Amazing Women Make A Difference

Reproductive Justice Must Be the Goal for Our Reproductive Decisions

Guest post by Asha Dahya

Where were you on June 24, 2022? Do you remember how you felt when you heard the news that Roe v Wade had been overturned by the US Supreme Court? What kind of emotions did you feel when you realized we had taken 50 steps backward on bodily autonomy and reproductive rights?

I was shocked, but not surprised. Angry, but also determined.

You see, I am a former conservative Christian who identified as “pro life” or anti-abortion, who had never personally done any research, or even cared about the issue of abortion at all. I just knew to repeat what I had been taught in my church environment, without giving a second thought to the actual ramifications of wanting to overturn Roe v Wade. It has long been the goal of the conservative Christian movement to overturn Roe. So it was not a huge surprise when it happened, because that is exactly why my former church friends voted for Donald Trump. He made no secret of wooing the Evangelical vote, dangling the promised carrot that he would elect “Pro Life Supreme Court Justices who would overturn Roe v Wade.” In 2022, their decades-long mission was accomplished.

But what DID they actually accomplish? Now that I am years removed from that conservative environment, a mom of two young kids, and having dedicated my filmmaking and advocacy work to reproductive rights, I can see very clearly that the only thing we are going to see is more injustice.

Having been on both “sides” of the proverbial fence, I firmly believe that the labels pro choice and pro life are not adequate. Pro life feels hypocritical at best, and pro choice does not go far enough. It’s hard to have the privilege of choice when so much injustice blocks our autonomy.

We’re all familiar with the term reproductive rights, which is a specific movement pointing to the legal and political gains with regard to abortion and birth control. And to be clear, the gains we have seen and continue to see are important and must continue. (Remember the five states that overwhelmingly voted to protect abortion rights in the recent mid-terms in various ballot measures?) But now that Roe v Wade is gone, we have to reach for much bigger goals.

That brings me to Reproductive Justice, a goal and a movement, which, as Monica Simpson, the executive director of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, described in the New York Times in April, should be the “mountaintop.” SisterSong defines Reproductive Justice as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.

The Reproductive Justice movement may not be as familiar to some as the term Reproductive Rights. But it defines the larger issue, which as we are seeing more and more in a post-Roe America, is much greater than access to abortion and birth control, as important and vital as those things are.

In 1994, a group of Black women leaders gathered together for a conference to discuss the fact that reproductive freedom cannot be reduced to one single issue. “People of color don’t have the privilege of focusing on only one issue — everything is connected. Reproductive Justice has always been more than just being ‘pro-choice.’ To be pro-choice you must have the privilege of having choices,” writes Monica Simpson in the New York Times.

One of the original leaders and founding mothers of the Reproductive Justice movement, Loretta Ross explained, “Reproductive Justice addresses the social reality of inequality, specifically, the inequality of opportunities that we have to control our reproductive destiny.”

Reproductive Justice Briefing Book: A Primer on Reproductive Justice and Social Change

So what does it look like to live in a country where justice is not yet attainable for many on their reproductive journey? Here are some of the intersecting issues and stories that I hope will illustrate what it means to pursue a justice-driven agenda.

Reproductive Justice means access to clean drinking water. Right now, residents in Jackson, Mississippi, do not have access to a regular supply of clean drinking tap water. This is a growing crisis in some of America’s most underserved cities. For mothers and children not to have access to clean drinking water in some cities in the United States in 2022 simply because of their zip code is an injustice that impacts every aspect of their health and lives. Clean water is an essential human right according to the UN, and with a number of predominantly Indigenous, low income, Black and Brown communities across the US seeing their access to clean water disappearing because of the lack of funding for adequate infrastructure, we should be paying more attention to this issue that comes with myriad diseases that affects a child’s development. Simply put, this should be a bipartisan issue that underscores the “pro life” moniker, yet this is not an issue that movement even advocates for.    

Reproductive Justice means tackling the maternal mortality crisis. America is the only industrialized nation in the world where our maternal mortality rates are rising, and data shows 50% of these deaths are preventable. It should come as no surprise that the majority of these deaths are Black women. Right now there is a proposed bill called the Kira Johnson Act, sponsored by Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock and California Senator Alex Padilla. This bill would provide crucial funding and bias training to ensure these deaths stop happening. Kira Johnson, a 39-year-old Black mother, for whom the legislation is named, lost her life after a scheduled c-section while giving birth to her second child in Los Angeles.

Reproductive Justice is a criminal justice issue. Today in America (a country that already boasts the highest prison population on the planet), the rates of women being imprisoned are rising faster than men. According to recent data, 58% of women in prisons are mothers, as are 80% of women in jails. Many are incarcerated simply because they cannot afford bail. The majority of these mothers are the primary caretakers of their children which they then become separated from. Most of these women are incarcerated for drug and property offenses, often stemming from poverty and/or substance use disorders. We need to see this entire for-profit system overhauled so that mothers get the help they need to raise their children in safety, rather than being locked away for systemic issues that victimize them.

Reproductive Justice means stopping the decline in maternal health clinics and doctors, which has been happening rapidly with the fall of Roe v Wade. According to a recent report by the March of Dimes, nearly half of the counties in Texas are maternity care deserts with no birth center, no obstetricians and no hospital offering obstetric care. Doctors in states like Texas which have become hostile to abortion rights, are leaving for other states in order to prevent the potential loss of license or being prosecuted for helping mothers in need – even in the case of a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy when an abortion procedure becomes a lifesaving measure.  

Reproductive justice means having a national paid family leave policy, which the US Senate could have (and yes, should have) passed in the Build Back Better Act earlier this year. However, because of partisan politics, we remain the only industrialized nation in the world not to have a federal paid leave policy, which disproportionately impacts mothers who are still the primary caretakers of children across America. Why does this matter? Because one in four American moms return to work within two weeks of giving birth, breaking that crucial time of bonding between mother and child that carries so much weight in the development of a newborn. Studies show that for every extra week of guaranteed maternity leave for birth mothers, this correlates with a two to three percent decline in infant deaths. That last sentence alone should make this a banner issue for the pro life movement, but alas it is not. 

And yes, Reproductive Justice means access to abortion and birth control. I am in post production on a short documentary called Someone You Know – 3 women, 3 decisions, 1 hostile landscape, which profiles the stories of three women who had later abortions, documenting the numerous barriers they faced. Each of them shared their experiences with candor, showing how even in the most heartbreaking situations past the first trimester, when a wanted pregnancy goes wrong, the climate of abortion restrictions and stigma end up hurting the most vulnerable among us, and in some cases takes pregnant women to the precipice of death before medical intervention becomes a possibility. When women and girls have the freedom, dignity and ability to plan their lives, families and pregnancies, we see healthier babies, supported mothers, and a life cycle that reminds us of the need for bodily autonomy beyond a political talking point. 

Recalling my former conservative Christian days, when I look at this brief list of Reproductive Justice issues I see something that is far more “pro life” than any anti-abortion agenda. As a mother who had the privilege of having good healthcare access, ample time to bond with both of my babies after giving birth, a supportive partner, clean drinking water as well as healthy food available to me, how can I not want the same for everyone else? How can anyone in their deepest, most heartfelt state look at these issues and see it as a partisan list, as opposed to inherent human rights?

As we head into the holiday season, a time when many stories of need are amplified, when generosity is the highest, and families are able to benefit from programs that take advantage of the holiday “spirit,” I hope the information in this article stays with you well into the new year. I am still on a journey myself, and I want to continually advocate for Reproductive Justice throughout all the work I do.

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Asha Dahya is an author, TEDx speaker and founder of GirlTalkHQ.com Asha was born in the UK, raised in Australia, and now resides in Los Angeles, California. She has spent the last 16 years creating, producing and hosting content for networks such as MTV, MSN.com, Disney, ABC, Nickelodeon, Fox, Nine Network Australia and more. Considered a voice of authority in the feminist media space, she has delivered keynote addresses for organizations such as Accenture, UCLA and March for Moms. Asha has also moderated panels for UN Women, Mount Saint Mary’s University, EmpowHer Institute, Women’s Voices Now Film Festival, rePRO Film Fest, and Continuum Collective. Asha is a recipient of the Awesome Without Borders grant from the Harnisch Foundation, and the 2022 Creative Power Award grant. Through her work, Asha focuses on reproductive rights, gender equality, and the representation of women in media. She is passionate about empowering women, girls and femmes to take up space, raise their voice and share their story with the world.

 

Women’s History Month – Celebrating the Trailblazers

March_Womens_History_Month“The history of all times, and of today especially, teaches that…women will be forgotten if they forget to think about themselves.” – Louise Otto

March is Women’s History Month, the only month of the year dedicated to celebrating the trailblazing women who lead the way for change and their contributions to our society. It’s an important celebration too, as many major contributions and accomplishments made by women have been largely left out of our history books and our stories. A 2021 White House “Proclamation on Women’s History” reminds us that March offers an important opportunity for us to shine a light on the legacy of those who have built, shaped, and improved our nation. “Throughout American history, women and girls have made vital contributions, often in the face of discrimination and undue hardship.  Courageous women marched for and won the right to vote, campaigned against injustice, shattered countless barriers, and expanded the possibilities of American life. Our history is also replete with examples of the unfailing bravery and grit of women in America, particularly in times of crisis and emergency. Far too often, their heroic efforts and their stories have gone untold — especially the millions of Black women, immigrant women, and others from diverse communities who have strengthened America across every generation.”

The National Women’s History Alliance designates a yearly theme for Women’s History Month, and the 2022 theme ties in perfectly with the earlier proclamation – “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” The theme is “both a tribute to the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers during this ongoing pandemic and also a recognition of the thousands of ways that women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history.”

Women’s History Month Origins

March was officially designated as “Women’s History Month” in 1987 by Congress, after first being nationally recognized as “National Women’s History Week” in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter. The National Women’s History Museum reports that the observance actually began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California when the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women planned a “Women’s History Week” celebration in 1978. “The organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day. The movement spread across the country as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.”

International Women’s Day – Break the Bias

International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8 is also important to recognize, since it’s the international predecessor to Women’s History Month. This global day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, and marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Given the global focus, the International Women’s Day website reports significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality. “IWD is one of the most important days of the year to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about women’s equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity, and fundraise for female-focused charities.”

World Pulse is recognizing International Women’s Day with two events celebrating their global community’s leadership. On 3 March, they’ll celebrate the top 50 rising voices on World Pulse — including the winners of the World Pulse Spirit Awards — and on 10 March, they’re inviting women to join them as they gather together for a Digital Ambassador-led global training event to strengthen women’s voices and leadership.

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” – Maya Angelou

The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough. Action is needed to level the playing field. For resources, videos, or to get involved go to www.internationalwomensday.com, and to talk to or collaborate with women from around the world go to www.worldpulse.com.

National Women’s History Museum

Women’s History Month is the perfect time to tap into resources, share the stories of trailblazing women, and examine historical topics from a woman’s perspective. And the National Women’s History Museum is the perfect place for resources. As the largest online cultural institution dedicated to US women’s history, it operates with the mission to tell the stories of women who have transformed our nation, with public programs and events, educational resources, virtual exhibits, a study collection, library, and more just a click away.

As the Museum states, “Women’s contributions and accomplishments have largely been overlooked and consequently omitted from mainstream culture.” They are working to fill that void, as are many educators, writers, historians, and others who also believe inclusive history is good history in Women’s History Month and beyond, and Women Connect4Good is excited to support them in their work.

Whether learning more about women’s history, reading books by women dedicated to achieving equality (In This Together by Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, Intentioning by Gloria Feldt, Equality by Trudy Bourgeois, Lead by Example by Dr. Sheila Robinson), watching films and documentaries that highlight women’s stories (Hidden Figures, RBG, Knock Down the House), supporting a women’s nonprofit (like Women Connect4Good, Take The Lead, the National Women’s History Museum, World Pulse) participating in events (like Convoy Women’s International Women’s Day Experience), listening to podcasts, getting to know women in politics, or supporting female entrepreneurs. The celebration doesn’t stop April 1. We need to honor the women who came before us, and support the women and girls of today all year long.

When Our Stories Are Banned

Banned_BooksBooks are a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are reflection. Books change your mind. – Toni Morrison

Books tell our stories. And when our stories are banned, our truths are hidden from one another and our ability to understand each other’s life experiences and perspectives is blocked. It is a violation of the foundation of a free society, our first amendment, freedom of speech. Yet every year, new books are banned and challenged in schools and libraries around the world. In fact, the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom tracked 156 challenges to books, materials, and services in 2020 alone. While some of banned titles have been on various lists for years, like To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Toni Morrison’s Beloved or Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, many others are routinely challenged. The majority of censured or banned books are generally children’s books and fiction books. However, no list of banned or challenged books would be complete without a smattering of nonfiction titles, usually contested due to themes of political ideology, racial inequalities, and high school appropriateness.

The American Library Association’s “Freedom to Read Statement” points out that a number of private groups and public authorities throughout the country continuously attack our freedom to read by working to remove or limit access to reading materials. The actions are not singular, but by censoring content in schools, labeling controversial views, distributing lists of books they deem objectionable, and purging libraries, they give rise to a view that, “our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals.”

Just as our political and community landscapes have changed, the reasons for challenging titles has shifted too. In the early 90’s it was often titles with “objectionable” language and sexual content that topped the lists. However, James LaRue, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom was quoted in TIME Magazine as saying that there’s been a shift toward seeking to ban books “focused on issues of diversity—things that are by or about people of color, or LGBT, or disabilities, or religious and cultural minorities.”

A phenomenal book was recently brought to our attention, and recent actions have shown that some believe it falls in the “controversial” category, Vanguard – How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All. The author Martha S. Jones, a historian at Johns Hopkins University, wrote in The Washington Post that the Lafayette Parish library board rejected a previously offered grant and refused to host a discussion on voting rights that included her book. Jones wrote, “What precisely troubled the board?  Vanguard foregrounds the Black women who, for 200-plus years, struggled to expand access to political rights for all. It argues that they are among the architects of American democracy.”

First of all, Vanguard isn’t stirring up controversy, it is a thoroughly researched and critically acclaimed retelling of the history of suffrage in America, and truly a must-read. It is a look at the vibrant history and struggle of the women who have come before us and paved the way for all women to move forward. Winner of the 2020 L.A. Times Book Prize for History, Vanguard is an “examination of the racism and sexism Black women endured in their pursuit of political participation and power. It also closely examines how Black women used that power to secure equality and representation for others, arguing that Black women have been wrongfully overlooked as forebears of democratic ideals in America.”

Jones offers readers a slice of history we may not (yet) be familiar with and introduces us to a number of formidable women. She shares their stories, their struggles and their wins, and helps reshape our perceptions in the process. Ibram X. Kendi says that “all Americans would be better off learning this history” and I couldn’t agree more. We don’t need to limit access to her book or discussions of topics some may find uncomfortable or “objectionable.” We need to make sure all of our stories – and the stories of those who came before us – are told.

The books that take us out of our own experience, those that educate, engage, and inspire us are often targeted and will probably continue to be banned in pockets of our country. Thankfully, in a majority of the cases, those books are still available thanks to librarians, teachers, students, community members, and the women and men that still demand access to the stories that shape us as a people, a nation, and a world. But we must all continue to speak up and demand it because as Jones says in her article, “People forget that history is not merely a recounting of past events but also a battle over who writes it, from which perspective and what those stories teach about who we are as a nation.”

Black History Month – Celebrating Women Who Lead

Black_History_MoonthBlack History Month provides a time for celebrating and learning about the triumph and struggles of the Black women and men who came before us–those who have made a difference, and those who continue to lead and inspire. With the entire month focused on the contributions of Black Americans, February provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate the Black women who have done – and continue to do – extraordinary things and highlight the inequities in the system we all must work to overcome.

Black women have historically not been valued for their work, but it’s their work that has shaped our country. If rampant systemic racism isn’t enough to contend with, the Center for American Progress reports that, “Black Women’s labor participation rate is higher than the rate for all other women, yet Black women remain less likely than their white counterparts to occupy higher-level jobs that offer better benefits, greater mobility, and economic stability. Collectively, the economic disparities facing Black women reveal a stark reality – too often, Black women’s work is devalued and does not reap the same rewards afforded other workers.”

Despite the odds stacked against them, Black women continue to lead and break barriers that benefit us all. Here are just some of the amazing women we need to celebrate this month and every month, and empower other women to follow their lead.

Vice President Kamala Harris – the first female vice president and the first woman of Black and South Asian descent to be vice president. She is a former San Francisco district attorney and was elected as the first Black woman to serve as California’s attorney general. When she was elected a United States senator in 2016, she became only the second Black woman in the chamber’s history.

Tarana Burke – is a civil rights activist who founded the #MeToo campaign in 2006 when she used the phrase to illustrate the pervasive nature of sexual violence. Eleven years later, it found global recognition after tweet by actress Alyssa Milano. She has been recognized as one of the “Silence Breakers” and was named as Time’s Person of the Year in 2017. She continues to fight for survivors and point out the rampant sexual violence that permeates all of society’s systems and structures.

Shirley Chisholm – the first Black woman to be elected to Congress in 1968. She was also the major-party Black candidate to run for president in 1972. Throughout her career in politics and education, she fought for child welfare, black women’s reproductive rights, and more.

Coretta Scott King – one of the most important and influential civil rights activists of our time, she fought tirelessly for African-American equality. She did not slow down after her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, but instead continued to speak out on behalf of racial and economic justice, women’s and children’s rights, gay and lesbian dignity, religious freedom, the needs of the poor and homeless, full-employment, healthcare, educational opportunities, nuclear disarmament and environmental justice.

Flo Kennedy –  was an American lawyer, feminist, civil rights advocate, lecturer and activist. A founding member of the National Organization of Women and one of the first black female lawyers to graduate from Columbia Law School, she helped found the Feminist Party in 1971, which later nominated Representative Shirley Chisholm for president.

Mary McLeod Bethune – a leading educator and civil rights activist, she believed education was the key to racial advancement. A champion of racial and gender equality, she founded many organizations and led voter registration drives after women gained the vote in 1920. In 1924, she was elected president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, and in 1935, she became the founding president of the National Council of Negro Women. She also founded the college that is now known as Bethune-Cookman University in Florida.

The accomplishments of these women and so many more that have often been omitted from the history books should serve to inspire and ignite all of us to march forward toward equality lifting as we go. As Dr. Nancy says, “We will not move forward until we all move forward together.” That means we need to learn the stories of Black women, and all women of color; we need to celebrate their contributions, so that together we can create a world that is just,  and benefits us all equally.

Kamala Harris Makes History

Kamala_Harris_Makes_HistoryOn Saturday, November 7, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris made history when she became the first woman, the first woman of color, the first Black person and the first South Asian to be elected Vice President of the United States. In a moving victory speech, she recognized the historic, glass-breaking moment and thanked the women who came before her – including her immigrant mother – who paved the path for her to serve in the White House alongside President-Elect Joe Biden.

“I am thinking about her and about the generations of women, Black women, Asian, white, Latina, Native American women, who throughout our nation’s history, have paved the way for this moment tonight, women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all. Including the Black women who are often, too often overlooked but so often proved they are the backbone of our democracy,” said the Vice President Elect. “All the women who have worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act and now in 2020 with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard. Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision to see what can be unburdened by what has been. And I stand on their shoulders.”

Such powerful words and a very powerful reminder that when we celebrate moments of great advancement like this one, or smaller victories along the way, we need to honor the women who came before us and worked to make their voices heard. As we prepare to watch the first woman in our country’s history be sworn in as Vice President of the United States, it is only fitting to look back on a few of the historical moments that helped make this possible. History shows that progress is not made by one person but the collective as we draw together and pool our strengths to lift each other up.

Here are a few milestones that paved the way for Senator Harris’ rise to Vice President:

1851 – Sojourner Truth delivers “I Ain’t a Woman” speech

1869 – Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association

1917 – Jeannette Rankin, suffrage activist, is first woman elected to Congress

1920 – Ratification of the 19th Amendment

1963 – Equal Pay Act signed into law

1965 – The Voting Rights Act – designed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented Black Americans from exercising their right to vote – is passed

1971 – Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, and Betty Friedan form the National Women’s Political Caucus

1972 – Title IX signed into law

1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor is first woman appointed to U.S. Supreme Court

1997 – Madeline Albright is sworn in as first female Secretary of State

2007 – Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi becomes first female Speaker of the House

History will be made again on January 20 when Senator Harris is sworn in. We will – at last – have a woman in the second highest office in the land who knows what it’s like to juggle the demands of a career with the needs of a family, a woman who knows that you deserve equal pay, who values affordable healthcare, childcare and workplace protections, and a woman who is empowered and who can help you make your voice heard. As she said on November 7, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities and to the children of our country regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they’ve never seen it before.”

Senator Harris’ election shows girls around the world that they CAN do whatever they set their minds to and proves that together we are stronger, and together we can change the world.

 

 

 

How to Help Women To Be More Powerful

Linda Rendleman

Linda Rendleman

ENCORE from December 2018

Linda Rendleman is the ultimate supporter of women’s work and lives and breathes her daily mantra, “Be the miracle in your own life.” She has won numerous awards for her writing and speaking, including, “The Torchbearer Award,” the highest award is given to a woman by her home state of Indiana for making a significant difference in the lives of women everywhere. Her reach stretches to Kenya, where her Women Like Us Foundation launched The Women’s Micro-Enterprise Program, which helps women survivors of sex trafficking or domestic abuse gain a sense of community through which they can help each other acquire new skills and tools to earn their livings. In Los Angeles, Rendleman’s foundation has established a similar mentoring program for women survivors of sex trafficking, homelessness or domestic violence, called Women Like Us Achieve, which she hopes to expand throughout the U.S.

Tend and Befriend Is Linda’s In This Together FAV

Linda stressed how excited she is about the ideas she read in Dr. Nancy’s new book In This Together. She and Dr. Nancy have walked similar paths in their advocacy for women (since the days when women couldn’t get credit cards in their own name or birth control if they weren’t married) and she feels a tremendous reward at the momentum that is building for women. In reading about how women’s natural inclination in times of crisis is to “tend and befriend” instead of fight or flight, Linda said it expresses perfectly how she feels about women supporting other women. The mission of her Women Like Us Foundation is to support other women’s leadership, which forms the core of all her efforts and is the reason she co-produced the powerful documentary “Women Like Us. Three Journeys. One Mission. To Change the World.”  The film chronicles three women’s journeys facing adversity, growth, and evolution, and offers inspiration from powerful role models around the world.

Mothers and Daughters Support Women’s Empowerment Together

Linda’s daughter Catt Sadler recently quit her high-profile celebrity job at E-Entertainment when they refused to pay her a salary equivalent to that of her male co-host who was doing half the work at twice the pay. Besides writing a book about her own journey, Catt has joined Linda to speak to groups within the Time’s Up movement in support of women’s equality. Linda talked about how thrilling it is to work together with her daughter on the same initiative. Dr. Nancy told of her own pleasure speaking with her daughter Ragan in programs for women. It takes “in this together” to a new level when women from different generations share their own perspectives and work to increase women’s leadership.

Creating Solutions Through Women Like Us

Linda’s three books in the Women Like Us series tell stories and provide advice to help women recognize their leadership potential, learn why it is important for them to lead, and to become more powerful.

In her upcoming salon in Los Angeles early in 2019, a panel will discuss sex trafficking. Linda said her ambassadors have dubbed it a “hackathon,” which means the roundtable discussion will focus on finding solutions that communities can realistically enact to solve their sex trafficking problem. Linda has found that there is no community that is immune to the problem. It literally is everywhere.  Initiatives work to fix both sides of the problem: the high demand from sex customers and those who profit by enslaving others.

Find out more about how WomenLikeUs.org is raising funds for women’s gender equality and social justice initiatives, including opportunities to help in your own community. Listen to this podcast for more inspiring ideas from two women who have been working for decades on behalf of women and whose collaboration is the essence of being “in this together.”

Pre-Order Dr. Nancy’s new book

Linda’s ideas also appear in Dr. Nancy’s new book, In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other In Work and Life, along with thoughts, advice, and stories from 40 successful women across a variety of careers—from authors to actresses, CEOs, and professors—encouraging women to support each other in the workplace and in life. Learn about action plans on how all women can work together to break free from the binds of gender inequality? Then remember to pre-order your copy – and gifts for your friends.

In Honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg – A Champion of Equality

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

There aren’t words to describe the enormity of my feelings for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or the depth of my sadness with her passing. Thanks to her courage and commitment to justice our daughters can open a checking account, or buy a house without a male co-signer. They can have a job and not be discriminated against because of their gender. With her dissent (and call to action) in the pay discrimination case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., she helped women make strides toward equal pay. Ultimately, Justice Ginsburg taught our daughters to fight for what they believe in, and demonstrated – with every decision – to little girls everywhere that women can and do belong in all places where decisions are being made.

Justice Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union in 1972, and built her legacy by chipping away at inequalities – large and small. She understood constitutional equality was an ongoing project, and later in her life said she did not fight for “women’s rights,” but for “the constitutional principle of the equal citizenship stature of men and women.”

Just hours after her death, Barack Obama aptly described that legacy, calling Ginsburg a champion of women’s rights in her battle to achieve equality and fulfill America’s potential as a nation. “For nearly three decades, as the second woman ever to sit on the highest court in the land, she was a warrior for gender equality — someone who believed that equal justice under law only had meaning if it applied to every single American.”

While she opened a number of doors for women, her work is not done. In fact, she clearly spelled out the current situation and her hope for the future, “One must acknowledge the still bleak part of the picture. Most people in poverty in the United States and the world over are women and children, women’s earnings here and abroad trail the earnings of men with comparable education and experience, our workplaces do not adequately accommodate the demands of childbearing and child rearing, and we have yet to devise effective ways to ward off sexual harassment at work and domestic violence in our homes. I am optimistic, however, that movement toward enlistment of the talent of all who compose ‘We, the people,’ will continue.”

Our responsibility, as we mourn her passing, is to follow her lead, continue her optimism, honor her memory, and continue the fight. As my friend Trudy Bourgeois said to me earlier this week, “We all need to lead from where we are.” That means today we need to look to one another, and work together to right wrongs. True gender equity still does not exist, and as we work towards it, we must be advocates for each other. We must raise our voices to speak up for the women whose voices may otherwise go unheard. We the people have work to do, and we’ll be the most effective if we do it together.

 

Women Connect4Good Challenges Young Women to Succeed

Women Connect4Good Challenges Young Women to SucceedEach year young women around the world take their first college classes and build the foundation for their careers and future earnings. According to the Department of Education since 1982 women have earned more bachelor’s degrees than men, more master’s degrees since 1987, and more doctoral degrees since 2006. That’s why Dr. Nancy O’Reilly has put her foundation, Women Connect4Good, Inc., to work to help these young women move forward and succeed.

A college education has become increasingly important for a woman’s success (45% of all jobs currently require a degree) but increasing costs and inadequate financial aid can present significant barriers for many. At Drury University, a private liberal arts university located in Springfield, Missouri, Dr. Nancy O’Reilly and other female leaders are working to change that and make a difference for a number of women who otherwise may not be able to attend the private college.

Dr. Nancy O'Reilly and Judy Thompson

Dr. Nancy O’Reilly and Judy Thompson

In the Fall of 2019 Judy Thompson, Drury’s Executive Vice President of Development and Campaign Director, approached Dr. Nancy, a Drury alumnus, and asked her for a donation of $25,000 to challenge women in leadership to provide a new or increased gift for scholarships for women. Those who were challenged stepped up.

“We sent the challenge to Drury alumnae who were in leadership roles, and raised over $27,000 from women in leadership positions, including an international scientist and an Ambassador.” Judy said. “We now have over $52,000 in financial aid to support women students at Drury.”

Drury University breaks the mold of single majors and rigid formulas most often associated with traditional education. Students receive a blend of life and career credentials, which allows them to pursue their intellectual passions while giving them the tools they need to be technically proficient and career-ready. Through this combination of professional and non-professional studies, and with the generosity of Dr. Nancy and other alumnae, a number of young women will learn to be flexible, innovative and creative problem solvers with their equally innovative degree program at Drury. They will go beyond traditional education and thinking by blending career, calling, life, community, self and service.

“Dr. Nancy O’Reilly has once again provided an avenue to bring women together to support young women and provide an opportunity for many to choose to study at Drury who might otherwise not have had that choice,” Judy concluded. “It is exciting to think what these women might accomplish in their lives. Thank you, Dr. Nancy, for providing this wonderful challenge!”

Why We Need More Women in Government and How to Get Them to Run

Why We Need More Women in Government and How to Get Them to Run

Luz Reyes-Martin

Luz Reyes-Martin works hard getting more women in government and showing them how to run for elected offices. She is serving her first year as President of the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee, a non-partisan organization that works to expand our democracy and include more women and feminist policies at every level. In fact, she credits the committee with getting three of the four women trustees elected to the Goleta School Board, on which she also serves. It’s important to note that these are Luz’s extra-curricular commitments, in addition to her day job as Executive Director of Public Affairs and Communications for Santa Barbara City College and a mother of two children under the age of four.

The daughter of hardworking immigrants, she witnessed her classmates’ fear of being separated from their parents when California passed Proposition 187, which criminalized undocumented immigrants. She felt their fear and learned early on the impact government has on everyone’s lives even though she was documented. She says that it is really tragic to see this playing out again at a national level.

Having studied public policy and history, Luz became an advocate in high school and as a student senator at Stanford. And she says that she has seen first-hand how critical it is for people to be involved in the political process and hold legislators and government officials accountable. She pointed out that when women come to the table, questions are asked that wouldn’t otherwise be asked. A woman’s decision-making process is also more analytical, and Luz says they make the best budget decisions. Her message to women is that we need you. “The community needs you. Your voice is important, and it is valued.”

Opportunities for Women to Serve

Of course, Luz is excited at what we saw in 2018 at the congressional level and there has been a ripple effect from having so many women elected. She admits that while that is inspiring, there are a lot of opportunities for women to have an even greater impact at the state and local level. Everyday life is more affected by school boards, water boards, city councils and county supervisors. That is a great place for a woman to get started. They can also be a way to make a long-term difference as often council positions go uncontested for years and people don’t even notice.

She adds that there are many women scientists and water boards or city councils make the decisions that need their expertise. Another benefit is that this is the place to get executive experience for higher office and to be put in a position to appoint women to other boards. Board appointments are still largely made by men, so having more women in those decision-making positions can increase women on boards, and bring even more women to the table. She says that another benefit of having more women in office is that she has a community of peers to consult with if there is a particularly difficult school board meeting or if she needs advice about how to handle a particular issue.

Critical to Have a Strong and Equal Partner at Home

Luz notes that these are frequently volunteer positions, and often women can’t take on a position that is full time and not paid. In fact, it’s impossible without a strong and equal partner at home. Luz says, “You need to have honest conversations with your partner about the commitment that you’re making and why it’s important for children to see moms and to see women in these leadership positions. You have to model it for your children. The old adage ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ is absolutely true. I take my children with me to meetings, so both my little girl and my son can see me and other women in leadership roles.”

Pros and Cons Affecting Women Who Seek Office

Luz says that often it’s a matter of timing. To serve on the school board, she had to make sure the board understood that she needed early notice of meetings, so she could plan to attend. Other women may have different conflicts. She says that it helps them to see how they can get around their obstacles if she explains how they could work it into their lives. The same goes for other difficulties women face when running for office and facing the commitments of community service.

Listen to this interview for more tips, like how to address fundraising—another hurdle that women find difficult—and which Luz faced herself. Check out these links for more information about why women in leadership benefits us all and how you can advocate for getting more women into government, perhaps even yourself.

Tiffany Shlain on the Power of Unplugging

24/6 Book CoverDo you consume your media or does your media consume you? Women (men, boys and girls), it’s time to claim your power, and internet pioneer and renowned filmmaker Tiffany Shlain has plenty to say about the power of stepping away from the screens and unplugging. On September 24, Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books will release her first book, 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week. Tiffany takes readers on a provocative and entertaining journey through time and technology, introducing a strategy for living in our 24/7 world, starting with turning off all screens for twenty-four hours each week. This practice, which she’s done for nearly a decade with her husband and kids (ages 16 and 10), has completely changed their lives, giving them more time, productivity, connection, and presence. She and her family call it “Technology Shabbat.”

The book interweaves the story of Tiffany’s family with a deep dive into the neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, history, and benefits of both having technology and having a day of rest — turning the screens off, one day every week (living 24/6). Tiffany also looks at the bigger picture of the past, present, and future of technology and humanity, from her hopes for the Web in its early days and creating the Webby Awards, to where we are now and what we need to change, as individuals, and as a society. In addition, she provides a blueprint for readers to bring the practice of unplugging into their own lives (and get their partner, children, friends, and boss on board, too) and shares how what you give up is far less than what you get back: connection, focus, productivity, creativity, reflection, happiness and balance.

If you think this doesn’t apply to you, check out these statistics. According to Nielsen, adults spend over 11 hours per day interacting with media. That’s up from 9 hours and 32 minutes just four years ago. Of that 11 hours, 4 hours and 46 minutes are spent watching TV every day. Another study by Common Sense Media reports that teens spend an average of 9 hours per day interacting with media, and that doesn’t count the time for school or doing homework. Younger kids are also clocking some serious hours and kids ages 8-12 spend 6 hours per day interacting with media. Kids ages 2-5 are also spending almost a full workweek (32 hours per week) watching TV, videos, and gaming.

“We are living in the results of everyone being distracted, available 24/7, and the problems this has created for our society, our children, our communities, our democracy, and ourselves are only growing,” Tiffany writes. “24/6 is not a detox. It’s a way of co-existing in a more healthy way with technology, and it draws upon centuries of wisdom — specifically the ancient Jewish wisdom of Shabbat — backed by the latest research, made accessible to everyone, as a way forward.”

50/50: Rethinking the Past, Present & Future of Women + Power filmmaker

Tiffany Shlain

Immediately following the book’s September 24 release, Tiffany will be exploring ideas about the relationship between technology, screen use, and character as the theme of her film studio, Let It Ripple’s sixth annual Character Day, an event that unites millions of people in schools, companies, and homes to develop and deepen their character: strengths like empathy, grit, gratitude, self-control, social responsibility, and leadership. Character Day is a major focus for Let It Ripple because character development leads not only to school and career success, but also to stronger, more engaged individuals and a more just world. Last year, over 4 million people across 200,000 groups in 125 countries and all 50 states participated in Character Day.

24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day A Week is available for pre-sale now. To learn more about the book, or Tiffany’s upcoming book tour speaking and events, go to https://www.24sixlife.com/.

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Honored by Newsweek as one of the “Women Shaping the 21st Century,” Tiffany is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and founder of The Webby Awards. Tiffany’s films and work have received over eighty awards and distinctions including being selected for the Albert Einstein Foundation’s Genius: 100 Visions of the Future. NPR named her UC Berkeley address as one of its best commencement speeches and her films have premiered at top festivals including Sundance. She lectures worldwide on the relationship between technology and humanity.

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