Friday, January 28, 2011

Roe v. Wade Weekend Wrap-Up

The East Coast Campus Team had a very eventful week with all of the Roe V. Wade events going on! On Thursday January 20 the Team attended the “We are the Champions Event” hosted by Choice USA, where several pro-choice leaders went “head to head” to discuss reproductive issues facing women today. Among these women were the amazing Amy Richards, Shelby Knox, and Kierra Johnson engaging the packed hall and answering questions. It was a great event to unite the reproductive choice movement and get people involved nation-wide with their live twitter feed displaying quotes and ideas from the speakers and attendees.

On Friday, the campus team attended National Organization for Women’s vigil at the Supreme Court to commemorate the anniversary of Roe V. Wade. Dozens of feminists faired the freezing cold to come out and chant, talk, and celebrate our right to choose abortion. Followed by a wonderful social at the Mott House, advocates had the opportunity to thaw out and enjoy refreshments while they got to know other pro-choice activists.

On Sunday, the Campus Team attended a counter-protest at Germantown Reproductive Health Services where anti-choice groups gathered to have a press conference and a “Prayer Walk.” This walk and conference focused on rallying people to help “kick out” Dr. Carhart, a late-term abortion provider who recently started working in Germantown. Several pro-choice advocates attended this walk to show the community their support for the clinic and Dr. Carhart, including people from FMF, NOW and World Can’t Wait. These advocates marched up and down the sidewalk with signs and chants showing their appreciation and support.

On Monday, we attended the annual “Walk for Life” in Washington, D.C., where thousands of students and anti-choice supporters come to walk and rally against the Roe V. Wade decision. Although the pro-choice crowd was grossly outnumbered, they held their own with their signs and chants showing the crowds that there were supporters for Roe V. Wade and the right to choose. Among them were an inspirational group of local Catholic School students who broke away from their mandatory attendance to the walk to join the pro-choice group with wonderful signs such as “Use Condom Sense.” It was definitely an intense experience with anti-choice advocates surrounding and screaming at the pro-choice group. But we will never forget that we are the majority!

Conference Early Bird Registration Coming Up

It’s that time of year again feminists! The 7th annual National Young Feminist Leadership Conference is coming up fast. It’s happening on March 12th-14th at the George Washington University in our nation’s capital, Washington, DC. There, hundreds of young feminist activists will come together to learn from influential feminist activists, as well as to meet with other young feminists and discuss important women’s issues such as abortion and birth control access, the environment, LGBT rights, and the economy.

The first two days of the conference will be filled with exciting town hall meetings and workshops, including a regional caucus where groups will meet with others in their region to address issues specific to their area of the country. Then on Monday, March 14th, the conference will host a Congressional Visit Day where students will have the opportunity to put their skills into action by speaking with your representatives about the issues that matter to them the most. It’s an opportunity and experience you don’t want to miss!

The end of Early Bird registration is quickly approaching. Register by February 1st to get the discounted rates of $20 for individuals and $15 for groups of 5 or more. After Feb 1st, the registration will be $30 for individuals and $25 for groups. We are also offering a special discount rate of $15 for returning conference members, and attendance is free for all GW students.

In addition, we will be offering prizes for the three largest delegations who recruit the most members to attend the conference. Prizes will include feminist goodies such as “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” tote bags, T-shirts, and more!

So RECRUIT your student groups to meet us in Washington, DC for an unforgettable experience!

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Help Send NV Feminists to Washington DC!

Guest post from Marysa Falk, member of FMF's affiliate group at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Growing up in rural Nevada, with an encouraging mother and an inspiring brother, I always knew I would graduate high school, go to college and have a successful career. To me, the sky was the limit and nothing could hold me back.

It wasn’t until I made it to college where my social and political beliefs changed drastically. I changed my party affiliation from Republican to Democrat when I realized there was a lot more to the American story than what I saw in my small hometown fueled by the mining industry. The more education I received, the more I realized the injustice that exists in America today.

A few weeks into my Women and Politics course in spring 2010, everything finally clicked. It was at that exact moment I realized I’ve always been a feminist; I just needed to accept the word and say it proudly. My passion for women’s rights extends beyond what words can say but I find myself particularly drawn to the lack of female representation in our government and the gender wage gap.

Today, my feminism is a quality I proudly let define me in every way. My friendships with women have grown stronger and more dedicated. My relationships with men have become more equal; I figured out how to be independent and compassionate.

I stumbled upon a link for the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference several months back. I promptly posted a link to my Facebook page calling it a “pipe dream” to attend. I live in Reno, Nevada and the conference is in Washington D.C., an expensive venture for a soon to be college graduate. Two other women, Jazzmine and Misha, with whom I share classes in the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada and a feminist connection, also felt the desire to attend. Ashley, a local Planned Parenthood volunteer and pre-school teacher also signed up.

We know we have to attend the conference and to make it a reality we have to fundraise. We have planned events on campus, requested money from the student government and solicited funding from local politicians and businesses that share our vision. We also formed this website, to spread our message to our family, friends and network of strangers across the world. We want to tell everyone that attending this conference is an educational, networking, career-inspiring dream come true.

As a group, we define feminism as the belief that women deserve social, political and economic equality. We fight for equal pay, more representation in government and business, reproductive rights, medically accurate and age appropriate sex education in our public schools, gay and lesbian rights, affordable, accessible health care and birth control and much more.
This conference will continue to educate us on how to be effective leaders in our careers and community and give us the necessary tools to progress this movement.

Should you feel the desire to assist in our cause we sincerely appreciate your generous support and donation. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Life at Conception Act Introduced in the Senate

News update from newswire:

Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the Life at Conception Act in the Senate yesterday that would establish that human life begins at the moment of conception. If passed, the bill would extend equal protection under 14th article of amendment of the Constitution to unborn fetuses and would reverse Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the US.

At the March for Life, held Monday at the National Mall, Senator Wicker pledged to overturn Roe v. Wade and stated, "We believe Roe v. Wade has led to a three-and-a-half decades-long holocaust in the United States of America."

Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, criticized the bill stating, "This is the latest example of hypocrisy from politicians who said they want less government in our lives yet propose bills like this one that would open the door to more political interference in our personal, private decisions. If this bill resembles past versions, it would ban abortion - even in cases of rape or incest and threatens to outlaw birth control."

How to take your V-Day Events Further

As many of you know February means V-Day! And no, we’re not talking about Valentine’s Day. V-Day is an organization that seeks to raise awareness about violence against women and girls as well as raise money for local beneficiaries that are working to end violence. Many student groups put on “The Vagina Monologues” or host other film screenings to raise money for their local domestic violence and rape crisis centers.

We think it’s amazing to raise awareness about violence against women and sexual assault on campus, and we are here to offer ways to take your V-Day events further. When planning events, think of ways you can change policies on campus to make it safer for the students.

Here are some questions to think about:
  • How safe is your campus? Is there sufficient lighting?
  • Are there emergency blue light towers on campus? Blue lights towers have emergency buttons that will connect you to 911 dispatch.
  • Is there a free 24-hour student escort service?
  • Does your college provide counseling services for survivors? Does your school have at least one full time staff person that works exclusively on sexual violence and education?
  • Is emergency contraception available for rape survivors in school health centers?

If there is something missing on campus, fight for change! Demand more preventative measures and better response systems on campus!

Next, do you know about your sexual assault policy on campus? Is it adequate? Check out the Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) website for “What Makes a Better Sexual Assault Policy”

Things to look for are: student input, accessibility, due process, fairness, clear language, oversight, prevention and education, crisis intervention, accessible and accurate reporting, amnesty, long term counseling, community involvement, and sexual assault response training. Some good examples of comprehensive sexual assault policies are: The College of Holy Cross, Spelman College, Lehigh University, and University of Michigan.

If your sexual assault policy doesn’t make the cut, make sure you take action to change it! Set up meetings with the administration to discuss how to make the SA policies on campus more comprehensive.

Photo courtesy of

This Is What an Organizer Looks Like!

The 2010-11 school has brought some big changes to FMF’s Campus Team, and this January has brought the FMF three new organizers on the East Coast. In September, the West Coast welcomed Myra Duran just a few weeks before I started in the East Coast office. And now, I'm pleased to introduce the latest additions to our team:

Laura Kacere
Laura graduated with honors from the University of Iowa with degrees in Women’s Studies and Anthropology. She was an active member of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance there, serving as president and leading the group in projects related to women and war, the feminization of poverty, women in prison, and exposing fake reproductive health clinics. She has worked for women’s organizations throughout Iowa, including the Women’s Resource and Action Center, Rape Victim Advocacy Program, and the Emma Goldman Women’s Health Clinic. Before joining the FMF, Laura was a service member with AmeriCorps leading support groups for women in prison, as well as providing resources and support for those recently released.

Laura organizes campuses in the Midwest region and can be reached by e-mail at

Sarah Shanks
Sarah Shanks graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in December 2010 with a BS in Marketing as well as a minor in Women's and Gender Studies. She was also a member a Triota, the Women's and Gender Studies honor society. At UNCC Sarah headed the Feminist Union for 3 years, a FMLA affiliate. She became an intern for Feminist Majority Foundation through the Campus Choices Leadership Program in Charlotte to deal with the increasing harassment at local abortion clinics. Her group worked on the Adopt-a-Clinic campaign, and are very involved with clinic defense. She has also volunteered as a mentor for college freshman in a feminist learning community.

Sarah organizes campuses in the Southern region and can be reached by e-mail at

Francesca Witcher
Francesca graduated from Miami University in 2010 with a B.A. in Journalism, Black World Studies, with a minor in Political Science. She worked as an Ambassador for the Miami University Women's Center. While there she was a writer and editor of the semester newsletter titled The Femellectual, planned and coordinated the annual Women of Color Celebration, and organized events around issues concerning domestic violence, body image, and women of color on Miami's campus. In addition, she served in other campus activist organizations such as the Miami University's National Association for the Advancement of Color People (NAACP) as the Membership Chair, where she played an active role in organizing and recruiting students for membership with the chapter.

Francesca organizes campuses in the Mid-Atlantic region & Historically Black Colleges and Universities and can be reached by e-mail at

To learn more about what the Feminist Campus Team can do to help you as community activists and leaders, visit us at or e-mail at

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Step Closer to Regulating CPCs

At the end of last week, two bills were introduced to Washington State Legislature. These bills (Limited Service Pregnancy Center Accountability Act (SB 5274/HB 1366) both aim at regulating Crisis Pregnancy Centers/ Limited Service Pregnancy Centers throughout Washington. This is such an important step because Washington would be the first to have a state-wide ordinance that places several necessary regulations on these deceptive centers. Other cities, such as Austin, TX and Baltimore, MD, have put similar bills into effect but if Washington too passes these bills then hopefully similar legislation will garner more support--because regulating CPC's is way overdue.

CPC's need to be regulated because they go under the guise of a comprehensive women's health center as well as advertising under abortion and family planning services. This deception generally is aimed toward targeting minority women with no health care and very limited options for dealing with an unexpected or undesired pregnancy.

The Washington State bills propose that CPC's disclose that they do not provide abortions, comprehensive birth control, or referrals to other organizations. They would have to list this information on their website, at their main entry, and inside the building of the CPC. Also, they would have to verbally mention this information to anybody seeking their services whether it be in person, through the phone, or via email. With this legislation, Crisis Pregnancy Centers would not be able to disclose any health care information to another person or organization without written approval from the person receiving CPC services. Since CPC's have been known for withholding pregnancy test results until it is too late for an abortion to be preformed, Washington's bill is proposing that CPC's provide the results--written and in both English and the recipient's primary language--as soon as they are available.

As far as a federal legislation, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has proposed the "Stop Deceptive Advertising in Women's Service Act" (SDAWS) which would put similar restrictions and rules on clinics who advertise under services they do not provide. So far, SDAWS has faced several petition to stop the act from going any further and has 11 cosponsers in the House.

We are very excited about this proposed legislation and we'll keep you updated on it's progress!

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One Year Later: The women of Haiti Cherie & an American feminist

For a while there it seemed as if most of the world had forgotten about Haiti (again). This week, by all indications from the news media, the ongoing tragedy has not been completely forgotten. Unfortunately, I can't help but feel discouraged when nearly half of the people I speak to about Haiti are sure that it was a hurricane that occurred last January (?!) or believe that Haiti is an island near Africa.

Immediately following the January 12 earthquake I began searching for volunteer opportunities, but quickly found that without a medical or emergency response background, few organizations were interested in taking advantage of my willingness to help. In May, however, I was finally invited to join an amazing group of nurses and doctors to volunteer at a medical clinic run by the organization Raising Haiti. In total, I have traveled to Haiti 3 times, working twice in a general medical clinic and once in a cholera treatment center. I return in 15 days (but who's counting).

There have been so many issues complicating the situation in Haiti this past year, but given my background as a passionate feminist and advocate for women's health & rights, I can't overlook how these circumstances will always disproportionately effect the women of Haiti. Women head nearly half of all households in Haiti, and face a constant threat of gender based violence (GBV).

Prior to chaos of 2010:
  • An estimated 72% of girls have been raped
  • 40% of women suffer from domestic violence.
  • Contraceptive use is reported at a dismal 13.2% (including condoms)
  • Pregnancy rates among school-age girls is approximately 3% - compare that to the US, which has the highest teen pregnancy rate of industrialized nations at 0.07%
  • Abortion is illegal in Haiti - which leads many women to abandon education, enter into unsafe relationships, or seek risky illegal abortions
  • Maternal mortality rates remain high, estimated at about 0.006% (compared to the US's relatively high rate of 0.00008%)
  • Only approx. 26% of births in Haiti are assisted by a skilled birthing attendant
And this is all prior to the chaos which followed the earthquake which claimed the lives of over 300,000 people, and lead to increased civil unrest as well as a cholera epidemic whose death toll is approximated to be 2-4 times worse than the official reports of 3700.

But the Haitian people are warm, grateful and funny. They persevere in the face of insurmountable odds and great obstacles, always seeking to do what is best for their families, their community and their country. Every Haitian, whether living in Haiti or building a life in the expansive Haitian diaspora, knows the greatness which lies beneath the surface in Haiti. I've fallen in love in Haiti, in so many ways.

From a Campus Organizer who assisted in a impromptu pharmacy and monitored cholera patients:
"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little" - Edmund Burke
[A quote which can be found on the legendary table of the MMRC HQ in Port-au-Prince.]

For more information on the women of Haiti:
We Advance: NGO in Haiti focusing on GBV and women's health
Kay Fanm: "House of Women" Haitian non-profit focusing on health & GBV in Haiti
Ms. Magazine: Please also check related posts for information on rape & GBV. Additionally the Winter 2011 issue of Ms. has a story dedicated to the women of Haiti.
UNFPA: UN Population Fund work on GBV and maternal health

Sources & information

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Will the New Year Bring New Changes?

Happy New Year ya'll!

2010 was a whirlwind of ups and downs! Downs that included the constant attack on reproductive rights, especially abortion, the failure to pass the DREAM Act and the increase in teen suicides amongst LGBTQ youth. With Arizona leading the way on passing the most unequivocally racist pieces of legislation of 2010 with the passage of Arizona’s “Show me Your Papers” law (SB 1070), and the total ban of Ethnic Studies—it makes it hard to recognize and revel in the ups 2010 brought. As dreary and dark as 2010 can be remembered to some, there were still some slight wins in our favor. The passage of the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ ended the long history of discrimination against LGBT military members; as well as the pleasant surprise of mainstream television network MTV airing a special called No Easy Decision that handled the topic of abortion and included medically accurate information about the procedure and the honest discussion about the basics and barriers some women face in accessing it, especially young women.

Hopefully 2011 will reap better days than 2010, but it is hard to say or assume anything with the recent midterm elections shifting the majority in the U.S. House to Republican control for the upcoming years. Now is the best time to get involved in your community and your campus by speaking up, organizing, mobilizing, and being heard on the issues that we cannot compromise!

Some key dates to remember that are an organizer’s dream:

January 22nd: 38th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade
Black History Month & National Condom Month
Women’s History Month
International Women’s Day
3/10: Abortion Provider Appreciation Day
3/12-14: 7th Annual National Young Feminist Leadership Conference in Washington DC
3/24: Back Up Your Birth Control Day
Sexual Assault Awareness Month & National STI Awareness Month
3/28-4/1: “Don’t be Fooled by Fake Clinics” Week of Action
Equal Pay Day
4/15: LGBTQ National Day of Silence
Earth Day & Denim Day
National Women’s Health Care Month
May Day
International Day Against Homophobia

Pride Month

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s make an impact early this year and make 2011 a year full of “ups”!
photo courtesy of: Mark_66it on Flikr