23 July 2013

By David S. Lee, MPH

We have learned a lot about the problem of child sexual abuse as seen in newspaper headlines. And we need to learn more about the solutions to preventing child sexual abuse. One important piece of the solution is to focus on the power of prevention. Preventing child sexual violence requires the involvement of many people and organizations engaged in the lives of children: educational institutions, youth development organizations, after school programs, parent associations and faith communities.

As Linda Crockett of Samaritan Counseling Center’s Safe Church Project said during last week’s Ending Child Sexual Abuse Web Conference Faith Communities Engaged in Ending Child Sexual Abuse, “Faith communities have a vital role… Faith communities need to be part of the movement to push the wider culture.” Victor Vieth of the National Child Protection Training Center described how “faith has a critical role in the lives of abused children.”

There are many actions that faith communities can take to be active in ending child sexual abuse. Faith communities can develop child sexual abuse prevention policies, integrate prevention education into religious school curriculum, develop partnerships with child sexual abuse prevention organizations and discuss child sexual abuse prevention from the pulpit.

This web conference kicked off the second Ending Child Sexual Abuse Web Conference series sponsored by PreventConnect and the Ms. Foundation for Women. The theme of this series is “Power In Prevention.” The web conferences are hosted by PreventConnect’s Leona Smith-DiFaustino and led by child sexual abuse prevention experts Cordelia Anderson and Joan Tabachnick.

Click here for more information about this series and sign up here for announcements for future web conferences.

David S. Lee, MPH, is the Director of Prevention Services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, where he provides training and technical assistance on prevention. 

18 July 2013

Economic Security Not Possible on Minimum Wage

McDonald’s is causing a stir with its unrealistic budgeting tool for minimum-wage employees. Not only were the amounts allocated staggeringly low (only $600 per month for rent, compared to the national average of $1,048), but the budget excluded things like heat, gas, clothing and child care.

Given that two-thirds of fast-food workers are women and almost one-third of minimum-wage earners are raising children, it’s likely that a significant number of McDonald’s employees require child care services.

A recent Restaurant Opportunities Centers United study, funded by the Ms. Foundation, found that working mothers in the restaurant industry spend an average of 35 percent of their wages on child care.

Unfortunately, the math just doesn’t add up in the McDonald’s scenario. That budget would require an additional $721 in after-tax wages to account for child care.

The fact is that no budgeting tool can truly help minimum-wage earners achieve economic security. So, we’re asking McDonald’s CEO Donald Thompson to instead pay his employees a living wage. Learn more about our campaign and sign our petition today !

15 July 2013

Celebrating Child Care Providers

Ms. Foundation for Women Economic Justice Grantee All Our Kin shares departing reflections from policy fellow Ana Rader, who championed family child care providers, families and children online and in person. Read Ana’s full blog post here.

The family child care providers I’ve met while at All Our Kin are remarkable. Teresa Younger’s words in her keynote at our conference have stayed with me, and I’ve mulled over them often. Quoting a colleague, she said: “The best thing I can do for myself is to drop my daughter off at day care…. I have found an amazing provider who loves her, teaches her, keeps her safe and happy…. I love being at work.” Then, “Today, we celebrate who you are, what you do, and what you make possible for the rest of us to do.”

And it’s true. The work of family child care providers is the reason many other parents —many other women — can leave their homes, enter the public sphere to work and thrive. And I’m not talking about Sheryl Sandberg, here.  Family child care providers enable the women even the feminists forget — not the women “leaning in” as they rise to corporate and political power, but those entering the workforce with low-wage jobs, who might need care overnight as they work unpredictable schedules, who are grateful for an ounce of stability upon arriving in this chaotic country. And that’s important. That’s wonderful.

But these family child care providers, these women I’ve known, are far more than their value as a stepstool for other women. In a time when we often measure women’s equality by the number of women in seats in which men once sat, these family child care providers are instead redefining what it means to be a powerful, autonomous woman. They are reclaiming caregiving as a profession requiring strategy, skill, practice and patience; reclaiming the home as a space that can be lucrative, important, dynamic and rewarding. They are teaching their husbands and sons, bringing them into the home to join them as business partners and educators of young children. Siloed though they may be in their day-to-day work, at meetings and through telephone calls these family child care providers support and celebrate each other, strengthening and growing this community of women who are neither leaning in nor opting out. This, too — perhaps this, especially — is how change really happens.

12 July 2013

Progress in Ireland, But Abortion Rights Are Hollow Without Access

By Julie Kay, Ms. Foundation for Women Senior Strategist, Advocacy and Policy

Women in Ireland can breathe a small sigh of relief today. New legislation allowing abortion when a woman’s life is at risk has moved the country one step closer to removing extremist legislative blockades on women’s human and reproductive rights. Yet, the reality is that for women in Ireland, like their American counterparts, these legal rights will be hollow if access to abortion information and services remains out of reach.

In ABC v. Ireland, a lawsuit I argued on behalf of a woman unable to access lifesaving abortion services and information, the European Court of Human Rights found that the denial of access constituted a violation of human rights. Mounting public pressure after the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar, a young woman denied a lifesaving abortion in an Irish hospital last winter, combined with the human right court’s order, has forced the government to enact reforms after decades of delay and wrangling over abortion restrictions in courts, in legislative bodies and on the streets in Ireland. Since 1992, an anti-abortion majority in government had even ignored its own Supreme Court’s ruling calling for access to legal lifesaving abortion.

Worldwide, women’s health gets treated as a political pawn by anti-abortion politicians who prioritize personal political gain over women’s human rights and health. This year, in the United States alone, women face increasing barriers to necessary abortion information and services from anti-abortion forces that continue to exert control over the legislative process. Intensified anti-abortion efforts have brought legislation from conservatives nationwide, including bans on abortion both early and late in pregnancy, regulations designed to shutter clinics in Texas and other states, and false claims about fetal development. The nonsensical push to make both reproductive health care and abortion inaccessible to women in poverty continued through bans on insurance funding for abortion through the Affordable Care Act, which occurred simultaneously with conservatives’ objections to funding for family planning programs.

The fact is that abortion in the U.S. is legal, yet inaccessible, for many women, particularly for marginalized women. Women of color, immigrant women and low-income women face greater barriers to reproductive health care nationwide. As a result, these groups experience higher instances of maternal mortality, increased health risks as a result of delayed access to abortion and outright denial of necessary and often life-saving reproductive health care. Such violations of women’s human rights occur even with greater legal access to abortion services than in other countries, like Ireland.

Unless we take affirmative steps to ensure genuine access to the full range of reproductive health care, American women will not be able to realize their full human rights of liberty, bodily integrity and full participation in society.