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The National Women's Political Caucus of Washington State is a grassroots, multi-partisan, volunteer-run, membership organization dedicated to increasing women's participation in the political process and getting more feminist women elected and appointed in Washington State. The NWPC is a national organization that was founded in 1971 and has chapters in 20+ states.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Honoring the 2011 Campaign Heroines

Every year, many women across Washington state work hard to ensure that women win campaigns and are represented equally in political leadership roles. They make phone calls; they go door-to-door; they manage assets; they provide the support and important encouragement. These women are the backbone of so many successful campaigns, but oftentimes remain behind the scenes – the unsung heroines. On Sunday, December 11th, they were honored at the Heroines of 2011 Award Ceremony, a reception hosted by the National Women's Political Caucus of Washington.

The National Women's Political Caucus of Washington is a multi-partisan grassroots membership organization dedicated to engaging women in the political process and increasing the number of women in elected and appointed office at all levels of government. Its mission is to identify, mentor, educate and support women leaders in the community who demonstrate a commitment to Women's Economic and Social Equality and Reproductive Freedom. 

In the weeks before the event, women nominated an outstanding "heroine" a woman who was indispensable to their campaign - to be publicly honored by the NWPC. The event featured about 20 strong and hard-working women, each leaders in their own right and each furthering the values of the NWPC in their own way. Despite being from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, the Campaign Heroines all shared an unwavering dedication not only to the campaigns they served on, but also to the women candidates themselves. While technical management and assistance was undoubtedly recognized, nearly every woman spoke of the emotional support and friendship their Campaign Heroines provided to them over the course of the campaign. For instance, in honoring the Honorable Val Ogden, Representative Sharon Wylie of the 49th legislative district in Clark County, commented that “Val’s support, friendship and faith in me inspire me to be the best public servant I can be”; and candidate Linda Barnfather thanked her heroine, whom she referred to as “the extraordinary Nancy Biery” and said “she's a leader, a friend, and I am happy that she chose me and my race.” 

Many fought against formidable opponents - anti-choice incumbents, male conservatives with financial backing - and won. While their victories are enormous, the contributions of the Heroines who made it happen are equally significant. 

When positions from school boards to representative seats are occupied by a disproportionate number of male politicians, it is imperative to step up and equalize the playing field. As freelance writer and Campaign Heroine Joan Cronk says, "After so many years, I am tired of my gender being poorly represented in my government." 

“This is our favorite event of the year”, said event co-chair, Sharon Paige. “The stories that candidates tell when honoring their Heroines are so inspirational, we are pleased to be able to provide this well-deserved recognition to women who are making a difference!”. 

Each campaign Heroine received a certificate with the words of their nominator, a wine glass commemorating the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in Washington, and a one-year membership in the NWPC.

Posted by NWPC-WA Guest Blogger, Juliya Ziskina

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Smart Women Salon: The Women of the Washington State Supreme Court

Justice Fairhurst, Chief Justice Madsen,
Justice Stephens

On Wednesday, June 1, 2011, NWPC-WA hosted a Smart Women Salon in collaboration with Washington Women Lawyers that featured a panel discussion with the women of the Washington State Supreme Court: Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, Justice Susan Owens, Justice Mary Fairhurst, and Justice Debra Stevens. The panel was moderated by King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu and was the largest Salon yet, with nearly 60 women in attendance!
The Justices answered questions ranging from how a woman’s presence on the Court changes how it functions, to what advice they had for younger women entering politics.
Chief Justice Madsen commented that she didn’t think that ordinarily, women’s presence has an impact on the Court’s decisions; however, she said there have been cases when the women judges have held an opinion opposite the male judges.  An example was a case when a domestic violence issue was before the court and the male men didn’t view it as domestic violence, while the women did.  The women on the court found themselves explaining to the men that the incident - in this case, where a man pushed his spouse to the ground, was in fact domestic violence and needed to be treated as such. However, cases like that are not the norm on the court and the biggest influence women have on the court is in setting the agenda.
Justice Fairhurst emphasized that the court needs to focus on diversity in gender, but also ethnicity, age, and other criteria.
In 2003, the Court had a female majority. The Justices noted that women, being used to male majorities in professions such as law, think nothing of it, but when men saw the women sitting or conversing together, they immediately saw it as a conspiracy. The women learned that there are still struggles for women in the working world.
Finally, the Justices gave their advice to the women in the room. Justice Owens said that when one runs for election, they need to be prepared to find out that someone they think supports them, doesn’t. She said, “Some people will vote for you because you’re the incumbent and some people will vote for you because they like you. Some people won’t vote for you because you’re the incumbent, and some people won’t vote for you because they don’t like you.” 
The other Justices said that a candidate needs to know and be able to articulate why she wants the position she is running for, what she can bring to the job, and why she is passionate about it. In addition, young women specifically need to remember that they can balance a family and a career, and that it is possible, often necessary, to do both.  The biggest piece of advice they gave to women was to not forget where, as women, we have come from and the struggles we have faced. Be grateful, reach out, and believe you can make a difference.
At the end of the event, Justice Fairhurst took a point of privilege to ask the women in the room to believe in miracles.  She was recently diagnosed with stage four terminal cancer and distributed purple wrist bands to the attendees with “Believe in Miracles” inscribed on them. Justice Fairhurst said that, in addition to hoping for a miracle for her cancer, she was also hoping for world peace. “Might as well dream big,” she said.
Guest Blogger, NWPC Intern, Anita Yandle

Friday, May 20, 2011

Political Strategists Share Info About Women in Politics in WA

Earlier this month the members of the NWPC-WA’s May Hutton Society were treated to an intimate discussion on women in politics with three top political consultants/strategists: Cathy Allen, principal of the Connections Group who works with women candidates around the world; AlisonPeters, pollster who works with candidates to develop research-based messaging, principal of Alison Peters Consulting; and Erin McCallum, President of Enterprise Washington, a non-partisan statewide organization that recruits, trains and helps elect business minded individuals.
Joining us for the conversation were Rep. Laurie Jinkins, Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark, past Rep. Laura Ruderman, and past candidate for the House, Marcee Stone.
Here is some of the great information our presenters shared:

An Interview on Women's Leadership with Rep. Ruth Kagi

This interview with Ruth Kagi, State Representative in the 32nd District in Shoreline, was conducted by Guest Blogger, Tarja Kallinen.

Q) When was the first time you were in a leadership role?

A: I worked 15 years for US Dept. of Labor and helped start a new regional office for the Employment and Training Administration. Later I chaired the Washington Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. I also worked on the King County Commission on Children and Youth. When I first ran for office I was terrified about standing before people. I was a policy nerd, not used to being in front of large crowds. Experience has changed all that. What I discovered was that it was important to learn from your mistakes.

Q) Can you think of a turning point or a ‘defining moment’ in your life that describes your values as a leader?

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Other Side of the Notebook

By Guest Blogger, Jean Godden
I am among a number of women journalists who have exchanged their press cards for a nametag that reads: “the Honorable.” It’s a modest trend – journalists as politicians. But, frankly, it’s not all that surprising women journalists would aspire to office.
I want to salute three other women journalists who joined local City Councils in the recent past: Stacy Goodman, a longtime reporter for the Issaquah Press, recently became an Issaquah City Council member, beating more than a dozen other topnotch applicants for the job. The opening happened when Maureen McCarry had to resign her seat due to a terrible illness. Jane Meyer Brahm, a longtime reporter for the Mercer Island Reporter, won the appointment contest for the open seat left by Steve Litzow’s election to the State Senate. And, my own Seattle City Council colleague, Sally J. Clark, got her start as a print journalist reporting and editing for many of our local and regional newspapers.
I am hardly alone when it comes to women journalists serving in public office: the lines between journalism and public service are actually quite close.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Limited Service Pregnancy Centers: Unapologetically Selling Women Lies and Deception

Posted by: Antoinette Bonsignore

This is a battle between “darkness and light,” said Anne Lotierzo, the Executive Director of a crisis pregnancy center located in Fort Pierce, Florida. 

Wednesday night NARAL Pro-Choice WA Foundation presented the remarkable documentary 12th & Delaware at the Central Cinema in Seattle.  The Seattle showing was the first stop of a nationwide tour that NARAL Pro-Choice America has organized around the country.  The documentary takes an in depth and up close look at the deceptive practices used by so-called crisis pregnancy centers or Limited Service Pregnancy Centers (LSPCs).  The documentarians spent one year observing the practices of an LSPC in Fort Pierce, Florida. They also documented how that LSPC’s presence has impacted the abortion clinic located right across the street.  You can find more information about this documentary and the co-directors, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, here.

Wednesday’s presentation was followed by a panel discussion that included presentations from representatives for NARAL Pro-Choice WA, Legal Voice, a woman that visited an LSPC in Tacoma, and a Seattle ob-gyn.  Washington State would be the first state in the nation to hold these LSPCs accountable to the women that seek out their services.  The NWPC-WA has endorsed the Limited Service Pregnancy Center Accountability Act.  

Friday, February 25, 2011

Keeping Seattle’s Working Moms Healthy and Safe: Seattle’s Paid Sick Days Campaign

Posted by: Antoinette Bonsignore

Is Seattle ready for a paid sick days law?  In Seattle 42% of the workforce has no paid sick leave.  Far more alarming is the fact that in Seattle, 78% of restaurant workers, 55% of retail workers, and 29% of health care workers do not have paid sick leave.  The increased likelihood of spreading contagious diseases is something workers and employers should be very concerned with.  Rising health care costs combined with a sickened workforce is bad business for all employers. 

Paid sick days benefits would create a healthier and more secure Seattle workforce.  It would ensure that workers could stay home when they are sick without losing a day’s pay.  When sick workers are forced to go to work they not only increase their own healthcare care expenses but those of their coworkers.  Sick workers cost employers productivity and spread disease.  For workers in the services industry, like restaurant workers and grocery store cashiers, they risk making the public sick as well.  In Washington State most workers in the food service industry or those working directly with the public have no access to paid sick leave. 

The workforce segregation resulting in women working mostly in health care services, child care, and retail in Washington means that women take the brunt of the consequences of having no access to paid sick leave.  The lack of paid sick leave is particularly troubling for working mothers.  When working mothers cannot afford to take a day off to care for a sick child that child is oftentimes forced to go to school, spreading disease to other children and teachers. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Media and Sexual Assault Victims: Blame and Hate Flood the Conversation about CBS’s Lara Logan

Posted by: Antoinette Bonsignore

It did not take long for yesterday’s shocking news that CBS News correspondent Lara Logan was sexually assaulted last Friday amid the celebrations in Egypt’s Tahrir Square to invite hate filled commentary.  Bloggers and people posting comments on the internet vacillated between either victim blaming or ramping up the already vile Muslim bashing throughout the media.  A good deal of the victim blaming has been coming from female bloggers focusing in on her blond hair and good looks; but also from respected journalistsJournalist Nir Rosen has since resigned as a fellow from NYU’s Center on Law and Security amid backlash for his sickening comments; he went so far as to tweet “I’m rolling my eyes at all the attention she’ll get…”  This kind of victim bashing is particularly shocking coming from other women in the media. 

Instead of discussing the dangers that female journalists experience overseas, many have also resorted to the predictable suggestions that all Muslim men are savages and rapistsNPR was so inundated with such hateful posts from readers, either blaming Logan for daring to do her job or suggesting this crime was proof positive that Egyptians are evil and undeserving of democracy, that they were forced to remove posts from their website. 

Thankfully, at the Daily Beast, Ursula Lindsey instead chose to speak about the unique dangers female journalists face in foreign countries; even recounting her personal experience of being a near victim of sexual assault while reporting from Egypt in 2004. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

The GOP's Ongoing War on America's Women and Children: Demonizing Women's Choices

Posted by: Antoinette Bonsignore

The sponsors of “The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (H.R.3) do not seek to codify the existing the Hyde Amendment to prevent federal funding of abortions – there is no federal funding of abortions in the U.S.  The sponsors of H.R.3 seek to go far beyond the Hyde Amendment to prevent all women from obtaining abortion services.  In 1976 the Hyde Amendment created a two tier system that discriminates against poor women seeking abortions.  But now H.R.3 would increase taxes on people and small businesses by specifically targeting private health insurance plans that cover abortion.  More than 80% of health insurance plans cover abortion and those plans would become ineligible for government reimbursements for health care costs.  It will raise taxes on anyone with private insurance that covers abortion regardless of whether you use the abortion coverage in your plan or not.  The inevitable consequence will be that insurance companies will stop covering abortion services. 

According to a Guttmacher Institute study “…87% of typical employer-based insurance policies in 2002 covered medically necessary or appropriate abortions.”

H.R.3 would effectively ban abortion coverage in the new health insurance exchanges that will be created under the Affordable Care Act in 2014. 

·         Denying tax credits to employers or other entities that pay for health plans that cover abortion
·         Denying tax credits to individuals or entities that pay for abortion care
·         Disallowing medical deductions for payments for any health plan that includes abortion coverage or for any medical expenses related to abortion care
·         Treating as income any amounts paid for an abortion from a tax-preferred trust or account, such as a health savings account

Yet the GOP’s war on women goes well beyond H.R.3. 

Status of Women in the WA State Legislature

With the late loss of Rep. Dawn Morrell in the 25th legislative district the results of the 2010 election are final and while women did not fare as badly as we had initially feared, the outcome is not a trend we want to see continue.

In the House we will have a net gain of one woman, and in the Senate a net loss of two women for a total loss of one woman. Women now make up just  31.97% of our Legislature.

Some painful losses in 2010:
  • Loss of our only native American woman in the Legislature, Sen. Claudia Kauffman
  • Loss of our only African American woman in the Legislature, Rosa Franklin (retired)
  • Loss of Rep. Lynn Kessler as Majority Leader (retired), and the loss of Rep. Dawn Morrell as Caucus Chair
Some Bright Spots:
  • We gained our first open lesbian in the Legislature with Rep. Laurie Jinkins in the 27th LD
  • We gained another woman in our congressional delegation with Jaime Herrera, though Herrera is not pro-choice and wasn't endorsed by the Caucus
  • Washington is ranked 6th in the nation for women in our state legislature
We must stay vigilant in our efforts to identify opportunities for women to run and to make sure we have a great pipeline of women who are ready!

Friday, February 4, 2011

WA State Attorney General Rob McKenna Declares the Proposed Limited Service Pregnancy Center Accountability Act Unconstitutional

Breaking News: House Republicans Decide That No Really Does Mean No

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

An in-depth look at the Limited Service Pregnancy Center Accountability Act

Friday, January 21, 2011

Blog for Choice Day 2011

Blog for Choice Day 2011

The Legal Discrimination Against Low-Income Women That Refuses to Go Away

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How Will This Year’s Legislative Session Impact the Women of Washington State?

The 2011 Washington State Legislative Session Has Begun
How Will This Year’s Legislative Session Impact the Women of Washington State?

Posted By: Antoinette Bonsignore

This past Sunday, January 9th, the Caucus held its annual meeting.  We were honored to have Janet Chung, Legal & Legislative Counsel for Legal Voice, as our distinguished guest speaker.  She delivered an eye-opening presentation outlining the 2011 legislative agenda and its potential impact on women.  The most pressing issue affecting our state is the impact of the severe budget deficit on vulnerable constituencies and programs, such as domestic violence victims and at-risk youth.  The $4.6 billion deficit facing the Legislature for the next two years will have inevitable consequences for the most vulnerable in Washington State. 

Legal Voice is pushing full steam ahead with an ambitious legislative and legal advocacy agenda.  Some of the issues Legal Voice will be addressing include:

·         Reproductive Rights: Legal Voice will be joining forces with NARAL, Planned Parenthood, NOW, NAPAWF, and others to enact legislation to warn women about the deceptive practice of so called Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC) or Limited Service Pregnancy Centers.  The NWPC-WA has endorsed the CPC legislation as well.  Legal Voice hopes the legislation will protect women by requiring CPCs to provide accurate information about who they are and what services they provide and more importantly, what services they will not provide to pregnant women.  This legislative initiative would require CPCs to: (1) disclose that they do not provide service or referrals for abortion or birth control, and do not provide medical care for pregnant women; (2) protect the privacy of health care information they collect; and (3) require that they provide pregnancy test results immediately. 

·         Violence against Women: Legal Voice wants to enact specific guidelines for when permanent protection orders for domestic violence victims can be modified or terminated.  Another issue likely to crop up is legislation that would protect rape victims from being questioned by their rapists in court proceedings when these defendants choose to act as their own attorneys in criminal proceedings.

·         LGBT Rights: Extending the same protections provided to married couples and procedures for determining parentage through the Uniform Parentage Act to domestic partners.

·         Surrogacy Protections: Ensuring that proposed legislation that would legalize paid surrogacy would provide surrogates with legal protections from civil actions infringing on a surrogate’s personal freedoms and lifestyle choices during pregnancy.

·         Economic Justice: Cut backs on benefits for needy families and unemployment insurance will be critical issues facing Washington families for the next two years.  Legal Voice will continue working to protect broader “good cause” reasons to leave a job that will give workers access to unemployment insurance benefits and in this session, to expand benefits for dependents.  These efforts will be challenging with the current budget deficit looming over the legislative agenda.  Reforming Washington foreclosure laws, to require mediation between lenders and borrowers is another urgent issue that will have a critical impact on Washington women.