AAUW Ohio members stood up for women’s health at the We Won’t Go Back Rally at the Statehouse in Columbus Oct. 2. Here are some photos provided by Jennifer Dillard, our new regional field organizer.
Testimony on Women’s Health Issues
Karen Rainey, Public Policy Advocate
AAUW of Ohio
September 18, 2013
Members of the General Assembly: Thank you for this opportunity to express our views on the impact of the 2014-15 biennial budget on women’s health care and reproductive rights.
My name is Karen Rainey, and I am speaking for AAUW of Ohio, representing 1,500 members in 44 branches throughout Ohio. Since 1881, AAUW (formerly known as the American Association of University Women) has been one of the nation’s leading voices promoting education and equity for women and girls. AAUW’s public policy program, adopted through our every-member vote process, makes increased access to quality, affordable health care and family planning services a priority.
AAUW has a strong position in favor of health care as a basic right. In essence, AAUW members believe that everyone is entitled to health care that is high-quality, affordable, and easily accessible. In particular, every woman should have safe, accessible, and affordable reproductive health care.
As an organization, we are appalled at the actions of members of the General Assembly who ignored the greater good to satisfy an ideological agenda detrimental to the needs of Ohioans, and especially to women. Too many of our representatives disregarded the testimony of the women who came before them to express their needs as they also ignored the testimony of the providers who served them. The narrow construction of public policy of these representatives ignored the diversity of religious and personal beliefs in our state and resulted in legislation intended to reduce or eliminate women’s reproductive health care and reproductive rights.
We are further appalled at the action taken by the biennial budget conference committee in adding requirements that were never heard in a public hearing and have no place in a fiscal document. That Governor Kasich refused to veto the inappropriate items included in the budget added to our disappointment.
When I testified on HB 59 earlier this year, I noted AAUW’s concern about the potential diversion of TANF funds to crisis pregnancy centers, which have been known to give false and/or misleading information to pregnant women. Again, we protest that this action would take away money intended for basic family support for those living in deep poverty in order to fund a dubious program. AAUW is also a strong supporter of economic security for women and families.
And on the subject of economic security, we believe that economic security is closely tied to health care security. It is often the lack of affordable health care that throws women and their families into economic peril. When reproductive health care is limited as well, as it is in Ohio’s biennial budget, we can expect dire consequences.
For several sessions, legislation has been introduced that emphasizes “prevention first,” legislation that should provide common ground for both supporters and foes of reproductive rights. This legislation, however, has not found traction in our polarized legislature. Nevertheless, we are still hopeful and would like to see key features enacted:
- better funding for family planning and reproductive health programs,
- more attention paid to teen pregnancy prevention programs,
- contraceptive equity,
- comprehensive sex education, and
- improved services for sexual assault survivors.
AAUW will continue to advocate for health care accessibility and affordability and for reproductive rights. We believe these are an integral part of equity and justice for women and we appreciate the opportunity to speak out on these important issues.
This morning, the U.S. Census Bureau released new data on the gender wage gap – but there’s nothing “new” about it. In 2012, women still earned just 77 cents, on average, for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. That number hasn’t budged in the last decade, and it’s about time our nation’s leaders did something about it.
For two years, the U.S. Department of Labor has been saying it will develop a new tool to collect information on salaries, wages, and other benefits earned by employees of federal contractors and subcontractors. This tool is essential to giving employees and employers the information they need to end pay discrimination, and it’s essential to giving the Department of Labor the information it needs to make sure employers receiving our tax dollars are following the law. Urge the Department of Labor to speed up its work on this data collection tool today!
That 23-cent wage gap isn’t just a number on the page – it means less money for food, education, housing, and retirement for millions of women and families nationwide. It affects real people:
People like Lilly Ledbetter.
People like Maxine, an AAUW member in Iowa who encountered pay discrimination twice in her career as an educator.
People like Anastasia in Oregon, who learned that her male colleagues, one of whom didn’t even have a college degree compared to her bachelor’s degree in physics, were getting paid a higher salary and earning vacation time at a faster rate than she did.
Knowledge is power. These women and the millions like them need the reassurance that would come from knowing the Department of Labor’s new data collection tool is on the job. Since 2006, the federal government has had NO tool to effectively monitor wage discrimination based on race, national origin and gender by private employers – and that is unacceptable. Two months ago, the Department of Labor got a new leader, and this data collection tool should be one of the first items on Secretary Perez’s agenda.
As an AAUW “Two-Minute Activist,” you stood hand-in-hand with Lilly Ledbetter and Betty Dukes as they fought for fair pay against some of the largest employers in the United States. As courageous as they have been, women like them shouldn’t have to go it alone. Stand with them again: Use this moment to give the Department of Labor the push it needs to finalize the data collection tool!
On Tuesday, Sept. 17, the latest gender pay gap numbers will be released. As we wait to see if anything has changed for women’s paychecks, let’s take a look back at the numbers released a year ago.
Meanwhile, AAUW’s research on the wage gap is always available to you. Read The Simple Truth or Graduating to a Pay Gap for recommendations on what you can do. Then use AAUW’s ready-to-go Power Points to give a presentation about equal pay (an excellent way to gain visibility in your community).
Toledo Branch awarded its first Marge Lee scholarship for women studying science, technology, engineering, math or medicine to Briana Choltko, a junior with a 3.7 GPA in the chemical engineering program at the University of Toledo.
She is also an intern at Air Products, a Fortune 500 company; and a member of the Engineering Honorary, Omega Chi Epsilon; the Society of Women Engineers; Engineers without Borders; and Alpha Phi Omega, a service organization.
“The whole reason for becoming an engineer was to help people,” she writes.
Lee is past president of the Toledo Branch and AAUW Ohio.
Leaders from the statehouse to the college classroom shared empowering messages at the AAUW Ohio Leadership Workshop 2013, held Aug. 10 at Otterbein University.
“Empowering Young Women Through Leadership” was the theme — and the 60 members from across the state who attended the event left feeling empowered by the messages shared by dynamic keynote speakers State Senator Charleta B. Tavares and Dr. Mary Ellen Benedict, Distinguished Teaching Professor at Bowling Green State University.
More women needed in the Statehouse, Tavares says
Sen. Tavares, who represents a diverse Columbus district, said the main problem for women in the Ohio Statehouse is that there are not enough of us. “There are not enough voices of women in the Ohio Statehouse,” she said. “I encourage AAUW to groom women of all ages to participate in the development of public policy and running for office. “The fewer the people involved in elections, the easier it is [for those pushing an agenda contrary to AAUW's] to get what they want. That’s not a democracy. That’s not a democracy by the people. That’s a decision by a select few.” Women make up 23.5 percent of state legislators, 23 in the House and eight in the Senate. Polarization is part of the problem, she explained. “Most people are in the center, not extreme right or left. But because we are polarizing ourselves, we have a problem. We need to hear from both sides.” Issues of concern at the state level, according to Tavares, include the following:
- The state’s budget process, which was subverted this year when language restricting women’s reproductive rights was inserted at the last minute.
- The fact that state hearings all take place during the workday, when most people cannot attend. She advocates for evening hearings and streaming all committee hearings live online.
- Charter schools, many of which are what she described as “fly by night.”
- Lack of funding for adult protective services statewide.
- A serious attack on state pensions, with officials at the state level promoting the takeover of the program by private investment firms.
She called on AAUW members to get involved in the legislative process by contacting their state legislators, attending legislative hearings and running for office. She recommended sending personal emails and brief handwritten notes to get legislators’ attention. And if AAUW members can’t get to the legislator directly, she advised cultivating a relationship with their staffers. “Most legislators trust their staff and are influenced by their staff. Always find the common ground with them. Do your research before meeting with them. Read their bios and find out what you have in common,” she said. She recommended using that information to break the ice. Tavares said she considers herself a public servant, not a politician, as the term ‘public servant’ “reinforces the idea that I am here to serve you, not myself,” she said.
Factors combine to keep women down
“We’ve Come A Long Way (Baby) — But Not Far Enough” was Dr. Benedict’s thesis, as she shared data on employment and social factors that combine to hold women back in the workplace.
Although women have come a long way since the 1800s, their pay has been stagnant for 20 years, holding fast at 75 cents on the dollar since 1990, she said. This is despite the fact that women are more educated than men.
But instead of earning more when they further their education, women are actually hurt once they have attained a college degree. Benedict said women with a college degree earn 75 percent of what their male counterparts earn, while those without a college diploma earn 80 percent of what their counterparts make.
With each educational level attained, women are earning less.
Even when one considers the individual and occupational differences between men and women — such as time out of the workforce to raise a family and career fields chosen — there is an 11 percent wage gap for which we cannot account. Gender role socialization, culture, rhetoric, expectations (women don’t ask for more), discrimination and subtle and overt behaviors play a role in the gender wage gap, she explained. Benedict offered three solutions to the wage gap problem:
- Raise the minimum wage. In 2012, women made up 25 percent of those working at minimum wage or lower, while men were 15 percent.
- Full reproductive rights
- Fair pay. We must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Breakout sessions: From reproductive rights to young women’s challenges
What’s Next: Responding to Restrictions on Women’s Abortion Rights
In this breakout session, Jaime Miracle, policy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, and Misha Barnes, managing director of public affairs, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, laid out the challenges in Ohio — and invited members to attend the “We Won’t go Back” Oct. 2 Rally at the Statehouse. The new state budget included provisions that limit women’s reproductive rights in these ways:
- Limits access to family planning services
- Funds crisis pregnancy centers that disseminate false and misleading information to pregnant women
- Places medically unnecessary and burdensome regulations on abortion clinics
- Prescribes how doctors perform medical procedures
- Places limits on rape crisis program services.
Download PowerPoints from breakout sessions:
- Challenges and Choices in Programming, by Christine Siebeneck, AAUW Ohio Programming V.P. and President-Elect
- Creating a Buzz: Using Social Media in Branch Advocacy Efforts by Paula Maggio, AAUW Ohio Public Information Officer and Communications Chair
Get more website and social media help on our website.
- Challenges Young Women Face and How We Can Help Them by Holly Norton, AAUW Ohio Leadership Workshop Chair
Join the Coalition – We Won’t Go Back
Doctors Organized for Health Care Solutions, DOhCS The American Association of University Women-Cincinnati Physicians for Reproductive Health
League of Women Voters OHIO
Cincinnati Women’s Political Caucus
Greater Cincinnati Woman’s City Club
National Organization for Women
Planned Parenthood Advocates of OHIO National Council of Jewish Women/Cleveland Cleveland National Organization for Women Toledo National Organization for Women American Association of University Women OHIO Mahoning/Trumbull Women’s Coalition Cuyahoga Democratic Women’s Caucus
Central Ohio Women’s Caucus
Clermont County Coalition of Women
Warren County Democratic Women’s Club National Council of Jewish Women/Columbus Coalition of Women Voters, Stark Co.
Ohioans for Democratic Values
Ohio Women’s Action Network
Cleveland Stonewall Democrats
Hamilton County Women
Ohio Women Inc.
National Organization for Women OHIO
Medical Students for Choice
Progressive Democrats of Ohio
Educators for Action
Kayla Rausch, student organizer, of New Philadelphia, recruited new members recently at the university’s annual Involvement Fair. Advisers are Dr. Lisa Marshall and Janice Tucker-McCloud, both members of the AAUW Zanesville Branch. A line-up of programs and speakers is being planned.