Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘women’s rights’

For as long as Dahlia Eissa can remember, she has been a feminist. Growing up in Australia with Egyptian immigrant parents, she was never afraid to ruffle feathers. She began her activism leading Know Your Rights workshops for Muslim women with the Islamic Women’s Association of Queensland. Early on, Eissa knew she wanted to work with women in immigrant communities, and she saw law as the natural career choice for her passions. Following 9/11, she established the Arab American Justice Project, a network of pro bono attorneys who advocate for Arab Americans facing discrimination, harassment, and deportation.

Dahlia Eissa

After finishing her undergraduate degree in Australia, Eissa wanted to pursue postgraduate studies in Islamic law and women’s rights. Finding the right program was a challenge. She wanted to study law as a feminist first and as a lawyer second. Her AAUW International Fellowship was the kick-start that made it possible for her to attend Harvard Law School. Without the award, she says, she would not have been able to come to the United States.

Today, Eissa uses her knowledge of law, women’s rights, and Islam to encourage women to broaden their perspectives of what is possible in their lives and identities. She insists that women do not need to be restricted to the binary of Western or Muslim worlds, but rather that women can be true to their Muslim identities and principles while embracing and being embraced by American society.

Eissa has been inspired by the women of the Arab Spring and the women of Egypt in particular. Her academic research has primarily focused on Islamic law and women in Egypt. So when the revolution began last year, Eissa strongly felt that she had to somehow support Egyptian women. She asked herself, How will this new wave of activism play out for women?

When we spoke last week, the first draft of the new Egyptian constitution was being voted on by the country’s Constituent Assembly. Sadly, the new constitution completely leaves out any provisions that guarantee the rights of women and girls. Eissa described the draft as absurd but predictable. As the world watches the women of Egypt, Eissa is focusing on how she can support them from the United States. Working with women activists on the ground, her strategy lies in mobilizing other women to minimize the negative impact of the legislation. The rejection of protections for women and girls could open the door to other dangerous allowances in the law, such as lowering the marriageable age for girls or blocking the recent U.N. resolution that calls for the end of female genital mutilation practices.

Eissa is deeply passionate about women’s rights and gender equality. Even as a teenager, she recognized inequalities between men and women that were supposedly justified on the basis of “biology.” Eissa rejected socially constructed distinctions based on sex and spoke her mind, even when fearful of the backlash that she could face. Being an outsider, she says, is worth the risk in order to pursue what you believe in because, in the end, you’ll find that you aren’t that much of an outsider after all. In a culture that “banks on women being submissive,” Eissa wants women to “be fearless.” Let’s follow Eissa’s powerful example and go out there and ruffle a few feathers.

Eissa’s International Fellowship was sponsored by the Margaret Bigelow Miller International Fellowship, established in 1986, and the Helen B. Taussig International Fellowship, established in 1974.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Emily McGranachan.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

“Eighteen years ago today, the landmark Violence against Women Act was signed into law. It was founded on the basic premise that every woman deserves to be safe from violence, and since its passage, we have made tremendous strides towards achieving that goal. But we still have much work to do.”
— Vice President Joe Biden, who drafted the original Violence against Women Act, on September 13, 2012

“Every minute this house chooses to delay the reauthorization of VAWA is another minute these women are victimized.”
Sen. Patty Murray, September 13, 2012

“There is no good reason that we can’t work together and see that #VAWA, a life-saving law, is reauthorized immediately.”
— Sen. Patrick Leahy, September 13, 2012 (@SenatorLeahy)

AAUW couldn’t agree more. The Violence against Women Act is due for reauthorization this year, but political maneuvering has stalled the bill in Congress. AAUW has long supported “freedom from violence and fear of violence in homes, schools, workplaces, and communities.” Since its enactment in 1994, VAWA has saved lives and saved money. VAWA is credited with contributing to the dramatic increase in the reporting of domestic violence. The rate of homicide by an intimate partner has decreased by 65 percent for women and almost 50 percent for men since the statute was enacted.

AAUW is a strong supporter of the bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill passed by the Senate. The bill takes steps to make college campuses safer for women. When campus environments are hostile because of sexual harassment, assault, or violence, students cannot learn, and they miss out on true educational opportunities. AAUW’s own research revealed that two-thirds of college students experience sexual harassment. In addition, a 2007 campus sexual assault study [BH2] by the U.S. Department of Justice found that around 28 percent of women are targets of attempted or completed sexual assault while they are college students.

While AAUW supported the Senate’s VAWA reauthorization bill, we opposed the House’s bill because it did not contain necessary provisions to improve the safety of college campuses. Additionally, the House bill expressly rejects protections for men and women who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, making it difficult for them to find services in their communities. The House bill also eliminates strong protections for women and children who are beaten or abused on tribal lands by perpetrators who are not members of a particular tribe, and it removes a key requirement that would more easily allow victims to move from one subsidized housing program to another in order to avoid an abuser.

The Violence against Women Act should not be a political pawn in election-year gamesmanship. We urge the House to follow the bipartisan lead of the Senate and AAUW’s membership: Put aside the rhetoric, move quickly to pass the Senate version, and once again do the right thing for all victims of violence.

Read Full Post »

The Equal Rights Amendment — short, sweet, and unratified — was written by Alice Paul in 1921, a year after women won the right to vote, and was first proposed to Congress in 1923. It has been presented to every Congress over the past 89 years and has been through a tumultuous battle for passage and ratification. Opposition to the amendment came from many, and often unexpected, directions. Would it surprise you to learn that before 1971, AAUW did not support the ERA?

Former AAUW President Mary Purcell speaks at an Equal Rights Amendment rally.

In 1924, the AAUW national office urged branches to study the amendment but chose not to form an official opinion. This effort allowed AAUW to fully research and understand the amendment and its potential implications as well as the immense diversity of opinion among members. Members were, and for decades continued to be, severely divided over the issue. Many felt that the amendment was the quickest, most effective method of establishing equality between the sexes, while others thought that the ERA threatened the social progress and legislative protections already obtained for women. Not until 1938 did AAUW present an official position: opposition to the ERA “as a means of securing the equality of women.”

AAUW disagreed with the tactics of the ERA but not with equality or the amendment itself. As study and debate of the topic persisted throughout the mid-20th century, AAUW, dedicated to fighting for women’s equality, pursued alternative strategies out of concern for the potentially detrimental social implications of the amendment. From the very beginning, members “agreed on certain rights that we wish to secure for ourselves and other American women.” These rights were progressive and numerous and included “no economic or political discrimination between women and men on account of sex.”

This Sunday is Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates the 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote. It was established by Bella Abzug in 1971, the same year that AAUW finally announced official support for the rewritten Equal Rights Amendment. After investing 50 years of study in the topic, the ERA became a top AAUW priority. AAUW established the ERA Fund, became a member of the ERA Ratification Council in Washington, D.C., and staged a temporary boycott in 1977 to hold regional and national AAUW conventions only in states that had ratified the ERA.

Yet now, in 2012, the Equal Rights Amendment still has not been ratified. So this Women’s Equality Day, be proud of the women who have won so much for us to celebrate, but do not assume that history is only in our archives. We live history every day — so what will you give your daughters to celebrate?

This post was written by AAUW Archives Intern Kelsey Conway.

Read Full Post »

The saying “what’s old is new again” popped into my mind as I reflected recently on the passing of yet another March honoring women in history. I love history in all forms, about all subjects, and one constant in our ever-changing world is the vicious cycle of history repeating itself. As I read the headlines on women’s issues today, my thoughts ranged from I thought women had obtained that right years ago to horror as I read examples of women’s rights abuses on such an extensive global scale. Type “women’s rights” into any online search engine, and you’ll see what I mean.

To show this cycle of repeating history, I found a few quotes that continue to resonate. Special thanks to the Women in World History curriculum for some of the older quotes. Laugh, frown, get inspired, or groan as you read, and then share one or more of your favorite quotes.

 

“If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.” — Plato (427 B.C.–347 B.C.)

 

“My honor was not yielded, but conquered merely.” — Cleopatra (69 B.C.–30 B.C.)

 

“Who has forbidden women to engage in private and individual studies? Have they not a rational soul as men do? … I have this inclination to study, and if it is evil, I am not the one who formed me thus — I was born with it, and with it I shall die.” — Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1651–1695)

 

“Women have the right to mount the scaffold; they should likewise have the right to mount the rostrum.” — Olympe de Gouges, (1748–1793)

 

“By the way, in the new code of laws, which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors … If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” — Abigail Adams (1744–1818)

 

“I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness,” [said Captain Harville]. “But perhaps, you will say, these were all written by men.”

“Perhaps I shall,” [said Anne Elliott]. “Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.” — Jane Austen, Persuasion (1775–1817)

 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” — Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902)

 

“When the true history of the anti-slavery cause shall be written, women will occupy a large space in its pages, for the cause of the slave has been peculiarly woman’s cause.” — Frederick Douglass (1818–1895)

 

“Today, the two hundred million men in our country are entering into a civilized new world. But we, the two hundred million women, are still kept down in the dungeon.” — Qiu Jin, (1875–1907)

 

“Birth control is the first important step woman must take toward the goal of her freedom. It is the first step she must take to be man’s equal. It is the first step they must both take toward human emancipation.” — Margaret Sanger (1879–1966)

 

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962)

 

“People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.” — Cicely Isabel Fairfield, pen name Rebecca West (1892–1983)

 

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” — Rosa Parks (1913–2005)

 

“This woman’s place is in the House — the House of Representatives.” — Bella Abzug (1920–1998)

 

“In too many instances, the march to globalization has also meant the marginalization of women and girls. And that must change.” — Hillary Rodham Clinton

 

“More countries have understood that women’s equality is a prerequisite for development.” — Kofi Annan, June 2000

 

“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex — what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute.” Rush Limbaugh, February 2012

 

“Society will not abide by such laws until we get rid of that which is our tradition and stems from our Christian mentality: Man is the higher being, as woman was made from Adam’s rib. Consequently, she is the lesser being.” — Volydymyr Lytvyn, speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, March 2012

Read Full Post »

Last week, as the Senate prepared to vote on the Blunt amendment to limit insurance coverage for contraception, a coalition of more than 50 women’s organizations held a press conference at the National Press Club to announce an unprecedented drive to mobilize women voters — on the ground and online — around health and economic rights (HER) in 2012. At the event, members of the HERvotes coalition emphasized the power of women voters as a force for change and voiced outrage over the politicization of vital aspects of women’s health care, such as birth control and breast cancer services.

HERvotes leaders highlighted the work that they are doing to sound the alarm that women’s gains are at risk. For example, the AAUW Action Fund has launched a $1.5 million campaign, It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard, to educate women — especially millennial women — about what’s at stake in the election and to get them to the ballot box in November. “There is a palpable buzz … women are mad,” said AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz. “We are fed up. We don’t want you to touch our birth control. We’re tired of our legislators failing us. We’ll be canvassing, advertising, using social media, and reaching women where they live.” The My Vote campaign will include paid staff members in 15 states. They will train volunteers to get out the vote and to target young women.

HERvotes leaders — including Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal, Raising Women’s Voices and National Black Women’s Health Imperative Founder Byllye Avery, and National Council of Negro Women Executive Director Avis Jones-DeWeever —  said that women will make their voices heard on everything from jobs, equal pay, and equal opportunity to discriminatory health practices and access to education.

Sarah Audelo, senior manager of domestic policy at Advocates for Youth, made it clear that young women are part of this fight. “The right to basic preventive health care, such as contraception. The right to decide if and when to have a child. The right to vote and have our voices heard. These are rights our mothers and grandmothers fought for and won,” she said. “These are rights I never thought my generation would have to fight for. … We will reward those who support and respect our rights and hold accountable those who do not.”

HERvotes leaders will conduct multiple online drives on e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere that collectively will reach more than 20 million women. One such campaign will be led by MomsRising.org.

“Women are tired of the politicization of birth control, the politicization of breast cancer, and abortion bills that really are just about humiliating women,” said National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill. “The more they attack women’s ability to get along day by day … they are losing our votes. People are waking up.”

To learn more about the issues at stake, visit www.HERvotes.us.

Read Full Post »

Sandra Fluke speaking at our recent Re: Action — Birth Control in 2012 panel

Two weeks ago, AAUW hosted Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke at our national office for a Re:Action panel discussion on birth control. It was our way of making sure that she had a platform to speak and be heard since she wasn’t allowed to testify at a recent hearing about contraception at the House of Representatives. That panel featured five men and no women.

So when talk show host Rush Limbaugh made blatantly sexist and offensive comments about Fluke last week, we took it personally. AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz put it simply: “His aggressive personal insults and unnecessary coarsening of the public debate are unacceptable.”

Limbaugh’s “apology” on Saturday has not stopped his show from bleeding more sponsors. His remarks outraged women (and men of good conscience) across the country — probably because it wasn’t much of an apology. Just ask Fluke. He continued attacking her today, saying that she attended Georgetown Law only to “force them to abandon religious beliefs.” This completely misrepresents Fluke’s story and shows that Limbaugh has yet to learn his lesson.

On their own, Limbaugh’s comments are reprehensible. What makes them action-worthy is how widespread their effect continues to be. Limbaugh basically told his audience of millions that a woman who uses contraception and speaks out about it is a slut. This was his attempt to shame Fluke into silence. And it was a clear message to women everywhere: Speak out, and you’ll be punished in the same way.

Limbaugh may not listen to women, but his apology on Saturday shows that he pays attention to sponsors. Make sure he gets the message that women won’t stand for these kinds of attacks. Call, tweet, or write a Facebook update telling his sponsors that they only hurt themselves by supporting intolerant and offensive commentary.

It’s tough to pin down an exact list of sponsors, especially because some are local and others are national. To the best of our knowledge, here is a list of current national sponsors that have yet to pull support from Limbaugh’s show. Take action and tell them to stop supporting Limbaugh and his vicious rhetoric.

Lear Capital

Twitter: @GoldCoinPro (Kevin DeMeritt)

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LearCapital

Phone: 800/576-9355

Other: See their response to Limbaugh’s comments

LifeLock

Twitter: @LifeLock

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LifeLock

E-mail: tami@lifelock.com

Phone: 800/543-3562

Need ideas for tweets and Facebook updates? Make sure to link to this blog post and use the hashtag #StopRush. And tweet at Limbaugh himself using his handle, @rushlimbaugh. Here’s some sample language in case you need inspiration.

Twitter

Stand up for Sandra, stand up for women, and #StopRush http://bit.ly/xtnNlE

Tell @rushlimbaugh advertisers not to support personal attacks on women #StopRush http://bit.ly/xtnNlE

Thanks to the advertisers who stood with women and pulled sponsorship from @rushlimbaugh #StopRush www.huff.to/xaQjsQ

Facebook

Let companies know they should not support Rush Limbaugh’s anti-women commentary with sponsorship — join me in standing up for Sandra Fluke and for women everywhere by contacting these sponsors today http://bit.ly/xtnNlE

This post was written by Rachel Wallace and Lisa Maatz.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »