February 25, 2009 posted by adminFrom Legal Momentum’s perspective, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will do a great deal of good for women and families in the crisis. While we applaud a number of provisions in the bill, we are very concerned that yet more must be done to guarantee that women, and low-income women in particular, have access to good jobs on the one hand, and on the other, that our national safety net is strong enough to protect those who find themselves out of work and out of resources. In terms of jobs, women can take some comfort in ARRA’s provisions to shore up jobs in the traditionally women-dominated fields of health care, child care and education. However, many of the women employed in these industries are barely scraping by in low-wage jobs as home health care and child care providers. While these jobs offer a paycheck, they do not translate into economic security. Like the millions of other women who comprise the majority of the nation’s low-wage workforce, these women need access to jobs that will raise them out of poverty and offer a path to stability and prosperity.
I was recently in Calcutta, India, my place of birth, home to where my mother, a sibling, old friends, and sweet memories still reside. This is my other “home” where I try to get to every year to renew and regenerate myself, and recharge from the stresses of a running a two working parents’ nuclear household in frenetic New York City. My trip last month came after a two year gap; I felt the familiar overwhelming desire to be there, to be a part of the sights and sounds of an India that were at once familiar and yet distant to me. Having left almost 23 years ago to move to the US, I have a unique insider-outsider vantage point. I was born and brought up there; I know things instinctively – all the cultural puzzles, contradictions, nuances of language, wordplay and verbal cues, body language, subtle things - that only a native-born can ever know. But, having been away long enough, and trained in and working in a field where critical inquiry is required, I can no longer accept without questioning the status and daily conditions of millions of people living in absolute poverty, what Collier refers to as The Bottom Billion. Even as India’s economy grows steadily at about 8% a year, there are entire communities of people, some 300 million of them, who live under a $1 a day without regular access to food, water, housing, livelihoods, reproductive healthcare or education. Malnutrition in children under five is at a staggering 45%.
February 10, 2009 posted by admin My first memory in life is of my mom holding me up as a human shield to try get my dad to stop beating her—possibly to stop from killing her. I was 2-years-old at the time. My book for young women, RESPECT: A GIRL'S GUIDE TO GETTING RESPECT AND DEALING WHEN YOUR LINE IS CROSSED (Free Spirit Publishing, 2005), was born out of a life riddled with disrespect. Like many girls and women I’ve met, I grew up in this home where domestic violence, addictions, incarceration, near poverty and "-isms" from racism to sexism were diminishing my family. But I was one of the lucky ones who discovered the many keys to breaking this cycle. Through following my passions, discovering my mission in life and getting help--among other Steps to Respect--I learned that respect is always within reach because true respect starts on the inside. Now as I travel the country coaching girls and women, I hear a lot of stories just like mine. And as part of this work, I share with them an amazing video made by Jennifer Uribe, our 19-year-old program assistant at Respect Rx (a venture I founded last year). Jen's video includes powerful stats that some girls have heard and some haven't, like:
An op-ed just came across our desk that we wanted to share, as part of this week's Violence Forum here at TRD. In a Boston Globe op-ed this week, Liv Ullmann, reminds us of the violence suffered by refugees in Darfur, Nepal, and Kenya. Writes Ullmann:
For thousands of these impoverished women and girls, gathering firewood is more than a vital chore - it is often a matter of life and death. By doing what many of us achieve by simply turning on a stove, refugee women and girls regularly fall victim to rape, assault, theft, exploitation, and even murder... It's high time we get "beyond firewood" and explore alternative fuels and cutting-edge energy technologies, such as clean-burning fuels, fuel-efficient stoves, and solar cookers, Ullmann says. We need to reduce women’s vulnerability to violence by investing in alternative sources of fuel that do not require women to travel long distances to collect firewood.
Linda Basch: What three recommendations do you have for Timothy Geithner, our next Treasury Secretary?
Sara Gould: First, we must strongly urge that the next Secretary ensure that the $700 billion bailout and other actions designed to address the economic crisis prioritize getting relief to communities that need it most. It’s not enough to rely on support for large banks to trickle down to middle and low-income people who are disproportionately affected by the plummeting economy—particularly when the banks’ share of the bailout came with few regulations and the conditions it did come with are being defied (see Naomi Klein’s article in The Nation). Instead, the next Treasury Secretary should require that financial institutions use the bailout money for lending to consumers—instead of to boost the value of its shares. In addition to accountability and comprehensive regulations that apply to bailed-out banks and beyond, s/he should insist upon transparency and reveal exactly where the money is going and how it is being used. It is especially critical that the bailout money be used to help people who are facing or already in foreclosure—the majority of whom are likely women and people of color, as they were most likely to receive sub-prime loans in the first place. One promising option is to support FDIC chairperson Sheila Bair’s proposal to use $25 billion of the bailout to provide mortgage relief to homeowners. Her proposal would offer incentives to loan servicers to restructure mortgages, making payments more affordable. Second, an economic stimulus should be passed quickly. It should include immediate relief such as the extension of unemployment benefits as well as programs like job creation and training that will ensure economic stability for low- and middle-income people over the long-term. Any economic stimulus package should be sure to address the urgent needs of those who have been most impacted by the crisis, especially low-income women, women of color and their families. Recent statistics show that women are losing jobs at twice the rate of men.Third, we must return to a system of progressive taxation in which people with high incomes and net worth provide a larger share of tax revenues. New revenue should go towards domestic stimulus programs such as job training and infrastructure rebuilding as well as for key social and economic supports that have been eroded over the last two decades.
Posted by Marcia D. Greenberger and Nancy Duff Campbell, Co-Presidents, National Women's Law Center Throughout the nation's history, the actions of Congress, the President, and the courts have had a tremendous impact on the progress of women and their families.
After watching the debate last Tuesday, I was absolutely struck by the absence of any discussion--or mention, really--of poverty in this time of economic crisis. I invite you to check out my post, "The Missing Debate on Poverty," at Huffington Post--and let me know what you think! Your comments, here or there, are always welcome.