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HERVotes Blog Carnival: Advocating for an Inclusive VAWA

Posted by YWM on February 27, 2013

by Amanda Reed, NOW Communications Intern

On Feb. 12, the Senate passed an inclusive version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that would include provisions for previously-unprotected groups. Last week, the House revealed its own version of VAWA: a watered-down, non-inclusive bill that cuts out these protections. Sound familiar?

When VAWA came up for reauthorization last year, the House GOP passed a similarly unacceptable version of the bill, refusing to bring the bipartisan Senate version to the floor. This was the first time since the bill’s passage in 1994 that Congress failed to renew VAWA.

This cannot happen again. For nearly two decades, VAWA has aided women who suffer from domestic, dating and sexual violence and stalking. According to statistics from the Department of Justice and the FBI, reporting of domestic violence has increased by 51 percent since 1994. Non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by 61 percent, while the number of female deaths by intimate partner violence has declined by 34 percent. VAWA and the progress it has made in the lives of women must live on.

In comparison to the Senate VAWA, the version pushed by House Republicans does not cover all women. Provisions for already-protected groups will be weakened, while members of groups who often struggle to obtain services, legal protections and basic justice will continue to be overlooked. If the House VAWA passes:

• LGBT victims of violence, who would be protected under the Senate VAWA, will be left out of the bill’s protections entirely.

• Native American women will be left with weaker protections. A shocking three out of five Native American women experience domestic abuse. In most cases, non-Native attackers of Native American women avoid prosecution because tribal courts are unable to charge the perpetrators, and state and federal law enforcement cannot get involved. The Senate version does a far better job of addressing this injustice.

• Immigrant women will be limited in their ability to obtain U Visas, a law enforcement tool that encourages them to report and help prosecute crimes committed against them. In reporting sexual and domestic violence, these women often face the possibility of deportation, as well as language and cultural barriers.

• The SAFER Act, which helps fund investigations into rape cases, would not be included. This act provides grants that allow prosecutors to conduct audits of rape kit backlogs, which can lead them to the identities of attackers. Government experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of rape kits remain untested in the United States.

• The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), which extends protections, resources and tools to human trafficking victims, would also not be reauthorized.

In comparison to the Senate bill, the House version of VAWA is discriminatory and inadequate. Gender-based violence is an issue all women face, and none should be excluded from the protections that VAWA provides. The passage of the Senate bill would be a huge step in fighting violence against all groups of women. If the House continues on its path to trim VAWA down, it puts the lives and well-being of many survivors at risk.

Read more HERVotes blogs onVAWA

* Congress Must Act Immediately to Reauthorize Federal Legislation to Protect All Victims of Violence, Dara Richardson-Heron, MD, YWCA

* Don’t Be Fooled, Janet Hill, Coalition of Labor Union Women (USW)

* Advocating for an Inclusive VAWA, Amanda Reed, National Organization for Women (NOW)

* This Season’s Paul Ryan? Eric Cantor Takes on VAWA, Terry O’Neill, National Organization for Women (NOW)

* Prioritizing Campus Safety, American Association of University Women

* Victims of Abuse Suffer Each Day an Inclusive VAWA Reauthorization is Delayed or Weakened, Avril Lighty, The Leadership Conference Education Fund

* Whatever Affects One Woman, Affects ALL Women, Bernardita “Beni” Yunis Varas, Young People For

* When Dating Violence Hits Close to Home, Madeline Shepherd, National Council of Jewish Women

* Violence Against Women Act Must Move Forward, National Association of Social Workers

* Join Ashley Greene and Support VAWA, Love Is Respect

* Support VAWA, Love Is Respect

* Servicing Members is Sometimes Sad, Judy Beard, Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW)

* House of Representatives Republicans: You Should Represent Women Too, Phyllis Johnson, Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW)

* Turning “Ifs” into “Whens”: College Students Like Me Need Reauthorization of a Full VAWA, Dana Bolger, NWLC

* New Congress should focus on passing VAWA, Sharon Stapel, New York City Anti-Violence Project

*House can no longer ignore violence against LGBT community, Sharon Stapel, New York City Anti-Violence Project

*Congress’ Opportunity to Protect All Women From Violence—We Say, Yes! Cristina M. Finch, Women’s Human Rights Program, Amnesty International USA and Adjunct Law Professor, George Mason University School of Law

*A VAWA For All Victims, Shaina Goodman, National Network to End Domestic Violence

*WHY WOMEN’S VOICES MUST “ROAR” IN MARCH, 2013, M. DeLois (Dee) Strum, The National Coalition of 100 Black Women

Posted in HERvotes, Violence Against women | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

HERvotes Blog Carnival: Taking Care of Women

Posted by YWM on August 1, 2012

President/Chair League of Women Voters/League of Women Voters Education Fund 

There is more good news coming this week for women because of the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA). Beginning August 1st, millions of women around the country will be able to receive free preventive health care benefits. So, what does this mean in the day-to-day lives of women? A whole lot for their health!

In a nutshell: Under the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) new guidelines, women will no longer have to pay for preventive health care.

Specifically, health insurance plans will be required to fully cover these vital services: well-woman visits; domestic violence screening and counseling; breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling; FDA-approved contraception methods and counseling; screening for gestational diabetes; human papillomavirus DNA testing for women 30 and older; counseling for sexually-transmitted infections; and HIV screening and counseling.

This means there will be no co-pay, no co-insurance and no deductible charges for these services! Annual health insurance policies that begin on or after August 1, 2012, are required to include these benefits, and any plans and issuing companies that have not received special clearance are also required to cover these services.

This wonderful news comes on the heels of last summer’s new insurance market rules under the ACA, which provided for mammograms, cervical cancer screening, prenatal care, colonoscopies, blood pressure checks and childhood immunizations at no charge, along with ACA recommended Medicare-related free preventive services.

In addition to the ACA’s benefits already in effect (and including allowed parental coverage for millions of youth 26 and under), these new benefits for women are a huge step forward in providing quality health care for everyone. Find more information at Healthcare.gov, managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

The League of Women Voters worked hard to help pass the ACA. We cheered when the House passed ACA and when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its favor in June. Today, we applaud HRSA’s new guidelines for women’s preventive health care, a big step forward for women’s health!

HERvotes Blog Carnival: Join us by sharing this and the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media.

Posted in Health, HERvotes, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

HERvotes Blog Carnival: Save VAWA

Posted by YWM on July 19, 2012

By Rev. Dr. E. Faye Williams, Chair of the National Congress of Black Women

If you have ever been beaten, kicked, punched, slapped by a partner who claims to love you, it is not difficult for you to understand why it’s mandatory to have the Violence Against Women Act.  If you’ve ever had a daughter, a sister, a cousin who experienced the terrifying thought of being abused for no reason, then you understand why VAWA is necessary.

More women than you can imagine live in real fear of repeated attacks just because their partners feel nothing will be done if they abuse a woman.  Some still live under that old assumption that a man is king of his household and the women therein are his property and that the law is on his side no matter what he does.  We cannot allow that belief to prevail.

Like so many women, I have bruises that will never go away—some physical, some mental.  For years after getting a divorce and getting away from my abuser, I looked over my shoulder believing my former spouse meant what he said when he said he would find me and he would kill me.  Until the day he died, I had recurring thoughts of what he promised, and to this day, I cannot sleep without locking the door to my bedroom.

I don’t want other women to go through what I did when calling a policeman only meant you’d have him tell you, “He’ll have to practically kill you before we can do anything to him”.  That’s the way it was before VAWA and generations of women were told the same or similar things.  Many women did die praying for help that never came or came too late.  Let’s make every effort to save VAWA and save lives.  VAWA must be reauthorized.  We must do all we can to make it happen.

HERvotes Blog Carnival: Join us by sharing this and the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media.

Tragedy in Springfield, Mass.: When VAWA and Local Domestic Violence Intersect – Mary Reardon Johnson, YWCA USA

Perpetrators Don’t Discriminate, So Why is Congress? – Maggie Fridinger, National Council of Women’s Organizations

Save Our Campuses: Pass VAWA – Dani Nispel, National Council of Women’s Organizations

Empower Women: Reauthorize VAWA Today! – Hailey Cayne, Coalition of Labor Union Women

Joining the Chorus for VAWA – Arezu Kaywanfar, National Council of Jewish Women

Pass a Final Violence Against Women Act that Includes Campus SaVe – Chelsea Feuchs, Jewish Women International

 NASW Still Supports Passage of Violence Against Women Act – National Association of Social Workers

Violent Against Women Act Helps Kids Too – Martha Burk

Violence Exists. Women Exist. The Violence Against Women Act Should Too – Tessa Ross, Women’s Campaign Fund

AAUW Rallies for Inclusive VAWA – Laura Dietrich, AAUW

Violence Against Women at College? Something to Worry About – Allyson Bach, NWPC

Inadequate Legislation Empowers Abusers – Anny Bolganio, Coalition of Labor Union Women

Violence is Violence, No Matter What Gender – Samantha Aster, NWPC

Class Matters: Why VAWA Needs to Be Reauthorized – Danielle Marryshow, NWPC

Posted in HERvotes, Uncategorized, Violence Against women | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

HERvotes Blog Carnival: Equal Pay and the Single Woman

Posted by egehl on May 30, 2012

By Business and Professional Women’s Foundation friend Elisabeth Gehl

As a society, we are obsessed with anything to do with marriage: falling in love, glamorous weddings, gorgeous rings, stunning dresses, and happily ever after.  Consequently single women typically feel that their married counterparts always have a leg up in getting society’s focus and attention.  And while that may be true in many regards, it’s not the case when it comes to electing our political leaders.  Single women proved to be extremely influential in the last two election cycles, and will undoubtedly be again this November.  As a result, Congressional leaders are shifting their priorities this year to move legislation forward that impacts all women, but especially single women.

The number of single women in this country continues to grow and candidates are taking notice. There are 55 million single, divorced, separated or widowed women eligible to vote this year and they share the same unique needs as all women, but often with a further emphasis because most are taking care of themselves, and sometimes their families, alone.

The needs of single women and the issues facing them span the gamut from Generation Y just getting out of college with looming student loans, to the widow that is struggling every month to survive on her Social Security check.  Women now make up about half of all workers and among families with children one in four is headed by a single parent. Many single women feel very vulnerable in their ability to stay economically afloat, and especially need policies that can give them a foundation to succeed.  This is finally starting to resonate with legislators because these women represent an important constituency, and have the ability to determine the outcome of this year’s election.

In 2008, unmarried women were among Barack Obama’s most loyal supporters.  This group of women turned out in droves four years ago and delivered 70 percent of their votes to him.  Two years later during the 2010 mid-term election, the opposite happened when many of them stayed home, and as a result Democrats lost the House and had their Senate majority decreased.  Democrats want to prevent that from happening again with so much at stake for a wide array of women’s issues, including equal pay.

Determined to get single women re-energized and engaged in this year’s election, Senate leaders are reshaping their legislative agenda and advancing an equal pay bill this month, the Paycheck Fairness Act that will enhance women’s ability to win pay Equal Pay Daydiscrimination lawsuits. Specifically, the Paycheck Fairness Act would update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act by improving remedies for pay discrimination, prohibiting employer retaliation, and facilitating class action suits in equal pay claims, among other strategies.

On average, single women have lower household income than married women therefore policies like the Paycheck Fairness Act that address pay disparities are of particular importance to this population.  As our economy continues to be on life support, single women are feeling economically marginalized and that their unique needs and challenges are not being adequately addressed.  Many consider paycheck fairness as one of their top economic issues because they know that to succeed financially they need to be on an equal level playing field with their male counterparts.

HERvotes Blog Carnival: Join us by sharing this and the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media.

HERvotes Blogs

Justice for Working Women, Jewish Women International

The Wage Gap: Collective Change Not Choice, National Council of Women’s Organizations

A Jewish Call for Equal Pay, Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism

The Facts Behind the Call for Equal Pay, NOW

American Women and Families Deserve a Vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, National Partnership for Women and Families

HERvotes: Paycheck Equality: It’s Not a Suggestion, It’s the Law | CLUW

Posted in Equal Pay, Gen X, Gen Y, HERvotes, Pay Equity | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Get your women’s health checkup today. It’s covered!

Posted by YWM on May 17, 2012


By Guest Blogger Lois Uttley, Co-Founder, Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need

Overdue on your mammogram or Pap smear? Trying to quit smoking or lose weight? Thinking about having a baby?

It’s National Women’s Health Week. What better time to make an appointment and get caught up on the health care you need!

Many women’s health services are now covered by our health insurance plans without extra charges, like co-pays and deductibles, because of the new health care law (the Affordable Care Act). Because we don’t have to dig into our pocketbooks for those extra charges, we can actually afford to take advantage of the health insurance coverage we have.  Examples of what’s now covered without co-pays include:

  • Cervical cancer screening for sexually active women;
  • Mammograms every 1 to 2 years for women over 40;
  • Help quitting smoking, especially if you are pregnant;
  • Cholesterol and blood pressure tests;
  • Folic acid supplements for women who want to become pregnant; and
  • Osteoporosis screening for at-risk women over 60.

There’s improved coverage for our children, as well, including no-copay coverage for immunizations against common childhood diseases, tests of hearing and vision and screening for possible autism. And, our adult children can stay on our family health insurance policies until age 26, so we don’t have to worry about them going without health insurance after graduating from high school or college. In fact, we think the coverage for moms and our kids if so great, we’re calling it MamaCare!

We will have even more great preventive care coverage starting August 1, when the women’s preventive services provision of the health care law takes effect. From then on, all new health insurance plans will be required to cover, without co-pays, these critically-important women’s health services:

  • Contraceptive services, including birth control pills, IUDs and even tubal ligations;
  • Breastfeeding counseling and rental of press pumps;
  • Screening for STIs, gestational diabetes and domestic violence; and
  • Annual well-woman visits, when you and your primary care provider can make a plan to keep you healthy.

At Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, we’re counting down to this great new coverage that will benefit millions of women. Learn more about how you will benefit at our Countdown to Coverage website.

Lois Uttley, MPP, is co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, a national initiative working to make sure the Affordable Care Act meets the needs of women and our families.

HERvotes Blog Carnival: Join us by sharing this and the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media.

Read More:

National Women’s Health Week: Pledging to Take Care of Ourselves– Ann Rose Greenberg, Marketing Coordinator, Jewish Women International

Celebrating Women’s Health Week as a Grandmother– Nancy K. Kaufman, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women

Get your women’s health checkup today. It’s covered!– Lois Uttley, Co-Founder, Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need

League Recognizes National Women’s Health Week– Stephanie, League of Women Voters

Gen Y Women Benefit from the Affordable Health Care Act – Elisabeth Gehl

Posted in Health, HERvotes, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

HERVotes Blog Carnival: VAWA Reauthorization and Economic Security for Survivors

Posted by YWM on April 24, 2012

By Guest Blogger Sarah Gonzalez Bocinski
Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW)

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has dramatically changed the way victim services and the criminal justice system respond to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. VAWA has saved thousands of lives since it was signed into law in 1994 and currently provides over 800 state and local agencies and service providers with the necessary resources to support survivors, hold offenders accountable and keep communities safe. VAWA provides a foundation for survivor safety, which needs to be strengthened and expanded to better address safety in the context of economic security. Physical, sexual and economic abuse often result in interrupted employment, increased medical bills, damaged credit, accumulated debt and lack of adequate housing. These financial factors impact the decision to leave an abusive situation, the ability to remain free or recover from violence, and the capacity to access the services required to transition from victim to survivor.

One prosecutor shared how the victim’s economic safety impacted the outcome of two domestic violence cases. In the first case, the victim lied about the abuse and induced her children to lie because she was financially dependent on her abuser and feared her family would become destitute if he went to jail. The state lost that case. In another case, a survivor even more financially dependent on her abuser immediately received critical services and was able to find a place to live, start community college and obtain financial support to plan for the future. The prosecutor credited the survivor’s ability to give honest testimony to her attaining some sense of economic security prior to the trial, which resulted in a successful conviction.

Survivor safety and economic security is critical for everyone, but in the past has been somewhat overlooked for survivors from underserved populations who already face unique economic barriers. As presently written, VAWA fails to provide adequate support to two special populations: Tribal and LGBTQ survivors. While rates of violence against women are similar for most populations, Native American women report rates 3.5 times higher than the national average. Due to the complexity of laws governing Tribes, it is difficult to arrest and prosecute perpetrators, 86 percent of whom are non-Native and therefore outside tribal jurisdiction. While LGBTQ individuals experience violence at the same rate as the rest of the population, they do not receive the same supports or legal protections. Because most states do not recognize LGBTQ relationships, many laws addressing domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking cannot aid gay or transgender victims. Additionally, many of the support systems for survivors are not LGBTQ-friendly, leaving these survivors with few options.

VAWA is essential to the safety of survivors and needs to be reinforced to ensure that all survivors of violence are protected. We urge you to join WOW in supporting the reauthorization of VAWA and promoting the economic security of survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual assault and stalking.

HERvotes Blog Carnival: Join us by sharing this and the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media.

Congress Rocking Back the Clock for Women– Janet Hill, Coalition for Labor Union Women

Joining Forces – Women Veterans Speak Out: The Trenches, Remembered– Joan Grey, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation

Why is the U.S. Senate is Playing Politics with Violence Against Women? – Gloria Lau, YMCA USA

The Violence Against Women Act: Fact Vs. Fiction Miri Cypers, Jewish Women International

The  Struggle to End Violence Against Women Encounters a Road Block – Nancy Kaufman, National Council of Jewish Women

Group Opposes VAWA Because It Helps Lesbians – Ben Atherton Zeman, Ms. Magazine




Posted in HERvotes, Uncategorized, Violence Against women | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

HERvotes Blog Carnival: Gen Y Women Benefit from the Affordable Health Care Act

Posted by egehl on March 20, 2012

Generation Y (Gen Y) women are a powerful force in the workplace.  They are an important constituency vital to developing a diverse and skilled workforce now and into the future.  By supporting young women and giving them the tools they need to succeed everyone wins because they are tomorrow’s thinkers, leaders, and enthusiasts about the issues we care about.  BPW Foundation has focused on Gen Y because we believe that understanding and addressing the needs of these women is critical for maintaining a competitive edge nationally and globally.  Through our Gen Y research, BPW Foundation seeks to understand what these women need in order to be successful in the workplace, and then translate that knowledge into tools that improve how employers recruit, support, and retain young women. We have found that there are many components to the future success of Gen Y women in the workplace, however, recognize that success in the workplace will not happen if they are not healthy.

The health of young women is at the foundation of their success because without it their ability to grow and move forward will inevitably be stymied.  For many young women, being able to take care of their health has been elusive because healthcare is too expensive, they cannot find employment in this tough job market, or they are underemployed with an hourly job that does not offer comprehensive health care.  Thankfully with passage two years ago of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many of those hurdles have been addressed with important components for young women included in the new law.

Most significantly for young women, the Affordable Care Act includes coverage for young adults under the age of 26 through their  parent’s health insurance.  Therefore if an adult’s plan covers children, they can now add or keep their children on their health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old.  Before the health care law, insurance companies could remove enrolled children usually at age 19, sometimes older for full-time students.

By allowing young women to stay on a parent’s plan, the law makes it easier and more affordable for them to get health insurance coverage.  This was a key provision because it allows Gen Y women, especially those just coming out of college and looking for jobs, to have a safety net during the first few years they are getting on their feet.  Without it they are left stranded and could face unpredicted health costs.  In addition, these young women can join or remain on their parent’s plan even if they are married, not living with their parents, attending school, not financially dependent, or eligible to enroll in their employer’s plan.

Even though young women may feel invincible when it comes to their health, they still must be mindful of preventative services they should undertake to maintain their health and avoid future illness.  This brings us to another important aspect of the Affordable Care Act for Gen Y women; the coverage of certain preventative services without cost sharing.  This includes coverage for immunizations, depression screening, pap smears, and services for pregnant women.  The more young women take care of themselves now through various preventative services the better off their health will be down the road thereby reducing their future health care costs which will benefit the entire health care system.

Additional aspects of the Affordable Care Act important to Gen Y women, particularly those who are single, include the potential of receiving tax credits to help pay for insurance starting in 2014 if their income is less than $43,000 for a single individual, and their job doesn’t offer affordable coverage.  Also starting in 2014, if a Gen Y woman is unemployed with a limited income of up to $15,000 per year for a single person (higher income for couples/families with children), she may be eligible for health coverage through Medicaid.

As BPW Foundation continues to examine Gen Y women, their career choices and the subsequent consequences these decisions have on their lives, workplaces and society, undeniably health is a part of that overall picture.  As the cost of healthcare rises, it is important that younger generations have the care they need either through their employer or family member so that they can treat and prevent illness.  The Affordable Care Act gives Gen Y women more choices to take care of themselves something that was missing before ACA was passed. And the absence of that option had a detrimental impact on the health of many young women.  Gen Y women need a safety net and available, feasible options to take charge of their health so that they have can a fulfilling career and the opportunities many of them want to give back to their communities.  The Affordable Care Act is a giant step forward in helping to make that happen for this next generation of women.

For more information about how the Affordable Care Act benefit young women please visit: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/features/choices/young-adult-coverage/index.html.

HERvotes Blog Carnival: Join us by sharing this and the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media.

Posted in Gen Y, Health, HERvotes, legislation, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

It’s Not an Obama Thing; It’s a Families Need Healthcare Thing

Posted by YWM on March 7, 2012

Remarks delivered by

Byllye Avery, Co-Founder, Raising Women’s Voices for Health Care
at the HERvotes Press Conference March 1, 2012

In 1970, three organizations, National Women’s Health Network, Mergerwatch and Avery Institute for Social Change founded Raising Women’s Voices to make sure women’s voices and needs were a part of health care discussions and reform legislation.

We are pleased to join HERvotes at this press conference because of its commitment to look at the full spectrum of women’s lives and all of the issues facing women and their families.  Because we know that everything is interrelated.

Women’s health care is under attack at the local, state and federal level, with direct aim being taken at reproductive health.  While reproductive health is important to us other issue are also important such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, prevention services, violence against women, maternity care, and most importantly access to affordable quality care.

What good is it to live in a country that brags about having the best health care in the world if you can’t get it?  We measure our health care system from the wrong end of the stick.

The Affordable Care Act (ACE) is one of the best pieces of legislation ever passed, since Medicare and Social Security. It has the potential of providing affordable care, well-women services, ending discrimination in care, and enforcement of best medical practices.  It can do for the health of women and their families in this country what Title IX has done for women in sports.

When I talk to women of color they understand and fully support ACE.  It means health coverage and access that can improve qualify of life for themselves and their families.  This isn’t an Obama thing; it is a families need healthcare thing.

We need the ideological attacks against women’s access to reproductive services and the hostile legislation targeting women at all levels of government to stop.

We say to the press – Talk to the Women.  We demand that politicians start focusing on the tough domestic and global issues our country faces and we say to them – Stop your cowardly firing at women’s health from the comfort of your cultural war bunkers.

We are proud that Bylly Avery is our guest blogger today.  She is truly an historic woman living in our time.  Ms. Avery, Founder of the Avery Institute for Social Change and the National Black Women’s Health Project,  has dedicated her life to helping and inspiring women.  A winner of the MacArthur Foundation Genius award, she has been honored more times than we can list but here are just a few: Lifetime Television’s Trailblazer Award, Essence magazine Award for Community Service and the President’s Citation of the American Public Health Association.  She is a clinical professor at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, an advisor to the National Institutes of Health, and was a visiting fellow at Harvard School of Public Health.

Posted in Families, Health, HERvotes, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

HERvotes Blog Carnival – Violence Against Women

Posted by YWM on January 31, 2012

For the eighth #HERvotes blog carnival, our coalition of women’s groups is joining forces for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, rates for sexual violence, stalking, and domestic violence occurred at alarming rates.  One in four women have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner and nearly one in five women have been raped in their lifetime. This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider legislation that to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the largest policy effort aimed at responding to and preventing these crimes. First passed in 1994, VAWA supports comprehensive, cost-saving responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking and must be reauthorized to ensure a continued federal government response.  Since its passage in 1994, more victims report domestic violence to the police and the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by 53 percent.  Through the HERvotes Blog Carnival we hope to remind voters of the importance of protecting women from violence and highlight VAWA’s lifesaving programs and services.  Reauthorizing VAWA  will ensure that its important programs will continue for five more years.  We urge the Senate to remember and protect women.

Join us by sharing the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media

The Trenches, Remembered – Joan Grey, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation

Tell Your Senator to Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act Now- Elizabeth Owens, AAUW

Why VAWA is a Queer Issue- Terra Slavin, L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center and Sharon Stapel, New York City Anti-Violence Project

Universities Should Support VAWA- Melissa Siegel,  National Youth Advisory Board

Students Against Dating/Domestic Abuse– Sara Skavroneck,  National Youth Advisory Board

Loveisrespect.org- National Youth Advisory Board Against Dating ViolenceKevin Mauro,  National Youth Advisory Board

Teenage Dating Violence and VAWA– Nikki Desario,  National Youth Advisory Board

Violence Against Women Act up for Reauthorization– National Association of Social Workers

Wake up, People! Domestic Violence is an Epidemic!– Donna Pantry, Elf Lady’s Chronicles

Recession and Women: How Economic Insecurity Enables Abuse– Donna Addkison’s, Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW)

More Bipartisan Support Needed for Violence Against Women Act– Terry O’Neill,  NOW

Combating Domestic Violence – Mallon Urso, NWCP

Speak Up and Support the Violence Against Women Act, Jewish Women International

Taking the Violence Against Women Act a Higher Ground – Emily Alfano, National Council of Jewish Women

It’s a Good Time To Be a Black Woman? Well,  Not So Good When It Comes To Violence – Black Woman’s Health Imperative

Teen Dating Violence -Christine Bork, YMCA Metropolitan Chicago


Posted in Feminism, HERvotes, Sexual Harassment, Violence Against women | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Joining Forces – Women Veterans Speak Out: The Trenches, Remembered

Posted by YWM on January 31, 2012

By Joan Grey
BPW Foundation Mentoring Liaison

We all have our stories.  Maybe these narratives, rather than DNA, are really what make us human.  On the topic of military sexual trauma, I turned to my West Point women classmates for their input.  Ours was the first co-ed class. Out of over 900 graduates, 62 were women.

We didn’t get to know each other as well as you might think for all the shared challenges we faced. The message we absorbed was, “Where two or more are gathered, a conspiracy is brewing.” So, we went our separate ways, tried to blend in, and not draw attention.  A bellowed command of, “Miss, halt,” caused more than a few collisions and scuffed spitshines when women scurrying to class instantly obeyed.

Were we harassed? As Anne put it, “Oh, let me count the ways.  But was this exclusively because I was a woman? Yes and No.  Was this just part of being a cadet at West Point? Yes and no.”

Some ideas were “design flaws” like the shorty, see-thru bathrobes; go-go boots; swimsuits that failed to cover; 4000 calorie meals (leading to Hudson hip disease); and parade coat without tails. What was the administration thinking? Others were humorous, at least in retrospect, like the mandatory makeovers (what message does that send?) and group consciousness raising session that required physical restraint (Go, Karen!).

Some problems were simply criminal. A classmate was attacked in her room. She left; he graduated. It was not the only nighttime intrusion, but one that was most widely known, especially when you consider pre-internet days.

After this episode, women cadets were required to sleep two or more to a room. If your roommate was gone overnight, the remaining cadet needed to bunk with someone else or find another woman to sleep in her room, to ensure women’s safety at night.  Because of West Point’s honor code, we had “Absence cards” but not locks on the doors. Ever inventive, women applied military tactics by propping brooms or chairs against doors as early warning devices.  Locks weren’t installed on barracks room doors until around 1990—14 years after the arrival of women cadets.

And some rules were intended to prevent illicit encounters–like doors open when members of the opposite sex where in the room; then changed so the door didn’t have to be wide open—disruptive to studying; and yet again, door open and propped with a trash can. Dr Seuss would have had a field day composing a tale (see The Sneetches). At some point, windows received privacy shades, with specific rules about inches from sill in daytime.

Department of Defense (DOD) defines Military Sexual Trauma (MST) as rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. MST affects both women and men in uniform, but disproportionately affects women. Sexual assault and rape is widespread, with one study reporting that almost one in four women had been assaulted or raped, and that’s just reported cases. A female soldier in a war zone is at greater risk of being raped by a fellow soldier than dying under fire. Maybe the problem hasn’t gotten worse; but just better reported as a possible justification for increased assaults at military academies. Women entered military academies in the mid-70s. However, reporting on the effectiveness of sexual-violence related programs and policies was not mandated until 2007.

It’s the anecdotes rather than statistics that punch you in the gut though…

Neu Ulm, Germany; 1981; a guesthouse on an American Kaserne: The hotel was American-operated, in a gated community, as military facilities tend to be.  The group bathroom/shower was down the hall—separated from the sleeping area—more like a hostel, but a step up from a bunk in the barracks with no privacy. The window in the bathroom was a concern. One side of the casement had been lodged behind the washing machine. To close the window would require pulling the machine out and it was wedged beside the dryer. So the window stayed open, figuring it was the middle of the night and the room was on the 3rd floor. Mistake. A hand reached into the shower. A man pulled back the shower curtain. Water off, towel grabbed, and backed up toward the locked door; she managed to escape. He was never caught, but the souvenir composite sketch is a reminder that it actually happened… Like the shower scene from Psycho, the image will suddenly surface.

Why bring this up now, more than 30 years after the first West Point class with women graduated? Not only because of an increase in assaults at military academies, but  there has been a lot of interest lately with the showing at the Sundance Film Festival of the Invisible War which reports in an unflinching manner on rape in the military and the reauthorization of The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA provides money to enhance investigation and prosecution of violent crimes perpetrated against women

Even if we weren’t physically assaulted, were we unscathed? The first class of West Point women can boast of a lot of accomplishments—mothers, doctors, lawyer, Indian chief (still reading?), Rhodes Scholar, teachers & professors, nun, general officer, SES’, activists, movers and shakers.  Perhaps the statistic that gives most hope is how many woman classmates have let their children attend service academies.  Mothers wouldn’t knowingly send their children into danger.

Commandeering the public address system to play I Am Woman before graduation was discussed but didn’t happen. Like the lyrics of that song, the West Point women of 1980 are resilient.

Yes I am wise

But it’s wisdom born of pain

Yes, I’ve paid the price

But look how much I gained

If I have to, I can do anything

West Point Women 1980

I am strong

I am invincible

I am woman


I raise a glass to all pathfinders—you can bend but never break us.

Posted in Feminism, HERvotes, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Uncategorized, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »