TUESDAY BLAST - Chicago Foundation for Women's eUpdate
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April 2011 Edition

...And reproductive justice for all 
Digital image of the billboardPresident K. Sujata addresses the inflammatory billboards on Chicago's South Side. 

As you've probably seen in the news, last week a sensationalist anti-choice campaign came to Chicago. Three identical billboards near 58th and State say, "Every 21 minutes, our next possible leader is aborted," next to a photo of President Obama (see image at right).

Reproductive justice in the media

Here are a few stories on the billboards that feature our grantees' voices:

Chicago Tribune

NBC Chicago

ABC News

WBEZ's Eight Forty-Eight

WBBM Newsradio 780

Vócalo 89.5

Spokespeople for Life Always, the group behind the billboards, say they want to highlight the fact that African American women have a higher abortion rate than Caucasian women by running 30 billboards in communities of color. They say this message is supposed to help women. 

Chicago Foundation for Women takes a much different approach. We support organizations in Englewood and other communities of color in Chicago that recognize the barriers that women--especially women of color--face when trying to access high-quality, low-cost health services and information. CFW is not only in favor of reproductive choice, we're also advocates for reproductive justice.

Reproductive justice encompasses the whole woman, throughout her life, because every woman has the human right to decide if, when and how to become a parent and to parent with dignity. With accurate information and accessible resources, we trust women to make the most informed decisions for themselves and their families.

CFW helps bring women's voices to the fore through outreach, education and our grants from the Catalyst Fund, supporting reproductive justice led by women of color.

Two Black Women for Reproductive Justice (BWRJ) logo: two women's silhouettes, back to backCatalyst Fund grantees, Black Women for Reproductive Justice (BWRJ) and Chicago Abortion Fund (CAF), have taken on the billboards in local and national media (see links in box).

Cherisse Scott, BWRJ's health educator and campaign coordinator, says, "Our communities are overwrought with violence, lack of access to education, high rates of unemployment, and lack of access to healthy foods. Those are the real issues--not Black women making the decisions that we understand are in the best interest of our families."

Gaylon Alcaraz, executive director of CAF, writes in her essay on RH Reality Check, "As a woman of color that has been poor, marginalized and ignored by society, I resent 'outsiders' that don't live in these neighborhoods bringing their message and Chicago Abortion Fund (CAF) logo: make choice possibleagenda to these communities, which they will likely never step foot in ever again.... If these individuals actually cared about 'Life Always,' they would be in these communities advocating for supportive services and other programs that could assist the very women they're targeting."

CFW wholly condemns these billboards, which amount to bully tactics. Reproductive justice supporters are smart and organized, and with our Catalyst Fund grantees in the lead, we will confront the wide range of issues facing families every day.

To support local reproductive justice leaders, donate to CFW's Catalyst Fund today--each gift is matched, dollar for dollar.

Conscious performs onstageCFW in the community
March 4 was a dark and stormy night--but weather didn't keep a lively crowd away from a performance and town hall on Chicago's South Side co-hosted by the Lesbian Leadership Council and POW-WOW, Inc., a CFW grantee. As part of our Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Family Foundation Health Series, the event focused on the health needs of and disparities among women of color--in this case, lesbian and bisexual women of color. Conscious (at right), a talented spoken word performer, shared her personal experience as a lesbian woman with HIV. She is a strong advocate for including women who sleep with women in more public health discussions about STI prevention, including HIV/AIDS. Following Conscious, a panel of medical professionals presented statistics and offered resources to the audience. Read more in the Windy City Times.
March 16 edition of StreetWise
CFW has also made the news elsewhere. The March 16 edition of StreetWise magazine (at left) featured a cover story about the 2011 Impact Awards honorees, and the Windy City Times also covered the awards. To recognize Women's History Month, on March 11 CFW K. Sujata spoke with Vocaloverdrive on Vócalo 89.5 about CFW's history and why women's funds like ours continue to be important. We also supported our reproductive justice grantees who stand against the new South Side anti-choice billboards by distributing a press release with their responses.

Start spring right at our events
8th Annual Breaking Barriers Awards Honorees--photos of five honoreesThursday, April 14: Celebrate innovation in education at Breaking Barriers. Join the Asian American Leadership Council at the 8th Annual Breaking Barriers Awards to honor five Asian women leaders: Vicki Chou, Tammie Ismail, Sonia Mathew, Bela Moté and Joyce Nakamura! Enjoy a cocktail reception and silent auction at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza for just $60 (or four for $220), all to benefit the council's Silk Fund. Last year's event sold out in record time, so reserve your spot today!

Wednesday, May 4: Celebrate Latina leadership at Mujeres del Cambio, presented by the Latina Leadership Council. Come to the National Museum of Mexican Art to hear from a panel of Latina experts, enjoy good food and music, and possibly win our door prize: a custom voicemail message by WBEZ's Melba Lara! Tickets are $40 or $20 for students; online registration is coming soon.

Thursday, May 12: Dance and get pampered at Spring Fling, hosted by the Lesbian Leadership Council. Come to Beauty Bar for an evening of mani/martinis, live entertainment and fun prizes, all to benefit LBTQ women and individuals through the Lavender Fund. RSVP information is coming soon.  

Through April 13: Walk off the beaten path. The acclaimed multimedia artwork at Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women and Art at Off the Beaten Path exhibit posterthe Chicago Cultural Center leaves town next Wednesday. As part of the exhibition, this Friday, April 8, come to The Bandana Project, a public presentation and performance co-hosted by CFW grantees Mujeres Latinas en Acción and The Voices and Faces Project. The Bandana Project raises awareness about workplace sexual violence against farmworker women. The free program and lunch runs from 12-3 p.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center. To learn more or RSVP contact Serena Curry at

Grantees in the news
A young woman's sign says "Support me! Support SB1619"Volunteers and staff from the ACLU of Illinois, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health and Planned Parenthood of Illinois were among 150 participants in a March 30 lobby day in Springfield for medically accurate sexual health education for all Illinois public school students--as outlined in the Illinois Personal Responsibility Education Program (SB 1619), which CFW supports. See lobby day photos (like the one at right) and take action at the ACLU’s website.

Kaethe Morris Hoffer of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation was on Fox Chicago News talking about civil justice for rape survivors--an especially important option when the criminal system fails to provide justice. 
ABC 7 Chicago featured Chicago Books for Women in Prison as a group exemplifying the "spirit of giving," by donating paperback books to incarcerated women.

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is featured in a story by Medill Reports about the climbing numbers of homeless youth, which contrasts sharply with state budget cuts to programs that help these youth. 

Janine Lewis, executive director of the Illinois Maternal & Child Health Coalition, spoke at rally celebrating the one-year anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Watch a video at Progress Illinois

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights held a press conference to celebrate the defeat of 10 anti-immigrant bills in Illinois this year.

As part of the community programming surrounding the Chicago Cultural Center's exhibition Off the Beaten Path, a few of the featured artists and local activists spoke about the power of art and civic engagement. The panel was recorded by WBEZ's Chicago Amplified.

CFW grantees: Want to be sure your news clips and awards get in the Blast? Email Laura at or share the good news on our social media sites!

Upcoming events
Visit our website calendar to see all our upcoming programs and events.

APRIL 14 (Thurs.): 8th Annual Breaking Barriers Awards: Women Transforming
to benefit the Silk Fund, 6-8 p.m.
MAY 4 (Wed.): Mujeres del Cambio with the Latina Leadership Council, 6-9 p.m.
MAY 12 (Tues.): Spring Fling with the Lesbian Leadership Council, 6-10 p.m.
JUNE 4, 8 and 11: Board Boot Camp (by application only)

The Last Word: Uterus! Uterus!
Last week in the Florida legislature, labor rights were invoked--in both the worker's and woman's senses. As the St. Petersburg Times reported, Rep. Scott Randolph (D-Orlando) ironically quoted his wife musing that she should "incorporate her uterus" to keep anti-choice Republicans away, since they object to government regulation of business. Right away, anti-choice legislators chastised Randolph for saying "uterus" because, as House GOP spokesperson Katie Betta said, "young pages and messengers" could overhear. (We simply cannot make this stuff up.)

How does one respond to this? Here's one possibility from Adam Weinstein at Mother Jones: "Take a long fallopian walk off a short doggoned uterus, you sigmoid colonoscopes!"

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