Feb. 17-23, 2009
Is stimulus package good for women?
Late Friday night, Congress passed the final American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—the stimulus plan—which President Obama plans to sign today. How does it impact women and girls? Our News Analysis section this week highlights its potential effects on local public health funding and addresses outstanding questions.
Mary Mitchell is an editorial board member and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. In her columns, Mitchell consistently tackles issues of community violence, sexual abuse, race and gender. Mitchell's work to expose both questionable adoption practices and the sexual assault of women in Illinois prisons prompted Illinois legislators to take action. This past Sunday, she addressed how the idea of a "post-racial America" in the wake of President Obama's historic election is putting the existence of Black History Month in jeopardy. Read her latest column. We will honor her with a 2009 Action Award at our Impact Awards on March 19. Read more on our website about Mitchell's work and its impact on women.
The nearly $800 billion stimulus package has been wrapped and delivered to President Obama by Congress. But what kind of gift is this for women and girls? In the midst of this economic crisis, one thing is clear: Women and their families are disproportionately affected. In fact, the 2007 U.S. Census found that half of the families living in poverty in Cook County were headed by single women with young children—and the 2008 numbers are likely to be worse. Before economic recovery plans get too far along, we want to reframe the conversation to put single mothers at the center. Read our questions about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (HR1) below, and click through to our website for more details. We’ll continue covering economic recovery efforts, including the distribution of stimulus money, in the months ahead as part of our work with the Women’s Economic Security Collaborative. Get more stimulus analysis through a gender lens from the National Women’s Law Center.
- Will the Cook County Bureau of Health Services receive needed federal funds? Read more.
- Will the stimulus address TANF diversion and help women access safety net programs for families in economic crisis? Read more.
- How will women access jobs in male-dominated fields? How can the stimulus encourage retooled job training and post-secondary education programs? Read more.
Domestic violence is being watched and measured, for the safety of women and girls. Volunteers with the DeKalb County Domestic Violence CourtWatch program observe domestic violence proceedings and then report back on the behavior of court personnel, from judges to clerks. The Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network, a past grantee, says they want to start a similar program in Cook County's domestic violence court in Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reports. In measurement news, a new census shows how many people anti-violence agencies served—and how many requests were unmet due to staff and funding shortages—in one 24-hour period. Read the National Network to End Domestic Violence's "Domestic Violence Counts 2008" report. The report's Illinois "snapshot" (PDF) shows 2,826 victims helped in that 24-hour period, and 909 unmet requests for services.
The story: Is Chris Brown's career over? The 19-year-old R&B star was arrested on Feb. 8 for an alleged assault on a woman, whom the Los Angeles Times identified as Rihanna, 20, Brown's girlfriend and another famous singer. Brown is scheduled to go to court next month. The arrest puts his "charming, wholesome image" in jeopardy, the Associated Press reports. AP music writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody minimizes Brown's alleged crime: "Chris Brown would have been better off getting caught with a bong. At least then, the scandal enveloping his white-hot career could have been dismissed by some as a youthful indiscretion." Moody reports that Tracey Ford, editor of the hip-hop/R&B website TheBoombox.com, says the incident "might actually help Rihanna, to a certain extent." Ford adds, "She's definitely being viewed as the victim at this point."
What’s missing: History has shown us that high-profile men regularly get away scot-free after abusing women, while the women face public scrutiny and disbelief. Though Brown has lost corporate sponsorship, as Michael Phelps did due to his marijuana use referenced above, many other entertainers have been charged with violence against women without suffering monetary or legal consequences. On top of this, reporters often diminish violence by focusing on the attacked instead of the attacker. Kobe Bryant's sexual assault charges were dismissed in 2004 after the woman who accused him refused to testify. This followed intense public speculation about her motives and private life, with little attention paid to Bryant's motives. Earlier this month, L.A. Times sportswriter Ted Green says talking about Bryant’s alleged assault "seems so old, so 2004, so tired, past-tense and out of touch. So childish." The media echoes our culture's attitudes, no doubt, but by repeating these messages they reinforce them as well. If we can change the way media reports violence against women, we are one step closer to silencing victim-blamers and abuser-apologists across the board.
"Condom Sense: A Real Life Education" is a new sexual health program written by youth "infected and affected by HIV" in collaboration with Beyondmedia Education, About Face Theatre and Howard Brown Health Center. The medically accurate and LGBTQ-inclusive program includes a lesson plan by Howard Brown, About Face’s original play "Fast Forward" and the 20-minute video "HIV: Hey, It's Viral!" by Beyondmedia, a past grantee. Salome Chasnoff, Beyondmedia's executive director, says, "Until now, school sex education has followed a top-down model, marginalizing the voices of those who are most affected. This video demonstrates how hungry young people are for honest communication in the classroom." All Chicago Public Schools will receive the film on DVD and lesson plan at no cost, and at least 10 CPS schools will host the About Face play and receive teacher trainings, the group says. In the future, the curricula will be distributed across Illinois and nation-wide. Chasnoff adds, "The next stage of the project involves creating an activist training guide which will be available with the DVD to empower youth to become peer educators and advocates through youth-led screenings and discussions." "Condom Sense" kicks off with a free event Fri., Feb. 20 at Howard Brown. For more information about "HIV: Hey, It's Viral!" or to set up a screening, please contact Chasnoff at Salome.Chasnoff@gmail.com or (773) 857-7300.
Friday, Feb. 20 is the last day to nominate Asian American women in the creative arts to be honored at Breaking Barriers, an event that will benefit the Foundation’s Asian American Leadership Council. Nominees may represent any field of artistry—from acting and writing to photography and cooking. Click here for the nomination form (Word document). And save the date for Wed., April 8--location and ticket details to be announced.
Employment opportunity: Download a job description and apply for the 2009 Jessica Eve Patt Internship (PDF).
Read more at our Press Room and our Past Events at cfw.org.
March 10: Reproductive health lobby day in Springfield
Come to the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on Tues., March 10 to add your voice to the call for expanding reproductive health care in Illinois. Legislation proposed in the Illinois House by State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25th) recognizes an important reality: Women have a right to a continuum of choices throughout their reproductive lives—from honest sexual health education to access to quality birth control, prenatal care, and the right to choose an abortion. You can be a part of women's history in the making. The ACLU of Illinois is taking RSVPs on their website, and Chicago-area participants will be emailed information about pick-up sites for the lobby day.
Update: Expedited Partner Therapy can stem spread of STIs
A new Illinois bill could help people treated for sexually transmitted diseases stay disease-free. As a member of Chicago Women and Girls HIV Prevention Coalition, Chicago Foundation for Women is supporting SB212, the Expedited Partner Therapy bill. This highly effective, CDC-recommended strategy would allow medical professionals to give a person diagnosed with chlamydia or gonorrhea extra medicine and information for their sexual partners. Not only is this cost-effective, this therapy has been shown to cut patients' STD re-infection rates nearly in half. STDs can cause serious health problems for women, including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and an increased risk of contracting HIV. EPT, as it is known, was recently piloted in Baltimore, Md., where public health officials reported a 41 percent drop in re-infections among participants, according to the Daily Women's Health Policy Report. Illinois would become the 16th state to adopt this public health success story. Read this fact sheet (PDF) to learn more about how you can promote SB212.
Update: New microbicide may protect women from HIV
A microbicide study "provides the first signal that a microbicide gel may be able to protect women from HIV infection,"said lead investigator Salim S. Abdool Karim in a press release by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which funded the research. A large-scale clinical trial in Africa and the U.S. found that PRO 2000, a vaginal microbicide gel, is safe to use and 30 percent effective in preventing HIV transmission. Though the number may seem low, it is very promising for future trials of this product and more research into new HIV-prevention technologies. The Global Campaign for Microbicides has a FAQ for advocates about this study (PDF). Microbicides can be "gel, foam or cream intended to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections when applied topically inside the vagina or rectum," the release says. PRO 2000 prevents HIV infections by "inhibit[ing] the entry of HIV into cells," according to the release. Chicago Foundation for Women advocates for increased microbicide research funding in the U.S. and supported the Microbicide Development Act of 2007.
Find more advocacy opportunities at our Online Action Center.
Visit our website calendar to see all our upcoming programs, events and cosponsorships.
In the spotlight
TODAY, FEB. 17 (Tues.): The Fine Art of Supporting Women and Girls, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
NEW FEB. 26 (Thurs.): Wine 101: Learn the Basics (hosted by the Young Women’s
Leadership Council), 6:30-8 p.m.
NEW MARCH 9 (Mon.): Women on Boards–Chicago (cosponsorship), 3-6 p.m.
MARCH 12 (Thurs.): Grantees: How to Budget in an Economic Crisis, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
MARCH 18 (Wed.): Queer Funding Strategies for Women-Led Organizations and
Women Leaders, Session 3 (Lesbian Leadership Council program), 6-8 p.m.
MARCH 19 (Thurs.): 2009 Impact Awards at Macy's, 5:30-8 p.m.
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