January 2012 e-Newsletter
In this Issue:
Thank You to Congresswoman Gabby Giffords!
On January 22, 2012, Congresswoman Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords announced her resignation from the 112th Congress within the week. Congresswoman Giffords is a strong supporter of women’s rights and always voted to keep abortions safe, legal, and available to women across the country.
On January 8th, 2011, Congresswoman Giffords was nearly killed in an assassination attempt that left six dead and many others wounded. We are so thankful for her service to her state, her country, and to women everywhere.
While we hate to see such an advocate leave the 112th Congress, we fully support Congresswoman Giffords during her time of recovery. We look forward to seeing her back in office, but until then we send our thank you’s and support to this incredible woman. Congresswoman Giffords’s time and service given for this country and the advancements of women’s rights are deeply appreciated.
Mallen Urso is a current junior at The College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. Mallen’s love of politics and passion for women's issues is combined in her double major of Political Science and Women's and Gender Studies.
Mallen was born and raised in Clover, South Carolina before moving to Charleston for college. During her undergraduate career, she has worked with her advisor on a research project regarding women in South Carolina politics. South Carolina is the only state in the country to have less than 10% of women serving in their state legislature, and Mallen wanted to know why. Though her research is still in progress, Mallen’s experience with South Carolina voters and legislators have made her more passionate about the area of women in politics.
Along with the director of the South Carolina’s Women’s Connection, Mallen led and organized a “Day at the Dome” for college-aged women in South Carolina. The day included tours of the South Carolina State House as well as a luncheon with female legislators. Through her research, Mallen learned the importance of demystifying the political realm for women, and the “Day at the Dome” was a small step in that direction. She hopes to grow and continue the program for years to come.
Mallen is thrilled to be spending her semester in DC and hopes to return to the DC area for her post-graduate education. In addition to her involvement with the NWPC, Mallen is an active member of many organizations on the College of Charleston campus and volunteers for Planned Parenthood.
Hi, this is Pat Lynch, your Vice President of Communications…and I’m here to introduce my friend and colleague Donna DeBerry, the NWPC Vice President of Diversity. It’s a big job, and Donna is just the lady to fill the bill. Let me share a little background about Donna…she now has her own company called Brand Inclusion…and works with some of the most exciting people in America. You may recognize some of her award-winning documentaries, such as “Walking the Waking Journey,” and “The Boys of Casa Hogar” which aired on “Oprah.” She’s working on another right now so keep your eyes open for her great work!
Prior to these fun assignments, Donna made history as a trailblazer and pioneer in the area of diversity by becoming the highest ranking African-American in the hotel and hospitality industry with Wyndham International, and she was also the first Vice President of Global Diversity for Nike. You can tell that Donna brings more than a willingness to broaden the diversity within the National Women’s Political Caucus. She brings the experience and a determination to have NWPC reflect diversity of thought, political persuasion, cultural experiences, economics -- special outreach to under-represented groups of women, to get them to take an active role in this organization and in their communities!
For NWPC, Donna has used her experience and talent to develop, shoot and produce a new video to introduce NWPC, taping each of the Executive Committee members and President Linda Young in that video to share their ideas and perception of NWPC. We will soon be sharing that video with all of our membership, and have it for use across the country in a variety of ways.
During the November Board meeting in California, during a discussion of the agenda item on Dues Structure, Donna stepped up and volunteered to chair an Ad Hoc Committee to collect input from caucuses across the country to find what caucuses really want and need from National in order to be most effective. Donna said that she felt strongly we would be better prepared and informed with a set of data collected from committee members and any caucus who would give feedback, so that the best decision for structuring dues for NWPC could be made. Several individuals present at the November Board meeting volunteered, and we know they will also reach out to invite more feedback, to help National best serve our membership.
We are indeed fortunate to be able to have Donna’s leadership in this important role! Welcome Donna DeBerry…Vice President of Diversity for our National Women’s Political Caucus.
Dear Caucus Members and Friends,
Happy New Year! Now let’s really pay attention to 2012: we are hearing that it will be another Year of the Woman in politics. Senator Barbara Boxer made that comment on a news talk show a couple of months ago, and in October 2011, Jezebel magazine posed the idea of 2012 as possibly the Year of the Woman in the Senate. A New York Times article also in October 2011 was titled Year of the Woman in the Senate: For Good or for Bad, explaining that while the opportunity is there to increase the number of women elected to the US Senate, there is also a chance that one incumbent might lose her seat, and such a loss would be devastating. I am ready for us to say Year of the Woman: “Make it so.”
The Center for American Women and Politics, CAWP, provides all the statistics and percentages of women in elected office, to ensure that we take note of our efforts to move toward parity in government representation. NWPC has repeated a slogan of “50/50 by 2020”, a slogan first used by our NWPC sisters in California, and yet, without large progress in the percentages of women being elected to Congress and to governorships and to state legislatures, a recent news article projected a new slogan of “50/50/ by 2030”, as we note how close we are getting to 2020. A quote attributed to comedienne Paula Poundstone regarding the 1992 Year of the Woman was “women are 50% of the population and we have 5% of the Senate seats: we must really suck at numbers”. For many years we have bravely faced those tepid percentages for our representation and cheered our progress, but we know the gap is very wide.
The National Women’s Political Caucus has been standing with women for more than forty years now, recruiting, training, and helping to elect more women to public office. NWPC has recommitted our purpose of striving for parity, and we ask all our Caucus members to reach out to others to join us in this effort: our families, our friends and anyone we can bring with us. Let’s decide 2012 will be another Year of the Woman, and make every year after the same! Pass the ERA once and for all, and elect enough women to bring us to equal representation!
NWPC President Linda Young: Stories from the Road
President’s Stories from the Road: Since being elected in late July and taking over the duties of President for NWPC, I have enjoyed opportunities to represent our Caucus members in a variety of activities. One of the experiences I have really enjoyed has been the interaction with women leaders in other organizations, and to see more opportunities to expand our relationships and partnerships with these national organizations.
We have joined forces with HERvotes, the collaborative led by Ellie Smeal with more than forty organizations working to bring more women into action on behalf of women’s health and economic issues, specifically by increasing the voting power and strength of women in our country. We have agreed to join with the American Association of University Women and numerous national organizations to focus on increasing our strength with college women, and in our case, NWPC will join the national program being launched by AAUW as they work in fifteen states with their voter registration and voter mobilization. NWPC has targeted five states outside of the fifteen selected by AAUW, so that we will have teams going into five states that have adopted new laws that really are designed to repress minority voters, and our plan is to establish NWPC College Caucuses in those five states, working with the strong program developed by AAUW. There are many other sister organizations with programs with whom we affiliate, and we will continue to grow those numbers when we have the opportunity to do so.
One area where I have had the honor to represent NWPC is through the White House focus group on Women and the Economy. I have attended our first White House briefing with this group, and we have regular communications, keeping in touch not only with the leadership in DC, but with each other across the country. As a member of the focus group, I will be sharing materials and information provided through the briefings on our website, so be watching for these. Additionally, I have been asked to host a White House Roundtable on Women and the Economy in my home state, and I will share the date and information as soon as we have scheduled that.
I attended one of the Obama White House holiday receptions in mid December, as did another of your NWPC Executive Committee, Veronica Rivera. We had a wonderful time, and not only enjoyed the opportunity to visit with other guests, but were thrilled to have access into the rooms that are most often restricted by ropes across the doors—it was quite lovely. We also visited with former NWPC President Irene Natividad, who is founder and President of GlobeWomen Inc., and well recognized media commentator, having just completed a number of months hosting PBS To The Contrary. Irene was the President of NWPC who had the vision for establishing our signature event, the Exceptional Merit in Media Awards, and also first held a Good Guys Awards for NWPC. Lucky for NWPC, Irene has graciously agreed to be the Chair of the 2012 EMMAs in New York City, an event we plan for early fall. I am sharing two photos from our reception, one with Irene, and another with Veronica. Veronica and I, both native-born Texans, couldn’t resist posing in front of the portrait of another Texan who was First Lady: Lady Bird Johnson.Thank you for the opportunity to represent you, and for your support!
2012: Year of the Woman
With Congressional approval at a historical low, the upcoming elections could prove to be a turning point for American women. While women are roughly 51% of the population, our representation is currently stalled at around a shameful 17% in Congress. As redistricting continues, seats are opening up and enhancing prospects for new challengers who have been recruited to run. There is also a record number of women incumbents running in the Senate in the 2012 election, along with many strong challengers. The NWPC PPAC has just considered twenty candidates for endorsement with more as we get closer to the November elections. Don’t forget to look out for the official announcement sometime in the first week of February.
39th Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade
On January 22nd, the United States will celebrate 39 years of legalized abortion. Roe vs. Wade overturned numerous anti-abortion state laws that denied women autonomy over their own bodies. The case set precedent for abortions to be performed legally during the first trimester of pregnancy while giving states the ability to intervene in the second and third trimesters. This decision was a revolutionary step for the women’s movement, but our fight is not over. It seems that now more than ever, our right to autonomy is being attacked. HERvotes, a coalition of women’s groups highlighting the importance of the woman’s vote in 2012, has identified Roe v. Wade as one of the top “at-risk” rights women currently hold. While we should celebrate these 39 years of our right to abortion, we must continually work to protect this right!
The Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011 (PRENDA)
Although PRENDA, the so-called “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act” never made it out of committee during the 111th Congressional Session when it was first introduced, Representative Trent Franks (AZ-2) has found is necessary to reintroduce the bill in the 112th Congress. In theory, this bill “prohibits discrimination of the unborn based on race, sex, or other reasons;” however, this bill fails to specify how one is to assess the reason for the potential abortion. In reality, this bill aims to complicate the abortion process and provides reason to deny a woman the right to an abortion. Though the bill’s title makes it seem pro-women and pro-minorities, in reality it would severely limit women’s access to abortion. The truth is that sex nor race abortions are prevalent in the US, and these proposed “protections” are unnecessary obstacles to abortion access. The bill is currently in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution.
SOPA/PIPA a Potential Threat to Women’s Voices
Two bills introduced in 2011, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (PROTECT Intellectual Property Act), are winding their way through the House and Senate gathering support for protection against copyright infringement and intellectual property theft. SOPA and PIPA are theoretically aimed to target foreign companies that commit online property theft. Sounds harmless enough. However, although this targets foreign companies, domestic websites and advertisers can be required to cut ties with violators of SOPA/PIPA. Based on nothing more than a “good faith belief,” the Justice Department can prosecute US companies for circumventing the guidelines of these bills. While not directly an attack on women’s voices, the bills could enforce unchecked censorship on minority expression that will leave women’s online identities further marginalized. While SOPA will not be up for another vote until February at the earliest, there will be a Senate vote on PIPA on January 24th. Despite SOPA/PIPA support in Congress, the White House spoke against the bills in a blog post declaring, “We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cyber-security risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet."
Help us Continue the Fight! NWPC joins the Silver Ribbon Campaign to celebrate Trust Women Week!
Just a few short years ago Dr. Sophia Yen, a women's health activist and pediatrician, asked President Barack Obama (at that time running for Senator of Illinois) where he stood on reproductive rights. To that question, he responded, “I trust women. Period." From this answer stemmed a campaign for reproductive health, rights, and justice. Founder, Dr. Yen, states, "I wanted to show that this country believes that abortion is a private issue and that we as a nation trust women to make reproductive health decisions." Dr. Yen named this movement the Silver Ribbon Campaign. Why silver? “Silver symbolizes science over ideology. Silver is clean and sharp, and as an M.D. silver is the color of medicine,” she says. The Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign is a coalition of 42 national and local organizations that believe in trusting women to protect reproductive rights. The NWPC supports this campaign as they work to provide access to abortion across the country. Although we celebrate nearly 40 years of legalized abortions, 89% of counties nationwide have no abortion provider. Join us in supporting reproductive rights and trusting women to do so!
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