- It's not just Wisconsin: In an effort to raise awareness about and fight back against budget cuts that threaten to "gut workers' rights and benefits" nationwide, Ms. Foundation grantee Jobs with Justice and its affiliates have hosted and participated in a slew of actions to oppose the numerous "anti-worker" bills now sitting on state legislative dockets across the country. Including Wisconsin, JwJ has or will be hosting rallies, town halls and other protests in at least six states where workers rights are plainly under attack; now, that's what we call organizing. Go, workers, go!
- This year marks the third anniversary of the Mississippi-based Women in Construction (WinC) program, which the Ms. Foundation began supporting as a pilot program in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Today, WinC, a program of Moore Community House, is part of a broader cohort of Ms. Foundation grantees working around the country to build an economy based on a new set of values and principles, promoting economic and gender justice through job creation and improved job quality. Congratulations to the WinC program and Moore Community House on three years of remarkable work!
- Ms. Foundation grantee Grassroots Leadership has launched a campaign to document the lives, hardships, and abuses endured by women incarcerated in for-profit prisons nationwide. By exposing the added burdens and risks faced by women in for-profit prisons, Grassroots Leadership hopes to shift priorities from "profit" to "justice" -- and move imprisonment and detention out of the corporate and for-profit sector for good.
- On Feb 15, grantee SWAN held a press conference at the National Press Club to announce a class-action lawsuit against Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, on behalf of 17 survivors of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment in the military. News of the suit was quickly picked up by the New York Times and has garnered much additional press as well. Both the Pentagon and Congress also released responses to the lawsuit, which was filed in Federal District Court in Virginia.
- On February 10, the Ms. Foundation joined a number of our grantee partners in co-sponsoring a Congressional briefing on violence against immigrant women. The event offered attendees a chance to hear testimony from advocates, organizers, and survivors of violence whose experiences underscore the need for legislation that protects immigrant women from abuse. Read Congressman Raul Grijalva’s response to the briefing, and listen to this powerful testimony.
- Based on the success of a state-based pilot program to advance LGBTQ equality, the Western States Center is now taking their work on the issue national. The group has launched the Uniting Communities: National Partner Project, which will bring together organizations based in communities of color nationwide to proactively address issues of racial justice and LGBTQ equality. Three other Ms. Foundation grantees -- National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and Mobilize the Immigrant Vote (California) -- will be participating in the project in its inaugural year; we wish them all the best, and can't wait to hear about all they have accomplished!
In the News
- Ellen Bravo, Executive Director of the Family Values @ Work, appeared on GRITtv to discuss workers' ongoing struggles for basic human rights in Wisconsin. Bravo helped lead a successful campaign in Milwaukee for paid sick days that is now being attacked by Governor Walker's administration, and brings a unique, inside perspective to the fight for workers' rights.
- West Virginia Free’s Executive Director, Margaret Chapman Pomponio, published an op-ed in the West Virginia Gazette, drawing attention to two new state-based bills that would further restrict women's access to reproductive health care. "House Bill 3020 and Senate Bill 443 would not only take away a woman's ability to pay for private insurance coverage of abortion care," Chapman Pomponio wrote, "[they] would unconstitutionally eliminate abortion coverage for state workers and women who need assistance through state-run insurance programs." Another example of how national and state-level politics converge -- and, in this case, not for the better.
- National Day Laborer Organizing Network’s Pablo Alvarado published a piece on the Huffington Post that highlights Arizona’s introduction of new state legislation that challenges the birthright citizenship clause of the US Constitution's 14th Amendment. The article includes moving video testimonials from a young immigrant woman and girl -- members of Las Comadres, a group affiliated with Tonatierra, a Ms. Foundation grantee based in Phoenix -- who spoke at a State Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about how the bill would have a devastating effect on the lives of children just like them. Earlier that day, they and other children led a group of over 100 families outside the State Capitol building in protest of the legislation. Their testimonies surely played a key role: in the end, the committee leader "held" the bill because he didn't have the votes to pass it. This was a critical win for immigrant women, children and families in Arizona, and you can be sure they'll be back again to protect their rights as other State Senate committees consider the bill next.
- Nancy Duff, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center posted an eye-opening analysis of the negative impact FY12 proposed budget cuts will have on women and families. "If the House passes H.R.1, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, girls and women would bear a heavy burden—from girls in early childhood programs to women in their working and childbearing years to women in retirement," Campbell wrote. Keep your eyes on the Senate fight over passage of the act, which must come up for a vote before March 4 (it's already passed the House).
Events and Action Opportunities
- Friends and Families of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children is holding a special Black History Month event on Feb. 25, 2011. The event will feature discussion of Michelle Alexander’s book the “New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” If you're in the New Orleans area, be a part of what's sure to be a stirring conversation.
- Last Friday, the House voted to eliminate all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Now, many of our grantees, including several state-level Planned Parenthood affiliates, are rallying their constituencies to fight back. Access Women’s Health Justice, for example, is urging everyone to stand with Planned Parenthood; NARAL Pro-Choice Washington urges you to help save all women’s access to reproductive health care. Take action now -- women's lives depend on it!