Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back at 2009. The National Organization for Women-NYS was there for YOU! Want to make that last minute, tax deductible donation? Donate to the NOW-NYS Foundation. Your donation will help us continue our work in 2010 and beyond!

One voice can make all the difference!
Looking Back at 2009. The National Organization for Women-NYS was there for YOU! Want to make that last minute, tax deductible donation? Donate to the NOW-NYS Foundation. Your donation will help us continue our work in 2010 and beyond!


 It's not to late to donate to a great cause.
The National Organization for Women-NYS Foundation

The NOW - New York State Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to advancing the rights of women through financing and conducting charitable and educational programs.

These programs include the promotion of social welfare by defending women's rights, as well as the enhancement of the status of women and girls through education and leadership training.

The NOW-NYS Foundation is funded entirely through charitable donations from our members and other committed women's rights activists.  Please donate to the Foundation today and support our critical mission!!

All contributions to the NOW-NYS Foundation are tax-deductible.

Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!
Marcia A. Pappas
NOW-NYS Foundation

WIC Guidelines Add to Breastfeeding Push

Womens eNews
Covering Women's Issues -
Changing Women's Lives

Thursday, December 31, 2009


Families who set their holiday tables with help from WIC vouchers this year may be serving more fresh fruits and vegetables as a result of new nutritional guidelines that are also designed to encourage women to breastfeed, Kimberly St. Louis reports today.

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WIC Guidelines Add to Breastfeeding Push

By Kimberly St. Louis
WeNews correspondent
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Families who set their holiday tables with help from WIC vouchers this year may be serving more fresh fruits and vegetables as a result of new nutritional guidelines that are also designed to encourage women to breastfeed.
(WOMENSENEWS)--Shopping for meals can take extreme planning, saving and strategizing when costs are high and funds are low.
Just ask Karly Michelsen from Layton, Utah, who has a husband and two young children.
This year she has been able to experiment with fresh tropical fruit, such as papaya and pomegranate, and include more fresh vegetables, without breaking the family's food budget.
How'd she do it?
Michelsen and her children are among the approximately 9 million participants who receive monthly government food packages through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (up to age 5), commonly known as WIC.
As of Oct. 1, the guidelines for the food packages changed emphasis. Now there's more fresh fruit and vegetables, less infant formula. There are also special incentives for women who breastfeed exclusively for six months, in line with the government's latest health recommendations.
In the past, all WIC infant food packages included larger amounts of infant formula, except for mothers who fully breastfed. Now infants will receive less formula and more jarred fruit and vegetables.
Under the new rules, mothers of infants receive different packages depending on whether they breastfeed exclusively, partially-breastfeed or depend entirely on formula. Mothers and children receive cash vouchers specifically for purchasing a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Monthly Allowances Adequate

Even though the monthly vouchers are only worth about $8 per woman or eligible child, Michelsen said they made a big difference to her food budget.
"I am very happy with the changes WIC has made," Michelsen said. "Before, they gave you pieces of a meal, now they give you ingredients for a full meal, such as tuna and bread instead of just tuna. I also am happy with the fruit and vegetable vouchers. Living in Utah especially makes it difficult to buy the expensive fresh fruit and vegetables which in the past made us have to do without them unless there was a sale."
The cash value of vouchers varies, depending on whether a recipient is a child or a woman and whether or not the woman is pregnant. Values also range depending on a child's age.
The guidelines provide groundbreaking support for breastfeeding.
Women who choose exclusive breastfeeding receive an enhanced food package, with more food to help them meet their higher caloric needs. Fully-breastfeeding mothers also continue to receive food packages 12 months after delivery.
"I breastfeed my children until they are 1 year old," said Michelsen. "I start them on rice and oatmeal baby cereal at 4 months of age. WIC provides the baby cereal."
Michelsen said WIC didn't influence her decision to breastfeed, but it did enhance her sense of confidence about the choice. "I have been in the WIC program for almost four years and they have always promoted breastfeeding."
Karla Shephard Rubinger, executive director at the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, a physician membership organization New Rochelle, N.Y., says WIC is an important voice for breastfeeding and the new incentives could spread the health benefits of breastfeeding to more women and children.

Better Support for Breastfeeding

"The food and nutritional support that they get for breastfeeding is better than if they don't breastfeed," Rubinger said. "And they get a trained staff so that they'd know about it. It should be a very important change."
Women who decline to breastfeed receive infant formula along with breastfeeding information packets.
Partially-breastfeeding women receive one can of formula in the first month and can receive up to four cans in the first six months.
"WIC encourages mothers to breastfeed by issuing only one can of powder to supplement breast milk," said Cecilia Richardson, staff and nutrition programs director at the National WIC Association, based in Washington, D.C.
The new food packages are supposed to align as closely as possible with national dietary standards issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2005, which calls for diets with less fat, lower cholesterol and more whole grains and fiber.
WIC participants will now receive vouchers for one dozen eggs a month, down from two or two-and-a-half dozen in 2006.
In addition to promoting fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, the new guidelines are also designed to give WIC state agencies the flexibility to accommodate cultural food preferences.
Those who are lactose intolerant or have cultural preferences in New York State, for instance, will be able to substitute one quart of soy milk or a pound of calcium-set tofu for one quart of milk.
Participants also have the option to substitute whole-grain bread for whole-grain rice, corn tortillas, barley or bulgur. WIC is also offering more canned fish items, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel. Canned beans also are now available.

EBT Cards Well Received

WIC participants pick up vouchers in person at distribution centers either monthly or every three months.
Some states issue the vouchers as paper receipts, but many counties have begun providing plastic electronic benefit transfer, or EBT, cards that can be swiped through transaction gadgets at authorized stores.
Alethia Carr, director of Michigan's Bureau of Family, Maternal, and Child Health, based in Lansing, Mich., said her state implemented the changes in August. EBT cards were used in three counties and were well received and will be used statewide in May.
The changes in the food basket have been brewing since 2003, when the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies reviewed them with an eye to cost-neutral changes based upon scientifically-sound nutrition information. Two years later they released public recommendations.
"The goal of the study was to improve the quality of the diet of WIC participants while also promoting a healthy body weight that will reduce the risk of chronic diseases," says the institute's Web site.
In order to be eligible for WIC, participants must have an income level that is at or below 185 percent of the poverty level or receive Medicaid, the public health insurance system for low-income people.
The program, subject to an annual congressional funding authorization, is administered at the federal level by the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and by 90 WIC state agencies.
In 1992, the secretary of agriculture established a national breastfeeding promotion program to foster wider public acceptance of breastfeeding in the United States and to assist in the distribution of breastfeeding equipment to breastfeeding women.
Kimberly St. Louis is an editorial intern at Women's eNews through the New York Arts Program. She is a senior at Ohio Wesleyan University studying journalism and politics and government.

Back Up Your Birth Control: New Year's Eve biggest night of the year for birth control accidents

 Did you know that New Year's Eve is the biggest night of the year for birth control accidents? Condoms break. Pills can be forgotten - that's why this year Back Up Your Birth Control is launching a New Year's Eve campaign - Don't Drop The Ball.

The Don't Drop The Ball campaign reminds women that if you have a birth control "oops," emergency contraception (EC) is available at the pharmacy and can help prevent pregnancy if taken within 120 hours.

Check out our web video - watch it, repost it, and share it with your friends.

grandma video

Then, visit, where you can send your girlfriends a funny morning-after message from our cast of crazy New Year's Eve revelers. It will give them a good laugh. And more importantly, if one of your friends does have a birth control accident on New Year's Eve, it will remind her that EC is available.

In order to address the increased need for EC in the days following New Year's Eve, we'd love your help in disseminating this campaign. Please send the video and website out to your lists, share on Facebook, post on your website or blog, and forward to all your friends!

Here's to helping women prevent unintended pregnancies in the new year!

The Back Up Your Birth Control Team.

Why Does Time Magazine always choose men as Person of the Year?

From Marcia Pappas, NOW-NYS President.

Hello NOW Sisters:

Again, Time Magazine has awarded "Person of the Year" to another man.  I am attaching a picture of  who I think should be Person of the Year.   Feel free to circulate.  A few if us f(eminist sisters) got together and decided to design our  own Time Magazine cover.  I designed this.
Marcia Pappas
History of Time Magazine: The tradition of selecting a Man of the Year began in 1927, with Time editors contemplating newsworthy stories possible during a slow news week. The idea was also an attempt to remedy the editorial embarrassment earlier that year for not having aviator Charles Lindbergh on its cover following his historic trans-Atlantic flight. By the end of the year, it was decided that a cover story featuring Lindbergh as the Man of the Year would serve both purposes.[2]
Since then, individual people, classes of people, an invention, and a planet have been selected for the special year end issue. In 1999, the title was changed to Person of the Year [3] in an effort to be more inclusive.[citation needed] However, the only women to win the renamed recognition as an individual so far were those recognized as The Whistleblowers (2002) and Melinda Gates (jointly with Bill Gates and Bono in 2005). Before that, four women were granted the title as individuals, adapted as Women of the YearWallis Simpson in 1936, Soong May-ling (Madame Chiang Kai-shek) in 1937, Queen Elizabeth II in 1952, and Corazon Aquino in 1986. Several classes of people comprise of both men and women, or women only, namely Hungarian Freedom Fighter in 1956, U.S. scientists in 1960, Twenty-Five and Under in 1966, The Middle Americans in 1969, American Women in 1975, The American Soldier in 2003, and You in 2006.

From Twitter 12-30-2009

  • 03:09:25: From Twitter 12-29-2009: 02:22:33: Thanks for the RTs @youngurbanmoms @TheUndomestic @RayBeckerman @alvinthethird @...
  • 15:12:41: MTA: Students Fight Back Cuts: Students across NYC are fighting the MTA's pl...
  • 15:16:32: Nepal's Widows Reject Govt's Remarriage Proposal: Covering Women's Issues - Changing Women's Lives ...
  • 15:32:10: RT @WorkingFamilies: 24hrs left to stop the MTA's cuts to trains, buses, school kids, and the disabled. Sign the emergency petition: ht ...

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nepal's Widows Reject Govt's Remarriage Proposal

Womens eNews
Covering Women's Issues -
Changing Women's Lives

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


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Nepal's Widows Reject Govt's Remarriage Proposal

By Danielle Shapiro
WeNews correspondent
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Nepali widows and their advocates are pushing back at a government proposal to pay engaged couples for a widow's remarriage. Not only is the law like a new form of dowry, they say, many widows feel better off staying single and earning their own incomes.
Protest against Nepali government's remarriage proposalKATHMANDU, Nepal (WOMENSENEWS)--The government has proposed helping widows here by paying engaged couples about $670 when they marry and the wife is a widow.
But Women for Human Rights, single women group, a leading local advocacy organization for widows based in Kathmandu, isn't pleased.
Last summer, shortly after the government announced the idea, the group staged a protest that drew about 1,500 participants to sound off against the government's proposal.
Rajin Rayamajhi, a lawyer with Women for Human Rights, likened the proposal to "buying and selling a woman."
Many single women, as widows here prefer to be called, are illiterate and only 2 percent have higher education. Rayamajhi said the proposal would be difficult for many to understand. This makes them vulnerable to men who would marry them for the money and then leave, taking all the funds.
She also slammed the payments for increasing the risk of violence and trafficking once widows were again under the control of a husband. Critics further say that the proposed legislation encourages a different kind of dowry, though the Nepali government has been trying to eliminate that system, and advances the notion that a woman's security and empowerment is dependent on marriage and men.
Women for Human Rights filed a case with the Supreme Court in October against the Nepali government, the prime minister and the finance minister to compel their withdrawal of the policy. In November, the court ordered the government to demonstrate why the legislation should not be withdrawn.
Lily Thapa, 49, the founder and executive director of Women for Human Rights, stressed that independence for widows is their first priority. Her organization has won several cases that secure citizenship and property rights for single women, including one in the Supreme Court in early 2009 that allowed widows to inherit from their deceased spouses, even if they remarry.

Independence Encouraged

"We encourage very young widows to get remarried," Thapa said, "but before that we encourage her to be independent on her own."
While waiting for the government's response, Thapa has met with policymakers and continues to lobby them to use the funds for skills training, job placements, health care for widows and free education for their children instead.
Her group also hopes to get the government to give the poorest widows monthly allowances regardless of age. As the law currently stands, only widows over the age of 60 get just under $7 each month.
When a woman's husband dies, in many parts of Nepal the loss she suffers is much more than just a spouse.
Single women are not to wear jewelry or bright colors, especially red; they are not to eat meat or seasoned food; not allowed to participate in celebrations; and often not even allowed to touch other people. Their increased dependency on living relatives makes them more vulnerable to, and often the victims of, verbal, physical and sexual abuse and frequently their property and inheritance rights are violated. The practice of Sati, where women were ritually burned on their husband's funeral pyres, was outlawed a century ago.
"One minute you have everything and the next it's gone," said Thapa, whose own husband died 20 years ago while serving as a physician with the United Nations in the first Iraq War. She was left with three sons aged 4, 9 and 10.
Almost immediately her relatives forcibly removed her treasured diamond nose ring, which she'd worn since receiving it at 14 from her parents as a gift for completing high school. She was made to wear colorless clothing and at her brother's wedding she was not allowed to help with the preparations. As a widow, she was considered bad luck.

Never Wanted to Remarry

Today Thapa again wears a nose ring, bracelets and brightly-colored clothes. She hasn't remarried and said she doesn't want to. She is not alone.
In the 15 years since Women for Human Rights began, the group has established 225 single women's groups across 52 of Nepal's 75 districts. In all, it has organized about 44,000 widows. Thapa said that 99 percent of the single women she has met in that time would prefer not to remarry.
Close to 70 percent of widows in Nepal are between 20 to 35 and have, on average, three to four children. Thapa said they worry primarily about their children and whether a second husband would properly care for them. Often, she said, stepchildren are not treated well or rejected by second spouses. Second marriages are also considered taboo, so even if a woman did want to remarry she would still encounter stigma for her choice.
"I don't have an interest," Bhagawati Satyal, 28, said of remarriage last month through a translator. Her husband died accidentally in 1999 after falling from the roof of a hotel where he worked in Kathmandu. "If I remarry, I'll have to again be dependent on my husband. Now I am independent."
Satyal now works with Women for Human Rights in the Single Women Entrepreneur Group preparing catered lunches for sale. She said she earns enough to support herself and her 10-year-old daughter, as well as to help her in-laws and their small farm.
The elderly couple, who Satyal said stigmatized her after her husband's death, have since come to live with her instead of their remaining son because she can better provide for them.
Dale Davis, Nepal project director for the Centre for Development and Population Activities, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works to improve the lives of women and girls in the developing world, said that after marriage traditionally Nepali women move into their husband's homes, becoming part of his family.

Arranged Marriages a Factor

In a country where arranged marriages are still the norm, it is not customary to secure another marriage if a woman's husband dies, Davis said.
She reiterated Thapa's observation that for many single women the practical challenges of caring for children and insuring their livelihoods--not remarriage--are paramount concerns, especially for less affluent or poorly educated village women.
"Now that they have lost their breadwinner," she said in a telephone interview, "survival is the most important issue."
Satyal said she hoped a government proposal to assist widows would focus more on their children.
"I thought they would bring something beneficial to my children," she said. "I felt the policy commodified single women and tagged them with 50,000 rupees. Is my price only 50,000 rupees?"
Renu Sharma, president and founder of the Kathmandu-based Women's Foundation of Nepal, a nonprofit advocacy group formed in 1988, said that with job opportunities single women will have better chances of rebuilding their lives and overcoming cultural discrimination. Her organization currently houses 20 single women in its shelter for victims of violence.
"If women are skillful, can get a job and be independent, then society will accept her," Sharma said in a recent telephone interview.
For some women, however, remarriage is beside the point. What matters more is earning broad social recognition that even as single women they are equal, capable and free to live their lives as they wish.
"Marriage is not the only thing," said Rekha Subedi, 31, another member of the Single Women Entrepreneur Group. "Even by living single we can do something by ourselves.
Danielle Shapiro is a freelance journalist based in New York City.

For more information:

Women for Human Rights, single women group
The Women's Foundation of Nepal
Centre for Development and Population Activities

MTA: Students Fight Back Cuts

Students across NYC are fighting the MTA's plan to cut student MetroCards.
Can you join them and sign the petition?

"The MTA should use its available funds, not cut services and student MetroCards millions of New Yorkers depend on"

They called it the "Day of Outrage."

Hundreds of New York City students braved the snow and cold last week to march against the planned elimination of free student MetroCards.  Organizing in their schools and online, students from across the city gathered in front of the MTA's headquarters with signs that read: "Save the Students, Not The Bankers" and "No transportation, no education!"1

Students are fighting back, and we need to stand with them.  Outraged New Yorkers have stopped MTA cutbacks before. We can do it again.   Can you sign the petition to save student MetroCards and stop the MTA service cuts?

Over 7,000 New Yorkers have signed already -- help us reach 10,000 before the New Year:

The petition says "The MTA should use its available funds, not cut services and student Metrocards millions of New Yorkers depend on."

Half a million New York City students depend on their free MetroCards to get around. Eliminating them, as the MTA's board proposes to starting in 2011, works out to an almost $700-per-child tax hike on working families.

Educators warn that the end of free MetroCards could be a big step backwards for public education -- limiting the choices of schools available to working-class students and cutting participation in after-school activities.

But the cuts won't take effect until next Summer -- we still have time to show the MTA and the politicians that these cuts are unacceptable.  If students can organize, we can too, and we need to show these young New Yorkers that we're standing with them.

Sign our petition to stop the cuts, and we'll deliver the signatures to the MTA and let the student leaders know that you spoke out:


Dan Cantor
WFP Executive Director

1. "Students Protest Proposed MetroCard Cuts" NBC News, Dec. 21

From Twitter 12-29-2009

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tis the Season for Candor About Gov't Handouts

Womens eNews
Covering Women's Issues -
Changing Women's Lives

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


More middle-class people are accepting federal cash supports and food stamps, prompting Mimi Abramovitz to remind us that middle-class and corporate benefits that aren't usually described as public assistance also cost tax payers plenty.

Story follows announcements.

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'Tis the Season for Candor About Gov't Handouts

By Mimi Abramovitz
WeNews commentator
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
More middle-class people are accepting federal cash supports and food stamps, prompting Mimi Abramovitz to remind us that middle-class and corporate benefits that aren't usually described as public assistance also cost tax payers plenty.
Editor's Note: The following is a commentary. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the views of Women's eNews.
(WOMENSENEWS)--What a difference an economic crisis makes.
Now each day the brutal job market is throwing more men, white people and two-parent households into poverty and onto the welfare and food stamp rolls--some for the first time.
The new poor are showing up on the old welfare rolls causing a surge nationwide. Still below earlier peaks, the numbers are reportedly up a soaring 14 percent in hard-hit states such as Ohio, where the director of a community coalition explained that they used to see the same people come in for help, but now it's a lot of newcomers. In Fort Myers, Fla., nearly 40 percent of the 812 welfare applicants in October had never before asked for help.
The food stamp program, which also serves the new poor, is adding some 20,000 people a day. More than 36 million, or 25 percent of the population in 240 counties nationwide--that's 1 in 8 Americans and 1 in 4 children--use the program to stave off hunger, according to The New York Times. A male head of a household who applied told the Time's reporter how his mind had changed.
"I always thought it was people trying to milk that system. But we just felt like we really needed the help right now," he said.

Once Regularly Demonized

For years, women relying on federal cash supports were regularly--and wrongly--demonized as lazy, immoral cheats.
You also heard well-paid pundits such as Charles Murray, resident scholar at the Washington -based American Enterprise Institute, insist that "poverty results from a lack of personal responsibility."
Critics such as Heather MacDonald and Steven Malanga, columnists for the City Journal published by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank in New York City, shared a similar sentiment, saying things like "children of women on welfare become teen mothers and criminals."
Then there was the "welfare queen" slur that Ronald Reagan made viral with his tale of a woman who "ripped off $150,000 from the government, using 80 aliases, 30 addresses, a dozen Social Security cards, and four fictional dead husbands."
These false yet powerful images fueled welfare reform and other policies that penalized poor women in need for seeking federal cash supports, food stamps and public housing.
Today these negative comments have more or less died down as middle-class people in small rural towns, sprawling suburbs and big cities have lost their jobs, savings and homes and turned to the government for aid.

Stigma Fading

As the new poor fill the rolls, the vitriol that used to be sprayed at single mothers who needed public assistance seems to be fading.
Instead of bemoaning the added cost, Sara Murray, a Wall Street Journal columnist, sympathetically declared that "the recent rise in welfare families across the country is a sign that the welfare system is expanding at a time of added need." It was also notable that the longstanding racialized hostility to welfare did not surface when President Barack Obama's stimulus package included dollars for states to meet the program's rising cost.
Faced with the ravages of the economy, Congress destigmatized the food stamp program by changing its name to Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, hoping to attract the new poor.
Going beyond the unprecedented extra welfare dollars in the stimulus package, word has it that Democratic majorities in Congress may also suspend welfare reform's punitive time limits and work requirements when they renew the federal law in 2010. And we can also hope lawmakers will fund supports for practical education and child care, options that can lift many women out of poverty.
As more people come to rely on public benefits, this is a good time to look around and
notice the extent to which many people beyond single mothers routinely get a break from the government but do not think of it in this way.
The former working- and middle-class adults who are receiving extended jobless benefits, "cash for clunkers" and the upcoming "cash for caulkers" do not think of themselves as "on welfare." Nor does the public begrudge them their public assistance.
The same goes for the 52 million seniors who were collecting monthly Social Security checks in 2009. Social Security--a cash assistance program for the middle class as well as the poor--was sold as a repayment plan back in the 1930s. The reality is that the taxes taken out of our wages each week won't repay us. They'll pay benefits to workers who have already retired and it's easy for many beneficiaries to take more out of the system than they ever pay in.

Mortgage Holders Also Take Handouts

Data from 2006 showed there were 35 million middle- and upper-income homeowners who lowered their tax bill with the mortgage interest tax deduction. None of them seem to think they are taking a handout.
Yet the $61.5 billion lost to the Treasury because of the mortgage interest tax break is more than twice the $29.4 billon that the Department of Housing and Urban Development spent on low-income housing and rental subsides for the poor.
The CEOs of banks, auto companies and other corporations regarded as "too big to fail" also accepted "welfare," better known as the $700 billion bailout. Their check was far more than the $585 billion spent for Social Security pensions in 2007.
Yet the execs only complained about the accompanying regulations designed to restrict their irresponsible behavior. Such non-impugned corporate "welfare" is nothing new.
In 2006 alone the federal government provided some $92 billion in tax-funded subsidies--such as the Advanced Technology Program, the Export-Import Bank and the federal crop subsidies among others--to corporate giants such as Boeing, Xerox, IBM, Motorola, Dow Chemical, General Electric and wealthy farmers--up 11 percent from 2001.
None of these upscale recipients suffer public stigma because controversy almost never glares down on them. Most eagerly look forward to collecting their tax-funded government benefits.
As the nation discovers that most people, including single mothers, fall into poverty due to forces over which they have little or no control, there seems to be more sympathy and understanding to go around. Let's hope this generosity of spirit outlasts the current downturn.
And let's also keep better tabs on who's really getting the biggest handouts and then redirect more dollars to those most in need
Mimi Abramovitz, the Bertha Capen Reynolds professor at Hunter College School of Social Work, is author of "Regulating the Lives of Women: Social Welfare Policy From Colonial Times to the Present;" the award-winning "Under Attack, Fighting Back: Women and Welfare in the U.S.;" and co-author of "Taxes are a Women's Issue: Reframing the Debate." She is currently writing "Gender Obligations: The History of Low-Income Women's Activism since 1900."

From Twitter 12-28-2009

  • 03:09:25: From Twitter 12-27-2009: 03:08:50: From Twitter 12-26-2009: 03:08:41: From Twitter 12-25-2009: 03:10:38: From Twitt...
  • 15:44:59: Guantanamo Bay Tortured prisoner released, but Times doesn't mention torture: From the Desk of Debra Sweet, Di...
  • 15:46:04: Ugandan Lawmakers Set to Vote on Marriage, Divorce: Covering Women's Issues - Changing Women's Lives ...
  • 15:52:59: Thanks for the RTs @GrimTweets @Off_And_Running @RaysFreedomHash @NYCprochoiceMD @melissa_djohnst @PoliticalBee
  • 15:53:10: RT @PShiftNYC: NARAL's President Kelli Conlin on HuffPo about DontDropTheBall campaign:
  • 15:53:39: RT @ProChoiceGal: The "fetal personhood" argument is just an attempt made by #ProLife to distract from the fact that women ARE persons. ...
  • 15:53:42: RT @RayBeckerman: Actionable Steps to Building a Sustainable Business
  • 15:53:49: RT @ProChoiceGal: "Life begins at conception" is a moot point.No living thing has the right to reside within a person's body w/o consent ...
  • 15:53:57: RT @shiratarrant: 2 million for Net Neutrality! Sign here to protect Internet freedom: #netneutrality (via @freepress)
  • 16:27:37: Call for Women of Color Institute Workshop and Plenary Proposals: Topic:National Call to Action Institute and Confe...

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Call for Women of Color Institute Workshop and Plenary Proposals

National Call to Action Institute and Conference

The Women of Color Network

All submissions due by 5pm EST on Wednesday, January 6, 2010 

The Women of Color Network will present its National Call to Action Institute and Conference in New Orleans, LA on May 10-14, 2010, in partnership with the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). 

The event will begin with three institutes occurring simultaneously over two days: a Women of Color Institute, Men's Institute (in partnership with A Call to Men), and Mainstream Women Allies Institute. This will be followed by a two-day national conference.

If you are interested in presenting a workshop/plenary during the Women of Color Institute, please complete and submit this form by 5pm EST on Wednesday, January 6, 2010.

Women of Color Network; 
6400 Flank Drive, Suite 1300 
Harrisburg, PA 17112 
800-537-2238 or 717-545-6400 &
717-545-9456 (fax) &

Visit our new website:

Also visit us on Facebook:

Women of Color Network is a project of the National Resource Center on DV.

Ugandan Lawmakers Set to Vote on Marriage, Divorce

Womens eNews
Covering Women's Issues -
Changing Women's Lives

Monday, December 28, 2009


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Ugandan Lawmakers Set to Vote on Marriage, Divorce

By Raymond Baguma
WeNews correspondent
Monday, December 28, 2009
Uganda's parliament recently passed bills on domestic violence and female genital mutilation. Now one female lawmaker hopes colleagues will approve in January long-awaited modernizations of marriage and divorce.
Jane Alisemera BabihaKAMPALA, Uganda (WOMENSENEWS)--After parliament's recent passage of key laws to protect women here, Jane Alisemera Babiha, chair of the Uganda Women Parliamentarians Association, is hoping a bill to modernize laws on marriage and divorce will sail through in January.
"We are anxious to have this law passed by the beginning of next year," Alisemera told Women's eNews recently.
"It is only natural that as women, we should champion for the cause of our fellow women who we represent," added parliamentarian Mary Karooro Okurut, representative of the Bushenyi district. "But in our campaign, we are also enlisting the support of men."
The proposed law grants women the right to divorce spouses for cruelty and impotence. It also gives women the right to consent to marriage, often overlooked in African traditional weddings arranged by family and clan elders.
The bill also prohibits the customary practice of widow inheritance. In some Ugandan communities, widows are inherited by their brothers-in-law even when they do not consent to the marriage. The law gives widows the right to remarry people of their choice.
Sex without consent in marriage is prohibited by the bill, and there are incentives in the law to promote co-ownership of property between spouses. It also establishes a female-friendly protocol in the event of divorce: equal division of property and finances.
Alisemera said she expects the bill to win similar support in the 30-percent female parliament as the domestic violence bill, which passed in November and classifies domestic violence as a distinct crime, separate from other forms of physical assault.
Under that bill, now waiting approval by President Yoweri Museveni, alleged batterers face prosecutions in the formal Family and Children Courts, as well as the lowest-ranked Local Council Courts found in even the remotest of Ugandan villages. Convicted men or women would face punishments that include community service, reconciliation, compensation, fines or a two-year jail term.

60 Percent Suffer Violence

Sixty percent of women suffer physical violence at the hands of their intimate partners. Thirty percent have been victims of sexual violence and 16 percent reported physical violence during their pregnancies, according to the 2006 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey.
On Dec. 10, women's rights activists here won another victory when a bill prohibiting female genital mutilation, or FGM, flew unopposed through parliament.
Female genital mutilation is traditionally practiced by the Sabiny and Karamojong communities living in Eastern Uganda. The bill targets the aggravated form of the mutilation, defining it as causing death, serious disability or an HIV-AIDS infection. Under the legislation, perpetrators of aggravated mutilation are liable for life imprisonment. Those who participate or aid the process of female genital mutilation in any form are liable for five years in jail under the bill. That bill is also on the president's desk.
The anti-FGM law was sponsored by Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, the Kinkizi East member of parliament. Baryomunsi said he is positive that the president will sign it along with the bill on domestic violence.
"The president has been an active player in the national campaign to end female genital mutilation," Baryomunsi said. "According to procedure, the president should sign the bills within 30 days after receiving them. We are hopeful he will sign by the end of January."
The divorce and marriage bills have a long stop-and-start history here.
Elis Rubafunya, a legal analyst, wrote recently in Uganda's leading newspaper, New Vision, that the bill is largely an amendment of family laws inherited from Britain, Uganda's former colonial occupier.

Outdated Laws Remain

Since 1964, shortly after independence, lawmakers' efforts to reform these laws largely failed, leaving matters bound to outdated British colonial laws, which in the case of adultery, for instance, punished a woman with 10 years in jail but let the man go free.
(In 2007 the Constitutional Court scrapped the adultery section in the old Divorce Act, ruling it unconstitutional and sexist.)
During the mid-1990s, the ruling political party in Uganda, the National Resistance Movement, sponsored family law amendments to other bills to modernize laws on marriage, divorce, separation and property.
Museveni refused to support the legislation, since it only recognized monogamous marriages and Uganda's Muslims, about 12 percent of the population, wanted the right to polygamy recognized.
The current bills, which modernize all laws relating to marriage and divorce, languished until September this year when the Uganda Law Reform Commission introduced the new act to legislators during a seminar.
The proposed law will only govern Christian, Hindu, African customary and Baha'i marriages. A separate law for Muslim marriages will come later.
The current bill does not outlaw the traditional practice of the husband's family giving marriage gifts to the wife's family, the so-called bride price. Some women's advocates oppose the bride price because it can inhibit abused woman from leaving their husbands for fear that they could demand refund of the gifts.
In the proposed legislation, bride price will not be returnable in the event of divorce.
Efforts to modernize marriage and divorce laws were spurred by a high-profile 2003 divorce case involving the country's first female vice president, Dr. Specioza Wandira, who accused her husband, an engineer, of physical abuse. The country's Catholic leaders intervened in a bid to reconcile the couple, but they separated.
"Dr. Specioza reflected what goes on in our communities," said Alisemera. "If a woman of her social status and education is battered, then what would happen to a woman in the village?"
Raymond Baguma is a staff reporter for The New Vision newspaper in Uganda. He also has a blog:

Guantanamo Bay Tortured prisoner released, but Times doesn't mention torture

From the Desk of Debra Sweet, Director, The World Can't Wait

Last week the New York Times finally reported the story of Sami al-Hajj, 

who was held for seven years in Guantanamo, and then suddenly released.  
He was a cameraman for Al Jazeera in December 2001, taken by US forces 
on the border of Pakistan & Afghanistan.

He was tortured at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and eventually 

moved to Guantanamo.  But the US never charged him with anything.

The Times wrote about him because he's working for Al Jazeera again, this time as an 

on-air commentator on human rights and public liberties.  The article is notable for 
what it doesn't say: the "t" word, torture, in describing what was done to al-Hajj.

And what about prosecution of the Bush architects of the torture regime?  

Read an interview with Sami last year after his release.

More on Guantanamo on the Mississippi:  Based on your comments and questions 

to this newsletter, Jill McLaughlin posted some answers to why holding detainees 
indefinitely in Illinois is no more just than holding them in Guantanamo Cuba.  
The locale change doesn't take away the taint of years of indefinite detention 
without charge. 
As the January 22 deadline to close Guantanamo comes 

(and as it will go by), Andy Worthington wrote last week in  
Serious Problems With Obama's Plan To Move Guantánamo To Illinois:
"The reason why it was so important to close Guantánamo in the 

first place was to bring to an end the ruinous and unjust policy of 
indefinite detention without charge or trial, and it amazes me that President Obama has, 
apparently, fooled himself into thinking that a sleight of hand that perpetuates 
the same policy as that established by George W. Bush will be any more acceptable 
when he is its architect, or that a change of scenery - from Guantánamo Bay to 
Thomson, Illinois - can help to accomplish such a brazen betrayal of the fundamental 
values on which the United States was founded."

Betrayal it is, although many of us would say that with a history running from slavery 

to chain gang imprisonment in the Jim Crow south, to the SuperMax sensory deprivation 
prisons of today, the United States has always enshrined injustice in its prison system. 

World Can't Wait, and other groups like Witness Against Torture, the Center for 

Constitutional Rights & Amnesty International won't let the US government 
continue this, no matter who the President is. 

World Can't Wait 2010 plans, starting in two weeks:

Monday January 11 through Friday January 22:  

Witness Against Torture fast to close Guantanamo. 

Monday, January 11: 10-11am - Witness Against Torture 

Vigil with Guantanamo lawyers and Center for 
Constitutional Rights @ the White House.  
11am procession to the National Press Club.  
12 pm Vigil continues during press conference at 
National Press Club.
7:00 pm: Evening Gathering @ Georgetown University Law School:  

Guantanamo, Torture, Accountability and Organizing in the Obama age.

World Can't Wait calls for people everywhere to mark the 8th anniversary of 

Guantanamo with street protests and showings of the film Outside the Law: 
Stories of GuantanamoWrite for details.

NO DRONES! Protest at CIA Headquarters Langley VA
Saturday January 16

Cindy Sheehan, as part of Peace of the Action, is organizing a protest at C.I.A. 

headquarters to stop the use of un-manned drones in the war on terror. 
See this informative slideshow.  
Below is the Reaper Hunter/Killer used in Iraq & Afghanistan.

The Obama administration has made 3 drone strikes on 

Yemen, broadening the war on terror, in the last 10 days.  
US news reports generally claim these strikes killed high-level 
al Queda operatives.  
Read Glen Greewald Saturday on those claims and the reality 
of civilian casualties.

January 16 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm.  Download the flyer for more information on what are 

now called by the US military "unarmed aircraft systems." 

Drones are produced and based all over the US now, from upstate NY to Nevada.  

Protests could happen around the country on January 16, or anytime afterward.  
Let us know where protests are scheduled!

Debra Sweet, Director, The World Can't Wait

World Can't Wait - - 866.973.4463 - 305 W. Broadway 
#185, NY, NY 10013

From Twitter 12-27-2009

  • 03:08:50: From Twitter 12-26-2009: 03:08:41: From Twitter 12-25-2009: 03:10:38: From Twitter 12-24-2009: 01:18:19: RT @kadarl...
  • 12:45:18: GOOD News: Military Pregnancy Policy to be Rescinded. NOW spoke out and made a difference for women in the militar...
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'Fish Tank' Bubbles Up in January Film Lineup

By Jennifer Merin
WeNews film critic
Sunday, December 27, 2009
The start of the year is a low season for film releases but Jennifer Merin manages to find an array of new femme fare. There are features, documentaries, comedies and horror. Also, one spoof she wonders about even bringing up.
Jennifer Merin(WOMENSENEWS)--January is typically the low season in film releases.
The holiday entertainment rush is over and attention is shifting to the Feb. 2 Oscar nominations for the March 7 Academy Awards.
But quite a few films with special women's interest are punctuating the lull this year.
Most promising is "Fish Tank," a dark drama by British writer-director Andrea Arnold that won the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. It's about a troubled teen whose dysfunctional family life becomes even more difficult when her mother's new boyfriend walks into it. Katie Jarvis has received rave reviews for her starring role.
"Fish Tank" opens in limited release on Jan. 15. I can't wait to see it, given how fascinating I found Arnold's two previous films, "Red Road" (2006) and "Wasp," a dramatic short for which she won an Oscar in 2003.
Three interesting femme-helmed documentaries also open in January.
Petra Seeger's "In Search of Memory" profiles Eric Kandel, the Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, following him as he searches his own memories back to his childhood. Born a Jew in Vienna in 1929, Kandel emigrated to the United States before the Holocaust, but his work--and his memories--have been largely influenced by the specter of Nazi persecution. Seeger's blending of neuroscience and biography makes this film particularly compelling. The documentary, with the same title as Kandel's autobiography, opens in limited release on Jan. 15.
Also opening on Jan. 15, "Waiting For Armageddon" is a documentary co-directed by Kate Davis and David Heilbroner. It explores beliefs--held by some 50 million people--that Biblical prophecy foretells the world's future and that the End of Days is, indeed, coming. The filmmakers speak with Christians, Jews and Muslims who offer varied critical perspectives on the nature of prophecy and its potential political impact, especially as it relates to the state of Israel. This is a thought-provoking film for the start of the new year.

'Off and Running'

Opening in limited release on Jan. 29 is the third documentary, "Off and Running," directed by Nicole Opper and Avery Klein-Cloud. The film focuses on the life of Avery, the African American adoptive daughter of two white Jewish lesbian parents, who are also raising two adopted boys--one mixed-race and one Korean--in Brooklyn, N.Y. When Avery decides to explore her African American roots by seeking out her birth mother, she's forced to confront the complications of personal identity and family ties. Her outlook and behavior nose dive. She stays away from home, skips school and risks losing the chance to attend college and become a track star. But then her story starts its rewarding rebound.
For those who want a good fright in the new year, "Case 39" offers a femme-centric psychological and supernatural thriller. Renee Zellweger stars in the film as a social worker who's committed to saving a girl from her abusive parents and finds herself facing terrifying demonic forces. It opens on New Year's Day, in time to scare yourself out of a hangover.
In lighter fare, you'll find Amy Adams starring in a new romantic comedy, "Leap Year" (even though February 2010 has only the usual count of 28 days). It opens in theaters nationwide on Jan. 8. The plot of the film, co-written by Deborah Kaplan, is propelled by an Irish tradition that allows women to propose to men on Leap Day--Feb. 29. Adams' character, who lives in the United States, wants to propose to her boyfriend--who happens to be in Dublin--on Leap Day. Her journey to meet him turns into a series of mishaps that present unexpected romantic complications. Adams is delightful, as always, and Matthew Goode, as the guide who's trying to help her reach her beau, is a sweetheart of a romantic lead. The film is a warm-hearted, mid-winter escape.

Focus on Buff Bad Babes

On the other hand, it's hard to know what to make of "Bitch Slap," a film with publicity materials that describe it as a throwback to sexploitation films produced between the 1950s and 1970s with an amazing preponderance of "tits and guns." The plot revolves around three particularly buff bad babes--the flip side of Charlie's Angels, I suppose-- engaged in a criminal caper. "Bitch Slap" isn't on my must-see list, but the film's elaborate Web site may help you decide. It opens in limited release on Jan. 8.Katie Jarvis as Mia in Andrea Arnold's "Fish Tank."
Opening on Jan. 15, "Queen To Play" ("Joueuse") is writer-director Caroline Bottaro's first feature. It's about a French Riviera hotel maid (Sandrine Bonnaire) who becomes obsessed with the game of chess and, tutored by an American ex-patriot (Kevin Kline), gets good enough to compete for a championship. Her success at the game of kings is not, however, appreciated by her husband. The drama revolves around how she struggles to resolve her ambitions with her relationships.
"Hoodwinked 2: Hood vs. Evil" is an animated feature for the kids, in which Red Riding Hood (voiced by Hayden Panettiere) is called upon to be the hero by helping to find the missing Hansel and Gretel. Opening Jan. 15, it presents a positive animated female role model.
"Creation," opening Jan. 22, promises an engaging performance by Jennifer Connelly as Charles Darwin's wife, whose marriage suffered severely because her own strong religious convictions opposed her husband's history-defining "Origin of the Species." Darwin is played by Paul Bettany, who is Connelly's husband in real life.

'Extraordinary Measures' Searches for Cure

"Extraordinary Measures," also opening Jan. 22, is based on writer Geeta Anand's book, "The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million--And Bucked the Medical Establishment--in a Quest to Save His Children." Directed by Tom Vaughn, with a screenplay by Robert Nelson Jacobs, the truth-based feature film stars Brendan Fraser and Kerri Russell as the married couple who raise money to find a cure for their two kids' rare genetic disorder.
"Preacher's Kid," opening Jan. 29, is an updated and femme-centric version of "The Prodigal Son." In it, R and B singer LeToya Luckett (of Destiny's Child) makes her film debut as a preacher's daughter who, at age 20-something, joins a traveling gospel show. Along the way, she discovers the difficulties of life on the road and struggles to find the resolve and courage to return home and seek reconciliation with her father. It will be interesting to see how LeToya's acting chops compare to those of fellow Destiny's Child singer Beyonce Knowles.
In addition to covering film for Women's eNews, Jennifer Merin writes about documentaries for ( and is president of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, a nonprofit organization of the leading women film journalists in the U.S. and Canada.