Monday, November 21, 2011

The AAUW gives thanks for a fruitful 2011

The American Association of University Women would like to pause this Thanksgiving to give thanks for the many opportunities and advancements for women and girls during 2011. Although there is no way for us to list all of the advances for women and girls that we have seen this year, here are just a few to reflect upon and give thanks:
We’re thankful for AAUW’s new research report, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School, the most comprehensive, nationally representative report conducted on sexual harassment in middle and high schools in a decade. The report has been featured in articles in The Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post On Parenting blog, Education Week, Capitol Hill Blue, and thousands of other press outlets.

We’re thankful that the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that three women, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni opposition leader Tawakkul Karman, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their courageous contributions to peace, democracy, and international women’s rights.

We’re thankful that women broke barriers around the world, with women elected to lead Australia, Brazil, and Thailand for the first time.

We’re thankful that for the first time in history, the president’s top legal team is entirely composed of women.

We are thankful for the U.S. Women’s Soccer National Team finishing as runners up in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, providing American sports fans one with one of the most thrilling and memorable sports event – male or female – of the year.

We’re thankful that the Internal Revenue Service ruled that breast pumps may be purchased with money from pretax flexible spending accounts or, for women without such accounts, a tax deduction for the pump.

We’re thankful for a successful Capitol Hill Lobby Day during AAUW’s national convention. Over 600 AAUW members lobbied members of Congress in one day. Their efforts and those of the AAUW Action Fund Capitol Hill Lobby Corps and AAUW Action Network e-advocates (you!) resulted in 50 additional co-sponsors for the Campus SaVE Act (House 38; Senate 12) and 26 more cosponsors for the National Women’s History Museum Act (House 25; Senate 1).

We’re thankful for Marcia Anderson, who was appointed as the Army’s first African-American female two-star general.

We’re thankful that President Barack Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, championed by First Lady Michelle Obama, which ensures all children will have healthy food in schools.

We’re thankful for the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which banned lesbian and gay Americans from openly serving in the nation’s armed forces.

We are thankful that the U.S. hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation’s Women and the Economy Summit in San Francisco, where participants adopted the San Francisco Declaration on Women and the Economy.

We are thankful for the creation of AAUW’s Voices Project, which has  allowed the voices of AAUW members throughout the nation to educate the public, spark discussion, and influence the debate through op eds and letters to the editor.

We are thankful for the $23,500 Cy Pres awarded to AAUW to continue our mission to advance equity for women and girls, which resulted from a settlement in the class action lawsuit against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation for the thousands of saleswomen who claimed gender discrimination based on pay, promotion, and pregnancy.

We’re thankful that the Department of Justice announced the creation of the Violence Against Women Federal and Tribal Prosecution Task Force in response to the unacceptable rates of violence against women and children in Indian tribal communities.

We’re thankful that Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) was appointed chair of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and is the first woman to hold the distinguished position.  She also happens to be the only woman on the deficit reduction “super committee,” which she co-chairs.

We’re thankful that the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Labor announced a new Human Trafficking Enhanced Enforcement Initiative to streamline the investigations and prosecutions of federal human trafficking offenses.

We’re thankful for the representatives from AAUW who joined more than 250 women from around the world for the 55th U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. The CSW’s theme of access and participation for women and girls’ education and training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics was greatly informed by AAUW’s recent Why So Few? report.

We’re thankful that 85 nations, including the United States, reaffirmed their commitment to ending violence against LGBT individuals.

We’re thankful that AAUW joined coalition partners on stage during the ‘Stand Up for Women’s Health Rally’ on the National Mall. Members of Congress, activists, and cancer survivors spoke to the crowd of thousands about the direct threat funding cuts posed to women’s health programs.

We’re thankful that the U.S. Agency for International Development established a new Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.

We’re thankful for Lauren Hodge, Naomi Shah, and Shree Bose, the U.S. girls who won the top awards at Google’s inaugural science fair in all three age groups. They were congratulated by President Obama, who invited them to the Oval Office.

We’re thankful that the Department of Health and Human Services adopted recommendations from the Institute of Medicine that preventive care coverage for women under the new health care law includes birth control without patient copay or deductible.

We’re thankful that on the 17th anniversary of the passage of the Violence Against Women Act, Vice President Biden called for renewed efforts to prevent dating violence and sexual assault on teens and college students.

We’re thankful that President Obama told the United Nations General Assembly to make sure that the safety, economic security, and civil rights of women and girls are not overlooked. The President challenged world leaders to include women at every level of society.

We’re thankful that the American Federation of Teachers used statistics from four AAUW research reports to make the case for promoting gender diversity among college and university faculty.

We’re thankful that New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, which went into effect in September, reflects a meaningful effort to reduce bullying in schools.

We’re thankful that new federal regulations went into effect ensuring hospital visitation rights for patients’ partners or spouses prohibit hospitals from denying visitors’ entry based on gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnicity, or disability.

We’re thankful for Kamala Harris, who shattered glass ceilings in California by becoming the state’s first female attorney general, and also the state’s first African American and Indian American attorney general. 

We’re thankful for enthusiastic recognition of Equal Pay Day 2011, including the Paycheck Fairness Act reintroduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD); AAUW’s successful Capitol Hill event New Voices for Pay Equity; publication of AAUW's new guide, The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap; more than 20 AAUW Voices Project op-eds published on fair pay; AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman’s op-ed published in the Huffington Post; and AAUW’s first ever fair pay flash mob on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

We’re thankful for Mississippi voters, who rejected Issue 26, a measure that would have effectively banned all abortions and severely limited access to in-vitro fertilization, birth control, and other medical procedures and care, by more than 58 percent of voters.

We’re thankful for our stalwart allies on Capitol Hill, including Senator Mikulski and Representative DeLauro who are working together to develop legislation that would address the Supreme Court’s problematic decision in Wal-Mart v. Dukes.

We’re thankful for the AAUW Action Fund Capitol Hill Lobby Corps, whose persistent and thoughtful volunteer advocacy every year helps educate lawmakers and hold them accountable. This year, Lobby Corps members made over 1,400 visits to Senate and House offices reinforcing AAUW’s message and garnering many cosponsors on key legislation.

We’re thankful for women like Edith Arana, who spoke at AAUW’s national convention about her involvement in the class action sex discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart.

We’re thankful for AAUW members and supporters who generously give of their time, talent, and treasures to help women advance their educations and develop their leadership skills.

And of course, we’re thankful for you, the AAUW Action Network, for your enthusiastic advocacy to break through educational and economic barriers to ensure that all women have a fair chance. Your thousands of letters and phone calls to members of Congress is a clarion call for the rights of women and girls everywhere.

From all of us at AAUW, best wishes for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving and a joyful beginning to your holiday season.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Our thanks to all who made the Tour of Homes so great!

The Fergus Falls branch of the AAUW wishes to thank all the people who helped make our Tour of Homes fundraiser a success.

We are so thankful for the homeowners who so graciously opened their lovely homes:
  • Dan Fitz
  • Eric and Lisa Farnberg
  • Harriet and Barret Wicklund
  • Kay and Jim Miller
And we were blown away by the lovely decor provided by so many area businesses. Our thanks to:
  • Boxelder
  • The Market on Union Avenue
  • The Flower Mill
  • Wild Rose Floral & Gifts
  • Jaeger Furniture
  • Olson Furniture
  • Floor to Ceiling
  • Flamingo Glass
  • Periwinkle Decor
  • Nancy Walvatne
  • Crates of Yarn
  • Herberger's
  • Target
Special thanks also go to Service Foods for selling tickets and providing gift cards toward groceries for our reception, and to PioneerCare for allowing us to host our reception in their beautiful atrium.