Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rally in Solidarity on April 7th for Title X

This is a guest post from Chloe Kessinger, Project and Design Coordinator with the Center for Gender Equity at Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR. She writes about the actions her school is taking on April 7th against Title X cuts and invites other groups to do the same. They are planning a die-in to symbolize the the unacceptable number of preventable pregnancy related complications that occur every minute of every day and to highlight the importance of family planning funding. This is a great example of an action you too organize on your campus to participate in our Don’t Be Fooled by Fake Clinics Week of Action and show solidarity with the National Day of Action for Title X on April 7th as well as participating in our Birth Control Access Campaign

The elimination of Title X will cut funding not only for 900 Planned Parenthood clinics in the country, but also 4,500 other family planning clinics that utilize Title X funding to serve low-income women and men in their communities.

On April 7th there is going to be a rally in Washington D.C. to stand against the proposed elimination of Title X, but many students cannot afford to fly out and join the fight, so the Center for Gender Equity at Pacific University intends to bring the fight to local students.

On April 7th the Center for Gender Equity (CGE) will be gathering students in the University Center at Pacific University to 'drop dead' between the hours of 12 and 1 pm. This demonstration is
to raise awareness for the need of Title X funding through representing the statistic of one woman in the world dies every 60 seconds from a preventable pregnancy related complication. One student will be 'dropping dead' every 60 seconds so at the end of the hour the University Center will be full of 'dead' bodies.’ If Title X funding is taken away, and Planned Parenthood and independent women’s health clinics serving low-income women are stripped of federal funding for family planning, many more women will face these unnecessary complications.

We will also be tabling with pamphlets of information on Planned Parenthood and the value of all family planning clinics, as well as having laptops open to the website where students can sign a petition in support of Planned Parenthood. We will be encouraging people to wear pink in solidarity with Planned Parenthood.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, "The Title X Family Planning program was enacted in 1970 as Title X of the Public Health Service Act. Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. The Title X program is designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies and information to all who want and need them. By law, priority is given to persons from low-income families."

Last month, the House voted to completely eliminate the 40 year-old Title X Program.
Current news on the situation is that the proposal of the House was rejected by the Senate and sent back to the house for revisions. No matter what the revisions are they will be UNACCEPTABLE to both the young women of this nation and all other people who seek help from family planning clinics. No cuts are acceptable to family planning. By cutting family planning in any way the young poor people of our nation will be made to suffer more then they already are. We need to stand up with all those protesting at the White House on April 7th to show our support for Title X funding and the Planned Parenthood Organization and all women’s health care providers.

The CGE would like to invite any and all other schools and student led organizations to participate on April 7th in some way. Wearing pink, and handing out information is a good way to start spreading the word on the vital importance of organizations like Planned Parenthood.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

American University Students Rally for Sexual Assault Prevention and Support

Guest Post by American University Student Nicole Wisler

Since June of 2010, American University students and administrators have been working on a grant application that, if accepted by the Department of Justice, would provide $300,000 to go towards resources for preventing sexual assault and supporting survivors. Seventeen campus offices, three community organizers, and the entire undergraduate senate approved this grant and all of its provisions.

Part of the proposal provided for mandatory sexual assault prevention trainings for all new students. Students would have multiple opportunities throughout their first semester to complete the training. If they failed to complete the training by the end of this period, a stop would be placed on their registration until they fulfilled the requirement.

Although this enforcement is required by the DOJ for grant approval, Vice President of the Office of Campus Life, Dr. Gail Hanson took issue with mandating educational programming (because that’s not what college is all about, or anything), and refused to sign the grant. According to committee members and students Quinn Pregliasco and Leigh Ellis, Hanson had expressed concerns over the stops in October, but had given her approval and urged the committee to move forward. Her refusal to let the proposal go forward came just days before the application deadline (March 31st).

As an American University student and a survivor of sexual assault, this is a crushing blow. It seems as though Dr. Hanson is valuing the comfort of some students, those who do not wish to complete the training, over the safety of others.

I am encouraged by the support our community has demonstrated in the wake of this news. Last night, around 50 students met to discuss the situation. Hanson attended the event and continued to discourage students, stating that there was no way she would change her mind on the grant.

Our community refuses to let the administration sidestep the issue and avoid acknowledging what we all know: sexual assault is real, it happens frequently, and students need advocates. We have decided to continue pushing for resources and programming on sexual violence, regardless of whether this grant application goes through.

Tomorrow, at 11am, students will assemble for a rally on the main quad to demonstrate their frustration and solidarity. Students and D.C. residents are encouraged to attend wearing black and holding signs. You can find information about the event on our Facebook page.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"WAM! It Yourself"

The campus team urges you to check out the Women, Action, and the Media conferences happening across the country this weekend. These "WAM! It Yourself" conferences aim to raise awareness about sexism in media and promote action on gender justice in the media. WAM's vision, and the goal of the conference is to attain, "Gender equity in media access, representation, employment and ownership — and a world in which a just media is considered essential to a just society."

The conference will be led by activists, educators, journalists, and media-makers, giving attendees some insight on why gender justice in the media is so crucial. With technology quickly changing and evolving, media in all its forms has become an important tool for activism, education, and entertainment. The conference will touch on important issues dealing with intersectional identities, body image, beauty, online media, and much much more. The conference will give a second look at the pervading messages media gives us and stress the importance of having a diverse, inclusive, and real representation of gender. Check out this video!

Why Gender Justice in Media Matters from Jaclyn Friedman on Vimeo.

WAM! It Yourself is happening in Los Angeles this weekend at Santa Monica College and the West Coast Campus Team will be tabling at the event on Friday. On Saturday, our colleagues at Ms. magazine are hosting a workshop about feminist online media and giving their reflections on the first year of the Ms. magazine Blog.

The conference will have video presentations, lectures, workshops, a poetry slam, discussions, presentations, and lots of information that will keep your feminist heart beating.

To attend WAM! It Yourself in Los Angeles, be sure to RSVP on the Facebook event page. Be sure to check out the WAM! website and Myspace for more information on other locations.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One Year Later: Feminists Stand By the Affordable Care Act

On the one-year anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, we see that the fight for quality, affordable care has not yet been achieved.  This essential piece of health care reform legislation in 2010 sought to end abuses by the insurance industry and extend health care coverage for all Americans.  We all remember the right-wing campaigns to spread fear in the year leading up to (still waiting for those death panels…). The House majority continues efforts to undermine the Act by trying to eliminate funding, challenging it in court, and continuing to promote lies to the public in an attempt to push for its repeal in 2013.

It is as important now as it was a year ago for us to stand with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), though many women’s rights advocates strongly disagreed with some of the provisions related to reproductive rights – the Act maintained the Hyde Amendment’s restrictions on abortion funding, extending them to newly created health insurance exchanges, making abortion less accessible and affordable in the process.  The ACA has produced the largest gains for women’s health since Medicare and Medicaid were signed into law 45 years ago.

When the Act’s full provisions take effect in 2014, it will make incredible headway in promoting gender equality in healthcare by ensuring that women can not be charged higher premiums, nor will they be denied coverage due to pregnancy or other gender-based discriminations often considered to be pre-existing conditions.

These health reforms are imperative for women, as currently nearly half of all low-income women are uninsured and more than half of all women report delaying needed care because of cost. Women are routinely charged higher premiums than men; according to, a healthy 22-year old woman can be charged premiums 150% higher than a 22-year old man.  The Act also allows young people to stay on their parent’s insurance until the age of 26 and provides steady funding for comprehensive sex education and teen pregnancy prevention.

This year, the Act requires that new insurance plans cover prevention and wellness benefits, as well as preventive services, including mammograms, cancer screenings, and annual physicals.  Because of the Act’s committed support for reproductive health and family planning, an effort by various women’s health organizations is underway to include birth control under preventive services.  We expect to see contraceptives covered and provided under the ACA, despite criticism from the Right.

Today, there is a concerted effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Last month, the House passed a continuing resolution that would defund key parts of the ACA, particularly those affecting women.  Though they claim it is an attempt to reduce the federal deficit, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the ACA will actually reduce the deficit by over $210 billion in just the first decade. Although it does not defeat all of the barriers to comprehensive health care for women, the Affordable Care Act takes us one step closer to making health care for women more accessible and affordable. All women stand to gain from these upcoming changes, and it is imperative that we as feminists not only recognize but celebrate its one year anniversary.  Our bodies, our lives!

NYFLC 2011 Recap by Marysa Falk

Cross-posted from the Women's Writes Blog on Marysa Falk is from the University of Nevada, Reno, and attended our National Young Feminist Leadership Conference this past weekend.

On March 12th and 13th I had the privilege of attending the seventh annual National Young Feminist Leadership Conference in Washington D.C., which is sponsored by the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Best. conference. ever. Photo courtesy of Marysa Falk.

I was fortunate enough to network with young feminists (both men and women) from all over the country who are working hard at their campuses and in their communities to advance equality.

For the first time in my life I was completely surrounded by others who, despite our geographical differences, were just like me. They were just as passionate and aggressive for issues like affordable and accessible birth control, equal pay and pro-choice.

One thing that was thoroughly emphasized throughout the weekend and is also an issue I strongly believe in and advocate for is that we need more women in leadership and political positions.

In order for women to get elected to political positions or promoted to leaders of companies, they need to develop their skills at an early age. It’s critical that we encourage young women in high school and college to run for student government.

During elections there is always one winner and one loser. Women are less likely than men to run again even after they’ve lost. For example, Casey Steitler, President-Elect of ASUN ran last year and lost but he didn’t let that faze him. He kept very active in ASUN and ran again for president and ultimately won.

We need to make sure women don’t feel defeated or worthless and can pick themselves up and try again just like Mr. Stietler.

The conference opened with a panel of pioneers and heroines of the second and third-wave (First: Get the vote Second: Get the choice Third: Modern inequities) feminist movements: Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal, National Organization of Women President Terry O’Neill, the chief of staff to the First Lady and the Director of the Committee on the Status of Women and Girls Tina Tchen.

These women have paved the road for the next generation of feminists to take over the steering wheel. While their fight will never cease to exist, it’s up to our generation of women and men to continue the fight for an equitable society.

Another panel of women who specialize on international women’s rights and health reminded us that it is our generation leading the revolutions in the Middle-East and that women, despite their lack of publicity, are leading the way.

In fact, last year, male Iranians wore scarves in solidarity with Muslim women during Iran’s revolt against their dictator. Middle Eastern women are leading the movement everyday; they’re risking imprisonment and their lives to speak out for freedom.

Closing the conference Sunday evening was Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis speaking to a room with more than 500 feminists. She is the first Latina appointee in a president’s cabinet and works everyday for sex and racial equality in the labor force.

“Women, no matter how highly educated are, are still discriminated against,” Solis warned.

The NYFLC inspired me beyond words. I heard first hand from international and American feminists what they are doing to advance women’s rights.

My favorite line from the conference was during the general assembly by Ellie Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, regarding President Obama. I volunteered on the campaign to elect Barack Obama for nearly eighteen months. I always believed he would be elected and I remain a strong supporter and advocate of the president’s policies and goals.

I sat in the front row, directly in front of Ellie and sensed she was talking directly to me as she proclaimed, “You are the generation that gave America its first African American president. You will be the generation to lead a revolution.”


Thursday, March 17, 2011

National "Don't Be Fooled by Fake Clinics" Week of Action is Coming Up!

Hey feminists! It's time to start mobilizing. It's just one week until our, "Don't Be Fooled by Fake Clinics" National Week of Action, taking place the week leading up to April Fool's Day (March 28th to April 1st). What is a fake clinic and why should we expose it, you ask? Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) are clinics that pose to be comprehensive women's health clinics. These "clinics" have an agenda to dissuade women from their options and restrict people from gaining access to contraceptives, abortions, and abortion referrals. This week of action leading up to April Fools Day is a way to raise awareness about deceptive clinics and promote action in your community. If your club/organization hasn't started organizing for next week, here are a few things to consider before planning events and actions:
  • Read through our Action Kit to get started.
  • Go to your campus health center, and see what health/women's clinics your school refers people to. Does your school promote CPCs?
  • If there are fake clinics on your school's referral list, pressure them to pull misleading ads or post disclaimers about what services a clinic provides (and does not provide).
  • Post educational flyers in your area to tell people what CPCs are (see our example here).
  • Organize a SPEAK OUT and have students share their stories and opinions about CPCs. Your voice is powerful!
  • Organize a photo campaign to and post your pictures on social media sites.
  • Get in contact with your local school newspaper to advertise your action plans and cover what your club is doing.
  • Circulate this petition to stop deceptive advertising and federal funding of fake women's health clinics.
  • Host a screening of Let's Talk About Sex about sex education in the U.S.
  • Host a screening of 12th & Delaware and use our videos as a starting point for discussion.
These are a few tips to help you get started before "Don't Be Fooled by Fake Clinics" week. If you need more action ideas, check out this link. Be sure to let us know what your club is up to by sending pictures and your action plans to!

This weekend: First Annual International Anti-Street Harassment Day

This is a guest post from Holly Kearl, women's rights activist and author. You can contact Holly at

As a college student at Santa Clara University in northern California, I faced street harassment almost every time I left campus on foot, including when I went for my daily run, walked to volunteer at a local domestic violence shelter, or took a bus to go to the mall with friends. The whistles, honks, pssts, and comments quickly became annoying, then infuriating. The harassment was such a constant part of my life that I couldn’t ignore it. My experiences led me to write a master’s thesis and then, when I discovered a lack of literature on the topic, a book on street harassment.

Across the last few months since my book came out, I’ve given talks about street harassment on college campuses in states as far flung as Alaska, Iowa, California, Maryland, and Georgia. No matter the size of the campus or its location, most of the women in the audience have stories of street harassment. From peers yelling at them from dorm rooms or fraternity houses as they walk across campus to adult men yelling at them from cars as the women wait for buses or walk to stores off campus, the harassment stories are similar and so are the outcomes. Students feel disempowered, upset, and they often try to avoid the harassment by changing what they wear, where they go, and when. This is not fair and it’s not right.

Street harassment is a global problem and it requires a global response. This Sunday, March 20, thousands of women and men across the United States and throughout the world will participate in the first International Anti-Street Harassment Day.

Women and men on many college campuses are participating, including in Delhi (India), Cape Town (South Africa), Toronto (Canada), Irvine (CA), Iowa City (IA), Harrisonburg (VA), and College Park (MD). Their actions include setting up tables to hand out anti-street harassment materials, posting fliers around campus with messages about ending street harassment, and blogging and tweeting about street harassment from wherever they are over their Spring Break.

There’s still time for you to decide to do something, too. Agree to talk to a friend or classmate about street harassment. Share your story online. Tweet about street harassment with the hashtag #antistreetharassmentday. If you have time hand out or post fliers or hold an informal meeting on campus where people can brainstorm how to address and end this problem in your community. Here are 10 ideas for action, the Facebook RSVP page, and sample fliers.

Reclaim your campus, reclaim your community and do something to end street harassment. Let March 20 simply be your starting point.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Can't make it to NYFLC this weekend? Catch it LIVE on USTREAM

This weekend, over 500 feminists from over 140 colleges, universities and high schools, will be coming together at The George Washington University in Washington, DC for the 7th Annual National Young Feminist Leadership Conference.

We understand that not everyone can make it to DC this weekend, but you can still join us on the web. The four general assemblies will be streaming live on USTREAM on Saturday and Sunday.

Watch NYFLC live on USTREAM []

This year in our general assemblies, we will be covering issues like clinic violence, the importance of grassroots and campus organizing and global women's rights and health. You'll hear from speakers like U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, NOW National President Terry O'Neill, activist Steph Herold, and Iranian women's rights leader Mahnaz Afkhami.

For more information, check out our conference website, which also has info on discounted group rates at hotels located near the conference. If you have any questions, call the DC campus organizers at 703-522-2214 or email Hope to see you there!

P.S. Join the conversation on Facebook & Twitter using the hashtag #nyflc2011!

Friday, March 4, 2011

One Week Until the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.!

There’s one week left until the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Young Feminist Leadership Conference hosted by George Washington University in Washington, D.C.! Registration at the door will be available, but pre-registration closes at 6pm EST on Wednesday, March 9.

This is something you don’t want to miss!

Hear from amazing feminists, activists, and representatives:

  • Eleanor Smeal, President, Feminist Majority Foundation
  • Tina Tchen, Chief of Staff, First Lady Michelle Obama & Executive Director, White House Council on Women and Girls
  • Secretary Hilda Solis, Secretary of United States Department of Labor
  • Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Congressional Delegate, District of Columbia
  • Rep. Donna Edwards, Maryland's 4th Congressional District
  • Rep. Gwen Moore, Wisconsin's 4th Congressional District
  • Steph Herold, Activist and Founder, "I Am Dr. Tiller"

Registration is only $30 for a 3-day weekend packed with feminist connections, activist education & training, empowering discussions, and visiting with Congress to make feminist voices heard, especially during this time where women’s health is being attacked in the House. Meet young feminists from all over the country to talk about ways to organize on campus and in your communities!

In addition to being part of the conversation of feminist activism today, participants will receive a free copy of “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn.

Discounts are still available for groups of 5 or more, and the Campus Team is here to help you plan your trip. E-mail us at or call 866-444-FMLA for more information. See you next Saturday! You won’t want to miss it!!

If you’ve already registered and are joining us on Monday for the Congressional Education Day, don’t forget to call your Senators and Representatives to set up congressional visits!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

NYC Passes Bill to Regulate Crisis Pregnancy Centers!

As part of a new national trend, states are attempting to expose the deception of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) and New York has taken the lead and passed a historic city ordinance (Bill 371) that will regulate fake clinics in being truthful on what types of services they do and do not provide. This news is a bright spot during these current chaotic times where women's access to comprehensive reproductive health services are being put on the chopping block.

It is shocking that CPCs overwhelm and outnumber comprehensive women's health clinics with a 3,500 CPCs listed nationwide. The New York City council stated that, "The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges that comprehensive prenatal care begin as soon as a woman decides to become pregnant. Similar to prenatal care, delayed access to abortion and emergency contraception poses a threat to public health. Delay in accessing abortion or emergency contraception creates increased health risks and financial burdens, and may eliminate a womens ability to obtain these services altogether, severely limiting her reproductive health options". The bill regulates CPCs by requiring them to:
  • Disclose to a client that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene encourages women to consult with a licensed medical provider.
  • Disclose if there is no licensed medical provider on staff.
  • Disclose if it does or does not provide referrals for abortion, emergency contraception, or prenatal care.
  • Post disclosures at the entrance and waiting room (in both English and Spanish).
  • Disclosures are required to be given over the phone.
New York is not the first state to pressure CPCs to provide honest and comprehensive health care, Maryland and Texas have passed similar bills to regulate CPCs. The state of Washington has also tried to pass a similar bill, the "Limited Service Pregnancy Center Accountability Act".

As people all over the country fight for reproductive rights and access to comprehensive women's health clinics, there is a presence of deceptive "clinics" that offer limited resources to those in need. Access to family planning and basic medical care has become a dire task with the presence of fake clinics. Crisis Pregnancy Center's (CPCs) are clinics that pose to be clinics under names like "Pregnancy Aid", "Open Door", and "Pregnancy Counseling Center". CPCs target young, poor, and minority women who have limited resources to family planning and contraceptives. These clinics use misleading advertisements to delay, persuade, and intimidate women from receiving the health care they need. Many of these clinics are affiliated with anti-choice organizations and do not perform abortions or give referrals to clinics that do. What's even more ridiculous is the fact that many of these "clinics" do not have staff that are medically trained-lacking licensed doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners.

The Feminist Majority Foundation has been a part of a large movement to stop CPCs from providing false and misleading information. Our Choices Campus Leadership Program has organized and mobilized with students all over the country to expose fake clinics and promote truth in advertising. This is a victory and stride towards reproductive rights.

If you want to expose fake clinics and give people access to comprehensive health care, please join the Campaign to Expose Fake Clinics and get involved in FMF's National "Don't Be Fooled by Fake Clinics" Week of Action happening the week leading up to April Fool's Day from March 28th- April 1st!

Some other ideas to take action on exposing CPCs:
Most importantly, educate yourself on the issue and make sure that those around you know that the presence of these fake clinics pose serious risks and should not be relied on as primary healthcare. The best thing you can do as an activist is to be VOCAL on the issue and don't be afraid to get LOUD about it!

photo credit to: