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.
Chicago Tribune: Local groups representing African American, Latino and Asian businesses are calling for reforms to steer 35% of the the city governments $1.1 billion in annual contracts into small businesses and firms owned by women, racial minorities, and disabled veterans. So far, they have the support of the Los Angeles mayor, who has also promised more transparency in awarding contracts.
"Local minority businesses are pushing for reforms they say will get more of the Los Angeles city government's $1.1 billion in annual contracts into the hands of such firms and those owned by women and service-disabled military veterans. A report advocating the reforms "The Case for Minority Business Contracting Reform in the City of Los Angeles," was released Oct. 19 by the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce. It argued that the proposals would contribute to the city's overall economic recovery.
The report called for the city to steer 35% of the contractual funds to small, local businesses owned by racial minorities and women. An additional 8% would go to businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. Minority-owned firms now get 7% of those funds. Still, small firms said they have trouble even finding jobs to bid on because the city's several dozen departments often post contract opportunities separately. The small businesses also say that all too often business contracts are awarded based on relationships that deep-pocketed firms have an easier time establishing.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who spoke at the news conference where the contract reform report was unveiled, has promised more transparency in awarding contracts and said his office would complete an executive directive by the end of the year to implement changes to procurement policies. 'This isn't just the right thing to do; it's a smart, business-savvy thing to do in a city that's probably close to 70% of color," Villaraigosa said. "A larger pool of qualified bidders will result in more competitive bidding, and thus the goal is more savings for the city and a recycling of dollars in our community.'"
Los Angeles Times: Under the new health care reform laws, "preventive medicine" is covered--and if the birth control pill is considered such, contraception could be free for all U.S. women.
"Fifty years after the pill, another birth control revolution may be on the horizon: free contraception for women in the U.S., thanks to the new health care law. That could start a shift toward more reliable — and expensive — forms of birth control that are gaining acceptance in other developed countries.
A panel of experts advising the government meets in November to begin considering what kind of preventive care for women should be covered at no cost to the patient. Senator Barbara Mikulski, author of the women's health amendment, says the clear intent was to include family planning. But is birth control preventive medicine?
Conflicting answers frame what could be the next clash over moral values and a health law that passed only after a difficult compromise restricting the use of public money for abortions. For many medical and public health experts, there's no debate. 'There is clear and incontrovertible evidence that family planning saves lives and improves health," said obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. David Grimes, an international family planning expert who teaches medicine at the University of North Carolina.'"
University of Illinois: As the number of rural immigrant Latino mothers has increased, so has research into their childcare needs. Initial studies have shown that language barriers and access to childcare have prevented many women from seeking employment or better economic opportunities.
"Finding good child care and being able to engage easily in important interactions with your child care provider are critical to any mother's ability to work outside the home. 'Suppose you're living in the rural Midwest and you don't speak English very well. Can you imagine leaving your child with a child care provider if you couldn't communicate well with that person?' said Angela Wiley, a University of Illinois associate professor of applied family studies. 'The immigrant moms we interviewed for this study faced just this dilemma,' she said.
Immigrant Latino mothers in rural areas need child care that meets a certain cultural comfort level, is affordable for them, and is available during shift work, she said. Why the urgent interest in rural Latino families' child care needs? In non-metropolitan areas of Illinois, the Latino population grew by 71 percent between 1990 and 2000, and it has continued to grow.
These statistics caught the eye of administrators at the U of I's Child Care Resource Center in 2008, and they began to study the needs of rural Latino mothers. For these Latinos, basic employability and access to higher-paying jobs are affected by two key challenges: learning English and accessing child care that families feel comfortable with and can afford, she said. A reluctance to seek child care outside the family circle hampers the ability of both parents to find steady work. Although nearly 95 percent of the families would be eligible for child-care subsidies because of their income, only 10 percent of the families report using them, she said."
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
UNICEF: A new "Mother-Baby Pack " is being launched in Kenya to prevent HIV transmission from mother to child. The Pack is a take-home box of PMTCT drugs designed for women and children who have no access to conventional, high-quality preventive care and contains pre-measured drugs to protect the health of mother and child.
"The scheduled launch of UNICEF’s Mother-Baby Pack in Kenya tomorrow marks the moment when this innovation for preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission begins to fulfil its potential to save lives in the developing world. The Mother-Baby Pack is a creative response to an unmet need. Every day, more than 1,000 infants worldwide are infected with HIV during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding. Most are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Without medical help, at least half of these babies will die before their second birthday. But a medical and social intervention known as prevention of mother-to-child transmission, or PMTCT, can safeguard them from HIV – while protecting the health of their mothers.
The Mother-Baby Pack is a take-home box of PMTCT drugs designed for women and children who have no access to conventional, high-quality preventive care. It contains all the anti-retroviral drugs and antibiotics required to protect the health of one mother and child. The medicines are pre-measured and packaged to make it easy for adults to administer them correctly. Only pregnant women living with HIV who do not yet require treatment for their own health will receive Mother-Baby Packs."
Women's Media Center: Gloria Steinhem, co-founder of the Women's Media Center, writes about the importance of choosing pro-choice candidates this election season, and how reproductive freedom is intrinsically tied to economics.
"You may have noticed that Democratic candidates in tight races are actually bringing up the subject of abortion. In the past, they probably voted for the right of a woman and her doctor to make this decision, but then hoped the subject would just go away. Now that polls are showing women of all races to be the major firewall between Democrats and disaster, they are suddenly remembering that one in three American women needs an abortion at some time in her life, and that Republican candidates almost never get past their own primaries without promising to largely or totally criminalize it. The problem is that many Democrats have spent so long avoiding the subject of abortion─for example, downplaying it or even bargaining it away during the health care debate─that they haven’t a clue how to talk about it. As if to insure their own defeat, they sideline this and other reproductive rights as “social issues,” thus allowing media, pundits and even voters themselves to assume that such concerns are not as important or motivating as what are called “economic issues.”
Modern democracies other than our own recognize them and support reproductive rights, from sex education in schools and subsidized health care that includes contraception and child birth—with abortion as a lessened and uncontroversial element—to national systems of childcare, parental leave and work patterns that allow both women and men to be nurturing parents. In this country, however, right-wing opposition to sex education in public schools and to birth control as preventive health care─indeed, opposition to same-sex couples or any admission that human sexuality is not now and never has been solely about reproduction─has contributed to the highest teenage birthrate in any developed country. Indeed, 60 percent of all U.S. births are unplanned. That’s twice the rate of unintended pregnancies in comparable nations."
Colorlines: This month, President Obama launched a new set of initiatives for domestic violence survivors, while Colorlines editors remind us that the economy and intimate partner violence are intrinsically related, as domestic violence cases have risen with the recession.
"October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and on Wednesday President Obama hosted an event at the White House with Vice President Joe Biden to launch a set of new initiatives for domestic violence survivors. Obama said his administration was going to create a national advisory committee addressing violence against women that will be overseen by Attorney General Eric Holder. He also announced a suite of programs in different departments to meet the needs of domestic violence survivors, including giving people greater legal protections and protecting domestic violence survivors from being denied or kicked out of housing because they’d been abused.
Obama also said the Department of Justice was looking into making sure that restraining orders were successfully implemented and enforced, and that his administration was going to connect DV survivors with jobs and services and other tools so they could win “financial independence” to build new lives."
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: A new program has increased colorectal cancer screenings for minority women by partnering with mammography centers. Increasing access to the screenings is one way of removing barriers to this important preventitive care.
"Minority patients have a significantly decreased survival from colon cancer compared to white patients, most often as a result of a late diagnosis. To help address this problem, a team of healthcare professionals at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has identified an efficient way to increase minority access to lifesaving colorectal cancer screening (CRCS) in communities where multiple barriers to preventive care exist. In the November 8 issue of the journal Cancer, the group reports how women living in Harlem were introduced to CRCS during their routine mammography screening.
'We hypothesized that mammography centers, similar to the one where this study took place, offer a unique opportunity to introduce the concept of colon cancer screening, because the women being tested are most likely already familiar with the concept of cancer screening," explained Moshe Shike, MD, an attending physician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the study's lead author. "Unfortunately, minorities in this community often have a late diagnosis and subsequent poor outcome from colon cancer because they are not able to – for one reason or another – access the routine preventive care they need. However, minority women, including many living in Harlem, are taking advantage of mammography screening as a result of ongoing outreach and education efforts.'"
Association for Psychological Science: A new study by psychological scientists answers the question of why women are underrepresented in STEM fields. Conclusions show that main factors include personal choice, and child-bearing years.
"The question of why women are so underrepresented in math-intensive fields is a controversial one. Two psychological scientists have reviewed all of the evidence and concluded that the main factor is women's choices—both freely made, such as that they'd rather study biology than math, and constrained, such as the fact that the difficult first years as a professor coincide with the time when many women are having children.
Psychological scientists Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams of Cornell University set out to understand the differences between men and women in math-intensive fields such as physics, electrical engineering, computer science, economics, and chemistry. In the top 100 U.S. universities, only 9% to 16% of tenure-track positions in these kinds of fields are held by women.
Williams and Ceci also reviewed research on sex discrimination and decided that it is no longer a major factor. In fact, one large-scale national study found that women are actually slightly more likely than men to be invited to interview for and to be offered tenure-track jobs in math-intensive STEM fields. Instead, Williams and Ceci think the problem is that women actually choose not to go into math-heavy fields, or drop out once they have started."