Skip to contentNational Women's Law Center

Womenstake, NWLC's Blog

Obama to Sexual Assault Survivors: "I've Got Your Back"

Posted by Shayne Larkin, Intern | Posted on: January 23, 2014 at 12:09 pm

It pains me that there is no shortage of examples suggesting a dire need for reform in how sexual assault survivors are treated on college campuses. Take for instance Amherst’s response to a sexual assault case, whose policy ‘treats alleged rapists better than laptop thieves,’ or the survivor of assault who faced retaliation for filing a federal complaint against the University of North Carolina.

So when I heard that Obama announced a new plan to combat this depressing trend, all I could think was ‘Hallelujah!!!’

Yesterday, President Obama announced the creation of a task force to protect students from sexual assault, which he described as “an epidemic,” particularly on college campuses. This new initiative – a collaboration between the White House Council on Women and Girls and the Office of the Vice President – will facilitate ‘information sharing among key federal agencies’ about best practices to prevent sexual assault and provide support for survivors.

Read more... 3 comments

Supreme Court Case About Unionizing Home Care Workers Raises High Stakes

Posted by Emily Wales, Fellow | Posted on: January 23, 2014 at 10:34 am

The U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t do snow days, apparently. While much of D.C. hunkered down Tuesday for our latest winter storm, the Court went on as usual, hearing oral arguments in a case that could upset years of established labor law. It could leave low-wage workers, overwhelmingly women, who provide home health care services under Illinois’ Medicaid program—and potentially other public employees—without a voice at the negotiating table. Knowing how high the stakes are, I ventured out to listen.

The case, Harris v. Quinn, addresses key questions about the unionizing of in-home care providers paid by the state of Illinois through two Medicaid programs. Here is a boiled-down version of the main issues: First, if a majority of care providers vote in favor of an exclusive bargaining representative (a union), can the state recognize and negotiate with that union? Second, can the providers who voted against unionization be required to pay a “fair share fee,” a payment that goes to cover the administrative costs of bargaining the contract that also benefits them?

Read more... 1 comment

3 Reasons Why Roe v. Wade Should Matter to You as an Asian American

Posted by Yumhee Park, Program Assistant | Posted on: January 22, 2014 at 04:31 pm

Growing up in a traditional Korean American household, my mother didn’t really know how to talk about reproductive health issues with me and my sister. I never got the sex talk until my junior year of college and the conversation went a little like this:

Mom: You know, you should always use a condom.
Me: ...
Mom: Your sister talks to you about those things right? Always use a condom, okay?
Mom: I mean you don’t have sex anyway, right? Don’t have sex, okay? But if you do, use a condom.
Me: ………. *slinks down into chair*

My mom is certainly not very graceful when talking about sex. Reproductive health issues are not regularly discussed in young people’s curriculum in South Korea and were even more hush hush during my mother’s generation. But I have learned that to be informed is to have control of your own body and I’m thankful that being educated in America has provided me accurate information to take control of my reproductive health and life. I have learned the importance of having affordable access to contraception and there is a peace of mind that in the United States, because of Roe v. Wade, abortion, should I ever need one, will be left to the decision of me and my doctor. However as of late, there are increasingly more restrictions being set into place that makes it more difficult for women to have access to abortion. Some states have even enacted sex selective abortion bans that specifically subject Asian Americans to more scrutiny. Here are 3 reasons why access to a safe and legal abortion should matter to you as an Asian American:

Read more... 1 comment

He Signed It! New Jersey Expands Protection for Pregnant Workers

Posted by Lauren Khouri, Fellow | Posted on: January 22, 2014 at 01:56 pm

Great news out of New Jersey! Yesterday, Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law that protects and supports pregnant women in the workplace. The new law bans pregnancy discrimination and requires employers to reasonably accommodate pregnant workers so that they can continue working safely through their pregnancies. By signing the bill, Gov. Christie joins the unanimous New Jersey Senate and 77-1 New Jersey Assembly that support reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. As a result, fewer pregnant workers will be forced off the job at the moment they can least afford it.

Read more... 7 comments

All Women Deserve Access to Abortion

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: January 22, 2014 at 01:31 pm

Forty-one years ago Roe v. Wade made clear that women have a fundamental right to choose when and whether to have children. But, today, as some states restrict abortion, many women find themselves unable to exercise this fundamental right. Women of color and low-income women, who have never had equal access to abortion, bear the brunt of these restrictions. Seventy-percent of low income women who obtained an abortion report that they would have preferred to have the abortion earlier. Waiting periods and required ultrasounds force low-income women to take additional time off of work and find child care and transportation. For many women, these can be insurmountable obstacles. One study found that after Texas enacted its waiting period and ultrasound requirements, women had to wait an average of 3.7 days between their initial visit and the abortion. The wait times were primarily caused by scheduling difficulties. Women traveled an average of 84 miles, round-trip and incurred an additional $146 in travel expenses, child care costs and lost wages.  Dr. Willie Parker, who has traveled from Chicago to Jackson, Mississippi twice a month to work at the state’s sole abortion clinic recently told Salon, “The women who are disproportionately affected by these cumbersome laws are poor women of color . . . There is virtually no financial support because of the Hyde Amendment. Women who are on Medicaid or public assistance cannot use that money for their care.”

Read more... 3 comments

Equal Pay Front and Center in New Hampshire

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: January 21, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Women working full-time year-round in New Hampshire still typically earn only about 77 cents for every dollar earned by men – and women of color fare worse. Looks like New Hampshire might do something about it. Today the New Hampshire House is holding a hearing on a bill that would ban retaliation against workers who talk about their wages. (The Senate bill gets a hearing on Thursday). If this bill passes, the Granite state would join states like Vermont, New Jersey, and New Mexico that have recently improved their equal pay laws along with states like Illinois, Colorado, California and Michigan that have long banned penalties for against workers who are trying to gather enough information to challenge their unfair pay. 

Pay secrecy policies can keep women in the dark about their pay, making pay discrimination nearly impossible to detect. Ask Lilly Ledbetter – she worked at a Goodyear plant making less than all of the other male managers for almost 20 years without knowing she was paid less. Goodyear's gag rule supported the discrimination. 

Read more... 3 comments

Principal's Office or Police Station: New Guidance on School Discipline

Posted by Lauren Khouri, Fellow | Posted on: January 20, 2014 at 01:16 pm

With the proliferation of “zero tolerance” policies and the increased presence of law enforcement in schools, far too many students are suspended, expelled, or arrested for minor offenses and misbehavior. These policies are pushing students — mostly students of color and students with disabilities — out of school.

Read more... 3 comments

A Shameful Week on the Hill

Posted by Shayne Larkin, Intern | Posted on: January 17, 2014 at 05:22 pm

It’s been a dismal week for unemployed Americans and their families. On Tuesday, Republican senators blocked bills that would have renewed the federal emergency unemployment insurance program, which expired on December 28. Since then, over 1.5 million long-term unemployed workers have lost a crucial source of income – and that number continues to grow as 72,000 people lose access to benefits each week.

It is important to note that many of those 1.5 million affected workers have families. An estimated 2.3 million children currently live with long-term unemployed parents, multiplying the damage caused by cutting off the lifeline that unemployment insurance provides. And if Congress fails to restore federal benefits, there are more dark days ahead: the Council of Economic Advisers and the Department of Labor estimate that close to 3.6 million more workers will lose their benefits by the end of 2014. Congress has never allowed these benefits to expire when long-term unemployment was as high as it is now – with nearly 3.9 million people still looking for work after at least six months of searching – but members will leave for recess today without passing an extension of the program.

Fortunately, many are determined to turn Congress around. Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending a press event on unemployment insurance in the Senate, where I listened to gut-wrenching stories from a group comprised of members of Congress, unemployed citizens and activists. Senator Jack Reed’s opening words captured the afternoon’s tone: “We should not be here. We should be on the floor to extend unemployment insurance.”

Read more... 1 comment