18 April 2014

Effort to protect farmworkers from sexual assault is gaining momentum

From the Coalition of Immokalee Workers blog:

“The Fair Food Program is a transformative, model program”

study conducted in 2010 found that 80% of farmworker women report that they have experienced sexual harassment on the job.  That number is incomprehensible, until you stop to think of the immense imbalance of power between workers and their employers that defines most farm labor jobs.  The near total dependence of many farmworkers on their bosses — for everything from employment to, in many cases, housing, transportation, and, in the case of guest workers, even their right to live and work in the country — is the kind of relationship that lends itself to abuse.  As a result, sexual harassment in the fields is effectively endemic, and has been for decades.
In one sector of the agricultural industry, though, that devastating story is starting to change, and two recent articles highlight the gains women farmworkers are seeing in the Florida tomato industry today thanks to the Fair Food Program (FFP).  In the words of the CIW’s Lupe Gonzalo, who worked for years in the tomato harvest before joining the CIW staff two years ago to help educate her fellow workers on their rights under the FFP, “When we arrive home at the end of the day, we can hug our children happily, knowing that we didn’t have to sell our dignity in the fields.  We brought it home with us.”

01 April 2014

National Latina Institute for Health takes the fight for women's health to the UN

Taking the Fight for Reproductive Justice to the United Nations...

"[There is a] health-care crisis—not only for the women in the [Rio Grande] Valley but for millions of other women in the country."

Ms. Foundation grantee the National Latina Institute for Health (NLIRH) recently traveled to Geneva to share their report: "Nuestra Salud, Nuestra Voz, Nuestro Texas: The Fight for Reproductive Health Care in the Rio Grande Valley." Lucy Felix,  field coordinator the NLIRH Texas Latina Advocacy Network/Red de AbogacĂ­a de Latinas de Texas, tells the story of her trip to deliver the report on RH Reality Check:

Every single day, I talk to Latinas and immigrant women across the Rio Grande Valley, listening to their stories, hearing about their families, and teaching them how to stay healthy. Last month, I had the opportunity of a lifetime. I was able to travel to Geneva with our allies from the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and speak before the UN Human Rights Committee on behalf of all of the women in my Texas community who are suffering from a lack of reproductive health care. It was my opportunity to tell them everything I have heard and spotlight the urgency of this health-care crisis—not only for the women in the Valley but for millions of other women in the country.

Read the rest of Lucy's story.

14 March 2014

Ms. Foundation for Women Fellow Lindsay Rosenthal speaks out about child sexual abuse and girls in the juvenile justice system in today's New York Times (March 14, 2014). Responding to an article about access to health care for incarcerated people, Lindsay shines a light on the particular obstacles that girl in the juvenile justice system face -- especially those who are victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

11 March 2014

Ms. Foundation for Women grantee the VERA Institute for Justice has published an important new report, "Sexual Abuse of Children with Disabilities: A National Snapshot."

Here is an excerpt:

Children with disabilities are three times more likely than children without them to be victims of sexual 
abuse, and the likelihood is even higher for children with certain types of disabilities, such as intellectual or mental health disabilities.

However, sexual abuse of children with disabilities has not garnered the attention of policymakers, 
practitioners, advocates, or community members. These children are also less likely to receive victim services and supports that are more readily available to other victims because of a variety of factors including barriers to reporting and a lack of responses tailored to meet their unique needs. Without receiving support, these children suffer serious long-term aftereffects, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, as well as an increased risk of victimization in adulthood.

Click here to read the entire report.

30 January 2014

Raise the minimum wage for all workers

by Ms. Foundation for Women Program Officer Aleyamma Mathew

During his State of the Union address, the president of the United States announced that he would issue an executive order that will raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors. In making the announcement, the president challenged Congress to follow his lead by raising the federal minimum wage for all workers.

Missing from the debate are workers who are paid the federal “tipped” minimum wage (also known as the subminimum wage that is paid to workers in certain jobs that traditionally are tipped). Currently, the tipped minimum wage is only $2.13 per hour. The workers paid this rate, who are predominantly women and often are the head of household, struggle to support themselves and their families.

According to a report released by Ms. Foundation grantee the Restaurant Opportunities Center, "[t]he vast majority of restaurant workers are unable to provide basic economic security to themselves and their families, meaning they must routinely choose what necessities their families will forego as they struggle to make ends meet."

As we embark upon a national dialogue about income inequality or opportunity, we must not leave behind the millions of women – and men – who are paid a subminimum wage. These workers must work multiple jobs to make ends meet. They struggle to cobble together child care – often during evening and night shifts, and often at unaffordable prices.

The restaurant industry – one of the fastest growing – impacts 10 million workers in this country.  Seventy percent of restaurant servers are women.  The scales of economic justice are tipped out of balance, and women bear the brunt of the injustice. This occupational segregation of women in low-wage jobs makes improving wages a top priority for the Ms. Foundation for Women.

It’s time to raise the tipped minimum wage and to improve the working conditions of tipped workers. Doing so is not only good for the workers and their families; it’s good for our communities and the economic future of our country.

05 December 2013

Youth-Serving Organizations Take the Lead to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

An excerpt from a PreventConnect post by David Lee, MPH, the Director of Prevention Services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. You can read his full post here

While the headlines in newspapers highlight horrific cases of child sexual abuse in youth-serving organizations, after a PowerInPrevention Ending Child Sexual Abuse web conference last October, I felt hopeful learning about the opportunities that these organizations can take to advance the work to end child sexual abuse.

15 November 2013

Congratulate Gloria Steinem on Receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Ms. Foundation for Women co-founder Gloria Steinem will be presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama on Nov. 20. She joins such esteemed honorees as Toni Morrison and Helen Keller in receiving the nation’s highest civilian honor.

The Ms. Foundation couldn’t be prouder! In its announcement, the White House noted that Gloria has helped launch many organizations dedicated to advancing civil rights – organizations like the Ms. Foundation for Women, which she co-founded 40 years ago alongside Patricia Carbine, Letty Cottin Pogrebin and Marlo Thomas.

Today, we carry their vision forward by investing funds, time, expertise and training in more than 100 trailblazing organizations nationwide. We remain committed to eliminating the barriers to every woman’s health, safety and economic well-being.

Help us congratulate Gloria! Show your appreciation for her contributions to the women’s movement. We’ll collect your sentiments and share them with her following the event.