On August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment took effect, granting suffrage to millions of American women to demonstrate that their voices – through their votes – mattered in our democracy. It would take many decades after 1920 to ensure full voting rights for all United States citizens, an effort we are sadly still working on today.
College students nationwide are uniting in the fight to prevent and penalize sexual attackers on their campuses. The Obama Administration has taken a “strong stance” on the issue. The White House has created a Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. These and other attempts to combat sexual violence on college campuses are promising, but lack a critical collaboration of university administrators, government officials, student activists and concerned constituents.
There is no shortage of rhetoric from American politicians about the value of work. The problem is that far too many people are working as hard as ever, only to find that they do not make as much as their colleagues for doing the same work. The wage gap is an unfortunate reality for a significant number of American women.
On average, a woman presently makes 77 cents to every dollar a man makes in America and for women of color the situation is even more drastic. It is estimated that African-American women make 64 cents for every dollar a man makes, while for Hispanic women the figure drops to 54 cents. Women are now the primary wage earners in more families than ever before. This means that millions of people are depending on the wages of women for the basic necessities of living.
Today, the White House’s summit on Working Families is helping elevate a conversation we have been fostering here at the RAC through our Double Booked initiative. As our deputy director Rachel Laser indicated in her post last week, this series “has lifted up unique and diverse moral voices and personal stories around working families issues – starting a conversation about policy and cultural changes we need in our country that would benefit not only working families, but also workplaces and our broader national community.”
Stay tuned as we share live updates from the Summit, where some 40 moral leaders and advocates are ensuring a strong faith and Jewish presence in this important dialogue.
In the month between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, we honor and celebrate parents. On June 12, just three days before Father’s Day (June 15), we take action on Moms’ Equal Pay Day, the day in when mothers’ salaries would catch up to fathers’ salaries over the calendar year.
For Moms’ Equal Pay, we are initiating a photo campaign on social media to bring the conversation about gender-based wage discrimination to dads, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, cousins – all allies in the fight for equal pay for equal work. Wage discrimination is not just about moms, but dads, kids, and whole families. Between Moms’ Equal Pay Day and Father’s Day, encourage all the dads in your life to take a picture with their families and use this document to write in who they are honoring for Father’s Day:
“End Pay Discrimination in Honor of: my wife/my mom/my sister/my daughter”
Then, please share the picture on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #MomsEqualPay. We will be collecting images and posting to Double Booked: A Conversation on Working Families in the 21st Century. As there are many possible policy, social, and cultural solutions that would benefit working families, it is important to highlight this very critical one: pay equity for women. We are lifting our voices to illustrate the challenges that working families face today and to suggest solutions that workplaces can implement to support working families.
Father’s Day Moms’ Equal Pay Shareable Image – Print this to use in your pictures! For a #MomsEqualPay or #DoubleBooked picture for Father’s Day.
Check out the example from Rabbi Michael Namath, the RAC’s Program Director!
And — be sure to check back here at RACblog and at Double Booked for pictures of Dads for #MomsEqualPay! Today, the 51st Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, let’s sound the clarion call for true equal pay for equal work, for moms from dads, for women from us all!
Rabbi David Saperstein’s statement on the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria was quoted in the Jerusalem Post. You can read the full article here.
Several weeks ago, Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group whose name means “Western education is sinful” operating in Nigeria, kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from their school. To date, most of the girls are still missing. The leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, released a video in which he stated that he planned to sell the young women. Read more…
There is no denying that our traditional Jewish texts are male-dominated. When reading passages from the Torah or Talmud, it is clear that men were the movers and shakers of that time, often meaning that women were, in fact, sidelined from positions of influence and learning.
However, the female figures that do appear are complex, interesting, and often inspiring. My namesake, Sarah, is a beacon of faith and patience. Queen Esther transforms from a reticent pawn to an empowered, brave queen in the chess game between Mordechai, Haman, Ahashverous, and the Jewish people.
Our Movement has recognized the tension between female figures of greatness and the inherent inequality of the time in which they lived. We have reclaimed their tradition by embracing egalitarianism in our Jewish community, equally ordaining women and men in the clergy, placing women in leadership roles, and advocating for public policy that promotes women’s health, economic security, and reproductive rights.
As we approach Mother’s Day (next Sunday!), we look onto our accomplishments in egalitarianism with pride. Great women of our tradition have instructed us not only to recognize, but to celebrate the equal place and accomplishments of modern women.
Thinking about mothers and women this week, we must also remember the many women who may not be recognized or feel celebrated. We join with Jewish Women International’s Flower Project to remember all moms on Mother’s Day, particularly those who are in battered women’s shelters on May 11th this year.
If you’re still looking for a gift for mom (or your sister, aunt, grandma, cousin, friend), this is the perfect way to thank the women in your life for all that they’ve done, and also to recognize the women who have been victims of domestic violence. You can participate at: https://www.jwi.org/jwi-flower-project-wrj
By Kristen Walling
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This scripture from Luke 12:34 reminds us that the places we allocate our money reveal what is truly important to us. Our federal budget—the decisions about how we will spend our money—reflects what we choose to value. The federal budget plan crafted by Representative Paul Ryan unfortunately presents a dishearteningly bleak future for women in this country. Low-income women, women of color, and elderly women would be particularly hard-hit if Congress were to accept Ryan’s budget proposal as is.
The Ryan budget proposes balancing the budget by drastically reducing spending on programs that help low-income Americans, particularly women. Women who are heads-of-households and elderly women are especially reliant on programs for low-income people such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), Pell Grants which help low-income people attend college, child care subsidies, and school lunch programs. Here are only some of the cuts the Ryan budget proposes to such programs:
- $137 billion from SNAP cuts alone: in FY 2011 women were 62% of non-elderly recipients and 66% of elderly adult recipients
- Up to $125 billion in Pell Grants: in the 2007-2008 academic year, two-thirds of Pell Grant recipients were women.
- At least $150 billion to unspecified mandatory programs serving low-income Americans, which would likely include programs such as Supplemental Security Income; a majority of SSI adult and elderly beneficiaries in 2012 were women
Slashing spending to these programs would have an especially harmful impact on women and their families. Instead, the budget must maintain programs women rely on and add initiatives that proactively work to support women living at the margin.
The Ryan budget also does not sufficiently take into account wages for low-income workers, a majority of whom are women. Although women comprise 47% of the overall workforce, they represent over 76% of workers in the ten largest low-wage jobs. These occupations include childcare workers, cashiers, home health aides, waiters and waitresses, and food preparers. Our current federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) does not provide economic security for women and their families. Unlike other budget proposals, Paul Ryan does not assume an increase in the minimum wage. While the budget itself would not necessarily raise the minimum wage, it is incredibly problematic that Representative Ryan’s fiscal policies are built on assumptions of stagnant wages for the millions of American women struggling to provide for their families. Women need a federal budget that works in conjunction with, rather than against, other legislative policies that support low-wage workers.
One of the most striking components of the Ryan proposal is that it would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has been absolutely instrumental in securing access to basic health care for millions of American women. Women face particular challenges in finding affordable health insurance that covers the range of health benefits they need, and are more likely than men to struggle to pay medical bills. However, the ACA greatly expanded basic primary and preventive health care options for women, including services such as cancer screenings, pap smears, maternal health, pelvic exams, and HIV/STI screenings. Repealing the ACA would cause millions of women who have acquired coverage under the new law to lose their health insurance and access to these services. A more responsible budget would continue to ensure sufficient funding and access for quality health care programs for women.
It was likely not Paul Ryan’s plan to specifically target women. However, when a majority of the beneficiaries of many of the programs he would slash are women, it is hard to see his proposals as anything short of an attack on women. As people of faith we are called to lift up those living at the margins and struggling to make ends meet. Supporting the Ryan budget is certainly not in line with these values, and Congress must seek policies that would better support women’s economic security, health, education, and ability to provide for themselves and their families.
Kristen Walling is a Policy Advocate at the United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries. You can read more by Kristen on the UCC website, http://www.ucc.org