Report and Recommendations for Action
The Priority Actions Selected By Participants in the Call to Action Conference, February 26, 2000 are:
1) Universal Health Care
2) Economic Justice
3) Ratification & Implementation of CEDAW
Roma Guy, Director, Bay Area Homelessness Program, Department of Health Education, SFSU.
Charlie Toledo, Director, SUSCOL Tribal Indian Council, Napa, CA.
Carolene Marks, Board Member, National Foundation on Alternative Medicine,
Report prepared by Adele James, Program Officer, The Women’s Foundation
ACTIONS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
- We participated in several CAWA local and regional meetings to identify health as a priority issue affecting social and economic status. We recruited participants to provide leadership for the health access agenda that expands health concerns beyond the local community, traditional public health programs and hospital care. We established health priorities for a local CAWA network action plan and connected them to the other eleven areas of concern in the Beijing Plan of Action.
- We recruited activists to support the priority agenda on health and to outreach to other women’s and girls’ organizations working on related health issues – full access to care, holistic health and preventive programs. We brainstormed with activists and began investigating legislative proposals for health care financing and analyzing their impact on women and girls.
- A lack of women’s and girl’s organizations and leadership advocating health care financing as a priority issue.
- Lack of understanding of how opponents of equality for women and girls use gender, as well as racial tactics (ranging from stereotypical definitions of “family” to challenging government participation in the provision of health care as “bad”) to defeat improvements in the nation’s health care systems. This is especially visible in media campaigns that use “wedge issues ” to target women and swing votes. Similarly, employers and medical associations (to maintain the status quo) focus their attention persuading women to support increased use of tertiary care (in hospitals), at the expense of primary care, holistic health and preventive methods.
- Lack of public understanding of health care financing, the minimal resources available at local community levels and the limited number of women’s and girls’ health organizaations with a broad-based policy focus combine to maintain the present system in which women’s voices are seldom heard at local, regional, state and national health strategy sessions.
- Women and girls in California have documented many times over that their health status and access to basic physical, mental preventative health care and services are key issues. Organizing and building a statewide consensus on HOW this can be successfully accomplished is a major obstacle given historical and well-organized opposition. Women utilize the health care system 30% more than men and carry most of the burden of obtaining health care for their families. Policies which result in decrease in public spending and the “devolution” (transfer of public services and funding from the national tax base to the state and local tax base), severe cuts in the safety net (Medicaid, Medicare), teaching hospitals, the balance budget agreement of 1997, changes in Welfare (TANF/CalWorks), etc are dismantling the infrastructure needed from which to construct and expand basic health care. These policies, without constructing a new, more efficient and efficacious policy of universal health care fundamentally, creates risk for ill-health for all and increases the vulnerability of especially poor people, including the working poor, to highest risk of ill-health. This is of particular importance to women and girls since women account for two-thirds of all adults living in poverty and two-thirds of all elderly adults living in poverty. The Health Task Force has learned how the social factors of income and its relationship to wealth, gender, race, disability AND a few health behaviors are major indicators of health and ill-health. As Dr. Donald M. Berwick, pediatrician stated: “Tell me someone’s race, their income, whether they smoke and the answers will tell me more about their longevity and health status than any other question I could possibly ask.” (NYT, 1/26/98).
- We are developing organizing strategies and leadership, especially paid leadership. to accomplish the goal of educating women and girls, and develop a legislative health agenda as well as concrete local strategies for health access. We need collaborations of advocacy and policy at local and state levels to focus on health care for all. We need to insure that coalitions on health care include diverse communities, women and girls, and women and girls health care issues in overall legislation, research, and data collection and prevention strategies.
- We have investigated how the interrelationship of poverty, prejudice and gaps in wealth create ill-health for women and girls which in turn creates more poverty, violence and ill-health for generations of people and the environment. Heart disease, for instance, is the number one cause of death for women (28% of all deaths). The growth of cancer, especially breast cancer for women and girls, is undeniably related to environmental factors. Other health related significant information is that domestic violence is the single largest cause of injury to women, accounting for more emergency hospital visits than auto accidents, muggings and rape combined. AIDS is the leading cause of death among African American and Latina women ages 25-44. Overall, women and girls of color have higher disease-related morbidity and shorter life span than white women and girls.
ACTION RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE CALL TO ACTION, 2/26/00
- Universal Comprehensive Health Care. We advocate the creation of a health care system that places the needs of women and children at the center and ensures access to quality, culturally appropriate primary care, holistic and preventative care regardless of a person’s ability to pay.
All activities and actions are within the context of UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights as defined by the definition of health of the World Health Oganizatinon (WHO) and the Beijing Plan for Action (1995).
- Develop a collaborative of public & private institutions, governmental agencies, and community-based organizations (CBOs) to establish relationships and representation with new and continuing California legislative initiatives & processes to influence policy and action toward achievable universal access to health care in California.
- Continue to support the State-wide efforts toward universal health care, such as: expanding MediCal to disabled workers and enrolling parents of children who are enrolled in Healthy Families (also support simplifying applications and expanding outreach to immigrant communities) and SB480.
- Support legislation to shift prison spending to health care and education.
- Incorporate competency training and standards (including gender, mental & physical disability, race, ethnicity, national origin, refugees, immigrants, sexual orientation, income disparity, age, geographic location) in every health service and teaching institution for health personnel. Re-institute affirmative action to ensure that women and people of color are trained as health care providers.
- Allocate more research dollars to explore the health care needs of women of various ethnic groups in California. Include women and girls in clinical trials and research. Collect researched data on women and girls and widely publish and distribute locally and to influence public policy.
- Provide universal access to community-based family planning reproductive health services and care. Establish universal testing for mammograms and pap smears. Include all available choices for all women and girls throughout the entire life cycle by:
Providing access and affordability to all new modalities of birth control as may be established by professional standards of care and contraception and sexual education and services including emergency contraception; supporting the elimination of means testing for reproductive health care, family planning; stopping the erosion of Roe v. Wade caused by barriers to access for low income and rural women, threats and violence against abortion providers, and legislative backsliding on reproductive rights; working to develop policies specific to hospital mergers to ensure that the requirement for meeting community health needs includes maintain access to the full range of reproductive/sexual health and family planning services; provide access to alternative and traditional family planning in all communities and STD/HIV prevention, detection and management, medical and surgical abortion; seek immediate approval of RU486.
- Provide reproductive health choices and health care for all women and girls throughout life from pregnancy, through pre-post-menopause. This means using our network to stop annual attacks eroding Roe v. Wade.
Jenny L. Erwin,Regional Administrator, Women’s Bureau, DOL, Region IX.
Sonia Melara,Executive Director, San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women.
ACTIONS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Since the Beijing Conference, efforts have focused on work/family balance; living wage issues; pay and retirement security; and reform of CALWORKS programs.
In the area of work/family balance, the federal government has allowed states the option to use unemployment insurance for birth or adoption of children. In California, Governor Davis signed a bill to study the financial costs and benefits of paid family leave; and legislation has been introduced that would extend the family friendly protections of the California Family Rights Act to employees at businesses with 20 or more employees. In San Francisco, there has been a public hearing and study about the impact of paid maternity leave.
On the pay and benefits front, many local governments have enacted or proposed living wage ordinances to raise wages, provide health insurance and generally improve the living standards of workers employed by contractors.
Throughout the State, coalitions have been formed to raise awareness about the wage gap between women and men and to press employers for equal pay and greater benefits. Efforts to prevent privatization of social security have been successful and further efforts continue to ensure adequate funding for future beneficiaries. In business, women are starting firms at twice the rate of men and providing many jobs to California’s workforce.
For women in poverty, active coalitions have mobilized to help provide transitional services for women moving from welfare to work. As women have entered the CALWORKS system, advocacy organizations have conducted focus groups with women to understand what works and to press for changes that will improve women’s short and long term efforts to find economic self-sufficiency.
Overall, the largest obstacle is the growing income inequality within the State – reflecting a trend of high job growth in the high-paying technology fields, which are dominated by white, male workers, as well as high job growth in the low-paying service industry jobs, where workers are more likely to be female and/or people of color.
Women make up a disproportionate number of those in poverty and roughly 70% of all minimum wage workers. While unemployment rates are low for Northern and Southern California cities, the central valley continues to experience deep unemployment and women have few viable job options.
Despite a booming economy. immigrant women are still invisible. Low-income, limited-English-speaking immigrant women toil for long hours in low wage jobs as electronics assemblers, agricultural workers, and garment workers, with few or no benefits and many occupational hazards.
Compared with women throughout the nation, California women earn generally higher wages – about $520 per week on average, compared to a national average of only $456 for women – yet we still have a wage gap with our male counterparts – in 1998, on average California women earned 85.7 percent of men’s weekly wages. While this wage ratio is better than the U.S. average of women earning 76.3 percent of men’s weekly wages, the higher wages are offset by California’s higher cost of living, including higher than average housing and child care prices. In addition, the state lags behind others in the number of workers who do not have health insurance. The prospering economy has generated an influx of high-wage workers, yet housing creation has not kept up with demand — resulting in a crisis in affordable housing. Rents have skyrocketed and new housing eludes all but the well-to-do. Complicating the picture is the problem of affordable child care — statewide nearly five children compete for each child care slot, driving up the cost of care and pricing low-income families out of the market. The average cost of care is $545 a month, higher than the median average working woman’s weekly salary. Too few employers offer family-friendly benefits, and flex-time, part-time, job sharing, and telecommuting is still unavailable for many. Moreover, too many women cannot afford to take unpaid time off from work for family and medical needs. In both government and private entities, women comprise an alarmingly small percentage of top managers and the skilled trades.
Occupational segregation is still the norm. Despite the great advancements in the overall number of women entering the professions and blue collar trades, the proportion of women in these nontraditional occupations is still very low, and women continue to experience isolation and sexual harassment in these fields. While women formed businesses at twice the rate of men in 1997, they still received only 2% of institutional venture capital money. Barriers include work/family pressures, having more responsibilities and less time to devote to business.
We have made inroads in many areas and generated increased media attention to our concerns, but still battle the same problems. Success has been greatest for women with advanced education and training, and access to mentoring and supportive networks.
Diversity and affirmative action programs are critical to maintaining our status and should be expanded. Data collection has been important to understand links between gender and other identities such as race, immigration status, parental status, language, sexual orientation, disability, age, and other status. The living wage efforts are encouraging, yet must supplement other efforts to raise the minimum wage, ensure equal pay for equal work, and close the wage gap along gender, race, and other such lines. Coalitions are critical to push issues while partnerships with elected officials are essential to pass stronger laws and ensure enforcement of existing law.
ACTION RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE CALL TO ACTION, 2/26/00
- Through individual letter writing and phone calls, as well as coalition efforts, urge lawmakers to pass a higher minimum wage.
- At the local level, urge local elected officials to pass living wageordinances, and offer tax incentives to employers who already do so.
- Raise awareness about pay and benefit issues – hold educational forums that teach and encourage women how to assess their own skills and abilities and to negotiate on their own behalf, including seeking higher pay through raises, promotions and new job opportunities in higher paying fields. Empower women to advocate for themselves in the workplace.
- Press lawmakers to address the barriers which make it difficult for low-income women to maintain steady employment, including the lack of affordable, quality child care, adequate transportation and commuting times, and wages that lift a family above the poverty level.
- Use May 11th, Equal Pay Day, as an opportunity to raise awareness about the wage gap between women and men by holding rallies and sending letters and op-eds to newspapers and elected officials about the wage gap and calling on employers to take steps to assess the wage gap in their own companies and eliminate pay disparities.
- Promote greater opportunity for women in nontraditional occupations through apprentice-ship and job training opportunities.
- Press local School Boards to develop teacher training and curriculum which emphasizes math and science applications in ways that appeals to girls as well as boys.
- Call for greater enforcement of existing laws against employment and wage discrimination.
- Support women in business by requiring banks and other lending institutions to expand access to credit and micro-credit programs.
- Utilize “Take Our Daughters to Work Day” as an opportunity to expose girls to the kinds of jobs held by their fathers, brothers and uncles.
- Expand or build career centers where low-income women can learn more about high paying job opportunities and the skills and training needed to obtain those jobs.
HUMAN RIGHTS & CEDAW
Krishanti Dhamaraj, Director, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD).
Julianne Cartwright Traylor, President, Amnesty International.
Senior Advisor and Resource Specialist:
Billie Heller, Chair, International Committee on CEDAW.
Human Rights in California is a cross-cutting issue that affects all of the 12 Critical Areas of Concern as defined in the 1995 Beijing Platform of Action. All of these issue areas, including human rights, provide the foundation and framework for a broad policy agenda that — if implemented — would improve the human rights of women and the girl child, and society as a whole.At the Beijing Conference, three strategic objectives for action concerning human rights were identified including Strategic Objective I.1 whose goals are to “promote and protect the human rights of women, through the full implementation of all human rights instruments, especially the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).”
Furthermore, the U.S. Government made a commitment to ratify CEDAW as its top priority among the human rights treaties which were awaiting the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate. However, now in February 2000, the U.S. is the only western industrialized countries which has not ratified CEDAW, leaving it in the company of countries such as the Sudan and Iran. So far, 165 countries have ratified CEDAW.
We in the CAWA Human Rights Task Force continue to make the local, state-wide and national ratification of CEDAW a priority of our work: Krishanti Dhamaraj as Executive Director, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) for Human Rights and member of the Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) Board of Directors; Julianne Cartwright Traylor, Chair, AIUSA Board of Directors, and Founding and Current Member, Board of Directors, Human Rights Advocates; and Billie Heller, Founding Member and Chair, National Committee on CEDAW, in partnership and collaboration with the many non-governmental organizations, individuals, and networks with which we work throughout California and nationally.
ACTIONS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
California has taken major steps toward implementing the Beijing Platform for Action. The California State Legislature has twice passed resolutions urging the US Senate to act favorably on CEDAW, and was the third State in the US to pass such a resolution.
More recently “Resolution Projects” have been successfully done in six of its Counties, i.e., Los Angeles, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz; and in five of its Cities, i.e., Redlands, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and West Hollywood. Other Projects are in progress throughout California, i.e., in Napa, Placer and Sonoma Counties, and in the Cities of Auburn, El Dorado, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Mountain View, Napa, Roseville, San Bernadino, Santa Monica, Santa Rosa and South Lake Tahoe.
Particularly in relationship to the City and County of San Francisco, on April 14, 1998, San Francisco became the first ever US city to implement the principles of an international human rights treaty – CEDAW. The ordinance which was passed confirmed the status of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) as the permanent city commission to implement and monitor the progress of implementing CEDAW. This ordinance represents a collaboration between governmental and community organizations led by K. Dhamaraj’s WILD and the SF CSW with two other leading partner organizations including AIUSA – Western Region, and The Women’s Foundation. There are separate packets from WILD available here at the Beijing 5+ Pacific Region Preparatory Conference with additional information on the local ratification and implementation of CEDAW process.
Other organizations are also involved in the CEDAW ratification process. For example, California State NOW (National Organization for Women) has made CEDAW Resolutions a priority action for all of their California chapters, which has led to a similar action for their national organization.
Resolutions Projects have led local NGOs and individuals to form coalitions facilitating work and education on CEDAW as well as other Platform for Action issues of concern. These networks are a valuable by-product of the Resolutions Projects.
California has also taken a leadership role on CEDAW at the national level. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the only woman serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced Senate Resolution 237 (S.Res 237) on November 19,1999, with 8 of the 9 women Senators co-sponsoring, urging prompt consideration of CEDAW by March 8th (International Women’s Day) of 2000. Since then seven male Senators have also signed on as co-sponsors.
In addition, Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) introduced House Resolution 107 (H.Res.107), on March 10, 1999, now with approximately 100 co-sponsors, urging the Senate to give its advice and consent to the ratification of CEDAW.
There have been problems at the federal level for CEDAW in dealing with a recalcitrant U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and its Chair, Republican Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), who has a long-held aversion to any international treaty which he considers as potentially superseding U.S. law and has blocked action on the treaty, i.e., holding hearings in the Committee.
Other obstacles include the lack of enough public education, the abundance of misinformation, and the hesitancy to ratify CEDAW stemming from unfounded fears and myths associated with the implementation of CEDAW in the US, including unfounded allegations of CEDAW 1) giving too much power to the international community with the provisions of CEDAW superseding U.S. federal and state law; 2) defining “discrimination” too broadly leading to frivolous lawsuits; 3) destroying the traditional family structure in the U.S.; 4) usurping the “proper” role of parents in child rearing; supporting abortion and its promotion of access to family planning: 6) promoting equal pay for unequal work; and 7) diluting moral persuasion on the international level concerning human rights treaty ratification.
Since the 1995 Beijing Conference, there has been a growing conservative political climate throughout the state as evidenced in the wake of passage of propositions such as Prop. 209 (against affirmative action).
Concerning Resolutions Projects in California, so far one of the few problems reported has been that the City of Claremont has a policy that does not allow for Resolutions of the “CEDAW-type” on any subject.
Lessons learned include the fact that while advocacy should continue to be done on the national level to ratify CEDAW, there is value in continuing to advocate for CEDAW ratification on the local, county and state levels. Both strategies should be used in order to implement the provisions of an international human rights treaty such as CEDAW. More community outreach, education and training, and networking need to be done concerning CEDAW ratification. All of these efforts will help to promote, protect and fulfill the human rights of women and girls.
ACTION RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE CALL TO ACTION, 2/26/00
- Overarching: Action for 2000 Elections – all candidates (local, state and national) must respond on their support/opposition to CEDAW
- Work to create state and local versions of CEDAW in California
- Contact WILD (Women’s Institute for Leadership Development) for Handbook on models in Oakland & San Francisco
- Write letters (or FAX or e-mail) to legislators for hearings and ratification of CEDAW and the Rights of the Child
- Support H.Res 107 (Woolsey) and get co-signers for S.Res 237 (Boxer)
- Support HR 1050 on unemployment, jobs & training
- Write and seek placement of op-ed pieces which highlight how CEDAW affects the lives of all women and girls
- Educate others: Plan a media blitz, including use of e-mail and internet, to connect to others
- Register new voters
- Advocacy in support of Senator Barbara Boxer’s S.Res.237, and Representative Lynn Woolsey’s H.Res.107.
Marion Goodman, Chair, NWPC of California.
ACTIONS AND ACHIEVMENTS”
- More women were elected to office in the last election cycle.In 1998, a record 65 women were elected to the US Congress, with a record 9 women serving in the Senate and 56 serving in the House, also an all time high. In California, we sent 15 women to Congress, including the two women in the Senate. Nationally, women represent 12.1% of congressional representatives, and in CA we sent 25%, more than double the national rate. In California, 40% of women we send to Congress are women of color. In our State Legislature, we send 25% women, which is higher than the national average of 19.8%. Washington leads the states in gender equity with 40.9% women in their State Legislature. We have an unusual phenomenon in the Bay Area, where we send two women to the US Senate and six to the US House of Representatives.
- Women’s Appointment ProjectThe California Coalition of Women, composed of a coalition of women’s groups: National Women’s Political Caucus of CA (NWPC), California Elected Women’s Association for Education and Research (CEWAER), Leadership California, and the California Commission on the Status of Women, created the Women’s Appointment Project (WAP) to increase the number of women in state appointments, especially the top cabinet, department directors and deputy directors positions. The Project was based on a successful national project NWPC pioneered. The Project provided research, screened applications and sent 295 names to the governor for top policy positions, and provided training for women on how to obtain an appointment. WAP was widely advertised through women’s organizations around the state, greatly increasing awareness of appointment opportunities. This project was called the “best organized project seeking appointments” by the San Francisco Examiner. Key appointments to women by Governor Davis include Lynn Schenk as Chief of Staff and three women, Aileen Adams, Maria-Contreras-Sweet and Mary Nichols in Cabinet positions.
- The Women’s Vote:Women’s Vote Projects have been in full force around the country, recognizing that the women’s vote can and will make a big difference in elections. There are nine million more women than men in the United States and their votes can help to determine the next president of the United States. A gender gap that widened in the 1980’s and 1990’s may be more pronounced than ever.The gender gap occurred this year in the New Hampshire primary where the parties split principally along gender lines: men flocked to the Republican primary, while women chose to vote in the Democratic contest. Women accounted for 62 percent of the Democratic electorate in New Hampshire, compared with 54 percent in 1992 and 52 percent in 1988. In the Republican primary, men made up 57 percent of the Republican vote, comparable to the profile in 1996, when Bob Dole and Pat Buchanan were vying for the nomination, and they voted in larger numbers than in previous years. Men made up only 51 percent of the GOP electorate in 1988. The size of the gender imbalance in New Hampshire was striking, and it may hold true throughout the campaign.
Not enough women are running for elected or appointed office and not enough women are helping and supporting women in gaining political power. There are not enough women seeking appointments or running for office at the local, state, or national level. Women often fall short, analysts say, for the same old reasons — not enough money or networking too many responsibilities at home and at work. But women who are active and successful in politics say many women still lack the kind of all-consuming commitment that drives many male political animals. Unless more women put politics at the center of their lives — recruiting and supporting one another as they pursue political power — the country will continue to be shaped without their influence. Many women with brains and political talent are choosing not to make that commitment, deciding to balance a career and family early in their lives.
Roe V. Wade is in danger of being overturned. The November 2000 election will decide whether Roe v. Wade will prevail. The stakes are enormous. The next president will appoint up to three Supreme Court Justices. Currently the majority of Congress is adamantly anti-choice. Women in this country are faced with daily erosions on a woman’s right to choose, from laws that restrict the rights of young women to choose under the rubric of parental consent and notification to restrictions on late term abortion. Pro-choice elected women can make an important difference in the Congress, in the Senate, and in City Hall. When we elect women we make sure that women’s voices will be heard on such issues as health care, social security, and pay equity.
A women’s right to reproductive self-determination is being threatened by Congress, which has busied itself for the last five years with anti-abortion legislation: 102 pieces between 1994 and 1998. We need to continue to support candidates who will represent our view that every woman has the right to privacy and reproductive freedom.
We have to better educate the public about Roe v. Wade and why a pro-choice President this next term is crucial. We need to encourage women to give money to candidates, no matter what the amount. Without money, candidates do not win. We need to encourage women to work on women’s campaigns, to pick one or two candidates each election cycle and volunteer their time. A collective voice of women’s organizations is much stronger than individual voices saying the same thing. CAWA is certainly an example of how effective networking can be.
THREE MAJOR PRIORITY ACTIONS
- We must elect a pro-choice President to protect women’s reproductive freedom. We are a single vote away from overturning Roe v. Wade. Presidents appoint Supreme Court Justices and they also have the power to veto congressional legislation that does not have a two-thirds majority capable of an override.
- We need to continue to focus our energies on women’s appointments at the federal, state and local level. Women in appointed position gain political experience. Appointment office is a wonderful pipeline for elected office. We need to develop local appointment projects in all counties in California. We should repeat this project statewide every four years.
- We must focus our energies on recruiting and training pro-choice women to run for elected office. The timing is ripe for women to pursue high office and change the gender balance of America. We need to make a concerted effort to recruit potential pro-choice women candidates in districts where incumbents will be forced to retire because of term limits. Incumbent women legislators who are being “termed out” should help to identify and groom successors for their seats. If more women run, their visibility in politics would grow, more would win office, and those positive trends would ripple to produce a flood of female candidates. We need to encourage women to put politics at the center of their lives – recruiting and supporting one another as they pursue political power. As women decide to run for office, we should assist them win their elections by providing campaign training tailored to women who run for office.
ACTION RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE CALL TO ACTION, 2/26/00
- TOP PRIORITY: Influence the 2000 elections – GET WOMEN TO VOTE
- Broadcast the Women’s Leadership Alliance (WLA) position papers to the entire network and the public; incorporate local issues into the subject areas of the position papers
- Question candidates on the issues and report publicly on their responses
- Engage young girls in the political process – e.g. to: 1) vote and run for office in school; and 2) speak at school programs and to school organizations on issues; and 3) volunteer in political campaigns and in the offices of candidates and elected officials.
- Work with others for universal health coverage
- Use the internet to communicate and to find information
- Monitor elected officials on their “women’s issues” votes and on pay equity to their staffers
- Appointment and election of gender equity-minded, pro-choice people to positions of power & influence
- Implement a support system in schools in which children and youth are encouraged to report and organize discussions on anger/hostility
- Work with CAWA network and other organizations for universal health coverage
- Create or find a forum/community for women’s voices
- Encourage financial institutions to make small business loans
- Educate women re credit and provide financially-empowering advice
- Identify a network of organizations promoting gender equity – know what everyone is doing; identify web sites and use the internet to connect)
- Bring media to our actions: use public access and mainstream media; encourage media literacy and evaluation
- Newsletter/magazine creation for young women and/or identify and publicize existing ones
- Use of civil disobedience
- College program to mobilize teens to teach equity
- Develop and apply a gender equality curriculum in schools (including financial information/advice)
- Probe and correct gender bias in current textbooks
- Encourage parents/schools to enforce education codes
- Be individually aware and SPEAK OUT!
- Develop and educate public on a “female model” for health delivery and research
- Work with other task forces/groups on diverting U.S. budget/investments from military/corrections to family-oriented programs
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Kathleen Cha, District Director, California American Association of University Women (AAUW); President, Women Communicators Network.
Olivia Puentes-Reynolds, San Diego Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), U.S.Women Connect.
CURRENT EDUCATION ISSUES
Children 0 – 5 Years
There is a growing disparity between pre-schoolers who have early childhood education and those who do not. Those who do have been termed ‘kindergarten-ready’. This means they have developed social skills, may be able to read, and may be computer literate. Those who do not receive an early childhood education due to socio-economic status will most likely never be able to compete in the educational arena on equal terms with the “haves.”
Solutions: With Prop 10 monies available, begin the process of making early childhood education available to all working parents; and, complementary to this, provide parenting training with a literacy component available. Lastly, begin a publicity campaign to advise the public of the importance of early childhood education and the role/value of the parent.
Children Kindergarten Through High School
The education of students is unequal throughout California. Educational achievement is poorest in the economically poor neighborhoods. High School graduation is granted to numerous students although they have not attained literacy. There is a high concentration of under-represented students in these poor-achieving schools. The likelihood of higher education for these students is poor. The lack of a successful education environment has encouraged many students to drop out. For example, in San Diego County there are enough Latino students who have dropped out to fill a complete high school. Whereas last Fall a 5.0 Latino student was admitted to UCSD.
Possible Solutions: Support the Governor in his effort to standardize education throughout California. Support the setting of knowledge/skills expectations for each grade with appropriate testing/gauging of skills. Support the governor’s student award system for performance improvement. Support sharing of “international best practices”. Advocate state assistance to bring all school facilities and infrastructures to an equal level.
California State Universities are approaching impaction, meaning they are reaching capacity. A recent response to this at SDSU was to raise the requirements for admittance for both Freshman and community college transfer students. The result was approximately 4,000 students were not admitted, and almost a quarter of those not admitted were Latino. African American students were similarly affected. In a system where students of color have never been represented in the student body, as they are reflected in the community, this response to impaction, if continued, will have a disastrous effect on access to higher education. This is negatively impacting students of color for reasons stated above, e.g Latinos at UCSD for the last several years comprise 4-6% of the undergraduate population, whereas in California Latinos are 25-33% of the population.
At the community college level, students preparing to transfer to a 4 year institution have been denied admittance to SDSU due to impaction even though they are qualified per the State’s Educational Master Plan. According to SANDAG, in San Diego in the year 2020, one third of the population will be Latino, so with current practices, our public education system and California’s social system is in crisis.
Possible Solutions: At the CSU level, advocate year-round full use of the universities, and, the creation of satellites in the different regions being served by the CSU’s. This is currently being discussed at CSU systemwide meetings.
At the UC level, admissions criteria must be changed so that all qualified students are able to attend the UC in their home environment. If impaction is also the concern of UC universities, then advocate satellite campuses.
All community college students qualified to transfer to the four-year institution (of their choice/in their locale) must be admitted, and viable to assist the transfer must be in place.
ACTION RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE CALL TO ACTION, 2/26/00
Children (0 – 5)
- Vote NO on Prop. 28 (Do not repeal Prop.10, the Tobacco Tax; keep $$$ coming in to children and families first.
- Active involvement in County commission and provide parent training
- Look at model local programs (like Evenstart at King Elementary School in San Diego) and effectively use HeadStart as a model
- Work with School Boards
- Lobby for Early Childhood Education (Funding and mandatory services)
Girls 1st – 12th Grades:
- Create CAWA events for young girls<
- Close the Digital Divide for girls in technology, especially for underprivileged girls
- Pressure California Teaching Commission to require all teachers and staff to have cultural, linguistic and gender competence in languages most pertinent to specific school or district
- Funding for teachers, administrators, and staff who represent diversity
- Create role-modeling programs and a gender/culturally diverse, equitable curriculum
- Develop historically accurate curriculum and medically accurate sex education
- Re-evaluate and change testing system (SATs, STAR, etc.)
- Summer tech camps for girls
- High school: create health clinics in each high school and add health & safety, self-defense and conflict resolution classes to the curriculum; “home ec” classes for boys AND girls (emphasis on living skills); raise language proficiency and develop cross-cultural exchanges.
- Women’s Centers
- Increased funding for grants & fellowships
- Encourage entry of women into “untraditional fields”
- Athletic opportunities that are equal (Title 9)
- Post-secondary education prep for girls (science/math/technology)
Advising – Mentoring – Women’s Studies
Teachers as a reflection of school’s population diversity
Class size reduction in more schools and grades
- Welfare to Work
Revise programs to offer more opportunity for gaining education
Offer training in jobs with growth potential and higher pay
- Oppose Proposition 21; transfer prison funds to education
- Encourage student organizations to write/communicate with student members on State Board of Education and UC and State University systems to express their concerns
- Create a “watch-dog” group (through the internet?) to monitor progress on actions
- Establish regular communication with Cruz Bustamante (Speaker of the Assembly) for legislative actions
- Connect CAWA web site to district/school web sites
- Advertise/inform, through creative means, the availability of the few resources schools DO have
Group 2. Education/Girl Child/Environment
- Expand career exploration and paid internships for students in math and science.
- Transition from secondary to post-secondary: attrition of teachers – raise the salaries and status of teachers pre-K through 12.
- Support college option for welfare and low income women.
- Support life-long learning for women and provide funding at critical points (junior high, post secondary, re-entry)
- Equalize the funding for all public schools by pooling all education $$. Divided by the number of districts and per child expenditures.
- Oppose voucher system for schools.
- Create a mechanism to evaluate & review environmental assessment of public schools (CA EPA – DNR).
- Lobby Department of Education to green the schools
- Create a mechanism for higher pay and better training of child care providers (through licensing procedures)
- Educate all young women in California about leadership roles and opportunities through activist organizations
- Provide credit in high schools and community colleges for leadership/community meetings and activities
- Sponsor school forums for matching students with local groups and their activities
- Outreach to women’s communities at their locale
K – 16
- Mentoring: peer and other kinds, school and work-based
- Revive and expand Title 9 funding and gender equity training.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Norma Hotaling, Director, Standing Against Global Exploitation (SAGE)
Rosario Navarrette, DV Policy Director, SF Commission on the Status of Women
Efforts to increase the understanding of violence against women and its impact on society have moved forward nationally since September 1995. An example of the strides taken in the United States, is the creation of the National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women, co-chaired by Attorney General, Janet Reno and Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala, who are in the process of establishing an Agenda for the Nation on Violence Against Women. Legislation is another area of growth (22 bills were passed in 1999 alone), while health care and education continue to develop and increase their scope to include violence against women and girls as factors that have a direct impact on the quality of life for women and girls. Having made strides in these areas, there is still much work to do.
ACTIONS AND ACHIEVMENTS
The Violence Against Women Act funds programs across the United States with millions of dollars appropriated for domestic violence services, a first for the nation.
The San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women held a public hearing on Prostitution with a focus on the un-represented/under-represented voices of women prostitutes.
Glenda Hope Safe house for Prostitutes was opened offering an alternative for women.
Standing Against Global Exploitation (S.A.G.E.) established exciting new approaches and services to meet the needs of women in prostitution and former prostitutes including but not limited to:
- Trauma and Recovery Program includes art therapy, health assessment, massage and acupuncture, limited medical services and group and individual counseling services.
- Men’s Program for those arrested for soliciting prostitutes who learn the negative impact of buying sex on women and society thereby restoring the harm customers of have caused in society by offering treatment and education on this issue.
- Domestic violence services for women in jails where most women have experienced some form of abuse, are high risk for disease, violence and exploitation and are in dire need of services.
- Prevention Program for girls to eliminate exploitation and violence for girls involved in prostitution and pornography.
The Department of Public Health instituted a policy of screening for domestic violence in their clinics.
Teen and youth programs are funded by the State increasing funds to shelters for battered women and their children.
The San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women created a Violence Against Women Strategic Plan outlining priority populations for the new millenium and focusing on transitional and employment readiness services.
The San Francisco Police Department and the Adult Probation Department created centralized domestic violence units while the District Attorney’s Office began vertical prosecution on misdemeanor cases through a newly established domestic violence unit.
The San Francisco Family violence Council, Courts System Subcommittee helped establish the first Domestic Violence Court in San Francisco.
The San Francisco Family Violence Council established a Domestic Violence Death Review Team as a result of legislation mandating all California counties to do the same. The goal of the D.V. Death Review Teams is to prevent further deaths by identifying ways to improve how the different branches of local government and communities respond to calls for assistance and the provision of services.
The Department of Human Services in partnership with community based organizations trained caseworkers and managers on identifying and assisting clients experiencing domestic violence. They also began providing on-site counseling services to those on the CalWorks program and anyone else who self identified as experiencing abuse.
The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department instituted a new program focused on the principles of restorative justice through their Resolve to Stop the Violence Project (RSVP). The Board of Supervisors provided funding for the Victim Information Notification Everyday (VINE) program providing victims of violence an avenue to obtain information about the status of an offender while in custody. This system also warns the victims of an impending release.
AWARE, a new program, which provides a survivor of domestic violence with a pendant that will alert law enforcement if the survivor is unable to call police before an assault occurs, is in the process of being implemented. It was made possible through a partnership between the Board of Supervisors, an alarm company, community organizations and City departments.
Funding for services beyond the current services being provided with an emphasis on all levels, local, state, national and global is necessary and critical to prevention education. Efforts focused on community based solutions must be supported and funded in order to provide access to services and meet the needs of underserved/unserved populations.
The federal government has not recognized the need for VAWA money to provide for services to incarcerated women. This population of women is seen as non-people if they have a criminal history, which increases the risk of recidivism, perpetrates the cycle of poverty and violence that they are caught in.
Creation and adoption of policies and programs with a gender prospective by governmental and non governmental entities must include sufficient funding for the promotion of the human rights of women and to truly succeed in addressing the disparities that currently exist.
Current laws must be enforced in cases of violence against women to be effective. All too often varying interpretations of the laws and lack of training and inconsistent handling of these cases by the courts result in women suffering and paying the price often with their lives. Trust of law enforcement and the criminal justice system comes slowly to communities whose experience is not positive, and has not seen it as an alternative or a solution to problems. Domestic violence homicide is one of the areas where death is preventable with early and effective intervention.
Women who are currently engaged in prostitution, women who are getting out of prostitution and those who have left it, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Punishing prostitutes has not solved the problem to-date. A focus on the connection between prostitution and gender equality must be part of the dialog while working ethically so no one wants to buy prostitutes. Increase efforts on prevention/harm reduction for prostitutes, pimps and customers through the treatment and education work currently being done that incorporates the complexity of this issue. Methods for treatment of prostitutes must allow them to choose freely and assist them in making plans that give them the possibility to stop whenever they want to. Legislation must include action against trafficking nationally and internationally. De-criminalizing prostitution may improve access to services. Support centers and services for victims of trafficking and prostitution are critical in raising awareness of a forgotten and rejected group of women and girls.
Violence has been recognized as a serious health issue for women and children. Health providers must now report cases of patients that present with injuries due to domestic violence. This reporting combined with training and coordination with law enforcement can serve as an effective tool for those wanting to escape a violent relationship. Routine screening of patients in clinics allows for options counseling, referrals to services and careful planning for escape.
Men need to be a part of the solution for violence against women. Imbalance of power relations between men and women continues to exist which results in violence against women. Despite the achievements made, thousands of women continue to be subjected to violence. Reports of violence and sexual abuse has increased contributing to the inability to achieve equality between men and women on a local, state, national and global level. Although government, communities and individuals have recognized the seriousness of violence against women, much work needs to be done to include actions where men are also a part of the solution; coordinated collaborations increase access to services to women and girls experiencing abuse. Holistic approaches to addressing the needs of women are more effective than segregating and compartmentalizing. Looking at all the needs of women and helping them to resolve those needs, one link at a time allows for women to move toward a violence fee life.
More effective, culturally appropriate programs and services for girls are needed to change the vision and the future in eliminating violence against women and girls.
Belvie Rooks, Urban Habitat;
Rebecca Kaplan, Green Party;
ENVIRONMENTAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS
In the future the work of the California Women’s Agenda (CAWA) should be guided by an expanded vision of future possibilities as related to the environment and issues of environmental justice.
Social and economic equality are core ingredients of environmental justice. Historically, low-income communities of color and poor communities have borne the deepest burden of environmental degradation and pollution, and therefore have the greatest stake in clear air, water, sustainable land use and issues related to transportation equity. For these reasons it is imperative that historically disenfranchised communities deserve a place of prominence when environmental decisions are made.
Decisions are being put in place and policies are being implemented that will determine the quality of life for future generations. As women, therefore, we have no difficulty understanding and embracing one of the core teachings of some of our Native American elders which requires that the decisions that we make today be weighed against the impact that those decisions will have on seven generations.
Whether those decisions have to do with air and water quality, public health, gentrification and displacement, affordable housing or transportation equity, a strategy that encourages leadership development and the active participation of women from diverse communities is imperative.
The nature of the leadership training and development required should emphasize empowering women to become critical actors in ensuring the survival of the planet and in shaping the future quality of life for our children and our communities. Creating sustainable communities in the future will mean that decisions are implemented in a way that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own basic needs.
The essence of environmental justice means that considerable thought be given to methods for achieving a balance between environmental considerations, economic considerations and issues related to equity and social justice.
The core principles of environmental justice:
- Affirms the sacredness of Mother Earth, ecological unity and the interdependence of all species, the right to be free from ecological devastation and destruction.
- Affirms that public policy is based on mutual respect and justice for all peoples, free from any form of discrimination or bias.
- Mandates the right to ethical, balanced and responsible uses of land and renewable resources in the interest of a sustainable planet for humans and other living things.
- Demands the right of all citizens to participate as equal partners at every level of decision-making including needs assessment, planning, implementation, enforcement and evaluation.
- Affirms the right of all workers to a safe and healthy work environment, without being forced to choose between an unsafe livelihood and unemployment.
- Affirms the need for urban and rural ecological policies to clean up and rebuild our cities and rural areas in balance with nature, honoring the cultural integrity of all our communities, and providing fair access for all to the full range of resources.
- Requires that we, as individuals, make personal and consumer choices to consume as little of the earth’s resources and to produce as little waste as possible; and make the conscious decision to challenge and reprioritize our lifestyles to insure the health of the natural world for present and future generations.
Discussion draft prepared by Belvie Rooks, Co-chair.
Dee Aker, Director, WorldLink, San Diego, CA.
Pat Barrett, CEO Women’s Online Media and Educational Network (W.O.M.E.N.)
ACTIONS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Many local communities have created Media Watch Groups. Letters to the editors have increased. The number of women experts cited is increasing. There has been some increase in a few areas in California of minority faces gracing the prime time news, as well as creating their own outlets for news. Demands for non-violent, child-focused media options have increased.
Ownership of media and membership of editorial boards remain predominately white male on all but minority owned and focused publications. Producers, directors, writers and even the boards of groups such as the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences remain almost exclusively white males.
New media (print and visual) run by women, but sponsored by large corporate and “power” dollars, tend to project reiterated stereotypes and do not deal with serious global, local or Platform for Action issues.
Hate-radio and hate-publications from the ultra-right of all religious groups continue to misinform and play to historical anti-gender equity, anti-minority, and homophobic manipulations of the public.
Getting a voice takes more than having information about the abuse, avoidance, or general ignorance of issues of concern in the Platform of Action. Glass ceilings are still there in the areas of editorial decisions and production decision. Access to unbiased information is not created by women-owned or women-run media outlets, so long as the financial support comes from corporations with a commercial agenda seeking influence as well as consumers.
Minority voices need to speak for themselves in a context that facilitates development of cooperative responses to concerns with the larger community. Women who are limited in their own awareness of the challenges to be addressed in the larger context of our interconnected society cannot create the needed voices that mobilize the full power of a multi-faceted society and help establish a just community.
Women and men interested in a just society and fair information must work together to create a responsible, free media.
THREE MAJOR PRIORITY AREAS
- Expand local “Media Watch Groups” that demand balanced and truthful coverage of women themselves and issues highlighted in the Platform for Action. This includes teaching how to monitor all media and compile information on the portrayal of women, including refugees, immigrant and migrant women as well as all women from all ethnic and social classes. It includes education and training about how to get their information out to their communities and how to confront sources proliferating misinformation.
- Increase appointments, advocacy and advancement that results in more women in editorial positions, as “experts” cited and sought out for media, and on advisory boards to every level of media and advertising that provide guidelines on the portrayal of women and “just” representation of women and the Platform for Action. This includes creating guidelines and organizing voices that will demand an increasing number of women in decision-making positions and on media advisory boards who are capable of speaking for the non-stereotypical portrayal of women, and developing directories, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, of women media experts.
- Create and support alternative media voices for those who are voiceless, where necessary, so they may educate and inform their communities of the importance of a free and responsible press. This takes cooperation, education and the assurance that new media voices for women are not simply promoting and creating a new but stereotypical corporate consumer. Work to assure minority voices are heard in the traditional press, and audial and visual media, and bridge the gap necessary to visualize this as a diverse but cohesive society that needs all voices for a fair and just community locally and globally.
THE GIRL CHILD
Tamsen Stevenson, Ph.D., Regional Coordinator, STRATEGIES Interface Children & Family Services
Jumoke Hinton, Girls After School Academy (GASA)
The CAWA Task Force on the Girl Child (Girls and Young Women of California) has reviewed the status of girls and young women in California in 2000, and based on the other critical issues identified in the Platform, reports our findings and recommendations of:
- California ranks 7th among the states in infant mortality.
- 18% of children in California lack health insurance (compared with the national average of 14%).
- More than 8 in 10 uninsured are working people and their families.
- Adopt and implement a statewide policy of universal health care for all.
Violence is the most serious public health issue in California. More child mortality and morbidity is associated with violence than with all communicable diseases combined. Girls are particularly susceptible to family violence, especially sexual exploitation and abuse in the home.
- The number of California children reported abused and neglected has doubled since 1985, reaching over 660,000 a year in 1993.
- Increasing numbers of children are victims of homicide. In 1993, 857 children and youth, the equivalent of more than 25 classrooms, were victims of homicide. The rate of homicides perpetrated against children in California is 59% higher than in the rest of the nation.
- YWCA Anti-Violence Initiatives, National/Local – Cross-State Caught in the Cross-Fire, Oakland
- Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women (LACAAW) programs including TAP Net and In Touch with Teens Transforming Communities (Marin Abused Women’s Services) MCH/DVS California Statewide Teen Relationship Abuse Needs Assessment Project
- Promote the girl child’s awareness, and awareness of the girl child in social, economic, and political life.
- Dissaggregate information and data on children by sex and age.
- Undertake research on the situation of girls, and integrate the results in policies, programs, and decision making for the advancement of the girl child.
- Children Now, Children’s Impact Statement Initiative
- Eliminate all forms of discrimination against the girl child.
- Promote and protect the rights of the girl child and increase awareness of her needs and potential.
- Ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
- Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Models for effective local initiatives supporting the ratification of CEDAW and for local support for adoption of the Convention: e.g. Dorothy Paul, Executive Director Iowa Division, United Nations Association USA (319) 337-7290; Ellen Dorsey, Assistant Professor Peace and Conflict Resolution, American University, (202)895-4960; The Women’s Convention Working Group, Patricia Rengel, Amnesty International USA (202) 675-8577; Baha’is of the US, c/o Kit Cosby, (202) 833-8990.
Girls and Poverty
Demographics reveal a total population for the State of California approximately 35 million in 2000, with about 13%, or 4.5 million girls. (Year 2000 census data were not available at the time of this report.) Breakdown by ethnic identity reveals: Non Hispanic White 48.3%; Hispanic 34.1%; Black 8.4%; Asian and Other 9.2%. (Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy.)
The percentage of children living in poverty (less than $15,150 pa for a family of four) is the highest recorded since the state began tracking this measure in 1976.
- California has the most crowded classrooms in the nation and spends about $1,000 less per student than the national average.
- California ranks below the U.S. average in national achievement tests. For instance, in 1998, 52% of California 4th graders scored below basic reading level.
- Girls After School Academy (GASA)
- Expanding Your Horizons (EYH)
- ReModel Your Role Model
- Summer Youth Employment and Training Program, San Francisco
Marion Pack, WAND, Alliance for Survival;
While there has been international acceptance of the Beijing Plan of Action in relation to women in time of war, and recognition of rape as a war crime, there has been no implementation of these principles. The treatment of women in Kosovo, Colombia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, East Timor and now Chechna has continued barbaric and brutal. Women still have no role in making decisions on military actions, they are not consulted in negotiations, nor is their counsel sought as they, sooner than diplomats,see tensions rise which lead to war. Only are women called upon when the disaster has taken place and they are needed to relieve the suffering and aid in reconstruction.
Women in the United States have a special responsibility. US weapons and US actions on the critical decisions lead to war and destruction. Our actions, or our refusals to act, have alarmed other nations who have as a consequence increased their military power. The expansion of NATO, our refusal to sign the Land Mines Treaty and the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty have alarmed Russia and China; continued US research to develop leaner, meaner nuclear weapons. The development of the “Star Wars” missile defense, and the use of space for military purposes has brought a new nuclear arms race. There is now a more dangerous situation than there was at the height of the Cold War. As more nations acquire nuclear weapons and duplicate US research, the danger of annihilation by human or technological accident is increased. And no one is listening. Only one media columnist, a woman, Mary McGrory, has even mentioned Armageddon as a desperate, most important issue. For the rest, we go on extolling the booming economy, “happy people with happy problems”. We are in double jeopardy, for we face death from a nuclear arms race, and meanwhile the cost of it is killing us.
It is women who must bring our considerable experience with the human condition and relationships, personal, family, societal and global, who must insist upon representation in decision making to preserve and create a more just world.