Disparities & Access

Many of the health challenges faced by women are a result of insufficient access to basic prevention information, health services and insurance coverage. In the pharmaceutical and health industries, the gender dimensions of diseases and treatments are often overlooked in setting research priorities and developing new products. The availability and quality of health care may vary according to race, income, ability, geographic location or immigration status. In the U.S., finding affordable health insurance is particularly challenging for women, who often pay higher premiums than men. Many insurance companies fail to cover or provide adequate maternity care or essential reproductive health services. Additionally, women experience more part-time and interrupted jobs and careers due to caregiving and family responsibilities and require portable health plans that provide stable coverage.

Women Leaders Across Sectors on Social Justice and Change

March 3, 2009 posted by Deborah Siegel I’m sitting in a very crowded auditorium at 3 World Financial Center, home of American Express, and the sun is pouring in on one of the coldest days of the year. We’re about to be warmed by the annual panel that takes place the afternoon of the National Council for Research on Women’s evening-time gala, the Making a Difference for Women Awards. This year’s panel, “An Immodest Proposal: Advancing a New Era of Social Justice” (kudos on the title, NCRW!) features Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center Marcia Greenberger, Chancellor and President of Syracuse University Nancy Cantor, Accenture / Microsoft / PepsiCo Director Dina Dublon, and Columbia University law professor and Nation columnist Patricia Williams. The Takeaway co-host Adaora Udoji, whose voice I wake up to each morning, will be moderating. There is nothing modest about this crowd of female movers and shakers from corporate, academic, and nonprofit spheres. The NCRW staff—of which I used to be part—has clearly done an excellent job spreading word. It’s a dazzling lineup. Let the conversation begin! Adaora: First question is for Nancy. What can you tell us about advancing a new era of social justice in education? Nancy: The idea of the ivory tower as a monastic place is breaking down. What that means is we have no understanding of the groups we’re leaving behind. How do we level the playing field of education? If we don’t find ways to strengthen our connections to our communities, cities, rural areas, and bring in the population, we’re going to be stagnant. Adaora: Are we seeing that 50% female leadership in education yet? Nancy: No, not at all. What we are seeing at all levels is girls falling off the map as we go up. Adaora: Why is that?


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ECONOMIC STIMULUS FORUM: Center for American Progress’ Heather Boushey—Let’s Get People Back to Work!

February 27, 2009 posted by admin The best thing we can do for women and their families is to get people back to work. We’ve seen 3.6 million jobs disappear over the past year and millions more have seen their hours cut back. The recession is turning out to be deeper and more protracted than many had predicted even a few months ago. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was a down payment on creating jobs in the months to come and laying the foundation for long-term economic growth. The Council of Economic Advisors estimates that the recovery package will save or create 3.5 million jobs and that about four in ten of these jobs will go to women workers. In particular, the recovery package will help states avoid some cutbacks, which takes some women’s jobs out of jeopardy since women make up the majority of state and local government workers. But, most importantly, the recovery package will get the economy back on track, which benefits all kinds of families. The recession – so far – is leading to higher unemployment among men than women: as of December 2008, the latest data available by gender, men account for four out of every five jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007. This means that in millions of U.S. households, it is a woman who is supporting the family. This means that families will have to rely increasingly on women’s earnings, which are typically lower than men’s and are less likely to come with health insurance. Now is the time to insist that every woman earns a fair day’s pay. 


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ECONOMIC STIMULUS FORUM: The Bitter with the Sweet

February 25, 2009 posted by admin Overall, the economic stimulus plan that Congress passed and President Obama signed is a strong package.  We fervently hope it will provide the help that struggling families urgently need, and begin putting the nation on the road to lasting economy recovery.  We’ve never needed that more. There were victories, large and small, for those of us working for equal opportunity, 21st Century benefits, and quality, affordable health care.  The relief for working families and the expansion of unemployment benefits are significant, as is the lower threshold for the child tax credit and increased funding for child care. Not as well known, but extremely important, is the health information technology (HIT) provisions that we fought to maintain.  They withstood an attack from pharmaceutical manufacturers, health plans and drug store chains intent on putting profits ahead of privacy.  With protections against inappropriate disclosures of health information, electronic medical records can do a tremendous amount to reduce medical errors, coordinate and streamline care, and reduce costs.  This was a real step forward.


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ECONOMIC STIMULUS FORUM: A Great Start-- But Low-Income Women and Families Need Economic Security

February 25, 2009 posted by admin From Legal Momentum’s perspective, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will do a great deal of good for women and families in the crisis. While we applaud a number of provisions in the bill, we are very concerned that yet more must be done to guarantee that women, and low-income women in particular, have access to good jobs on the one hand, and on the other, that our national safety net is strong enough to protect those who find themselves out of work and out of resources. In terms of jobs, women can take some comfort in ARRA’s provisions to shore up jobs in the traditionally women-dominated fields of health care, child care and education. However, many of the women employed in these industries are barely scraping by in low-wage jobs as home health care and child care providers. While these jobs offer a paycheck, they do not translate into economic security. Like the millions of other women who comprise the majority of the nation’s low-wage workforce, these women need access to jobs that will raise them out of poverty and offer a path to stability and prosperity.


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GIRLS FORUM: Round-Up

February 13, 2009 posted by Linda Basch Last week we reached out to advocates and scholars working on issues affecting girls’ lives to submit their Girls Agenda 2009: More funding for teen dating violence prevention? More attention paid to the international trafficking of girls? New programs to promote the health, safety, and well-being of future women?  Effective, comprehensive sex education in our schools? The responses we received were dynamic, fresh, and exciting.  Deborah Tolman, Professor of Social Welfare, Hunter College School of Social Work, suggested that in order to enhance girls’ resiliency, we must do more than reduce risk—we must provide encouragement so that they may live their lives in the positive.  Lyn Mikel Brown, author of Girlfighting, offered an insightful critique of the “mean girl” phenomenon and recommended a strength-based approach: “We affirm girls’ relational and political strengths by giving them reason to believe they can count on one another and work together to solve social problems.”  Allison Kimmich, Executive Director of the National Women’s Study Association, drew on Obama’s role as both father and policymaker, nudging him to make policy decisions in the same manner he parents.


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THE GLOBAL TRACK: India--Land of Malls and Ragpickers

February 11, 2009 posted by Shyama Venkateswar

 
 

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="298" caption="Photograph: Deshakalyan Chowdhury"]Photograph: Deshakalyan Chowdhury[/caption]

I was recently in Calcutta, India, my place of birth, home to where my mother, a sibling, old friends, and sweet memories still reside. This is my other “home” where I try to get to every year to renew and regenerate myself, and recharge from the stresses of a running a two working parents’ nuclear household in frenetic New York City. My trip last month came after a two year gap; I felt the familiar overwhelming desire to be there, to be a part of the sights and sounds of an India that were at once familiar and yet distant to me. Having left almost 23 years ago to move to the US, I have a unique insider-outsider vantage point. I was born and brought up there; I know things instinctively – all the cultural puzzles, contradictions, nuances of language, wordplay and verbal cues, body language, subtle things - that only a native-born can ever know. But, having been away long enough, and trained in and working in a field where critical inquiry is required, I can no longer accept without questioning the status and daily conditions of millions of people living in absolute poverty, what Collier refers to as The Bottom Billion. Even as India’s economy grows steadily at about 8% a year, there are entire communities of people, some 300 million of them, who live under a $1 a day without regular access to food, water, housing, livelihoods, reproductive healthcare or education. Malnutrition in children under five is at a staggering 45%.

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GIRLS FORUM: Young Obama Campaign Worker Wants Equal Opportunities to Pursue Her Dreams

Februrary 5, 2009 posted by admin Dear President Obama, I was one of the “super volunteers” for the Duluth, MN area throughout your campaign. I’ve always been interested in history, culture and politics, and I had the opportunity to attend JrNYLC (Junior National Young Leaders Conference) in Washington, DC. Working on your campaign was one of the most memorable experiences of my life! It has already led me to new political experiences because of the people I met campaigning. I recently attended “Camp Wellstone” to learn more about working effectively on political campaigns. One of my supervisors, Drew Sandquist, worked on your inauguration team.


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GIRLS FORUM: Navigating Girlhood to Womanhood from New Moon’s Nancy Gruver

February 5, 2009 posted by admin We asked activists and scholars in the girl’s rights movement to draft a letter to President Obama, outlining their Girls Agenda for 2009.  Here’s what Nancy Gruver, founder and CEO of New Moon Magazine had to say: Dear President Obama: As Malia and Sasha’s proud father I don’t need to tell you how having daughters can give you new eyes on the world.  My daughters, Mavis and Nia, are adults now.  But it feels like just last week that they were ten years old and I was worrying about how to help them navigate the treacherous journey from girlhood to womanhood.  We started New Moon Girls magazine together to give girls a place to express themselves and make the world better. I believe you agree that growing up should mean increasing opportunities as well as responsibilities for our daughters.  It should mean increasing respect and rewards for their intelligence, creativity, and skills.  It should mean they have access to equal education and healthcare, including effective pregnancy prevention.  It should mean they have the freedom to walk down the street or go on a date without worrying they might be attacked just because they are female.


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FAST FACTS: Rights of Transgender Immigrants

January 29, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird FACT: “A growing number of people who have been persecuted for being transgender or transsexual have received asylum in the past few years, under the rubric of persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender… However, neither Citizenship and Immigration Services nor the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has expressly recognized transgender people as “a particular social group” for the purposes of asylum.” I was thrilled to receive an announcement yesterday by the American Immigration Lawyers Association about their newly-released practice manual for lawyers representing transgender clients. 

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Quick Links on the 36th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

January 22, 2009 posted by admin [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="165" caption="2004 March for Women's Lives in DC (photo via NOW)"][/caption] Today marks the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  As we look back to commemorate this historic court decision, we must also look forward to renewing, restoring, and securing reproductive and sexual health for all women.  Gloria Feldt recently reminded us of the importance of recognizing reproductive rights as human rights.  In order to restore reproductive rights, Caryl Rivers at Women’s eNews urges us to start now.


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