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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.

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