Chicago Foundation for Women's Weekly eUpdate

The week of Oct. 2-8, 2007
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Lynette Jackson, speaking at our Sept. 25 program on genocide in Darfur and how it hurts women and girls. Read our full recap next week.


As of late Monday, the City of Aurora will allow Planned Parenthood’s reproductive health clinic to open its doors, two weeks after its scheduled opening. The city made the announcement just hours after Kane County State’s Attorney John Barsanti said his investigation revealed no criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood. The permit should be issued some time today, the Chicago Tribune reports. Keep up with the latest at the Aurora clinic’s blog.


Hannah Rosenthal, executive director, and Susy Schultz, director of advocacy and communications, attended the conference of Journalism and Women Symposium (or JAWS) this weekend in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. About 160 women journalists including editors, TV producers and radio reporters from outlets such as the Washington Post, the New York Times, National Public Radio, NBC, ABC, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Sun-Times met to discuss news, issues and women. The Foundation mounted an abridged version of “Portraits: Stories of Hope and Survival” starring spoken word artists C. C. Carter and Cheryl Corley, and Schultz, Rosenthal and Rick Phelps. It received a standing ovation. Schultz then gave a 20-minute presentation on the “What Will It Take?” anti-violence initiative and the stories that journalists are missing when violence against women and girls is covered as a crime issue instead of a public health issue.


FIND OUT WHAT YOUNG PEOPLE THINK at our Oct. 9 program on the “Black Youth Project,” a research study examining the attitudes, resources and culture of young African American, Latino and white women and men. Principal researcher Cathy Cohen, PhD and a diverse panel of young advocates will share perspectives on race, sex, health, violence and identity. RSVP for this 5-7 p.m. program at the Chicago Urban League, 4510 S. Michigan Ave.

WHAT IF WOMEN WERE “MACHOS”? Teatro Luna’s latest production, “MACHOS,” puts women in men's shoes. The Foundation's Latina Leadership Council. will have a benefit performance on Friday, Nov. 9 to support their grants to Latinas by the Unidas Fund. Buy your tickets online now.
JOIN THE WOMEN'S TEAM. Check out our employment opportunities and apply for a job working with us. Find out more on our website. 


ERIC ZORN, Chicago Tribune columnist, for following the Aurora Planned Parenthood clinic story (here and here, among others) and providing much-needed perspective on the facts—and the opposition’s often-outrageous take on it.

ADA SKYLES, a Foundation board member, will receive the Commitment to Justice Award from Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice and the Chicago Council of Lawyers. Skyles is associate director of Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago and works on issues of women and family. Thank you for your great work and congratulations, Ada.

THE DARFUR EXPERTS at our Sept. 25 panel discussion, cosponsored by the Anti-Defamation League: Lynette Jackson, PhD (pictured at right), associate professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Dori Dinsmore, director of the Midwest Regional Office of Amnesty International USA. Each gave an in-depth analysis of the complicated situation in Darfur and asked the audience to maintain a sense of urgency, because more action is needed. Amnesty International has an online pledge you can sign, and you can download cover versions of John Lennon songs to benefit the cause. Find more ways to help, including green wristbands and links to more events near you, at One event is the traveling Darfur/Darfur exhibition, with a companion symposium in Chicago on Oct. 8. Read a full write-up of the program in next week’s Tuesday Blast. 

More than 200 rape kits were found in the Harvey police station, many of which were never sent to a lab. Illinois law enforcement officials were investigating dozens of unsolved crimes in Harvey. One 2002 kit had been processed and matched a sex offender, but Harvey investigators never pursued the case. Darnell Cooper, 40, was charged with the rape just days before his release from a Chicago prison for another rape in 2003. Cooper “has a history of sex offenses and other violent crimes dating to the early 1980s,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

Lynne Johnson, program officer at the Foundation, delivered testimony yesterday to the Cook County Finance Committee on why Cook County’s preventative health services should be fully funded. A proposed sales tax increase would provide funding, but as Johnson said, it “must exempt food, medication and medical devices.” The county’s long-term solution must include “restructuring Cook County’s Revenue System.” Read Johnson’s full testimony.

Pentecostal minister Juanita Bynum was “choked, stomped and kicked” in an Atlanta parking lot by her husband and fellow minister, Bishop Thomas W. Weeks III. Bynum gained fame urging self-respect and chastity among single African American women. Speaking to the New York Times to add perspective, Rev. Dr. Sharon Ellis Davis, a Chicago pastor who teaches seminary classes on domestic violence, said “mega-churches” like Bynum’s may “support female leaders but still perpetuate a conservative message that can lead to abuse.” Bynum, calling herself the “face of domestic violence,” has filed for divorce from Weeks. Weeks—charged with felony aggravated assault, felony terroristic threats and two counts of simple battery—told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Bynum went public only to “expand her career and public persona.”

Answer: You offer reproductive choice. Wal-Mart will sell oral contraception for $9 a month—generic versions of Ortho Cyclen and Ortho Tri-Cyclen, which make up 20 percent of oral birth control prescriptions, the New York Times wrote. The drugs retail at $30. Wal-Mart announced this as an extension of their discount prescription program. Though Wal-Mart has a dismal track record with women employees according to multiple lawsuits, their discount policy has driven other chains to lower prices, including Target and Kmart, says the Kaiser Network. And the $9 offer comes on the heels of rising birth control costs on college campuses.

Most married or divorced Egyptian women—96 percent—have experienced female genital mutilation, a poll shows. But Egypt’s century-old movement to end female genital mutilation is flourishing, partly because discussing sexuality in public—and importantly, in the media—has become less taboo, the New York Times reports. Egypt’s Muslim leadership calls it haram, or forbidden by Islam. Illegal since 1996, Egyptian law still has loopholes which activists want to close.

A Missouri policy denying incarcerated women abortions “unless medically necessary” is currently moving through the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Between 30 and 50 women inmates in Missouri are pregnant at any one time, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Missouri enacted the policy because of concerns with cost—only one clinic provides abortions, and it is 100 miles from the women’s prison—and escape—an accomplice could hide among nearby anti-choice protestors. But incarceration “does not mean a woman gives up her reproductive rights,” said attorney Diana Kasdan from the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, who brought the case. A decision is expected later this year.

Set to expire Sept. 30, federal abstinence-only education funding in Title V will likely get a 90-day extension. The program, though studies show it does not work, was temporarily extended this summer. The latest extension, added to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (or SCHIP) bill, cut provisions added this summer to ensure abstinence-only programs were scientifically accurate and effective. The SCHIP bill passed Congress and awaits Presidential action. Title V funding is different than other federal dollars because it goes to states, instead of directly to school districts, health departments and nonprofit organizations, writes RH Reality Check. Thus states can refuse Title V money, as more than ten have, including New York’s recent refusal.
Bills and policies that need your energy. Visit our Action Center - quickly make a difference this week. 

CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE: KEEP KIDS HEALTHY. The federal government recently sent new tighter restrictions to states, who administer the the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP (you know it as Kid Care in Illinois). Some changes include making children ineligible until they have been uninsured for a year.  A compromise bill passed the House and Senate, yet the President still pledges to veto—despite the bill’s bipartisan support. In fact, a Republican polling firm found Republican voters support the bill two to one, and a majority of voters are less likely to reelect officials who oppose it. Chicago Foundation for Women has signed a national letter of support with the bipartisan advocacy group First Focus. This issue warrants action. SPEAK UP NOW. Funding expires Sept. 30, so Congress and the President need to get on board.

HATE CRIMES. Expand the definition of federal hate crimes to include gender sexual orientation, and disability status. Bush's threatened veto is kowtowing to the Christian religious right, who wrongly think this bill will limit free speech from the pulpit—even with a special amendment specifically excluding speech. In fact, the American Civil Liberties Union supports the legislation, though it has never backed a hate crimes law before. CLICK HERE TO CONTACT CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT NOW.

FOOD SUPPLEMENTAL PROGRAMS including Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (or WIC) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) mostly for seniors 60 and older. CONTACT YOUR SENATORS NOW.

We add perspective to recent headlines

The story: Should the age of sexual consent be lowered? William Saletan says yes in online magazine Slate’s special “Sex Issue” last week. Discussing only girls as victims, he notes that girls are maturing faster than ever. He says many young men charged with statutory rape can be excused for “failing to regulate a natural attraction” to an underage girl’s “womanly body”—and we need to cut young men more “slack” because it’s normal for them to be “thinking only about boobs.” Saletan also says African American girls have an even lower average age for their first period.
What is missing: Saletan has only reiterated the same tired old rape myths to justify violent and sexist behavior. For example, saying African American girls mature earlier revives hundreds of years of oppression when women of color were enslaved and even more sexualized and “rapeable.” Not only are all girls potential victims, all boys and men are potential perpetrators—which minimizes their accountability and gives the male gender a short shrift. Why can’t the conversation be about creating a culture where we encourage healthy, equitable relationships, instead of finding ways to excuse destructive ones? These debates focus only on how perpetrators can access younger girls--and then how to justify it to their community. Saletan, you could have done a whole lot better.


Our program, "Darfur: Violence Against Women as a Form of Genocide," was informative and moving. A full recap will appear here next week.

We announced our partnership with the opera “Margaret Garner” last week. As an official collaborator, we will host community discussions on race, gender and the legacy of slavery throughout the year, and the opera's creators and cast will offer a special presentation at our 23rd Annual Luncheon and Symposium on Oct. 31, 2008. Read more in our release.

Catch up at our Press Room or our Past Events page at or our News page on

Speakers' bureau: Want a free speaker to come and tell you or your organization about “What Will It Take?” Contact Laura Fletcher at (312) 577-2824 or More about the speakers' bureau...

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