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Promises Made, Promises Broken

Posted by Caitlin McCartney, Intern | Posted on: June 26, 2014 at 02:30 pm

Last year, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act (VRA) with its decision in Shelby County v. Holder. This decision invalidated key sections of the Act that protected voters from discrimination.

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The Massachusetts Buffer Zone Protected Me

Posted by Althea May Sellars, Well-Woman Benefits Hotline Coordinator | Posted on: June 26, 2014 at 11:41 am

I started volunteering at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts in 2011 and was hired in 2012. When I worked there, I would always have the same routine. Every morning, I would grab a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts for my fifteen-minute walk. I would talk to a friend on the phone, until I would turn the corner right before the health center.

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Obama and the "Mad Men" Era: Harnessing Popular Culture at the Summit on Working Families

Posted by Hana Bajramovic, Intern | Posted on: June 26, 2014 at 09:26 am

At last Monday’s White House Summit on Working Families, the President spoke about the need for family-friendly workplace policies, like child care, family leave, equal pay, and flexibility. Celebrity guest Christina Hendricks, who plays working mother Joan on AMC’s Mad Men, also spoke briefly: “Women come up to me and thank me for playing Joan,” she told the audience, adding that “the only place for a story like Joan[’s] should be on TV.”

Her appearance was, first and foremost, a smart move on the part of the White House to shift the conversation beyond the Beltway and policy wonks. President Obama frequently refers to policies “that belong in a Mad Men episode.” In this year’s State of the Union address, for example, he used the phrase to argue that a woman deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job; that she deserves equal pay for equal work; and that she deserves a day off to care for a sick child or parent. By rooting such policies in concrete television show imagery, Obama is able to heighten their staying power.

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Another Birthday, Another Attack on Title IX

Title IX is 42 years old this week.  The law, which forced open the doors to education for women and girls, is well known for its impact in sports.  Even though many girls across the country still don’t receive equal opportunities to play sports [PDF], opponents of Title IX say the law has gone far

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NWLC Testifies at D.C. Council Hearing on Proposed Bill to Prevent Bosses from Firing Women for Their Reproductive Decisions

Posted by Sarah Brafman, Intern | Posted on: June 25, 2014 at 11:58 am

It made for riveting television. No, I’m not talking about the latest World Cup match, although I’m sure that was riveting too. I’m referring to Monday’s public hearing at the D.C. Council on the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014 where NWLC’s Senior Counsel and Director of State Reproductive Policy Gretchen Borchelt testified in support of the bill. In case you missed the live-stream, we are here to make sure you’re all caught up and water-cooler ready. 

As we mentioned in an earlier post, women around the country are being fired or threatened with firing for using fertility treatments to get pregnant, having sex while unmarried or using birth control.  In response to this alarming trend, the D.C. Council, along with legislatures in New York, Michigan, and North Carolina, have introduced bills to ensure that no man or woman is discriminated against by their boss based on their personal reproductive health decisions. The New York bill recently passed the State Assembly and is now pending in the New York State Senate. At yesterday’s hearing, the D.C. Council heard from various groups voicing support, and opposition, to the D.C. bill.   Here’s what you need to know from the hearing:

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Families Succeed When Women Have Equal Access to Nontraditional Jobs

On Monday I attended the White House Summit on Working Families. The Summit brought together business leaders, advocates, and workers to talk about the challenges faced by working parents and how we can address them. It was both sad and inspiring to hear President Obama talk about the need for paid family leave, high-quality and affordable childcare, workplace flexibility, and decent wages for a hard day’s work. These are things a great country like ours should already have, and yet it’s clear that we all have to work together to push for these changes. Too many women are living paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford to take a day off to stay with a sick child or care for a family member. 

I was especially happy to hear the President talk about the need for more women and people of color in nontraditional jobs, especially the STEM fields. For example, we know that despite making up almost half of workers in all occupations (47 percent), women are only 2.6 percent of workers in construction and extraction occupations. This underrepresentation negatively affects women’s income, as traditionally male fields pay higher wages and have a lower wage gap than those dominated by women. That’s why our new report, Women in Construction: Still Breaking Ground, is so important. More must be done to reverse this trend and bring the construction industry into the 21st century.

The President agrees. In conjunction with the Summit, the White House released a fact sheet that outlines how federal agencies and Congress can help:

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Judicial Nominations Update

Posted by Amy K. Matsui, Senior Counsel and Director of Women and the Courts | Posted on: June 24, 2014 at 05:12 pm

Today, the Senate unanimously confirmed four district court nominees, including one woman: Paul Byron and Carlos Mendoza to the Middle District of Florida; Beth Bloom, to the Southern District of Florida; and Geoffrey Crawford, to the District of Vermont.

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Even Presidents' Children Need Child Care

Posted by Karen Schulman, Senior Policy Analyst | Posted on: June 24, 2014 at 03:29 pm

Parents across America think and talk about child care every day. It isn’t every day, though, that the President, Vice President, First Lady, and former Speaker of the House all talk about child care—but that’s exactly what they all did at yesterday’s White House Summit on Working Families. They shared their own past experiences struggling to work while ensuring their children were well cared for. Michelle Obama spoke about the time years ago (before entering the White House) when her carefully constructed balance between work and family fell apart when her trusted child care provider left to find a better-paying job. Nancy Pelosi reminisced about her experiences raising five young children born six years apart. The speakers went on to emphasize the need to help other parents—especially those dealing with much more challenging circumstances than their own—find and afford high-quality child care.

At the Summit, a broad range of policy makers, business leaders, workers, and advocates—including National Women’s Law Center Co-President Nancy Duff Campbell, who spoke on a panel on caregiving—highlighted how high-quality child care and early education benefits all of us. It enables parents to get and keep a job and work with peace of mind that their children are in safe, nurturing settings. It enables children to learn and grow and prepares them for success in school and in life. It gives businesses more loyal, more productive employees, which boosts profits. All of these benefits combine to produce a stronger economy, now and in the future.

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