Tag: women’s rights

Harriet Tubman National Historical Park Becomes Reality

This photo provided by the U.S. Department of Interior shows Harriet Tubman’s home, now officially recognized as a national park. U.S. Department of Interior (photo via nbcnews.com)

article by Associated Press via nbcnews.com

Federal parks officials have formally established the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in upstate New York. Members of the state’s congressional delegation joined U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in Washington, D.C., for the official signing ceremony last month that makes the park part of the National Park Service system. It encompasses the site of Tubman’s old home on the outskirts of Auburn, about 25 miles west of Syracuse, and a nearby church where she worshipped.

Harriet Tubman (photo via nbcnews.com)

The New York park will focus on Tubman’s work later on in her life when she was an active proponent of women’s suffrage and other causes. It will be a sister park to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Maryland.

“These two parks preserve and showcase a more complete history of one of America’s pivotal humanitarians who, at great personal risk, did so much to secure the freedom of hundreds of formerly enslaved people,” Secretary Jewell said. “Her selfless commitment to a more perfect union is testament that one determined person, no matter her station in life or the odds against her, can make a tremendous difference.”

To read full article: Harriet Tubman National Historical Park Becomes Reality – NBC News

First Lady Michelle Obama Writes Powerful Editorial for The Atlantic: “Let Girls Learn”

First Lady Michelle Obama (photo via firstladies.org)
First Lady Michelle Obama (photo via firstladies.org)

First Lady Michelle Obama advocate for young women and girls across the globe with today’s frank and forthright editorial in The Atlantic magazine entitled “Let Girls Learn.”

That is also the title of her initiative with President Obama, which is aimed at doing just that. The program will not only fund leadership camps and address resource limitations, but it will also educate girls in conflict zones and address broader cultural beliefs that prevent girls from growing up to be successful, independent women.

Read her powerful essay below:

Right now, 62 million girls worldwide are not in school. They’re receiving no formal education at all—no reading, no writing, no math—none of the basic skills they need to provide for themselves and their families, and contribute fully to their countries.

Often, understandably, this issue is framed as a matter of resources—a failure to invest enough money in educating girls. We can solve this problem, the argument goes, if we provide more scholarships for girls so they can afford school fees, uniforms, and supplies; and if we provide safe transportation so their parents don’t have to worry that they’ll be sexually assaulted on their way to or from school; and if we build adequate school bathrooms for girls so they don’t have to stay home when they have their periods, and then fall behind and wind up dropping out.

And it’s true that investments like these are critical for addressing our global girls’ education crisis. That’s why, last spring, the president and I launched Let Girls Learn, a new initiative to fund community girls’ education projects like girls’ leadership camps and school bathrooms; educate girls in conflict zones; and address poverty, HIV, and other issues that keep girls out of school.

But while these investments are absolutely necessary to solve our girls’ education problem, they are simply not sufficient. Scholarships, bathrooms, and safe transportation will only go so far if societies still view menstruation as shameful and shun menstruating girls. Or if they fail to punish rapists and reject survivors of rape as “damaged goods.” Or if they provide few opportunities for women to join the workforce and support their families, so that it’s simply not financially viable for parents struggling with poverty to send their daughters to school.

In other words, we cannot address our girls’ education crisis until we address the broader cultural beliefs and practices that can help cause and perpetuate this crisis. And that is precisely the message I intend to deliver this week when I travel to the Middle East. I’ll be visiting girls at a school in Jordan—one of many schools in that country educating both Jordanian children and children whose families have fled the conflict in Syria—to highlight the power of investments in girls’ education. But I’ll also be speaking at a global education conference in Qatar where I’ll be urging countries around the world to both make new investments in girls’ education and challenge laws and practices that silence, demean, and brutalize women—from female genital mutilation and cutting, to forced child marriage, to laws that allow marital rape and disadvantage women in the workplace.

We know that legal and cultural change is possible because we’ve seen it in countries around the world, including our own. A century ago, women in America couldn’t even vote. Decades ago, it was perfectly legal for employers to refuse to hire women, and domestic violence was seen not as a crime, but as a private family matter. But in each generation, brave people—both men and women—stood up to change these practices. They did it through individual acts like taking their bosses to court, fighting to prosecute their rapists, and leaving their abusive husbands—and through national movements and legislation that brought changes like the 19th Amendment, Title IX, and the Violence Against Women Act.   

Cultural shifts like these can spur countries to make greater investments in girls’ education. And when they do, that can cause a powerful ripple effect that can lead to even greater cultural and political progress on behalf of women. Girls who are educated marry later, have lower rates of infant and maternal mortality, and are more likely to immunize their children and less likely to contract HIV. Educated girls also earn higher salaries—15 to 25 percent more for each additional year of secondary school—and studies have shown that sending more girls to school can boost an entire country’s GDP.

And when educated girls become healthy, financially secure, empowered women, they’re far better equipped to advocate for their needs and aspirations, and challenge unjust laws and harmful practices and beliefs. So really, this can be a virtuous cycle.

A walk to school in the southern Indian city of Kerala (Arko Datta / Reuters)

But ultimately, for me, this issue isn’t just about politics or economics—for me, this is a moral issue. As I’ve traveled the world, I have met so many of these girls. I’ve seen firsthand that every single one of them has the spark of something extraordinary inside of them, and they are so hungry to realize their promise. They walk for hours each day to school, learning at rickety desks in bare concrete classrooms. They study for hours each night, holding tight to their hopes for the future, even in the face of heartbreaking odds.

These girls are no different from my daughters or any of our daughters. And we should never have to accept our girls having their bodies mutilated or being married off to grown men as teenagers, confined to lives of dependence and abuse. We should never have to raise them in societies that silence their voices and snuff out their dreams. None of us here in the U.S. would accept this for our own daughters and granddaughters, so why would we accept it for any girl on our planet?

As a first lady, a mother, and a human being, I cannot walk away from these girls, and I plan to keep raising my voice on their behalf for the rest of my life. I plan to keep urging world leaders to invest in their potential and create societies that truly value them as human beings. I plan to keep reaching out to local leaders, families, and girls themselves to raise awareness about the power of sending girls to school. And I plan to keep talking about this issue here at home, because I believe that all of us—men and women, in every country on this planet—have a moral obligation to give all of these girls a future worthy of their promise and their dreams.  

Michelle Obama’s editorial via theatlantic.com

“SNL” Comedian Sasheer Zamata Named ACLU Celebrity Ambassador on Women’s Rights

Sasheer ZamataActress and comedian Sasheer Zamata, known for her breakout role on the cast of Saturday Night Live, will partner with the American Civil Liberties Union to support women’s rights. She joins the ACLU as a celebrity ambassador on the heels of her recent promotion to repertory player for SNL’s 41st season, her third season with the show.

In her role as an ambassador, Zamata will elevate the ACLU’s work to fight gender inequality and structural discrimination against women in employment, education, healthcare, housing, and criminal justice through advocacy and public education. The ACLU Women’s Rights Project was co-founded in 1972 by U.S. Supreme Court Justice  Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who called women’s rights “an essential part of the overall human rights agenda.”

Zamata is featured in Sasheer Zamata Says Women’s Rights “Still a BFD!” a new ACLU video that puts the spotlight on gender inequality and privilege.

“It’s so wonderful that women continue to break down barriers and change societal expectations, but women still suffer discrimination for their gender, class and race,” says Zamata. “I am honored to continue the fight for equal economic opportunities, the right to choose, and an end to gender-based violence by serving as an ACLU Celebrity Ambassador.”

Though strides have been made in the past several decades to advance and protect the rights of women and girls, there’s a lot left to do. In the U.S. today:

  • Women make only 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man; African-American women only earn 64 cents; and Latinas, only 55 cents for each dollar earned by a white man;
  • A woman’s right to choose is threatened by extreme lawmakers who have introduced more than 100 abortion restrictions in 2015 alone;
  • Few legal protections exist for pregnant workers and new mothers, putting families in danger of economic instability, though women are the primary breadwinners in 4 out of 10 families with children.

“We are thrilled to name Sasheer Zamata as our newest celebrity ambassador,” says Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “She is the perfect voice for the next generation, and especially for those looking to effect real and lasting change on women’s rights issues.”

Zamata—who was named one of Cosmopolitan’s “13 Funny Women to Watch in 2014,”—joins Harry Belafonte, Michael K. Williams, Lewis Black, Marlee Matlin, and others, to amplify the ACLU’s work on priority civil liberties issues, including mass incarceration, voting rights, disability rights, and LGBT equality.

Read more about the ACLU Ambassador Project at:
https://www.aclu.org/feature/aclu-ambassador-project

Be a friend and share the video Sasheer Zamata Says Women’s Rights “Still a BFD!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqL9onVybW0

More information about the ACLU’s women’s rights work is available at:
https://www.aclu.org/issues/womens-rights

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Gloria Steinem: Black Women Created the Feminist Movement

Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pittman-Hughes 1972 and 2014 (photo via viralwomen.com)
Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman-Hughes 1972 and 2014 (photo via viralwomen.com)

In a recent interview with Black Enterprise, feminist journalist and activist Gloria Steinem had some refreshing things to say about Black women’s progressive history in the fight for gender equality.

“I thought that [Black women] invented the feminist movement…I learned feminism disproportionately from Black women. ”

Steinem explained that in earlier years, surveys showed that African American women were twice as vocal and biased towards feminist issues and beliefs as their White counterparts. She also spoke on her personal practice of giving the floor to other young women (whether or not they self-identify as feminists) to address concerns for people of varying socioeconomic backgrounds. If she is challenged by younger Black women who say that feminism doesn’t speak to them, Steinem says:

“I don’t say anything. I listen because the point is that we help each other to get dignity and autonomy and freedom. We’re here to help each other.”

Steinem has a history of working with Black feminists. In 1972, Steinem founded Ms. Magazine with Dorothy Pitman-Hughes, the author and child welfare advocate. Steinem was also affiliated with the deceased lawyer Flo Kennedy and worked alongside Alice Walker, making Walker one of the earliest Black editors at Ms. 

The famous feminist spoke on the issues of police brutality as well, noting the importance of equally employing women in the police force to calm racially tense situations.

“[W]e haven’t been raise with our masculinity to prove. All the studies show that if a woman cop arrives on the scene, she de-escalates the situation by her presence and a man cop escalates. So while we’re talking as we should about cops looking like the community, how come we don’t say they should be half women?”

Check out more Steinem’s insightful commentary here at Black Enterprise.

article by Monique John via hellobeautiful.com

University of California, San Diego Honors Sojourner Truth with Life-Size Bronze Statue

Sojourner Truth Statue at UCSD

The University of California, San Diego, recently unveiled a new life-size bronze sculpture of Sojourner Truth. Born into slavery, Sojourner Truth became a leading abolitionist and advocate for women’s rights.

The statue, displayed on the campus of Marshall College, is the work of local artist Manuelita Brown, a graduate of the University of California, San Diego. Brown stated that “Sojourner Truth serves as a drum major for social justice, equity and voting rights. It is my hope that the brilliant students and graduates of UC San Diego will be reminded each day as they walk past her of what they can accomplish with a superior education.”

At the ceremony unveiling the new sculpture, Pradeep K. Khosla, chancellor of the University of California San Diego noted that “centrally located, hundreds of campus and local community members will pass by Sojourner Truth each day. Her presence will serve to start conversations about who she was and what she stood for, a reminder of her influence and the need to continually address racial and gender equality.”

According to the latest U.S. Department of Education figures, Blacks make up only 1 percent of the undergraduate student body at the University of California, San Diego. Under state law, race cannot be considered in admissions decisions at the university.

article via jbhe.com

President Barack Obama Declares October 11 “International Day Of The Girl”

Malia Obama President Barack OBama

President Barack Obama is calling on people all over the world to do everything they can to protect, nurture and encourage young women to be their best.

With the launch of My Brothers’ Keeper, many in the Black community questioned whether he’d forgotten about the struggles that young women face. President Obama insisted last month that his administration was not ignoring girls, and he reminded the nation that he’s taking several steps to ensure that girls have a fair shot in this world.

To drive that point home, the president declared October 11 the International Day of the Girl. “On International Day of the Girl, we stand with girls, women, and male and female advocates in every country who are calling for freedom and justice,” he said in an official statement from the White House, “and we renew our commitment to build a world where all girls feel safe, supported, and encouraged to pursue their own measure of happiness.”

President Obama, who has two amazing daughters of his own, also hopes that this day will be used to call attention to the various injustices, crimes, and acts of violence that young women face all over of the world–and then do something about it. That includes the “harmful cultural norms and prejudices that tell young women how they are expected to look and act deny the dignity and equality” that they deserve as human beings.

MUST READ: President Barack Obama Insists His Administration Has Not Forgotten Black Girls

“Today, we resolve to do more than simply shine a light on inequality,” said Barack. “With partners across the globe, we support the girls who reach for their future in the face of unimaginable obstacles, and we continue our work to change attitudes and shift beliefs until every girl has the opportunities she deserves to shape her own destiny and fulfill her boundless promise.”

And he noted that the plight women face abroad is just as important as the problems they have to deal with in U.S. “As we work to transform the lives of girls and women abroad, we have also redoubled our efforts to ensure there are no barriers to their success here at home,” said President Obama. “We must see the hopes and dreams of our own girls and realize that these are the same dreams of girls around the world.”

By allowing young women to suffer violence and inequitable cultural norms, the president mused that many of the world’s brightest minds are being blocked from reaching their full potential. That’s a disservice to the world that he cannot abide.

“We cannot afford to silence the girl who holds the key to changing her community, or the voice that speaks up to call for peace or further scientific discovery,” said the president. “We cannot allow violence to snuff out the aspirations of young women in America, and we must not accept it anywhere in the world.”

As he made his official declaration, he said in conclusion, “I call upon all Americans to observe this day with programs, ceremonies, and activities that advance equality and opportunity for girls everywhere.”

article by Sonya Eskridge via hellobeautiful.com

President Obama To Keynote Planned Parenthood Gala

President Barack Obama WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama will address Planned Parenthood’s annual gala on Thursday, the organization announced.

“President Obama has done more than any president in history for women’s health and rights,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said in a statement announcing that Obama will deliver the keynote address at the organization’s “Time For Care” dinner in Washington. “We are honored to have President Obama join us…at this pivotal moment for women’s health.”

Richards also served as a surrogate for Obama’s reelection campaign, touting the president’s record on women’s issues during the heat of the campaign.  Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer and HBO’s “Girls” creator Lena Dunham will be honored the event.

Planned Parenthood provides a variety of services for women, including contraception, cancer screenings and abortions.  Obama reaffirmed just last week that he favors abortion rights.

“What I can say is this: You know, I think, President (Bill) Clinton said it pretty well when he said abortion should be safe, legal, and rare,” Obama said in an interview with NBC’s Today show.

article via newsone.com

50 Years Later: Remembering Female Civil Rights Activist Pauli Murray

Attorney Pauli Murray

Harvard Law School professor Kenneth W. Mack writes at the Huffington Post that it’s an African-American woman, attorney Pauli Murray, who deserves credit for expanding the language of civil rights in 1963 to include women’s rights — and even LGBT rights.

“President Obama’s unprecedented endorsement of gay rights in his inauguration address last week — delivered on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday — marks the beginning of a year when Americans will celebrate the 50th anniversary of so many groundbreaking events of 1963: children defying dogs and firehoses in Birmingham, President Kennedy’s endorsement of civil rights as a moral cause, the church bombing that claimed the lives of four little girls in Alabama, and the March on Washington. As the nation remembers these important milestones, it is important not to forget the work of a long-forgotten activist who emerged publicly that year to link civil rights to women’s rights, and ultimately to her own closeted sexual identity. In doing so, an African American woman lawyer named Pauli Murray strongly criticized the leadership of the civil rights movement for excluding women as it was planning for the march that would bring 250,000 protesters to Washington that fall. More than any other individual, it is Murray who deserves credit for expanding the language of civil rights beyond the African American struggle for equality to women’s rights, and ultimately to what she later called “human rights” — and for paving the way for a President of the United States to claim that it included gays and lesbians as well. 

In 1963, Pauli Murray was working hard to make Americans aware of an idea she had come up with two decades earlier — one that influenced people as different from one another as Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Wright Edelman — and which would help change the meaning of equality. She called it Jane Crow. Alongside the system of Jim Crow race segregation, Murray argued, there was an equally wrong system of sex segregation. Sex discrimination should be against the law for the same reasons as race discrimination. This was a radical idea at the time …”

Read Kenneth W. Mack’s entire piece at the Huffington Post.

article via theroot.com