Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2008
Luncheon: Live from YouTube
Our 23rd Annual Luncheon and Symposium is just a month away, and we don’t want you to miss it. See and hear what we have planned: Watch our video now at cfw.org or see it on Facebook. And add us as a friend if you’re on Facebook or MySpace. To see the luncheon itself, you have to buy your tickets now. And registration for the morning symposium is free as always. This year it focuses on "The Art of Social Justice: How Creativity Complements Advocacy."
WBEZ recently featured Global Girls Inc., a Foundation grantee, on its “Eight Forty-Eight” program to get their opinions on the pregnancy of Bristol Palin, teenage daughter of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Global Girls is a youth development organization that uses the performing arts to equip girls with strong communication and leadership skills. Featuring the girls on the program "really validated the work that we do at the ground level, educating girls about their own issues and looking at [teen pregnancy] through a national lens," said Marvinetta Woodley-Penn, executive director. When the girls heard themselves, "they said, 'this is real,' that their own voices matter. People out there were really interested in what they had to say." Click here to listen to the segment or read the transcript.
Spotlight on Margaret Garner
Modern-day Margaret Garners are women whose life experiences mirror the tragic yet heroic life of this slavery survivor. Read a synopsis of the opera Toni Morrison based on her life.
The story: Louisiana State Representative John LaBruzzo last week floated an idea to pay low-income women to be sterilized in order to reduce the number of people who would qualify for public assistance. LaBruzzo’s program would give $1,000 incentives for tubal ligation, and possibly for vasectomies for men, as well as encourage higher-income, college-educated women to have more children. Following a firestorm of debates sparked by LaBruzzo’s public suggestion of the program, LaBruzzo now suggests offering more funding to “temporary” contraceptive methods, “acknowledging that poor women might decide at a later time, when they are in a better economic position, to have children,” The Times-Picayune in New Orleans reports. LaBruzzo is anti-choice and does not favor offering low-cost or free abortion services.
What’s missing: Though LaBruzzo says he was brainstorming new ways to reduce poverty, there’s nothing new about population control (read: eugenics) and sterilization specifically. As The Times-Picayune found, public aid spending is not skyrocketing as LaBruzzo implies. In the last 16 years, Louisiana welfare spending has dropped from $187.2 million to $16.5 million, “less than legislators earmarked for pet projects,” the article states. Then there is the issue of reproductive justice, based on four cornerstones: to become a parent and parent with dignity; to determine whether or when to have children; to have a healthy pregnancy, and to have healthy and safe families and relationships. (A report by the Center for American Progress (PDF) uses this definition.)
Communities of color disproportionately face challenges to these rights, and Louisiana has the country’s second-largest African American population (about one-third of residents), according to 2005 Census data. Instead of extending access for reproductive health and economic opportunity, which would focus on the women in need, LaBruzzo’s strategy portrays low-income women as incapable of responsible decision-making. Much more can be and has been said: Read an in-depth post on feminist and reproductive justice at the blog Elle PhD and a brief overview in Ms. Magazine’s Feminist Daily Wire. (Thanks to Feministe for the Elle PhD heads-up.)
The Margaret Garner connection: Forced pregnancy and sterilization are two sides of the same coin. For women enslaved as Garner was, the choice of whether and how to have children was taken away by slaveowners. Historical accounts tell us that the real Margaret Garner was probably the child of her plantation owner’s father, and most of her own children were fathered by his son—her own half-brother. Though trafficking through the slave trade was illegal by the time Margaret Garner’s story took place, plantation owners like hers used rape and forced pregnancy to produce new generations of slaves. When Margaret Garner killed her daughter to prevent her return to slavery, she was charged with destruction of property, not murder. This shows that not only did slavery dehumanize enslaved people, it hurt enslaved women in particular by making their fertility a tool of oppression. As we learned from LaBruzzo, threads of that legacy continue.
Discuss topics like this and more at a conversation, "Margaret Garner in Context": 3-4:30 p.m. on Tues., Oct. 7, cosponsored with Roosevelt University’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program. Please join us at this free public event at Roosevelt’s Chicago Loop campus, 430 S. Michigan Ave.
World Contraception Day was Fri., Sept. 26. Read about the latest statistics and trends from the Guttmacher Institute, and contrast this problem-and-solution from Guttmacher with the “What’s Missing” story above: “Unintended pregnancy and abortion are increasingly becoming concentrated among low-income and minority women, who often lack access to high-quality contraceptive counseling and services. This underscores the urgent need to increase investments in subsidized family planning services through the federal Title X program, as well as by increasing eligibility for such services under Medicaid.”
A transgender woman’s appearance on reality TV is drawing public attention to gender identity issues. Isis King, as a contestant on the CW Television Network show “America’s Next Top Model,” let viewers “see real gay and transgender people facing many of the same ups and downs as everybody else,” said Neil G. Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Associated Press reports. Activists say King provides an alternative to TV transgender stereotypes of “sex workers or villains.” On the show, King met with prejudice and support: Some competitors used male pronouns or called her a “drag queen,” while others were more sensitive. One contestant helped distract King from pain while she injected female hormones. King was born physically male but lives as a woman and plans to undergo sex reassignment surgery.
On Sept. 18, we welcomed back Jasmeet Kaur Sidhu from Alliance for Justice to lead a workshop on how nonprofits can be involved in lobbying and election-related activities. About 23 of our grantee partners attended. Legal restrictions on lobbying are crucial for nonprofits to know because 501(c)(3) organizations risk losing their tax exempt status if they engage in too much or certain kinds of lobbying. Unfortunately, laws governing what such nonprofits can do are confusing at best. And different rules apply during the months leading up to an election. The Alliance’s website has free resources for how 501(c)(3)s can decide how much and how often to lobby, as well as many wonderful books for sale. For this election season, don’t miss the Alliance’s free fact sheet (PDF) on how to talk about voter outreach and protection with candidates and elected officials. Thank you to the Alliance for another spectacular training.
Amber Smock (left), the 2008 Founders’ Award for Young Women Advocates honoree for her work on feminist disability activism, will be using her award money to travel worldwide. She has started the blog Amber Tracker to allow us to follow her progress and experiences. Smock will “travel to meet and mobilize women with disabilities and Deaf women to take action on our human and civil rights,” she says on the blog. She and Bridget, her ASL interpreter, start off this week in Seoul, South Korea.
Read more at our Press Room and our Past Events at cfw.org.
Update: New Cook County Hospital CFO plans reforms
Pitt Calkin, the newly named interim chief financial officer of the restructured Cook County Health and Hospitals system, told board members on Friday his plan to restore lost services while saving money. Calkin’s $80 million proposal for 2009 would reap $50 million in returns by one year later, Calkin claims. We are encouraged that his budget proposes new full-time health service providers, which will help restore the lost services from the drastic 2007 cuts. Though the board’s finance committee was skeptical of the budget’s size, in light of the system’s debts from unclaimed Medicaid payments and patient fees, it has sent the budget draft to the hospital board of directors. They will make final budget recommendations to the Cook County Commissioners. Rob Olmstead at the Daily Herald has more. We will keep you updated if and when services and jobs are restored and more about the final budget’s outlook for women and girls.
Find more advocacy opportunities at our Online Action Center.
Our website calendar lists all our programs, events and cosponsorships.
In the spotlight
OCT. 2 (Thu.): Executive Director Roundtable: Issues Facing Girl-Serving Organizations,
NEW: OCT. 7 (Tue.): Margaret Garner in Context: A Community Conversation (cosponsored
by Roosevelt University), 3-4:30 p.m.
NOV. 7 (Fri.): "Jarred: A Hoodoo Comedy" by Teatro Luna (Latina Leadership Council
fundraiser), 7:30-9:30 p.m.
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