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Ohio Public Policy E-Newsletter-January 2010

Public Policy E-Newsletter – January 2010
From JackieEvangelista,
jevangelista@roadrunner.com
Ohio Public Policy Chair

Dear Branch Public Policy Chairs and their Stand-Ins: It’s a new year and a new decade (although some dispute the latter, I realize). It’s a good time to think about the role that the AAUW Public Policy Program can play in the life of your branch and your members AS WE WORK TO ADVANCE EQUITY FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS THROUGH ADVOCACY, EDUCATION AND RESEARCH.  Below are some thoughts that might help you flesh out how to pursue this mission.  Let’s hope that AAUW helps make life a little better for as many people as possible in 2010.  Jackie

OUR NEW STATE WEB SITE CAN BE YOUR HOME BASE

A wealth of information and inspiration can be found on our newly updated AAUW Ohio website. Our Communications Director Paula Maggio has carried AAUW Ohio into the modern world of Facebook and Twitter, which many of us may not use, but which our younger prospective members do.  Our State President Diane Regan is encouraging us all to give these new communication vehicles a try. To see what the website can do to help you advance the AAUW Public Policy Program, please go to www.aauwoh.org and click on “Advocacy” at the top. Then click on “Public Policy Advocacy.”  On this page you will find many helpful links; among them are:

  • AAUW Tools for Action takes you to the national Web site page that is the portal for many public policy activities such as joining or printing a flyer about the AAUW Action Network, sending a letter to or setting up a meeting with your member of Congress, finding out how your national legislators voted, viewing position papers on all the issues AAUW follows and its many suggestions for what branches can do to promote pay equity, among others.
  • Two-Minute Activist allows you to quickly weigh in on the issues AAUW is currently working. When you join the AAUW Action Network, you receive these alerts as well as the AAUW Washington Update, a weekly e-newsletter that keeps you up-to-date on our issues.  This newsletter can also be used to promote AAUW among individuals you are trying to recruit for membership.
  • AAUW Public Policy Resource Manual links to a 75-page book that covers everything you need to know to serve as an effective public policy chair.  If you want to take your position seriously, take some time to review it.
  • Health Care Position Paper outlines AAUW’s position on the health care debate, which focuses on what needs to be done to make health care more equitable for women.  Used as fodder for your monthly public policy update (I hope you are doing them), you could give members a one-page summary with a link to the full report.

PARTICIPATE IN A ROE V. WADE COMMEMORATION

Cristina Page

If you live near Columbus, Cleveland or Cincinnati, you have the opportunity to gather together with like-minded women to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that gave women control over their reproductive lives and consequently the ability to combine both home and work more easily.  Christina Page, author of How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America : Freedom, Politics and the War on Sex, will speak in Cleveland on Tuesday, Jan. 26, and in Columbus on Wednesday, Jan. 27.  Page exposes the false claims of the anti-choice movement that all forms of contraception are tantamount to abortion.  She also makes a strong case that the anti-choice side is anti-sex.  The commemoration in Cincinnati will feature the film, Not Yet Rain, which explores abortion in Ethiopia through the voices of women who have faced the challenge of finding safe care. Registration information and additional details can be found at the AAUW Ohio Web site.

WANT TO IMPACT EDUCATION, HEALTH OF YOUNG ADULTS?

How many of you read the story in November that 75 percent of Americans ages 17 to 24 would not qualify for military service today because they are physically unfit, failed to finish high school or have criminal records?  Even if this is an inflated number, even if it were 50 percent or 30 percent, it would be alarming.  An organization of education and military leaders called Mission: Readiness notes: “Our national security in the year 2030 is absolutely dependent on what’s going on in kindergarten today.”

While AAUW members may not wish to address the military component of this problem, the human component cries out for attention.  We cannot succeed as a nation if such a large percentage of our future leaders are so compromised.  All AAUW branches could bite off a piece of this problem depending on the interests of members. No doubt many of these challenged young adults are of the female gender.  A multitude of projects could be envisioned.  But it would seem that this challenge might offer an opportunity for big city branches in particular to work in coalition with other groups.  Remember that historically women joined AAUW so they would have its respected imprimatur as a basis for meaningful community action. This problem certainly seems to present an opportunity for meaningful community action that is directly related to our mission.

KEY POINTS IN THE HEALTH CARE DEBATE

Here are a few passages from the Health Care Position Paper referred to above that will hopefully encourage you to read it and report on it at your next meeting:

  • “Not only are women less able to afford insurance or care because of life-long wage disparities, they face unstable coverage when subject to their spouses’ plans, higher premiums in the individual market, a lack of access based on more prevalent preexisting conditions, and higher out of pocket costs than men. Rather than being able to receive comfortable access and receive quality health care, women are vulnerable to gaps in coverage and to many holes in the system.”
  • “Medicaid and Medicare represent two crucial elements of the social safety net. They, along with the federal-state SCHIP program that has covered millions of previously uninsured children since its inception in 1997, are bedrocks of our health care system. Americans, especially women, rely heavily on the protections they offer and the services they provide. A successful health care reform solution must not only take this fact into account, but provide ways to maintain and strengthen these programs.”
  • “Health care reform is vitally necessary not only to improve the wellbeing of all Americans but also to ensure continued economic stability and growth. When we are healthy we are more productive and more successful. This requires a holistic approach to reform, ensuring increased availability, access and affordability.”

The AAUW position paper lists three priorities that would help make the health care system being developed in the bill more equitable for women:

1.  Ending the practice of “gender rating,” which is the process by which insurance companies charge men and women different premiums for individually-purchased health care plans. AAUW indicates that the current Senate health care bill is disappointing on this count and encourages members to submit a Two-Minute Activist Alert on the topic at: http://www.capwiz.com/aauw/issues/alert/?alertid=14523006

2. Requiring coverage of women’s reproductive health services, a goal shared by more than 70 percent of Americans. In fact, nearly two-thirds of Americans would oppose the health care reform plan were reproductive health services not included.  A Two-Minute Activist related to the abortion language in the health care bill can be accessed at:  http://www.capwiz.com/aauw/issues/alert/?alertid=14502871.

3.  Ensuring access to and coverage of preventive services and care will not only improve women’s physical health, but also reduce the financial strain on our health care system and improve the overall economy as a result.

You can sign up to receive the AAUW Washington Update and Two-Minute Activist alerts directly here.

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