On Thursday, October 21st I jumped on the phone with other NCRW staffers to get the latest dish on women and the economy straight from the source: The White House. Valerie Jarrett, the Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, announced the launch of a new report: Jobs and Economic Security for America’s Women.
By itself, CEDAW (the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) is just words. But these words can have an important function in setting an agenda for women's rights in the U.S. and providing international comparators of our progress.
The U.S. is one of the very few countries worldwide that has failed to ratify CEDAW. As a result, the U.S. does not participate in the international monitoring process that requires periodic reporting to the CEDAW Committee of international experts on our nation's progress and steady efforts toward achieving women's equality.
With 10 million workers, the restaurant industry is one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing employers – and one of the largest employers of women of color - even during the current economic crisis. Founded initially after 9/11 to support restaurant workers displaced from the World Trade Center, the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) has grown into a national restaurant workers’ organization with 6000 members in seven states. ROC supports restaurant workers through organizing, policy and research work, and partnerships with responsible employers to promote the ‘high road’ to profitability.
The lives of low-income working mothers and children are hanging in the balance with California Governor’s economically irresponsible and morally reprehensible line-item veto to eliminate the Stage 3 child care program. Despite having a bi-partisan “hand shake deal” that would have protected child care subsidies, the Governor shocked the legislature by claiming the cuts were necessary to bolster up a “rainy day fund.”
Our government representatives are shying away from a new stimulus under the guise of avoiding a larger deficit. However, another stimulus package is a short-term deficit that will have long-term benefits. An additional stimulus makes economic sense, because the job market lags behind in terms of recovery after a recession. Furthermore, this package is an ethical imperative that would promote the United States’ human rights obligations to the right to work under international law. It will also uphold a non-discriminatory human rights policy that will correct the systemic blind spot the administration experienced in putting women and women of color on the road to recovery.
Beyond the rhetoric and bluster of the campaign season there exists a frightening silent truth: girls and young women experience violence, abuse and neglect at epidemic proportions in America. More than 60 percent of all females raped are under the age of 18; one in three girls is sexually abused; and the average age at which a girl is trafficked for sex in this country is 12–all in the land of the American dream.
“Sexualization of girls is nothing short of an epidemic,” said Hunter College President Jennifer Raab at the SPARK Summit this past Friday in NYC. SPARK stands for “Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge.” SPARK was convened to challenge the sexualization of girls, which has a detrimental impact on girls’ self-esteem, body image, mental health, and sense of self-efficacy. One of the most disturbing effects that Raab pointed out is that self-improvement has been defined as changing one’s body rather than expanding one’s mind. For examples of just how out-of-control the sexualization of girls has become (and also how folks are pushing back), check out this video the Women’s Media Center produced for the Summit: