Kay Smith, Director for Public Policy, and Pat DeWitt have put together some materials for branches to use in raising awareness of Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, August 13. As Mary Gatta’s research has shown, Black women in Florida are concentrated in occupations where they are on the front lines of the pandemic, and yet they are economically insecure. These circumstances present us with the opportunity to raise awareness of the need for a higher minimum wage and paid sick leave for all workers.
These materials include suggested letters to newspapers and other outlets, as well as infographics for use in social media. In addition, you may wish to forward Mary Gatta’s report or its executive summary to your local decision-makers with a note about Black Women’s Equal Pay Day.
Did you think all the battles for women’s influence on government happened in the past? Did you think the tactics of the suffragists aren’t relevant today? If any such thoughts have crossed your mind, please continue to read.
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, Kimble Medley, Florida Women’s Vote Centennial chair, has dedicated herself to uncovering the history of suffragists in Florida and in particular in Flagler County. She challenges us not only to discover the history of suffragists in our own area, but to follow their example of rational argumentation, fearless advocacy, cultivation of intelligence, and tenacity. We have many tools for our advocacy that were not available to the suffragists, and yet they prevailed.
View Kimble’s complete presentation on Vimeo . Then use the following bibliography, keyed to the presentation, to learn more.
Hewitt, Nancy. “Varieties of Women’s Suffrage”. Florida Humanities Council. Vol. XVIII, No. 3, Winter 1995/1996. p. 22-27.
In this time of national crisis, AAUW National has taken a strong stand against systemic racism, and AAUW Florida has followed suit (see below). As AAUW, we call for justice and equity for all. But our primary and special mission is equity for women and girls. Amid the concern for so many Black men unjustly killed, we need to remember that economic security for women of color will benefit everyone in their communities.
We know that economic insecurity leads to poorer health outcomes and consequently a greater susceptibility to diseases, not limited to COVID-19. Economic insecurity adds significantly to the stress level of Black women, who are already stressed by the social situation and the coronavirus pandemic. It has also been shown that stress itself contributes to poor health outcomes.
Working black women were the topic of Dr. Mary Gatta’s most recent report: Working Black Women in Florida and Economic Insecurity: A Story of Gender and Racial Inequality. She found that “Black women experience the highest levels of economic insecurity in Florida, relative to other race/sex groups. In the state, 61% of all Black workers are economically insecure. And among Black workers in Florida, 66% of all Black women and half of Black full-time working women do not earn enough to reach economic security for their family type.”
We need to consider how we can most effectively promote the policy recommendations from this report:
Address gender and race inequities in the Florida labor market including the gender/race pay gap and occupational segregation.
Invest in leadership programs for girls and women to enter gender and race nontraditional careers.
Increase opportunities for professional development and awareness of gender and race bias in education and careers.
Raise the minimum wage and subminimum tipped wage in Florida.
Address childcare barriers that impact mothers’ labor market participation
Provide paid leave and paid sick days to all Florida workers.
Address and remedy sex, gender and race-based harassment in occupations.
Provide financial planning for Florida girls and women.
AAUW Florida joins the country in mourning the recent losses of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, as well as the many earlier losses that have included Floridians like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. These and countless other people of color have been unjustly killed across our nation because of systemic racism and persistent attitudes that Black and Brown communities are less deserving of basic human and civil rights.
These deaths reflect deeply ingrained, long-standing divisions in our society. And they come at a time when the pandemic has given rise to hate around the world, with rampant acts of violence across the nation, and the spread of misinformation, racial stereotyping and fear.
As an organization, we feel compelled to condemn injustice and discrimination and to reaffirm our commitment to live by our values and cultivate an organization that makes equality, diversity and openness priorities – an organization that sets an example for the greater community.
Therefore, we pledge to advocate for racial equality; petition our policy makers to focus on the range of actions needed to respond directly to race and gender biases; and support our National organization’s efforts in advancing policies and systemic changes that address public safety, effective community policing, and racial and economic oppression.
Signed:Patricia Ross, President, AAUW Florida, Kayester Lee-Smith, Director for Public Policy, Patricia DeWitt, President-Elect
AAUW’s voice is traditionally more thoughtful and reasoned than is advocated by many of the more recently established women’s organizations, and I see that as a good thing. However, we cannot sit on the sidelines when momentous questions are in play. The confirmation of a Supreme Court justice for life certainly qualifies as momentous.
I understand that some AAUW members do not understand the strength of AAUW’s opposition to Kavanaugh, and believe we should listen to what he says. Without claiming that he was not sincere during the hearings, I would like to call your attention to national AAUW’s documentation of what he has done on the bench. These actions speak louder than words. Here is an excerpt from a letter by AAUW’s Deborah J. Vagins, Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Research:
After careful review of Judge Kavanaugh’s available record, including his record on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, his known speeches and writings over his legal career, and his responses to questions during his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, I am concerned that he will do grave harm by undermining positions central to AAUW’s mission, including upending employment and labor rights, curtailing reproductive rights and access to health care, entangling public education and religion, and restricting voting rights.
I also understand that some may have doubts about the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him. I do respect AAUW members for being fair-minded. But here’s what I think:
Trump has tweeted that if anything actually occurred, charges would have been filed at the time. This shows a disdain for the well-established fact that women find it very difficult to file such charges and often take years to muster the courage to come forward. Since Dr. Ford came forward, she has received death threats and has felt it necessary to relocate her family. And that’s after #metoo! Imagine how hard it would have been to take the risk of filing charges in the 1980s!
The allegations were not dreamed up or fabricated to derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Dr. Ford revealed the assault to her therapist in 2012. She had no reason to defame Kavanaugh at that time.
Kavanaugh was only in high school when the alleged assault occurred. True. I have a son, with whom I had my own talk about respecting women’s bodily integrity. If he had gotten drunk, lost his better judgment, and had done something like this, I would expect him to confess and seek forgiveness. Kavanaugh did nothing of the kind and still denies the event and shows neither contrition nor regret. Could he have been so blind drunk as to erase his memory and still have done what he is alleged to have done?
Kavanaugh does not face criminal charges because of the statute of limitations. If the Senate does not confirm him, his career will not be over. Don’t feel sorry for him. The administration should be able to do better than this.
Now, if after careful thought you agree with me, call the Florida Senators as I just did. Be sure to mention where you live and what you want them to do (oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation, have the FBI investigate Dr. Ford’s claims, etc.):