Monthly Archives: April 2009

Reminder: Rights to Realities Party TOMORROW

Just a quick reminder that the western PA office of the Women’s Law Project will be holding our Rights to Realities party tomorrow evening, April 28, in the 31st floor of the Regional Enterprise Tower at 425 Sixth Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh. From our blog post last week about the party:

The event will raise money to support women’s rights in western PA – you can make your reservation online here. All contributions of $100 or more will be doubled, thanks to the generosity of Jessica Beckett-McWalter, Nancy Bernstein, Christine Biancheria, Sandi DiMola, Ellen Doyle, Catherine D. Raphael and an anonymous donor.

The party will be hosted by WTAE anchor Sally Wiggin and feature entertainment from Brazilian jazz singer Kenia. There will be a live auction of our most coveted donated items, including a pair of roundtrip tickets from Southwest Airlines, a pair of roundtrip tickets from AirTran Airways, a WomenVote PA poster signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and more. Silent auction items include gift certificates for area department stores, massage therapy, museums, restaurants and more.

Tickets are available at the door. General admission is $50; student admission is $25. Remember that all $100+ donations will be doubled! We hope to see you there!

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Filed under Uncategorized

Pittsburgh Equal Pay Day Rally: April 28, Noon

Will Work for Equality

The following is a guest post from the Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania.

What does it take for a girl to earn a buck around here? About 483 days. Sure, there are only 365 days in the year, but it takes 483 days for women to earn the full dollar men earn in 365. While women in the U.S. make on average 81 cents per dollar compared with their male counterparts, in southwestern PA, we earn closer to 70 cents.

What can you do about it? Join the Women and Girls Foundation at the annual Equal Pay Day Rally on Tuesday, April 28th at Mellon Square from Noon-1 p.m. Make your voice heard and rally with us for change!  Important and exciting announcements regarding the status of the wage gap in Allegheny County will be made by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and by County Executive Dan Onorato’s office, and we hope you will be there to hear the news!

RSVP to info@wgfpa.org and we’ll reserve a “Will Work for Equality” sign for you. Please pass this along to your friends and networks and invite them to attend!

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Filed under Employment, Equal pay, Equality, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh

Widespread Support for Nurse Home-Visitation Program

President Obama has proposed a nurse home-visitation program for low-income women who are either pregnant or have recently given birth which aims to provide a cost-effective way to improve the health and well-being of first-time parents and their children. The initiative is receiving widespread bipartisan support, which makes its proponents optimistic that the home-visitation program will be implemented.

The program was inspired by the Colorado-based Nurse-Family Partnership, which has led to improved pre-natal health, fewer subsequent pregnancies, and a decrease in childhood injuries. The home-visitation program is expected to cost $8.6 billion over 10 years and provide low-income women with a healthy and effective way to take care of themselves and their babies.

Via the National Partnership for Women and Families

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Filed under Childbirth, Pregnancy, Women's health

WLP Rights to Realities Party: Tuesday, April 28

The Women’s Law Project’s western Pennsylvania office will be holding the second Rights to Realities party at 5:30 PM on Tuesday, April 28, 2009, at the Regional Enterprise Tower in downtown Pittsburgh. The event will raise money to support women’s rights in western PA – you can make your reservation online here. All contributions of $100 or more will be doubled, thanks to the generosity of Jessica Beckett-McWalter, Nancy Bernstein, Christine Biancheria, Sandi DiMola, Ellen Doyle, Catherine D. Raphael and an anonymous donor.

The party will be hosted by WTAE anchor Sally Wiggin and feature entertainment from Brazilian jazz singer Kenia. There will be a live auction of our most coveted donated items, including a pair of roundtrip tickets from Southwest Airlines, a pair of roundtrip tickets from AirTran Airways, a WomenVote PA poster signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and more. Silent auction items include gift certificates for area department stores, massage therapy, museums, restaurants and more.

Make your reservation today!

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Filed under Uncategorized

Same-sex Marriage in New York

Civil rights activists are hopeful as New York Governor David Paterson introduced a piece of legislation last week to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. Former Governor Eliot Spitzer introduced the same legislation in 2007, which passed in the state House but died in the state Senate. Widespread support throughout the state makes supporters hopeful.

According to the New York Times, in introducing the legislation, Gov. Paterson “invoked the abolitionist movement of the 1800s, the writings of Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision to argue that New York had neglected civil rights for gays and lesbians for too long. “I’m putting a stop to it,” he said. “We have a duty to make sure equality exists for everyone.””

Prominent state lawmakers are backing Governor Patterson in support, such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and state Senator Thomas Duane. The legislation does face some opposition, however, particularly from the Roman Catholic Church.

The law would grant same-sex couples the 1300 to 1400 rights that don’t exist unless a couple is married. If the legislation passes, New York will become the fifth state in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage, with Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa. We are encouraged by the support this bill has received throughout New York and hope that it moves through the state legislature quickly.

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Filed under Equality, LGBT

LGBT youth and harassment

Friday was the National Day of Silence, when LGBT students and their allies call attention to the harassment and bullying that LGBT students experience simply because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Some students remain completely silent all day while others organize rallies to speak out against the backlash.

The Day of Silence coincided with the release of a study on the experiences of LGBT youth in Pennsylvania schools, and the findings are more than a bit depressing. According to the article on the study in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

  • Almost 9 of 10 [LGBT students] have been harassed verbally in the past year.
  • More than half said they had been harassed physically.
  • More than a quarter said they had been physically assaulted.
  • Ninety-eight percent sometimes, often or frequently hear the word “gay” used in a negative way.
  • Most of those harassed or assaulted didn’t report it, but only about a third of those who did report it found school staff intervened effectively.
  • Because they felt unsafe, 39 percent had skipped class at least once in the preceding month and 44 percent had missed at least one day of school.

The students who take part in the Day of Silence are courageously fighting against overwhelming opposition from their own classmates and even school staff, who are supposed to be helping and protecting them. They are to be commended for working to change the environment in which this bullying and harassment are allowed to continue.

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Filed under LGBT, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sexual orientation

Abortion Legislation in Spain

New legislation being drafted in Spain would legalize abortion up until the 14th week of pregnancy and also allow women ages 16 and older to have the procedure without parental consent. The law would also permit abortions in the first 22 weeks of pregnancy in the case of a congenital disorder.

This new law would change the current abortion regulations in Spain, which only allows abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in the case of rape, or in the first 22 weeks of pregnancy if the fetus has a known congenital disorder. Current law also allows a woman to obtain an abortion if her physical or mental health is at risk.

The proposed law faces protests from religious groups, political conservatives, and anti-abortion groups. If passed, however, the new law will provide women in Spain with more control of their own reproductive health and will mark a positive direction for women’s rights.

Via the National Partnership for Women and Families

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Filed under Abortion, Reproductive Rights, Women's health

Republican House Bill Would Block U.N. Treaty on Children’s Rights

Representative Pete Hoekstra recently introduced a bill that would amend the U.S. Constitution to permanently “enshrine” a set of parents’ rights into American society. The bill, which has 70 Republican co-sponsors (along with Rep. Hoekstra, who is also a Republican), is aimed at blocking U.S. adoption of a 20-year-old United Nations treaty that was signed by former President Bill Clinton during his time in office. The treaty sets international standards for government obligations to children in protection from abuse, exploitation, and ensuring a child’s right to free expression. Hoekstra and his supporters claim the treaty would have far-reaching results such as:

  • Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children
  • A child’s ‘right to be heard’ would allow him (or her) to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed
  • Children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion.

While 193 countries have already successfully implemented the treaty, religious and conservative groups have prevented the treaty from being ratified in the United Sates. The Girl Scouts of America and the Christian Children’s Fund both support the treaty, believing that it is instrumental for the U.S. to join the international community in support of children’s rights.

Via the National Partnership for Women and Families and Politico

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Filed under Girls, Politics, United Nations

Our Broken Healthcare System

Kate Michelman, former executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice America, recently published an article in The Nation detailing her horrifying, yet all too common, experience with our country’s healthcare system. After her daughter was paralyzed in a horseback riding accident and her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, she has seen her life, and life savings, diminished to near poverty levels. Her husband, who received excellent benefits as a retired college professor, and her daughter who had no benefits, both find themselves in a situation in which they are unable to afford their medical bills. Ms. Michelman describes her life as coming full circle after she first experienced the failings of America’s health care system when she obtained an abortion in 1969 in a humiliating and terrifying process.

This story is indicative of a nationwide healthcare problem that has become too severe to ignore. Women, who are generally paid less and are less likely to receive benefits, are often the most injured by this broken system. As the article ends by calling for action from our political leaders, we realize that we have a long way to go but can no longer stand by and watch.

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Filed under Health insurance

Women’s College Basketball: Undervalued and Underappreciated

“History and tradition” are usually given as reasons for the lower ticket prices assigned to women’s college basketball teams. Recently, the Christian Science Monitor took issue with this in an op-ed lamenting the current condition of stereotypes pervading women’s college basketball.

A study completed as part of the Women’s Sports Leadership Project at the Wellesley Centers for Women showed astonishing differences in ticket prices for men and women’s basketball at the college level. Analysis showed that single tickets to men’s games sell for double that for women’s games. These differences even exist in the nationally-ranked top 25 women’s teams.

As the Monitor points out, these across the board lower ticket prices are doing nothing except reinforcing the undervaluation of women’s sports, female athletes, and their abilities. We need to break away from the stereotype that women’s athletic abilities and competition are at a lower level than men’s in order for women to flourish in sports at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels.

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Filed under Sports