This report summarizes the presentations from a strategy forum co-hosted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) and Arizona State University (ASU) in April 2010. Held in Phoenix, Arizona, during the week the Arizona State Legislature passed the controversial legislation SB 1070, the forum brought together researchers, activists, clergy, and other community stakeholders working with immigrant women, especially Latinas.
by Aleesha Durfee, Ph.D., Cynthia Hess, Ph.D. (March 2012)
It's just 37 words, 37 plain and grammatically clunky words hiding inside a large education bill, 37 words that didn't seem to be a big deal at the time, 37 words that would change everything:
"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
Those are the words of Title IX, a section of the Education Amendments signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon on June 23, 1972. Not exactly "We hold these truths to be self-evident ... " but, then again, the Founding Fathers knew they were on to something back in 1776.
The Founding Mothers of Title IX were just looking for a more level playing field in academics. "We had no idea," says Bernice "Bunny" Sandler, who helped draft the legislation and now works as a senior scholar for the Women's Research and Education Institute in Washington, D.C. "We had no idea how bad the situation really was -- we didn't even use the word sex discrimination back then -- and we certainly had no sense of the revolution we were about to start."
You'll notice that not one of those 37 words is "athletics" or "sports," the very words that have come to be associated with Title IX. "The only thought I gave to sports when the bill was passed," Sandler says, "was, Oh, maybe now when a school holds its field day, there will be more activities for the girls."
They ended up having much more than a field day. The number of girls playing high school sports jumped from 294,015 in 1971-72 to 3,172,637 in 2009-10, an increase of 1079 percent. (The number of male high school athletes grew from 3,666,917 to 4,455,740 during that same period, an increase of 22 percent.) The number of women playing varsity sports in college rose from 29,972 in 1971-72 to 186,460 in 2009-10, a 622 percent increase that still leaves them behind the total of NCAA male athletes, whose population grew from 170,384 to 249,307 (46 percent) in that time frame.
Of course, the true significance of Title IX has been the accompanying increase in opportunities for women off the field -- a level of female empowerment so strong that Sandler calls the law "the most important step for gender equality since the 19th Amendment gave us the right to vote."
In most of the United States, a woman 17 years or older who needs Plan B, an emergency contraceptive that can prevent pregnancy up to 72 hours after intercourse, can walk up to a pharmacy counter and request it without a prescription.
But for Native American women served by the Indian Health Service, obtaining Plan B might require a drive of hundreds of miles, a wait beyond the pill's window of effectiveness, and a price beyond what the IHS would charge.
Researchers who calculated cancer death rates in 24 of the largest U.S. cities found that in 13 of them, black women were significantly more likely to die of breast cancer than white women.
That's despite the evidence that white women are more likely than blacks to get breast cancer in the first place.
"It's unfortunate that this disparity exists and we all need to work hard to overcome it," said Marc Hurlbert, one of the researchers on the new study from the Avon Foundation for Women, which funded the report.
"The good news is it's a solvable problem, because some cites are doing better than others," he said.
Of the cities where black women were more likely to die of breast cancer, that disparity ranged from a 24 percent higher risk of death in New York to more than twice the risk of death in Memphis between 2005 and 2007.
Water for Life Water vital natural resource and a human right, and the right and access to clean, safe water is intrinsically linked to gender equality. From the miles & hours women and girls spend collecting water– the implications this has on their health, education and economic opportunity– to the threat of climate change on water resources affecting all aspects of women’s and men’s lives, it is clear that water is a human rights and women’s rights issue.
We must use World Water Day to call attention to this precious resource and ask ourselves some important questions: What if you didn’t have access to safe water for your family? What could you do with 6 hours a day? What actions are we taking to make water accessible to all?
On World Water Day, WEDO reminds you to protect this vital natural resource and work towards a world which promotes and protects the human right to water.
WEDO is proud to present a new publication in partnership with IUCN, which takes a fresh look at some of the aforementioned issues facing gender and forests, and considers how gender is being addressed both on the ground and in policy discussions on climate change.
The publication includes case studies from around the world, demonstrating the wealth of learning and experience that is resulting from increased awareness and integration of gender issues within forestry work. It also examines current issues and progress at the international and global levels, and forecasts future challenges and developments. Click here to download a copy.
The Center for Women Policy Studies is very pleased to share with you the Briefing Paper from our sisters at the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS (GCWA) and the AIDS Legal Network (ALN), South Africa.
In our previous piece in this series, we looked at the relative absence of women from environmental restoration sectors like transportation and engineering. You might have come away wondering why the gender ratios are so skewed in fields such as construction, where there are approximately 32 male Louisianans working for every one female.
As in other parts of the country, the disparities in Louisiana’s labor profile were historically rooted in low levels of educational access for women and traditional social norms about female employment. In a 2004 report, Dr. Beth Willinger, who then served as the Executive Director of the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women at Tulane University, noted that:
“The fact that fewer Louisiana women attain a high school education than women nationally has consequences for employment and earnings. While men with a high school education can obtain relatively high-paying jobs with fringe benefits, for example in construction and transportation; women with a high school education tend to obtain jobs in the service industry, or as sales clerks and receptionists that pay the minimum wage, offer little security and few health or retirement benefits.”
For perhaps the first time in recent history, male reproductive health is at the forefront of political debate.
In at least six states, lawmakers — all women and all Democrats — have proposed bills or amendments in the last few weeks that aim to regulate a man's access to reproductive health care. It's their way of responding to the ongoing debate around contraception and abortion, said Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University.
Some would prohibit men from getting vasectomies, such as Georgia's House Bill 1116, which states:
"Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies."
Others, like an amendment proposed by Oklahoma State Sen. Constance Johnson, restrict where a man can ejaculate, effectively outlawing all manner of sexual acts. The amendment says:
"Any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman's vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child."
And Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner recently put forward legislation that would require men seeking drugs like Viagra to first get a cardiac stress test to ensure their heart is ready for sexual activity. Oh, and they would also have to obtain certification from one of their recent sexual partners that they are indeed experiencing problems with erectile dysfunction. And they would be required to see a sex therapist before getting a prescription.
"The physician shall ensure that the sessions include information on nonpharmaceutical treatments for erectile dysfunction, including sexual counseling and resources for patients to pursue celibacy as a viable lifestyle choice."
In every presidential election since 1964, more women have voted than men. In the last few presidential elections, voter turnout rates for women have equaled or exceeded voter rates for men in nearly every age group; in fact, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, in 2008 nearly 10 million more women than men cast their ballots in the presidential race.
Exit polls from Super Tuesday voting showed that one fifth of the those who voted in Ohio were working women; in Virginia, married women made up a third of the electorate. In Oklahoma, more than half of voters were female.
Many women consider themselves independent voters. In the 2010 elections, the Pew Research Center found that among female independent likely voters, the GOP held a 43 percent to 40 percent edge over Democrats. There's an opportunity here for the GOP: If Republicans want to continue picking up as many seats as they did in 2010, they need to focus on winning the independent women's vote, too, not just die-hard Republicans.