a philosophical shift in the expectations of young people with disabilities so that in elementary school, when students present what they want to be when they grow up, no one will say that a kid with a disability cannot be an astrophysicist, a lawyer, a chef, or whatever they may want to be.”

Cokley is as a personal inspiration because she demonstrates that despite the subordinate place society has given me, I can rise above these stereotypical expectations. When the world expects people with disabilities to fail, we triumph instead. I will embody this triumphant spirit by igniting change within my community so that the next generation has the strength to overcome all barriers.

I am disabled. I am an advocate. I am the new revolution.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Ola Ojewumi.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »