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Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

The role of women in international housing

Posted by egehl on August 22, 2012

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of traveling to the other side of the world for the first time.  I’ve always heard that being in Asia was quite different and a unique experience, and I certainly found that to be true when I ventured to the Philippines.  The purpose of the trip was to join my colleagues from Habitat for Humanity to take part in an international development course to learn about informal housing, urbanization, and what to do about the housing crisis facing cities worldwide.  I am new to international housing as my work has always focused on US related matters and policies, therefore I found this chance be exposed to the housing issues and challenges facing populations in need abroad an exciting opportunity.

The Philippines is known for having a large poor population, especially overcrowded Manila which is the most densely populated city in the world, with almost half of its citizens considered to be urban poor.  The city is grappling with how to properly house its neediest citizens, and what to do about the existing substandard housing that so many live in.  NGO’s like Habitat are trying to address this challenge and come up with ways to deal with the lack of adequate housing in a growing city.  It’s overwhelming when you think about it, but there are incremental ways to tackle this problem and one of those is by empowering women.

The full involvement of women is the best guarantee that any housing project will be a success.

Women must play a full role in all planning and implementation of improving living conditions.  They are the ones who already have strong social networks within a community and are often the primary caretakers of the community’s homes and households.  They have the most to gain from a good community housing project, and the most of to lose if their housing conditions are bad or unsafe.

Current statutory and customary laws in many countries limit women’s access to land and other types of property.  In fact, women own less than 15 percent of land worldwide, which is why a new land tenure law in Bolivia is notable.  The new law state’s that property rights should be registered in favor of both spouses or partners, detailing their full name.

Until now only a man’s name was on land rights documentation and if he had a spouse or partner it would not say the actual name of the spouse.  This caused confusion around land rights, and if the man had a mistress she could claim rights to the property.  This change appears to be such a small development, yet so consequential for Bolivian women because a full name on documentation is the first step to ensuring their land rights.

Involving women in housing around the globe, whether it’s around land rights or improving their living conditions, is key to creating healthier, safer, and better housing for families.  When improving informal housing settlements, often women have the greatest ability to mobilize support or opposition to any intervention in their settlement so their full involvement and participation is instrumental to any housing project.  Involving women in housing, like the example in Bolivia, also builds capacities and confidence while it enhances a woman’s status and helps undermine entrenched patterns of inequality.  When women play a large role in their housing situation, it ensures that the design of the home and community matches their family’s needs, and it enhances their status in the community as key actors in its long-term development.

There have been policies to address women’s needs in poor countries such as the Global Resources for Women to Thrive, or GROWTH Act, which passed in 2010.  This bill created an incentive fund at USAID to actively encourage economic opportunity projects that incorporate women’s needs in developing countries.  It offers women a range of tools to lift themselves out of poverty by helping them start and expand businesses, enhance their land and property rights, and help to ensure their access to the benefits of trade.

In order for countries like the Philippines to address their housing challenges and be able to provide affordable homes for their low-income populations they must take gender equity into consideration, especially if a woman is the head of the household.  This entails three key elements including advancing women’s equal participation as home partners and financial managers, protecting human rights for women and girls, and reducing inequality to resources by including women as decision makers at the household and community level.

Posted in Advocacy, Financial Security, Gender Discrimination, Global | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Joining Forces: Women Veterans Speak Out – From One Woman Veteran to Another

Posted by danielleac on December 19, 2011

Read the latest article of BPW Foundation’s every-other-week Joining Forces feature that brings us the voices of women veterans telling their stories.  If you are a women veteran who would like to share your story, please contact us through our Joining Forces for Women Veterans Facebook page, or email dcorazza@bpwfoundation.org.

Introduction: Years ago, BPW Foundation realized that newly-minted women veterans were faltering, missing crucial steps during the transition process from military service to civilian life. Research into the topic uncovered the startling fact that the transition process was not a linear process, nor did it follow a specific timeline. In an effort to be proactive in addressing these stumbling blocks, BPW Foundation developed the Dear Jane campaign, a collection of letters from women veterans back to active-duty women who were getting ready to leave the military. Although the active campaign is over, we still collect these insights and publish as visibly as possible in order to continue connecting the dots. Below is the latest submission.

Welcome Home!

by Lisa DeBerardinis

Dear Jane,

I am a Proud United States Navy Veteran – Seabee, I served from 1981-1988.

I salute you, The New Greatest Generation, and members of the best armed forces in the world!

There are many things I would have done differently after leaving the Navy.

I wish that I wouldn’t have kept a “gotta be tough” attitude for so long. I wandered through this civilian world from that time until about two years ago, when I’d finally had enough and reached out to VA for help. So being “tough” means advocating for yourself.

Like many of you might, I returned home and found myself a single parent, I struggled with depression which was recently found to be a result of MST. I’ve experienced periods of homelessness, although I am blessed that my periods of homelessness meant staying with this friend or that, traveling from here to there hoping things would change.

This letter does not specifically address how to deal with every issue that we face, there are too many! I finally have found my niche (it only took 23 years! 🙂 serving the people I care about most, my fellow Veterans, especially my Sisters.

My advice is too please not wait to seek any assistance or help that you need! Advocate for yourself. Should you have any questions, need assistance/guidance on how to utilize the VA, and what we have available, PLEASE DON’T HESITATE to contact me! Sometimes, unfortunately, the VA can be baffling and frustrating but I will try to answer your questions or at least know where to direct you to get what you need. Our system is Nationwide, so it’s not a problem wherever you are. I hope to hear from you. I have all the respect you.

And can’t wait to say WELCOME HOME!


Lisa DeBerardinis

Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist

Compensated Work Therapy TVHA- York Campus


Ph: 615-225-3926/615-427-5215

Posted in Advocacy, Friendship, Homelessness, Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Uncategorized, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Why Social Security Must Be Protected

Posted by egehl on July 22, 2011

The word “budget” seems to be on everyone’s mind these days, especially in the halls of Congress.

Every day there are new twists and turns to the never-ending budget and debt ceiling debacle.   The debt crisis our country faces will impact each of us as Congress makes decision to slash trillions of dollars away from vital programs and services that impact every facet of our society.  In order to address the looming federal deficit, legislators have proposed cutting social safety net programs to reduce spending. 

Programs big and small are on the chopping block, however the bigger ones such as Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare are the big goliaths that everyone is afraid of touching, but know it has to be done.  The problem is that if poor decisions are made about these important programs now it could be devastating for years to come, especially for women.

Various proposals are swirling around, and many could be quite scary for our seniors.  For example, Social Security benefits could be deeply cut by increasing the full retirement age above 67, possibly to 70, and reducing the Cost-of-living Adjustment (COLA) by switching to the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI).  Unfortunately using the “chained CPI” would cut benefits for everyone immediately and would cumulate over time, so that those who live the longest would suffer the deepest cuts.

Social Security is essential for older women’s economic well-being.  Women disproportionately depend on Social Security because their life expectancy is five years longer than men, they rely more on survivor benefits, they are less likely than men to have income from their own pensions, and because women have lower earnings on average across their lifetime they benefit from Social Security’s generous benefits to lower earners.

Women who are most economically vulnerable, including those with disabilities, live alone or have limited means, face the greatest risk as a result of these proposed cuts.  They face hurdles to gain financial stability on their own because many women cannot find employment at older ages, do not have pensions, and have been unable to save sufficiently because of wage discrimination and time taken out of the paid workforce for care-giving.

The National Council of Women’s Organizations has launched a new initiative to call on Congress to RESPECT women, PROTECT Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and REJECT any budget plans that threaten the economic security of women.  The goal of this campaign is to get the message across to key lawmakers that budget decisions should not be made at the expense of vulnerable women.

My mother is a perfect example of the critical need for Social Security.  I distinctly remember when she turned 65, a year after she was widowed and two months after Hurricane Katrina devastated my hometown, and she lost her job because of the storm.  She and I repeatedly said how thankful and lucky we were that the timing of her birthday coincided with that hard year otherwise the devastation to our home, on top of her job loss, could have put my family in financial straits.  I can’t imagine what we would have done if we had to wait another 5 years until she turned 70 for her to begin receiving benefits.

My mother stayed at home while I was growing up and didn’t starting working full-time until I was in highschool, and never made a great salary.  Therefore her Social Security benefits were fairly dismal and she was thankful she could receive my father’s benefits.  Over the past 6 years Social Security has been at the heart of my mother’s income and given her the means to stay in the home I grew up in, and have the modest lifestyle she wants and deserves.  Therefore I have seen firsthand how Social Security is truly a lifesaving foundation for older woman, and must be protected.

The reality is that our country needs to tighten its belt.  And all of us will have to make some level of sacrifice to make that happen.  However there are common sense ways to accomplish these goals without causing undue detriment to our citizens susceptible to hardship.  I just hope our leaders heed that warning.

Posted in Advocacy, Baby Boomers, Economy, Financial Security, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Paid Sick Leave Legislation Catching on Across the Country

Posted by egehl on June 23, 2011

Momentum is building across the country at the state and local level in support of paid sick leave days.

Currently no federal  laws guaranty that all workers must be eligible for a minimum number of paid sick days.  As a result, millions of workers across the country cannot afford or don’t feel comfortable taking time off when they feel sick, or need to take care of a family member.  Workers must choose between their health or their paycheck leading to many consequences, such as workers becoming increasingly ill or having to take time off without pay hurting their family financially.

A few years ago, the Healthy Families Act was introduced in Congress which requires businesses with 15 or more employees to provide up to 7 days of paid sick leave each year.  Three components of the bill are of significant benefit to women as the paid leave covers: recovery from routine illness or care for an ill family member; doctor’s appointments and other preventative care; and time spent seeking help and services for victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault.

Building off the national campaign to pass the Healthy Families Act, states and cities are following suit with support for paid sick leave for workers.  For example, Connecticut has just become the first state in the nation to pass paid sick days legislation that will ensure workers will be able to take paid time off to recover when they are sick or to care for a sick family member.  There are three cities, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Milwaukee where employees and their families benefit from some form of paid sick leave.  The Mayor of  Philadelphia recently vetoed paid sick leave legislation passed by the City Council.

According to a new study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, San Francisco’s mandatory sick-leave law has wide acceptance among employees and employers.  IWPR’s survey found that two-thirds of employers support the San Francisco law, and only 1 in 7 employers complained that it affected their profitability.  The typical worker covered by the law used only three sick days per year and one quarter of employees took no time off for illness.

There is growing support for policies, such as paid sick leave, that protect the health of workers and their families to reflect the economic realities of family life today.  Now that women make up almost half of the workforce, most families with children have two working parents and growing numbers of workers care for an aging parent, few can afford to lose a day’s pay because they stayed home sick or cared for a sick loved one.

In addition to Connecticut, action is expected soon on paid sick leave measures around the county in a number of cities and states that have robust coalitions and advocacy efforts including Seattle, and Denver.  In New York City, Massachusetts, Georgia, California and a dozen other states and cities, coalitions are actively building support for similar measures.

With these positive developments, stay tuned to hear more about states and cities supporting this sensible, long overdue measure to help workers balance their lives and take care of their families while still being able to afford it.

Posted in Advocacy, Families, Health, Successful Workplaces, Worklife Balance | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

10 By Us

Posted by joyinhome on December 30, 2010

10. Couples’ Survival Guide for Football Season

9. To Retire Or Not To Retire, Money Is The Question

8. If You’re Not Outraged, You Should Be

7. This Is What a Virtual Worker Looks Like

6. The Daily Grind

5. Remembering Haiti Over the Long Term

4. Consequences of Hate Speech

3. Your Boss Said What?!

2. I Just Know I Didn’t Like It

1. Have We Learned Since Vietnam

Posted in Advocacy, Families, Feminism, Rant, Successful Workplaces, Uncategorized, Women Veterans | Leave a Comment »

Tell ’em Thank You…

Posted by joyinhome on December 20, 2010

Thank the Senate AND our veterans.

The successful repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” signifies a win for so many veterans who have fought for this country and its promise of freedom and fairness. By repealing this law, we are thanking ALL veterans for their service. Because… “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Let’s also take a moment to thank the brave Senators who took this on.

Posted in Advocacy, Diversity, Families, LGBT Rights, Uncategorized, Veterans, Women Veterans | 1 Comment »

Still Waiting for Superman?

Posted by joyinhome on December 7, 2010


Yesterday I saw a snippet of Oprah where she revisited a conversation with former chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools, Michelle Rhee, broadcast during the promotion for documentary, Waiting for Superman. Rhee was back to announce her decision to fight for the nation’s children by creating Students First.

Now, as a DC resident, I was not a Rhee fan, but I did not disagree with all of her actions. If you are an educator but are not serving our children you need to go- PERIOD. Too many educators are burnt out, just coming to earn a check and mistreating our children. Yet, I was impressed yesterday by her announcement and her decision to begin a MOVEMENT on behalf of our children.

As a nation, we should be in an uproar but sadly we are not. Access to quality education in this country is inextricably linked to class and race; interestingly, all of our children are losing ground relative to other nations. Until we realize we all have a stake in all children succeeding, it will not be a priority. The resources allocated to our public education system and their management is dispicable, not to mention the resources allocated to our youth, in general. The United States has fallen so behind in education, it is quickly becoming an issue that has national security implications. If you are unable to produce scientists, economists, researchers, engineers…

I admittedly have not seen this movie. As an education advocate, I received invitations to private screenings but was unable to attend any. Yesterday was my reminder that I need to carve out two hours in my schedule to go.

I’m putting students first, will you? Learn more at www.studentsfirst.org

Posted in Advocacy, Education, Families | 1 Comment »

Face AIDS on World AIDS Day

Posted by joyinhome on December 1, 2010

HIV/AIDS is nature’s oxymoron. Sex is supposed to bring forth life, but now, it can potentially destroy it. Let’s ALL stay safe. Know your status. Get tested. Drop the stigma. Face AIDS.

A global snapshot:

  • 33.4 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide
  • 2.1 million of those are children under 15
  • 2.9 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2009
  • 1.8 million people died from HIV-related causes in 2009
  • 67% of the people living with HIV/AIDS are in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Young people account for half of new HIV infections

What will you be doing to commemorate the day?

More at The Red Pump Project.

Posted in Advocacy, Education, Global, Health, HIV AIDS | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Women Vet Bill of Rights

Posted by joyinhome on November 29, 2010

Women Vets- have you seen these…ever?

The Women Veterans Bill of Rights states that women veterans should have the following rights:

(1) The right to a coordinated, comprehensive, primary women’s health care, at every Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility, including the recognized models of best practices, systems, and structures for care delivery that ensure that every woman veteran has access to a Department of Veterans Affairs primary care provider who can meet all her primary care needs, including gender-specific, acute and chronic illness, preventive, and mental health care.

(2) The right to be treated with dignity and respect at all Department of Veterans Affairs facilities.

(3) The right to innovation in care delivery promoted and incentivized by the Veterans Health Administration to support local best practices fitted to the particular configuration and women veteran population.

(4) The right to request and get treatment by clinicians with specific training and experience in women’s health issues.

(5) The right to enhanced capabilities of medical providers, clinical support, non-clinical, and administrative, to meet the comprehensive health care needs of women veterans.

(6) The right to request and expect gender equity in provision of clinical health care services.

(7) The right to equal access to health care services as that of their male counterparts.

(8) The right to parity to their male veteran counterpart regarding the outcome of performance measures of health care services.

(9) The right to be informed, through outreach campaigns, of benefits under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and to be included in Department outreach materials for any benefits and service to which they are entitled.

(10) The right to be featured proportionately, including by age and ethnicity, in Department outreach materials, including electronic and print media that clearly depict them as being the recipient of the benefits and services provided by the Department.

(11) The right to be recognized as an important separate population in new strategic plans for service delivery within the health care system of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

(12) The right to equal consideration in hiring and employment for any job to which they apply.

(13) The right to equal consideration in securing Federal contracts.

(14) The right to equal access and accommodations in homeless programs that will meet their unique family needs.

(15) The right to have their claims adjudicated equally, fairly, and accurately without bias or disparate treatment.

(16) The right to have their military sexual trauma and other injuries compensated in a way that reflects the level of trauma sustained.

(17) The right to expect that all veteran service officers, especially those who are trained by the Department of Veterans Affairs Training Responsibility Involvement Preparation program for claims processing, are required to receive training to be aware of and sensitive to the signs of military sexual trauma, domestic violence, and personal assault.

(18) The right to the availability of female personnel to assist them in the disability claims application and appellate processes of the Department.

(19) The right to the availability of female compensation and pension examiners.

(20) The right to expect specialized training be provided to disability rating personnel regarding military sexual trauma and gender-specific illnesses so that these claims can be adjudicated more accurately.

(21) The right to expect the collection of gender-specific data on disability ratings, for the performance of longitudinal and trend analyses, and for other applicable purposes.

(22) The right to a method to identify and track outcomes for all claims involving personal assault trauma, regardless of the resulting disability.

(23) The right for women veterans’ programs and women veteran coordinators to be measured and evaluated for performance, consistency, and accountability.

(24) The right to burial benefits under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Women’s Veterans Rights, HR 5953, is being debated by the House as we speak. This proposed leg would require VA facilities to display and disseminate a copy to women vets. And, of course, it’s getting push back…This Bill of Rights was created through legislation introduced last summer by chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Rep. Bob Filner (D-Ca.).

Please feel free to comment!

Posted in Advocacy, Politics, Uncategorized, Women Veterans | Leave a Comment »

Small Biz Saturday

Posted by joyinhome on November 23, 2010


Support your local businesses on Small Biz Saturday! As you take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, do your holiday shopping this Saturday, November 27. Sponsored by AmEx, let your dollars keep small businesses going!

YWM is a big supporter of small business, especially encouraging women to establish and own businesses. Small biz has historically been the backbone for this country’s economy and is essential to jump-start it now.

Posted in Advocacy, Economy, Small Business, YWM | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »