27 May 2010

'Stop the Hate!' March for Human Rights in Arizona

The media may be turning its attention away from Arizona and its controversial new immigration policy, SB1070, but on the ground, activists and organizers continue to draw attention to the impact this discriminatory policy is having on immigrant women, men, children and families across the Grand Canyon State -- and the country.

To stand with the people of Arizona -- quite literally -- this weekend, organizations including Ms. Foundation grantee the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights will be sponsoring a number of events in Phoenix to raise awareness around human rights and to challenge the passage of this new law.

On Friday, May 28, Alto Arizona will host a Festival for Human Rights from 6pm to 12am. The event will feature live music, an art show, a film festival, live poster printing and a cultural marketplace. $5 donation requested; for more information, including location, visit the Alto Arizona website.

Then, on Saturday, May 29 people of conscience from throughout the United States and Phoenix will gather to march to the State Capitol to "demand justice in the face of state-sanctioned discrimination and hate." As part of this National Day of Action, protesters will demand that President Obama take immediate and concrete action to stop SB1070; tens of thousands of individuals are expected to attend. The march will begin at 8am at Indian Steel Park and proceed to the Capitol.

Finally, on Sunday, May 30, an Organizing Summit will take place to strategize about how to continue this struggle for human rights, nationwide. Topics for discussion will include: base-building in Arizona, ongoing boycotts, plans for a "Freedom Summer", and a non-compliance strategy for SB1070.

To sign up to participate in any or all of these events, and for further information, visit Alto Arizona.

Fair Pay: Imagine the Difference $10,000 Could Make

Ms. Foundation grantee the National Women's Law Center is offering its constituents a great opportunity to speak out on the pay gap between women and men -- which currently adds up, on average, to just over $10,000 per year.

Via NWLC's Womenstake blog:
What if you found out you were owed $10,622?
There’s a $10,622 gap between the median yearly earnings of men and women. For many women and their families, fixing the wage gap would mean enough for a year’s supply of groceries, three months of rent or child care, six months of health insurance, and more.
What would it mean to you? Send us a photo that shows how $10,622 would improve your life!

On June 10th, the anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, NWLC will gather these photos together and send them to Congress to press for quick passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. They'll also publish the pictures on their site.

So how would equal pay impact your life? Let NWLC know. And learn more about NWLC's campaign to close the gendered pay divide once and for all.

26 May 2010

The 2010 Women of Vision Awards: What a Success!

Alongside more than 400 invited guests, last Thursday we had the honor of celebrating the 22nd Annual Gloria Awards, a tribute to grassroots women activists and philanthropists who ignite change on behalf of women, families, and communities across the US.

Hosted at Manhattan's Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the evening began with powerful opening remarks from Ms. Foundation Founding President and inspirational activist Gloria Steinem, set against a backdrop of stunning Central Park views. Together with President and CEO, Sara K. Gould and Event Chair, Kayrita M. Anderson, Steinem helped lead an evening that was an emotional recognition of the powerful work of many noteworthy women.

Carol Burnett, (pictured above with Gloria Steinem) Founder and Executive Director of the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative and Moore Community House was recognized with a 2010 Woman of Vision Award for her outstanding leadership as an advocate for child care and other programs serving low-income communities in the South. Silvia Henriquez, Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), was recognized with an award for her groundbreaking work transforming NLIRH into a leading organization in the push to advance the reproductive health, rights, and justice for Latinas in the US. And the recipient of the Marie C. Wilson Young Woman’s Leadership Award, Jasmin Woodbury, was honored for her amazing success as the youngest paid organizer -- her volunteer work began at age 12 -- at Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE) in Providence, RI, which works to engage community youth in leading and making change.

Special tribute was also paid to outgoing Ms. Foundation Board of Directors Chair, Katie Grover, who was honored for her nine years of service to the Foundation. For improving the lives of countless women and girls through her philanthropic endeavors, Jane Stephens Comer was honored as the Woman of Vision and Action, and Jennifer and Peter Buffett and NoVo Foundation were recognized for their pioneering work to end child sexual abuse.

Additional highlights included a show-stopping, hilarious performance from Tony Award winning playwright and performer Sarah Jones, and a closing performance from entertainer, teacher, activist, and immense vocal talent, Holly Near -- which moved much of the room to tears.

After our 22nd powerful, joyous, and successful evening, we feel so thankful for the support of our friends and donors -- and can't wait to honor more outstanding, inspiring women next year!

To learn more about the 2010 award winners or past Gloria Awards visit our website.

At Pill's 50th Anniversary, Sex Ed More Important Than Ever

Around the country this month, countless tributes, articles and campaigns have rightly celebrated the birth control pill on its 50th anniversary. But amid all the much-deserved hoopla, we would do well to remember that a pill alone can never be "the great liberator" of women's lives. Though its development was a revolutionary step in the right direction, research shows that education -- about sex, sexuality, and the choices we all make in relation to the two -- remains the key to securing the reproductive health of women and girls in this nation and around the world -- not least of all, on the national front, in the aftermath of Bush's federally mandated abstinence-only curricula.

With those facts in mind, the Ms. Foundation's Sexuality Education Advocacy Initiative (SEAI) has been fighting since 2005 to make comprehensive sexuality education available to students in every state in our nation. The initiative helps to build support for responsible sexuality education school-by-school, district-by-district and state-by-state, understanding that each community faces a unique combination of issues around local leadership, financial capacity and political climate. The goal of SEAI is to bring about positive policy changes to ensure that the majority of young people in the US are provided with the information and education they need to help them make truly informed decisions about their sexuality and sexual health, including: access to a full range of contraceptive options; an understanding of STI and HIV prevention and treatment; economic access to reproductive care; and the right to abortion.

Because of the efforts of thousands of women's health advocates, community leaders, doctors and responsible parents across this country, today, more women and girls have access to the knowledge that will help them make informed decisions about their reproductive health than ever before in our history. But too many of us are still denied this essential education – denied the ability to truly understand our bodies and take control of our own sexual health. That is why we at the Ms. Foundation continue to support organizations that possess the local knowledge and strategic relationships to ensure that responsible sexuality education is available to us all.

For example:
One grantee, the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund (TFNEF), recently succeeded in passing more stringent School Health Advisory Council accountability requirements and securing a hearing on comprehensive sexuality education legislation in the Texas House – for the first time in 14 years. High local teenage pregnancy rates have motivated administrators in several North Texas districts to take action and, with Ms. Foundation support, TFNEF has positioned itself to channel this energy into the development and implementation of expanded sexuality curricula.

Another grantee, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ), is currently identifying and training local advocates to appear at local events, in order to broaden community support for comprehensive sexuality education. Along with their partner in California’s central valley, ACT for Women and Girls (a Ms. Foundation reproductive rights grantee), CLRJ's immediate goal is to catalyze enough representation from young girls, parents and teachers to pass a progressive and far-reaching school board resolution this Spring that solidifies the commitment, finances and will to implement sexuality education in its district.
Grantees like these and others are winning the fight for responsible sexuality curricula. They are proving the impact that positive conversations about sexuality can have when it comes to improving the lives of women and girls from Ann Arbor to Addis Ababa. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Pill, we must also work to move beyond the "risk management" approach that both the Pill and "teen pregnancy prevention" embody, as they do little to guarantee the physical and emotional well-being of young-people -- nor do they ensure that sex education goes beyond, "Take the Pill, don't ask questions." It will really be time to cheer when every girl and woman in America -- and around the world -- has access not only to the Pill itself, but also to the information and services they need to make informed decisions about their reproductive health.

Hopefully, not long from now, that's exactly what we'll be celebrating.

Sunny Daly
Corporate and Foundation Relations Manager
Ms. Foundation for Women

Sunny Daly is the author of Changing Images of the Birth Control Pill: 1960-1973 (2008). She has a Masters in Gender and Women's Studies from the American University in Cairo.

25 May 2010

Sara K. Gould: Time for Me to Move on...Time for Us to Move Forward

Raised in a loving family of three boys and three girls (the boys came first!), I knew at an early age that there was a difference between what boys and girls were allowed, and expected, to do, and that these differences were due only to gender. Even then, I knew that it just wasn't fair, and that it didn't make any sense.

Addressing that unfairness -- and the understanding that came later of the ways in which oppression based on race, class and gender create intolerable injustices in our society and societies around the world -- has been the driving force of my work, most particularly the 24 years I've spent at the Ms. Foundation for Women.

And it remains my passion, but I have decided that it is time for me to pursue it in different venues. On November 19th, I will leave my beloved Ms. Foundation to become the Atlantic Senior Fellow at the Foundation Center, a national nonprofit service organization recognized as the nation's leading authority on organized philanthropy. During this two-year fellowship, funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies, I will work with both organizations, and the broader philanthropic community, to increase the focus on social justice philanthropy and advance thinking in key related areas, such as leadership development and grantmaking with a gender, race and class lens.

It is difficult to share this news with all of you who are such dear and valued supporters, colleagues and friends to me and to the Ms. Foundation. I treasure the relationships and friendships I've been privileged to develop and to enjoy with the many staff, board, grantees, donor partners and colleagues of the Foundation. I am so proud of the work we've done together, and so excited to see the amazing ways that it will develop and grow as the Foundation welcomes its next generation of leadership at the helm.

The Foundation is stronger than it's ever been. We have a talented and committed staff, a deeply experienced and effective chief operating officer (Susan Wefald, who will serve as interim president), an active and influential board, a more diverse donor base, and an endowment that is again near its record high. The moment is right to leap forward and say "yes!" to taking our work to the next level by engaging a new bold and visionary leader for the Ms. Foundation.

The board of directors is conducting a national search and expects to have our new president in place by the early part of 2011. They have engaged Isaacson, Miller -- a leading search firm for foundations and nonprofits, with a great track record of identifying leadership for women's and social justice organizations. The truth is, we'll need the help of all of the Foundation's colleagues and friends to find our new leader, so please look deeply within your own networks and encourage qualified candidates to apply.

Over the next six months, I'll be working to personally thank as many people as possible in the Ms. Foundation's extended community -- our founding mothers, current and former board members, current and former staff members, grantee and donor partners, and colleagues and friends -- for your partnership, and for the opportunity I have treasured for so many years to be part of both this wonderful and dynamic organization and of the social justice movements that we serve. I'll also continue to write about the Foundation's activities and impact, and about what we are learning through this organizational transition.

I know that the Foundation can count on the continued support and partnership of every single one of you, for you are as passionate as we are about creating a just and safe world in which power and possibility are not limited by gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation, disability, citizenship or any other factor. We share a deep resolve to bring about the kind of systemic and lasting change that will create a society, and a nation, in which all voices are heard and valued. We know that this can only happen through the engagement of more and more women and men, bringing forward their voices, lived experiences and solutions to the complex and intertwined problems we face.

I know that everyone at the Ms. Foundation for Women looks forward to pursuing this crucial work with you. Thank you so much for everything that you do to create the just and safe world that we all desire.

Sara K. Gould
President and CEO
The Ms. Foundation for Women

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Child Care Cuts Leave Women Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

As part of their ongoing series “The New Poor”, which seeks to tell the stories of our national struggle to recover from the Great Recession, yesterday’s New York Times featured a revealing piece about the plight of low-income mothers, many of whom are finding that recent cuts to child care subsidies in their states are making it impossible to find affordable, quality child care – and thus pushing them towards welfare as the only viable means of supporting their families.

Despite an increase in overall federal funding for child care subsidies by the Obama Administration (to the tune of an additional $2 billion this year), experts agree that in many states, funding simply isn’t keeping pace with the growing need for affordable child care -- especially as job markets remain difficult to penetrate. Add to that the fact that states are given the discretion to structure the dispersal of the monies they do receive for subsidies as they wish, and you've got a recipe for plenty of bureaucratic red tape and the creation of perpetual holding patterns when it comes to granting aid. Wait-lists thousands for subsidized child care of children deep have become the new normal, according to the Times, and as a result, more and more mothers are finding it impossible to hold down jobs that would keep them off welfare and help keep their families afloat (if barely).

Though this growing problem may be new news to some, it happens to be an issue that Carol Burnett – named a 2010 Woman of Vision at last week’s Gloria Awards gala – knows inside and out. Calling child care the “single most important work support that helps low-income women move toward economic self-sufficiency”, Burnett has been working for two decades to ensure that families in her home state of Mississippi have access quality child care that they can actually afford.

As executive director of the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative (a Ms. Foundation grantee), Carol advocates for state policy reform and works to strengthen the capacity of child care centers across Mississippi. To date her organization has offered assistance to more than 800 providers and continues to work to ensure that one day, “families will get the services children need so that parents can work and so that children’s development will be supported at every age level beginning at birth—without regard to whether the parent can pay.”

It sounds like a utopian ideal -- but it's one that we're fully committed to fighting for. Learn more about Carol's vision for a better future for all of our children -- and take a look at how another grantee, the National Women's Law Center (featured in the Times article) is addressing this important issue.

24 May 2010

Grantees on the Front Lines, Saving the Gulf

With news today of another delay in attempts to cap the leak that has spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the last 30 plus days, it’s clear that the impact of this ecological disaster will be with us for years – if not generations – to come. It’s one thing to be watching underwater images of the murky, toxic fluid gushing forth on TV; it’s another thing entirely to see that oil come floating up on the beaches and wetlands where you live – which is exactly the experience the people of the Gulf are coming up against these days, not even five years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita turned the Coast inside out.

Already, residents of the area are gathering together to organize a local response. Late last week, The American Prospect published an excellent Q & A with Sharon Hanshaw, Executive Director of former Ms. Foundation grantee Coastal Women for Change, who shares her first person account of the shape this early organizing is taking, and the kind of challenges residents are facing as the oil creeps further and further inland. Hanshaw reports,
…It's a very panicky situation because people are afraid. Hurricane season is about to start in two weeks. In these communities [fishing] is their livelihood. They ask, can I work? Can I take care of my family? Can I take my boat even though I don't have insurance?

BP is trying to answer them, but it's not enough. All the seafood's going to go; the restaurants are going to suffer. It's still out there. It's in the sea -- that means it's out there.
It’s out there indeed – and despite the fact that President Obama has called for a moratorium on drilling in the area, The New York Times is now reporting that federal regulators have granted “at least 19 environmental waivers for gulf drilling projects and at least 17 drilling permits, most of which were for types of work like that on the Deepwater Horizon shortly before it exploded.” In other words, yes, it’s out there, and there’s no reason to think another disaster might not be waiting right around the corner.

In the aftermath of the hurricanes in 2005, the Ms. Foundation made a commitment to build the strength and power of social justice organizations and coalitions throughout the Southern region – first through our Katrina Women’s Response Fund and now through our larger Southern Focus. Now, in the wake of this newest crisis, our grantees are standing at the front lines, evaluating and organizing in response to this environmental disaster. For another look at how the oil spill is affecting the Gulf Coast – and who bears responsibility for the aftermath – watch Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Ms. Foundation grantee Green for All, in her recent appearance on MSNBC. And check out the website of Ms. Foundation grantee The Bucket Brigade, whose members are also hard at work, surveying the damage on the ground.

20 May 2010

Women & Welfare: Revisiting Reform in the Wake of Economic Crisis

While there’s been plenty of talk throughout this global economic crisis about the fate of the newly jobless, newly poor, middle class, stories about how the tanking of the economy has affected those who were already poor in the “best of times” have been few and far between. In this week’s issue of The Nation, however, Katha Pollitt asks some long overdue questions about the current plight of Americans who entered this recession in poverty -- particularly the women among them.

Framing her piece around "welfare mothers," and the impact that the passage of 1996's Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (or PRWORA) has had on their lives, Pollitt notes that despite the tendency of pundits and analysts to label these welfare reforms a “success,” in fact, even in the economically prosperous 1990s, the families most affected by said reforms remained solidly poor. PRWORA may have pushed poor women off the welfare rolls and forced them to find jobs (which conservatives cast as a return to the great American ethic of “hard work”) -- but those jobs tended to pay them much less than it actually took to survive, usually earning them salaries well below the annual poverty line. (Hard to see the “success” in all that.)

So how are these women and families managing nearly 15 years after the passage of the PRWORA and in the worst economic climate in recent memory? The hidden truth may be that they aren’t managing at all; they’re simply subsisting. Homeless shelters have seen the impact: according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, from July to November 2008 the number of families entering New York City homeless shelters increased 40 percent over the same period in 2007. And as Pollitt points out, while the use of food stamps nationwide has also risen 40% over the last 2 years, there’s been little jump in welfare rates over the same period -- meaning, most likely, that the process for accessing the latter type of aid has become so complicated as to “weed out” those who most need it. It’s therefore safe to assume, according to one of Pollitt’s sources, that most of these women and families are now living in a state of “constant suffering and inequality,” vulnerable not just to poverty itself, but to all of its attendant, ugly bedfellows, including increased rates of domestic violence.

There are, of course, solutions to be had to problems of this nature, and, among other things, they involve crafting and pushing for the adoption of policies that put the needs and experiences of women and families at their center -- just as Ms. Foundation grantees the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative and the Georgia Citizen’s Coalition on Hunger do every day.

With TANF (Temporary Aid for Needy Families – a provision of PRWORA that replaced AFDC) up for recertification this year, Congress now has an opportunity to, in the words of grantee Legal Momentum, finally “make [welfare programs] responsive to the mothers and children [they are] intended to serve.” To do that, though, they’ll need to start listening to the women living on the front lines of extended poverty and including their perspectives in the decision-making process -- an approach that’s clearly long overdue.

Susan Wefald
Executive Vice President & COO

19 May 2010

Abstinence Only: Shelby Knox Gets to Heart of Souder "Affair"

You may by now have heard the scuttlebutt surrounding Representative Mark Souder’s (R - IN) resignation from office (you know: the increasingly common tale of a politician being caught in an affair after years of preaching “family values” to a conservative base). But what you may not have seen yet is Shelby Knox’s fantastic piece, which highlights how dangerous support for the abstinence-only approach lauded by Souder has been for millions of school children around the country.

Leaving somewhat to the side Souder’s hypocrisy in promoting sex-inside-marriage as the “only way” to prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, while actually engaging in sex outside of his own marriage, Knox focuses her critique on the real world impact of these policies on America’s youth. On the Women’s Media Center site, she writes,
What I really want to know is what Rep. Souder and others like him have to say to the millions of young people whose health was endangered by being told condoms don’t work, or that we’re worth less as human beings depending on who we have sex with and when. What I want to know is how in good conscience adults – who knew by the simple benefit of life experience it was a lie – could pretend that sex and sexual relationships are always uncomplicated as long as they’re kept inside the safe confines of marriage?
Seeing folks like Souder hoisted on their own petards may bring a certain satisfaction – but remembering how many lives have literally been put at risk because of policies like these is sobering indeed. And while you may have thought with a new president we'd be able to right this wrong and focus solely on evidence-based alternatives, not so fast: these failed policies will continue to threaten youth nationwide. Last summer, the Obama Administration did allow federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs to lapse, but this year's health-care reform legislation brought support for them right back.

Navigating this complex and politically charged environment, our grantees, including California Latinas for Reproductive Justice and New Mexicans for Responsible Sexuality Education and many others, continue to work hard in states and school districts across the country to build a future where all youth have access to comprehensive, medically accurate sexuality education; despite what Rep. Souder and his cohort would tell you, it’s the least they deserve.

States Move to Further Limit Abortion Coverage

Think the battle over health care reform is behind us? Time to think again – particularly when it comes to abortion coverage.

According to the Associated Press, lawmakers and policy groups in more than 29 states have “expressed serious interest” in enacting laws that would further restrict coverage of abortions by insurers in “new markets” (those health care exchanges you heard so much about in the run up to the vote) – even, as we noted earlier this week – if that insurance is private.

How is that possible? Look to language in the health care bill if you want an explanation. Buried in the not-so-fine print is an allowance that makes it ok for states to do precisely what they are now doing: limit abortion coverage by private insurers if they are operating in these new markets, or exchanges. Arizona, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi and Missouri, have already made their move, banning insurers from covering these services. And three other states – Louisiana, Ohio and Oklahoma – are apparently not far behind.

Scary as it may be to confront, this kind of action at the state level proves just how vital grassroots organizations will be to keeping reproductive freedom real – in the near term and beyond. Learn more about how the Ms. Foundation is providing strategic support to state and local organizations that are working to combat restrictive reproductive rights policies.

18 May 2010

Arizona and Immigration: Why Women's Voices Matter

RH Reality Check’s managing editor, Amie Newman, has written a thorough and persuasive piece examining why immigration is a women’s issue, and why feminists should be taking action against Arizona’s new draconian anti-immigration measures.

First -- still a little-known fact -- women now make up more than half of all immigrants coming to this country. At the same time, according to Newman, they also face very specific and often ignored challenges as immigrants, precisely because of their gender. "Women," she writes, "are far more likely to enter this country dependent upon a male partner’s employment visa: Seventy-two percent of those who hold employment visas in the United States are men." Additionally,
Vulnerability comes in many forms: [from] sexual violence that can start on a woman’s journey to the U.S., to domestic violence once in this country made worse when a woman is dependent upon a male partner to stay [here]... and extreme barriers to reproductive and sexual health care so critical to immigrant women who are here during their childbearing and parenting years. A law like the one in Arizona exacerbates all of these situations.
Yet even though women are the new-immigrant majority, and are uniquely impacted as outlined above, Newman makes note of the reality that immigration policies have never taken women's experiences and expertise into account; of course, in order to bring about truly comprehensive immigration reform, women's policy priorities will finally need to be addressed. Ms. Foundation grantees like the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and their executive director, Silvia Henriquez (a 2010 Gloria Award winner) understand this, and are leading the way to promote the solutions of immigrant women at policymaking tables to once and for all advance inclusive and just reform. What we need now is for the government (federal and state) to listen -- and to decisively act.

Take the time to Newman's piece and then visit Puentaz.org to learn how you can take action on behalf of women and families in Arizona -- today's front line in the national immigration debate. And view some powerful images from last Monday's Mother's Day March in Phoenix, supported with a grant from the Ms. Foundation for Women.

17 May 2010

Missouri Follows Oklahoma in Passing Stringent Anti-Abortion Laws

More proof that conservative ideology is on the march: First, in late April, the Oklahoma legislature overrode the governor’s vetoes of two laws that would increase restrictions to abortion access. Then, late last week, the Missouri state legislature followed suit, passing the aptly named “Abortion Restriction Bill” which puts further limitations on access to abortions. Both votes are a sharp indication of the fragile state of reproductive rights across the country – and a reminder of how important our grantees’ work on the reproductive justice front continues to be.

The passage of the Oklahoma bills -- one of which requires a woman seeking an abortion to have an ultra-sound and mandates “that a doctor or technician set up the monitor so the woman can see it and describe the heart, limbs and organs of the fetus,” making no exceptions for rape and incest victims – makes Oklahoma one of the most restrictive states in the nation when it comes to obtaining an abortion. And Missouri’s newly minted law comes with a bevy of fresh limitations, similarly designed to curtail abortion access. According to Robin Marty, writing for RH Reality Check,
Under the new law, physicians are required to repeat medically inaccurate statements to the patient prior to the procedure and all informed consent processes must be done face to face, adding to the length of time required to obtain an abortion. Abortions will no longer be included in any private health care plans in the state, regardless of whether or not a woman would have paid for the coverage with separate funds. Also, clinics will be required to put up signs that read that the state will provide support for mothers who decide to continue their pregnancies, although the state does not at this time have resources in place to give to these mothers.
Oklahoma and Missouri are not alone. At present, at least a dozen states are considering legislation that would put harsher restrictions on access to abortions, including by cutting off insurance coverage of such procedures even in instances where policies are privately funded (just one example of how right-leaning state legislatures are already challenging health-care reform). States like Florida and Nebraska have already passed versions of these more restrictive abortion bills, and nationwide there are said to be more than 500 pieces of anti-abortion legislation winding their way through state houses – a level of activity that hasn’t been seen since the late 1990s.

The impact of measures like these are precisely why the Ms. Foundation maintains a steadfast commitment to supporting grassroots organizations that are fighting for reproductive justice across the country. Organizations like the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and Young Women United – all of which are working to ensure that women in diverse communities, and at all stages of their lives, have access to comprehensive reproductive services. We’ve long known that the “next frontier” in the fight for abortion rights would play out at the state level, which is why we’ve funded groups like Faith Aloud, based in Missouri -- a group that has been mobilizing its members to lobby the legislature in defense of abortion rights. So far this year they’ve already held three advocacy days in Jefferson City, and continue to stand up for the rights of women, even as their legislature moves in exactly the opposite direction.

For a recent overview of legislation pending at the state level, visit NARAL's Blog for Choice.

VIDEO: Kirbie Platero: Champion for New Mexico's Youth

As we gear up for this week's Gloria Awards, where we have the privilege of honoring grassroots women activists and philanthropists who ignite change in communities nationwide, we wanted to share the inspiring story of one such awardee from last year's gala: Kirbie Platero.

At just 20 years of age, mother, artist, and full-time youth activist Kirbie is living proof that the future of the reproductive justice movement is alive and kicking – and in good hands.

The 2009 recipient of the Marie C. Wilson Young Woman’s Leadership Award, Kirbie has played a leading role in the comprehensive sex ed movement in New Mexico. An outspoken member of Ms. Foundation grantee group Young Women United, Kirbie helped lobby the departments of health and education in her state, as well as the Albuquerque Public School Board, to adopt standards calling for medically accurate, comprehensive sexuality education – leading the way for New Mexico to eventually become the 15th state to refuse federal abstinence-only funding.

A survivor of sexual assault as a child, and now raising a young son born in 2007, Kirbie’s life circumstances haven’t always been easy. But what this video below makes clear is how powerfully she’s translated her own experiences into a passion for providing others with the resources they need to make informed and safe decisions about their own lives.

Please join us in paying tribute to yet another amazing group of grassroots women activists like Kirbie at this week's Ms. Foundation's 22nd Annual Gloria Awards: A National Salute to Women of Vision, Thursday, May 20 in New York City. Purchase your seat online now! And stay tuned for more powerful stories to come as we share the voices of our 2010 awardees.

14 May 2010

Conference Call: Hear Testimonies and Take Action for Immigrant Women in Arizona

As we reported earlier this week, Mother's Day may be behind us, but the need to support immigrant women and their families in Arizona remains an urgent cause.

Join a conference call this Monday, May 17 (details below) to learn from a delegation of national feminist and labor leaders, journalists, and organizers who, with support from a Ms. Foundation rapid-response grant, traveled to Arizona during Mother's Day weekend to document the experiences of women and children in the wake of Arizona's racist and restrictive immigration law, SB 1070.

The delegation, led by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and Jobs with Justice, will report on findings and discuss upcoming actions and opportunities to protect the rights and well-being of women immigrants in Arizona. They shared the following in an invitation:
The testimonies we heard make clear in vivid and haunting detail that SB 1070 constitutes a violation of principles we hold dear to safeguard women as mothers, workers and leaders in our families and communities. The draconian legislation has paved the way for assaults on the basic human rights of women who came here simply to support their families, and created an environment in which violence against women and children -- physical, spiritual and legal -- has been state-sanctioned.

At the same time, SB 1070 has sparked a culture of resistance and an opportunity to organize women for change nationally as well as locally in our communities, to battle present and future legislation which threatens our families and communities.
Join the Call and Learn How to Support Immigrant Women and Families in Arizona

When: Monday, May 17, 2010 -- 3:00pm EDT / 12:00 noon PDT
Dial: 213-289-0500
Code: 26337465#

Another Voice on Young Women and Reproductive Justice

In an article in the Indypendent, Kasia Gladki -- a part-time web and media assistant with the Ms. Foundation and a freelance multi-media producer -- adds her perspective on the race, age, and class questions raised by a recent Newsweek piece on reproductive justice (see an earlier post on this topic by Ms. Foundation's Desiree Flores).

Gladki's article condemns the limited perspective that continually sidelines the voices, passion, and amazing work of women of color and low-income women and weakens the debate within the reproductive rights community.
It wasn't only younger women that were disregarded by traditional organizations like NARAL. The reality is that any constituency that doesn't fit the feminist profile defined by white, upper-middle-class champions of the 1970s women's movement is excluded from the discourse… Women of color and low-income women were simply absent from NARAL's study and the subsequent debate.
She challenges traditional reproductive rights organizations to engage these powerful women, heed their voices, and truly acknowledge their role as committed advocates; because only then can the movement counter a right-wing backlash and remain a vital force in the fight for reproductive justice.
As the dynamics of race, class and labor in America continue to change, it's imperative that the voices of minority and low-income women be heard in the reproductive-rights debate. Only then will the movement reflect all the dimensions of justice that belong to a feminism for our times.

Honoring Rhonda Copelon, Tireless Advocate for Women's Human Rights

It is unbelievable to have lost three phenomenal women activists in such a short time, each of whom played her own inimitable role in the struggle for social justice and women’s human rights. Having just mourned the passing of Wilma Mankiller and Dorothy Height, we now share our deep sadness for the loss of another: Rhonda Copelon.

Rhonda Copelon, international human rights lawyer, activist and professor -- and our dear friend and mentor -- died of cancer on May 6, 2010.

It is nearly impossible to catalogue all of Rhonda’s characteristics and accomplishments: her creative, brilliant use of the law; her precedent-setting arguments in international human rights and US cases on behalf of women and countless others whose rights are routinely abused; her insistence on the need to address the intersecting impact of race, class, gender, religion and sexuality on our lives.

It is also hard to adequately recount her spirit, which enabled her to fight for so many for so long, to captivate the minds of her students and colleagues, and as demonstrated in a now-infamous story, race 45 minutes to work in her car with the driver’s side door missing because she just couldn’t say no -- to her students, to a friend in need, to the movement.

Rhonda was particularly well known for her role in two key Supreme Court cases, both of which happened to be decided on the same day, June 30, 1980: Filártiga v. Peña-Irala, a landmark case which established that victims of gross human rights abuses committed abroad had recourse to US Courts, and Harris v. McRae, where in an unsuccessful outcome, the Court narrowly upheld the Hyde Amendment -- a law which, as the nation was reminded during the recent health-care reform debate, continues to prohibit federal funding for nearly all abortions.

Later on, as a professor at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, she and her students submitted amicus briefs in the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia that resulted in the recognition of rape as a crime of genocide and torture in international law.

Rhonda was less well known, but should’ve received equal praise, for yet another feat: in arguing Harris v. McRae in 1980, she became the first woman to wear a pants suit before the Supreme Court.

In her 40-year career as a feminist, social justice attorney, Rhonda was a founding faculty member of the CUNY School of Law, co-founder of the school’s International Women's Human Rights Law Clinic, co-founder of the Women's Caucus for Gender Justice, and a trailblazing attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights.

But Rhonda’s greatest gifts were those that couldn't be captured in any title. She was at heart always a teacher, a believer in and a champion for younger generations of activists. She had unwavering faith in her students, in their own intellectual potential and passion for social justice. And she believed wholeheartedly in activism for progressive change -- hard-fought, sometimes won, and always worth the effort.

Rhonda’s passing is a loss for all of us: her family, friends, students and colleagues, the global women’s movement and the field of international human rights.

We will miss her dearly. We will continue to learn from her always.

Sangeeta Budhiraja, Program Officer
Irene Schneeweis, Senior Communications Manager

More about Rhonda, including video excerpts from her legal arguments:

Photos: (top) Rhonda Copelon by Jim Block.
(bottom, from left) Sangeeta Budhiraja, Rhonda Copelon, Irene Schneeweis at the 2009 Ms. Foundation Gloria Awards.

Immigrant Story 'Entre Nos' Opens in New York City

The Ms. Foundation is pleased to be a co-sponsor of Entre Nos, a dramatic film about a Colombian immigrant family's struggles in the United States, which opens Friday, May 14 at the Quad Cinema in Manhattan and the Center Cinema 5 in Sunnyside, Queens. Written and directed by Paola Mendoza and Gloria La Morte, Entre Nos is the story of Mariana (played by Paola Mendoza) and her children Gabriel, 10, and Andrea, 6. Inspired by Paola Mendoza's family, the film shows Mariana's challenges in a strange city where she barely speaks the language, to provide for her family, financially and emotionally. In the process it tells a story about the lives of immigrants in today's United States.

After working together on the award winning documentary film, Autumn's Eyes, which shows prison, poverty, and life through the life of a three-year-old girl, Paola and Gloria decided to develop a narrative film. Paola had grown up hearing fragments of her mother's story when she first arrived in United States from Colombia and of her father's abandonment. Paola and Gloria went to work capturing not only the pain, but also the inspiring hope of this family. Their script won a prize at the Independent Film Week's Emerging Narrative section. The winnings included the Panasonic camera they used for the production of the film.

More information:
Screening schedule
Watch Paola Mendoza discuss Entre Nos and make a plea for immigration reform.
View Autumn's Eyes online.

13 May 2010

Shackling Incarcerated Pregnant Women is a Reproductive Justice Issue

Few people can claim that childbirth is easy. For most women, it turns out to be a painful, sometimes scary, but ultimately bearable means to a joyous and long anticipated end. But for women in state prisons across this country, childbirth has taken on a whole new level of terror and shame. Why? Because they’re often forced to labor, and give birth, in chains.

Though such practices violate international standards of practice and have now been banned in federal prisons, forty states still permit the use of shackles during the childbirth process. Thankfully, a handful are now moving to repeal that policy – due in large part to the activism of local organizations and individuals who understand the practice for what it is: an inhumane and unnecessary means of stigmatizing and shaming women in prison, the majority of whom, it’s important to note, have been jailed for non-violent offenses.

Ms. Foundation grantee SPARK Reproductive Justice Now! has spent more than two years researching and documenting the experiences of incarcerated pregnant women in the organization’s home state of Georgia – a state that does permit the shackling of pregnant women in its prisons. Detailing the conditions under which female prisoners in Georgia experience labor and delivery, Tonya Williams, a program director at SPARK writes on RH Reality Check,
…Incarcerated pregnant women across the state of Georgia have been and continue to be subjected to shackling by the wrists, ankles or around the belly on their way to the hospital, during labor and delivery and in recovery. Dehumanized, shamed by the visible signs of their bondage, and oftentimes unable to receive the holistic and essential pre- and postnatal care and nutrition needed, pregnant women in Georgia must confront a painful reality. They have become a part of the modern day chain gang.
Williams’ article (which also highlights the work of Ms. Foundation grantee The Rebecca Project) is an important entry in the conversation about the rights of the incarcerated – and it offers a critical reminder that reproductive justice is about securing the right for all of us to “make sustainable and libratory decisions about [our] fertility, bodies, genders, sexualities, families and lives.” When women in state prisons are routinely physically restrained – against international convention and federal policy – during the most personal and intimate of human experiences, it becomes clear that the link between “reproduction” and “justice” has been badly broken. Organizations like SPARK, The Rebecca Project and another Ms. Foundation grantee, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, are hard at work crafting innovative solutions to problems like these; we applaud them for shining light on an often hidden segment of the fight for reproductive justice, and are proud to support their work.

12 May 2010

They Just Won't Stop: Arizona Bans Ethnic Studies in Public Classrooms

Just weeks after their new immigration policy rocked the nation, the state of Arizona has unveiled another measure designed to silence and diminish ethnic communities.

On Tuesday, Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill that will ban the teaching of ethnic studies courses in public schools across the state. The legislation will particularly impact the Tucson Unified Public School district, which currently offers students access to “specialized courses in African-American, Mexican-American and Native-American studies that focus on history and literature and include information about the influence of a particular ethnic group.”

The measure, spearheaded by Arizona's superintendent of schools, Tom Horne, has already been condemned by six United Nations human rights experts, who note that, “All people have the right to learn about their own cultural and linguistic heritage.”

For a remarkable first-person account of what life in Arizona looks like these days, and how this newest measure fits into the state’s larger efforts to disenfranchise people of color, check out this blog post which comes to us via our grantee partner the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. NNIRR has been at the front lines of opposing this recent spate of legislation in Arizona; visit their website to learn more about how you can take action in this all-important fight for human rights and dignity.

See also: Supporting Arizona's Mothers and sign a petition calling on women in Congress to take action against Arizona's new immigration law.

11 May 2010

Rejecting the Myth of the “Mancession”

If the idea that men were being disproportionately impacted by our national economic crisis never sat quite right with you, we now know there’s a reason why: it wasn’t precisely true -- particularly over time.

According to a report to be released by the Joint Economic Committee, women have continued to lose jobs even as men have found new ones. As the Associated Press reported,
"As job losses slowed in the final months of 2009, women continued to lose jobs as men found employment," says the report…based on the committee's analysis of unpublished data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Specifically, from October 2009 to March 2010, women lost 22,000 jobs while men gained 260,000, it says. "And April's strong employment growth showed women gained 86,000 jobs last month, far fewer than the 204,000 jobs gained by men."
In other words, as things have begun to get better for men on the economic front, they’ve gotten worse for women. Single mothers have paid a particular price during this recession, with their unemployment rate jumping 5 percentage points in 2 years (from 8% in 2007 to 13% in 2009). Add to that the fact that male job loss has had a lasting, tangible impact on women and families (less overall money in dual-parent families means heavier reliance on women’s income, even as women are paid less than men and make up the majority of minimum-wage and part-time workers; in single-parent families, a father’s lost job can mean the end of child-support payments, again putting increased financial pressure on households led by women) and you’ve got a rock solid case for why the concept of a “mancession” is at best misleading, and at worst a myth.

Of course, economic insecurity -- for women, for people of color, for low-income people, for immigrants -- is nothing new under the sun. It’s a trend as long and as deep as our history as a nation. But as we argued back in February, it’s time to do away with the fantasy that economic security -- not to mention “recovery” -- is available to us all in equal measure. (The data from the JEC certainly makes it clear that no such thing is true.) What we really need is a re-thinking of our entire economic system to address the inequities that continue to put women, people of color and others at a disadvantage. Until we get there, though, tossing out the myth of the mancession is a good place to start.

10 May 2010

Supporting Arizona's Mothers: A March to Stop SB 1070

Mother’s Day may be officially behind us, but protecting the rights of immigrant mothers and their families remains a hot topic in Arizona – and around the nation.

Today in Phoenix, women representing social movements from across the country are scheduled to participate in a “Mother’s Day March” on the state capitol to protest the passage of SB 1070, which gives law enforcement unprecedented latitude to racially profile and criminalize undocumented immigrants.

Show your support for this emergency effort, and tell the women of Arizona they are not alone. Sign a petition calling on women in Congress to take action against SB 1070.

Led by the National Domestic Workers Alliance (headed by Ai-jen Poo, former executive director of Ms. Foundation grantee, Domestic Workers United), the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and Jobs with Justice (also a Ms. Foundation grantee), participants plan to shed particular light on how SB 1070 will negatively impact immigrant women and families. In a letter to supporters, NDWA declared:
With the passage of this new law, women in Arizona will be the target of racial profiling, searches and seizures, and police harassment. Law enforcement will have free reign to detain and disappear mothers, and separate families for their mere presence in the state. Every time they walk their children to school, buy food, go to work, visit a local health clinic or attend church on a Sunday, they will risk permanent separation from their children and families.

This assault on immigrant communities is also an assault on the legacy of the women's movement to break the code of silence surrounding violence against women, because they will be afraid of reporting all crimes, including hate crimes and violent acts against women and their children. Women in unsafe situations, such as sexual assault and domestic violence, will not report out of fear of deportation… Arizona has declared open season on women of color.
This past weekend, organizers collected testimony from immigrant women and children about the traumatic experiences they've faced in recent weeks and months and their fears for what this new legislation portends. The results from these interviews, along with today’s activities will be announced at a press conference today; a full report will be sent to the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Again, show your support for immigrant women and families in Arizona. Sign a petition calling on women in Congress to take action against SB 1070.

LAST CHANCE! Sign Up for Tuesday's Call: “The Right-Wing Backlash”

If we needed any more proof that right-wing forces are gaining momentum in the US, recent events in Arizona have highlighted the urgent need to address the rise of a movement against progressive social change whose currency seems to be growing daily.

Tomorrow at 1:00 pm EDT, the Ms. Foundation for Women and Jean Hardisty, Ph.D. will host a conference call to provide in-depth analysis of the current "right-wing backlash" – including a discussion of what this trend could mean for progressive grassroots women's advocacy across the US.

Sign up now to join the conversation!

The Right-Wing Backlash: Who Benefits, Who Believes and at What Cost?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 1:00 - 2:00 pm, Eastern Daylight Time

* Why are the racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-immigrant messages working, and with whom?
* Who is financing and organizing the current movement against progressive social change, and what do they have to gain?
* What are the implications for grassroots women's advocacy across the US?

About the Featured Speaker:

Dr. Jean Hardisty is the founder and president emerita of Political Research Associates, a Boston-based research center that analyzes right-wing, authoritarian, and anti-democratic trends and publishes educational materials for the general public. Currently Senior Scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Research on Women at Wellesley College, Dr. Hardisty is a scholar, widely-published author and long-time activist. She is also a former board member of the Ms. Foundation for Women.

Moderated by: Sara K. Gould, President and CEO, Ms. Foundation for Women

06 May 2010

Violence Claims Young Women Like--and Unlike--Lacrosse Star Every Day

At the University of Virginia, students are being taught a very personal lesson these days about the prevalence of domestic violence and its impact on communities across the United States.

Yeardley Love was, until her death earlier this week at the age of 22, a senior at the university and a much-loved member of UVA's women's lacrosse team. Her ex-boyfriend, George Huguely, was a lacrosse player too -- one with a history of "run-ins" with the law. According to the NY Times, Huguely now admits that, early this past Monday morning, he "kicked his foot through [Love's] bedroom door and forced his way in." Once inside, court papers show, Huguely attacked Love, shaking her to the point that "her head repeatedly hit the wall," and causing her to die.

There is no getting around the fact that Yeardley Love's death at the hands of a man she once trusted is a nearly unspeakable tragedy -- for her family, her friends, and for her entire community. But the even greater tragedy is that Yeardley Love is hardly unique in the circumstances that brought about her death. She is one among thousands -- if not millions.

In the U.S. alone, 3 women die every day at the hands of their intimate partners. 1.3 million American women are victims of physical assault by their partners each year. And in 70–80 percent of intimate partner homicides, research shows that the male partner had physically abused the woman before the murder. What's more, it is no accident that the stories we hear involve younger and younger generations. Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the U.S. is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse [pdf] from a dating partner -- a figure that far exceeds victimization rates for other types of violence affecting youth.

The media has catapulted the Love-Huguely case to the headlines because, from the outside, this couple looks like everything the dirty secret of domestic abuse is supposedly not: young, beautiful, educated, athletic, successful and white. That this seemingly bright young man should perpetrate a set of acts so heinous, shakes our collective fantasy about where violence against women lives, and where we pretend it does not.

The reality, as the students at UVA are learning, is that it lives everywhere. On the same day that Yeardley Love died, two other women also lost their lives at the hands of an intimate partner. Who were they? What were the circumstances of their lives? What about the three women who will die today…and tomorrow? Imagine what the impact on our society would be if, each day, our morning papers forced us to confront the names and faces of the people just lost to intimate partner violence. Imagine the shock we’d feel. Imagine how our commitment to violence prevention would grow.

As one of the very first funders of domestic violence shelters in the U.S., we at the Ms. Foundation know how crucial raising awareness is to bringing an end to any problem. And how critical it is to prioritize prevention and stop the violence before it starts, at long last. (See Young Women's Action Team and Close to Home for great examples of community-based, violence-prevention organizations.) That much, at least, we owe to Yeardley Love -- and to the thousands of women who died before her, whose names we may not know, but who mattered just as much.

Patricia Eng
Vice President, Program
Ms. Foundation for Women

In Honor of Mother's Day, Speak Out for Immigrant Women's Rights

Ms. Foundation for Women grantee National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) is speaking out about the injustices visited upon immigrant women in communities nationwide.

In Tuesday's Roll Call, NLIRH's executive director, Silvia Henriquez -- 2010 Ms. Foundation Woman of Vision awardee -- published a stirring opinion piece underscoring the price immigrant women and their families are paying as a result of misguided immigration policies like the one recently signed into law in Arizona. Take the case of Juana Villegas, a Latina living in Tennessee, who, two years ago,
...was arrested for a routine traffic violation in Nashville after leaving a clinic for a pre-natal visit and detained when she was unable to produce a license. Despite the fact that driving without a license is a misdemeanor in Tennessee that generally leads to a citation, Ms. Villegas was taken into custody due to suspicions about her immigration status.

Ms. Villegas was jailed for six days, during which time she gave birth to a little boy while shackled to a bed under the watchful eye of the sheriff's officer. Barred from speaking to her husband, her baby was taken from her upon birth... local police also confiscated Villegas' breast pump.
Stories like Villegas' highlight how desperately our immigration policies require reform -- and how painfully our broken system can impact women's lives. In honor of Mother's Day, take the time to read the entirety of Henriquez's piece, and encourage your friends to do the same. It's time to shed light on how immigration policies deny women, and their families, the humanity they deserve.

03 May 2010

Don't Let Arizona Determine the Course of Immigration Reform

This past Saturday activists from across the country celebrated May Day, by protesting Arizona's recent anti-immigrant legislation and calling on Congress to commit to real immigration reform.

Huge rallies were held in major cities throughout the US, including New York, Chicago and DC. Our photographer Elizabeth Rappaport caught up with one of our grantees, Jobs with Justice, in DC. View the slideshow with some of her photos.

Read our post about the Arizona legislation.

Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month; National Latina Institute Releases Report on Young Latinas' Sexual Health

Timed to coincide with National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, Ms. Foundation grantee, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, has just issued the report, "Removing Stigma: Towards a Complete Understanding of Young Latinas' Sexual Health [pdf]." With expert knowledge of reproductive health policy and young Latinas' lives across the U.S., the Latina Institute is perfectly positioned to counter the overwhelming amount of misinformation about young women of color and teen pregnancy that fuels stigma and discriminatory, misguided prevention strategies. Check out their report and help set the record straight!

In the release of "Removing Stigma," the Latina Institute writes:
“Traditional teen pregnancy prevention campaigns that rely on stigma and shame simply don’t work. Latinas and their families need health resources that recognize their unique experiences,” states Silvia Henriquez, Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. [We're thrilled to honor Silvia at this year's Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards!]

Latina teens have the same level of sexual activity as white teens, yet have a much higher teen birth rate. Many programs continue to rely on stigma and myth rather than a holistic approach that appreciate Latina teen realities.

Lack of health insurance, limited sexuality education in schools, and differential health care rights for immigrants and non- immigrants all contribute to young Latinas’ inability to access information and medical care to protect their health and futures. Of critical concern, Latina women have the second highest mortality rate from cervical cancer after black women.

Henriquez continues, “It’s time for politicians to get to the tough work of breaking down remaining structural barriers to health care and re-focus their efforts on giving young women the knowledge, access and power to plan their families in the ways that work best for them.”
Download the full report [pdf].

Ms. Foundation Grantees Defeat Georgia's Frightening "Race and Sex Selection" Bill

Thanks to the tireless advocacy of Ms. Foundation grantees SPARK Reproductive Justice Now! and SisterSong, Georgia’s S.B. 529 [which we wrote about in March] -- the “Race and Sex Selection” Bill -- is DEAD! That’s right, finito, finished, kaput. Congratulations are seriously in order!

S.B. 529 -- based on the outrageously flawed premise that abortion providers “solicit” African American women for eugenics-like race and sex selection -- would’ve created yet another barrier to reproductive choice for women of color and criminalized providers serving African American communities. It wasn’t just extraordinarily misleading, but sexist, racist and paternalistic; if passed it would’ve set an incredibly dangerous precedent. Needless to say, all champions of reproductive rights, health and justice should rejoice in its defeat.

SPARK and SisterSong -- grassroots reproductive justice organizations led by women of color in Georgia -- deserve much of the accolades. For more than three months, they worked together (along with another coalition partner, SisterLove, Inc.) to vigorously lobby legislators and mobilize quickly and effectively on the ground -- exposing the frightening nature of the bill and gaining widespread public support for their position. As SPARK writes, “We were not silent, we were not invisible, and we refused to let them advance sexist, racist, anti-choice legislation in our name!” Because of this determination and passion the bill never even made it to a vote.

Congratulations again to SPARK, SisterSong, other coalition partners and allies, and any of you who added your voice to defeat this bill!