By Karen Rainey, Public Policy Chair, AAUW of Ohio
Here’s the “Issue of the Month” plus other news—please share with your branch members. Also—a reminder that March is Women’s History Month; International Women’s Day is March 8.
In this issue:
- Issue of the Month: Violence Against Women
- Congressional Redistricting Proposal
- Reaction to School Report Cards
- Human Trafficking Coalitions: New Map
- Key Dates: April 8-9, April 12, April 20
Issue of the Month: Violence Against Women
You may wonder how violence against women ties into our program year theme of economic security, but the reality is that violence prevents many women from achieving the security they need and results in high social and economic costs. Violence is a public health threat; injuries may keep women off the job or unable to care for themselves and their families. The federal Violence Against Women Act, first enacted in 1994, was most recently reauthorized in 2013. (Vice President Joe Biden, the original sponsor in 1994, made a moving appeal at the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony for ending violence, followed by Lady Gaga’s performance of “Til it Happens to You.”)
While VAWA has provided a comprehensive approach to this issue, there is much work still to be done. Often the results of violence are fatal or result in severe injuries or unintended pregancies. We’ve learned that many of the women and girls who are trafficked or engage in prostitution were first sexually abused. In addition to intimate partner (domestic) violence, there are the areas of military violence and campus sexual harassment and sexual violence.
Three bills pending in the Ohio legislature will be highlighted at the Women United for Change legislative event on April 20. They are House Bill 359, which would enable victims to conceal their residential addresses and decrease the likelihood of their abuser finding them; House Bill 362, which would recognize strangulation as a highly lethal criminal act and provide a felony level penalty when it has occurred; and Senate Bill 76, which would allow for the prosecution of a violation of a protection order, even though the order may not have been personally served (abusers find ways to avoid personal service).
AAUW’s Quick Facts on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence in School describes the problem in schools and on college campuses, and lists resources for branches, including the Ending Campus Sexual Assault Tool Kit, www.aauw.oraresource/campus-sexual-assault-too-kit. Branches located in college towns are encouraged to take advantage of these resources.
Violence in the military was addressed at our last convention, when the survivor featured in the 2012 documentary, The Invisible War, spoke movingly about her experiences. This film is available through
Amazon and other sources, and brings home the reality of a too-common situation.
Last, another stirring program featured at a recent state convention, the Silent Witness Project, honors murder victims of domestic violence. In Ohio, you can find more information through the Women’s Center at Bowling Green State University, email email@example.com.
Congressional Redistricting Proposal Stalled
Efforts have stalled to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to change Ohio’s congressional redistricting to a process similar to the revised process adopted for state legislative redistricting this past November. By now, we all understand that fair districts equal fair elections, and appreciate the need to move forward. Please call Ohio Speaker Cliff Rosenberger at 614-466-3506 and ask him to expedite placing the amendment on the fall ballot. More information is available at www.fairdistrictsohio.org.
School Report Cards Confusing
The long-awaited school report cards, the first to include new Common Core Standards and based on the PARCC tests, were released in late February. The data had been expected to be confusing and were in fact confusing; the definition of student proficiency had changed from its original meaning; most schools’ performance index scores were expected to be lower than the previous year’s.
It’s been reported that 607 of Ohio’s 609 school districts had lower performance index scores from the previous year (2013-14); it’s also reported that the Department of Education rated students as proficient that would not be in other states. Nevertheless, the districts are exempted by the legislature from penalties for poor scores in this year and next, during the transition phase to the new standards and tests.
PARCC was fired by the General Assembly after complaints about the testing process last year. The new test provider is the American Institutes for Research, which had been the provider of the Ohio Graduation Tests. The entire issue is still controversial, and there is still concern about students opting out of the tests. AAUW had been supportive of the PARCC tests as a civil rights issue to determine equality of opportunity. We will be watching to see how this issue develops.
New Map of Human Trafficking Coalitions
Many of our branches have been concerned with human trafficking issues and continue to be supportive of efforts on behalf of survivors. This new map shows that most of Ohio is now covered by anti-trafficking coalitions. Go to www.publicsafety.ohio.gov/ht/coalitions to see the service areas and the names of the coalitions.
April 8-9: Annual state convention, Columbus/Worthington. Public policy sessions will feature Innovation Ohio speakers on the Women’s Public Policy Network and Public Policy Agenda, and the president of Restart, a work-release advocacy program for first-time female offenders.
April 12: Equal Pay Day. Check out the branch resources at www.aauw.org.
— Vice President Biden (@VP) February 29, 2016
Join AAUW on March 3, 2016, at 7 p.m. ET, for a conference call to learn more about the process on judicial nominations. Members will learn more about what they can do to urge the President and senators to uphold their constitutional responsibility to fairly and expeditiously select and consider a nominee.
Date: March 3, 2016
Time: 7 p.m. ET
If you cannot attend the call, make sure to take action by sending a message to President Barack Obama and the Senate urging them to select and consider a nominee!
If you are looking for programming on human trafficking, girls’ education, or other global feminist issues? AAUW’s collaboration with Women and Girls Lead offers you access to three dozen films — including Half the Sky, A Path Appears, and The Graduates — that you can use to organize an event or action in your community.
It’s that time again — time to register for the AAUW of Ohio Equity Day & Convention 2016, which will be held April 8-9 in Columbus. All the details and links you need to register online are included in the Winter 2016 issue of our AAUW of Ohio Orbit. Register today so you and your branch can be part of “Women Rock the World.”
Information about applying for branch awards is in this issue, too. Be sure to get your branch entries for the Daffodil Diversity Award, Starz Award, Programming Award and Communication Star Awards in on time! They are due March 16.
In this issue, you will also find:
- A first-person account from President Christine Siebeneck about how her family of four fared when they took the SNAP Challenge. Clue: It was no snap.
- What’s going on in Columbus regarding Planned Parenthood funding, human trafficking and voting.
- What’s going on at our branches — from programs empowering girls to an impersonation of Eleanor Roosevelt to STEM.
- News about a new philanthropy project for our state.
- A bylaws update.
- A Be Wise Camp reminder.
- Messages from two of our district coordinators.
- News from national AAUW about films you can screen — for free — and grants for which you can apply.
Make sure your branch receives the recognition it deserves by applying for AAUW Ohio awards that will be given out at AAUW Ohio Equity Day and Convention 2016. Here are the details.
Criteria will include the Diversity Goals for branches. Branches must meet at least three of the goals. To apply for recognition, branches must send a written statement on their accomplishments, with documentation, to the Ohio Diversity Chair, 157 Third St., Cardington, OH 43315. Statements should include branch name, name and signature of president, telephone number, e-mail for contact and name of diversity chair. Material must be received before March 16. Press clippings, news articles in branch publications, listings form branch yearbook, photographs from events or meetings constitute documentation.
Send your Branch Program Booklets for the 2014-2015 Mission-Based Programming Awards to Jo Dye, Program Vice President, at 645 North Court St., Circleville, OH 43113 by March 16.
Download the Starz Award Application Form and Explanation. Starz applications should be completed and mailed to JoAnn Benseler, 147 Sandstone Loop East, Westerville OH 43081, by March 16.
Communication Star Award
Get recognition for your branch as a 2016 Communication Star for its use of print and online communications and social media. Get the guidelines and entry form online. Entries must be received by March 16.
Seven years ago today, President Barack Obama signed into law his first piece of legislation as President, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
At today’s event celebrating the anniversary, the president directed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), to publish a proposal to annually collect summary pay data by gender, race, and ethnicity from businesses with 100 or more employees. This step also expands on and replaces an earlier AAUW-supported plan DOL to collect similar information from federal contractors.
Don’t delay. Apply today for a leadership position with AAUW of Ohio. The application deadline to apply for a state office is Feb. 5. So now is the time to apply for the state office of President, Vice President of Programming, Vice President of Funds, Vice President of Membership, Financial Officer or Secretary.
Download the application as a PDF or RTF document, complete it and send it to Kaylee Pavel, AAUW of Ohio administrative coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org by the Feb. 5 deadline. The Nomination Committee will review all applications.
The application has also been sent to all branches.
Hundreds of AAUW members have pledged to deliver new resources from the U.S. Department of Education to Title IX coordinators at schools in their area.
Join AAUW for an all-member conference call to hear the status of those efforts, including recent success stories and tips for overcoming common challenges from those who have already taken action.
Date: Feb. 3, 2016
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
All AAUW members are invited but space is limited. This call will be recorded and made available at a later date.