Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Abena Busia

Abena Busia – Writer, Poet & Professor

Professor Abena Busia is the current Chair of the Department of Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey. She is also co-director and co-editor of the groundbreaking Women Writing Africa Project, a multi-volume anthology published by the Feminist Press at the City University of New York. As Professor Busia points out, "History is located in multiple places,” and the anthology is designed to recognize the complex cultural legacy and “cultural production” of African women. Busia has helped edit two volumes of the anthology—Women Writing Africa: West Africa and the Sahel (2005) and Women Writing Africa: Northern Africa (2009).

Read more: http://www.forharriet.com/2015/04/18-phenomenal-african-feminists-to-know.html#ixzz3eN7W3Hil
Follow us: @ForHarriet on Twitter | forharriet on Facebook
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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Theo Sowa

Theo Sowa – CEO of African Women’s Development Fund

Theo Sowa is Chief Executive Officer of the African Women’s Development Fund. She has previously worked as an independent advisor for a wide range of international and social development issues. Her work has covered advocacy, service delivery, evaluation, facilitation, policy, and organizational development with a range of international and intergovernmental organizations and grant-making foundations. 

Follow her work at: http://www.awdf.org/our-work/staff/
Follow her on Twitter: @TheoSowa

Read more: http://www.forharriet.com/2015/04/18-phenomenal-african-feminists-to-know.html#ixzz3eN63BTfT
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Saturday, June 27, 2015

What is African Feminism?

What is African Feminism? Many feminists from around the world have contested the idea of whether modern conceptions of feminism are African or un-African. Indeed, feminism has existed in Africa since the times of Queen Nzinga of what is now Mozambique and Yaa Asantewaa of Ghana. These women have inspired contemporary African feminists, who have contributed significantly to feminism in various ways—whether it be through art, music, writing, policy. They have been committed to bringing the voices of African women into the spaces that they work within, and they are indeed change-makers—not only on the African continent, but also throughout the African Diaspora. As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we must take the time to celebrate the 20 African Feminists you should know.
by Moiyattu Banya Follow her on Twitter: @WcaWorld. 

Read more: http://www.forharriet.com/2015/04/18-phenomenal-african-feminists-to-know.html#ixzz3eNLkunBG 
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

India - Contemporary Practices of Witch-Hunting: Reports on Social Trends and Interface with Law

Partners for Law in Development
Partners for Law in Development (PLD) presents its critical three-state study on witch-hunting in the Indian states of Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhatisgarh, Contemporary Practices of Witch-hunting: A Report on Social Trends and the Interface with Law. This along with its study of the practice in North-Eastern state, Witch-hunting in Assam: Individual, Structural and Legal Dimensions, are based on action research and primary data from the field. These two studies mark the culmination of a longer engagement by PLD with the targeting of women (and men) as 'witches', through literature review and regional consultations across India (see list of publications below). 
The socio-legal studies, which are the first of its kind in India, provide evidence of contemporary social trends of witch-hunting, the continuum of violations connected with it, and their interface with law. The studies draw from a variety of sources: case studies from select blocks in the districts, police records, and High Court and Supreme Court judgments. Using the ethnographic data, the reports bring into focus structural causes that make it possible to rationalize conflicts and losses through witch-hunting.
The findings suggest that that witch-hunting targets middle aged and older, mostly married women, across social groups. Although significantly fewer, there are male victims too. The data shows that the most violent acts, including murder, are one end of a continuum of violence which accompanies witch-hunting. Social stigma and ostracism, temporary or long term dislocation and resultant impoverishment are more common consequences of witch-hunting in the regions of the study. Threads of counter narratives challenge the flat discourse that conflates witch hunting with superstition and also highlight the relevance of structural contexts in which witch hunting occurs, bringing administrative neglect and governance concerns to the fore.  
The studies caution against viewing witch hunting across regions and continents in broad brush strokes, mystifying it by overplaying superstition when in fact, a complex factors are at play. The findings suggest that narratives that 'other' witch hunting, tend to obfuscate rather than enable constructive state intervention and accountability.   
In relation to law and policy, the data and findings speak to the growing trend of enacting special laws at the state level in India. Though the four states where the field work was undertaken have special laws on witch-hunting- these are rarely, if at all, invoked on their own. Rather, action is likely to be taken under the Indian Penal Code when violence escalates. Preventive action is unlikely. Issues of reparative/ rehabilitation components of justice remain missing in the current legal responses including the special laws.  The study thus offers an evidence based critique of current trends in law and policy making in response to incidences of witch-hunting.
Contemporary Practices of Witch-Hunting: Report on Social Trends and the Interface with Law (2014)
Witch-hunting in Assam: Individual, Structural and Legal Dimensions (2014)
Piecing Together Perspectives on Witch Hunting: A Review of Literature (2013)
Targeting of Women as Witches: Trends, Prevalence and the Law (2012)
All four publications are available in a set, and also individually, on order. To place an order, please write to resources@pldindia.org.
Madhu Mehra - Executive Director
Partners for Law in Development
New Delhi, India
Email:   pldindia@gmail.com
Website: http://www.pldindia.org
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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Intimate partner violence and the association with HIV

Over the past decade strong evidence has emerged on the relationship between intimate partner violence and HIV. There is equally strong evidence for and recognition of successful community strategies to prevent intimate partner violence and vulnerability to HIV (16, 29, 30, 57).
In high HIV prevalence settings, women who are exposed to intimate partner violence are 50% more likely to acquire HIV than those who are not exposed (16).
Adolescent girls and young women also have the highest incidence of intimate partner violence (11). In Zimbabwe, for example, the prevalence of intimate partner violence among women aged 15–24 years is 35%, compared with 24% for women aged 25–49 years; and in Gabon, prevalence of intimate partner violence among young women is 42% compared with 28% for older women. In some settings, 45% of adolescent girls report that their first experience of sex was forced, another
known risk factor for HIV (Fig. 4) (17). In addition, girls who marry before age 18 are more likely to experience violence within marriage than girls who marry later (14).
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), globally 120 million girls – 1 in 10 – are raped or sexually attacked by the age of 20 years (15).

11. The gap report. Geneva: Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; 2014
14. Marrying too young: end child marriage. New York: United Nations Population Fund;2012.
15. UNICEF. Hidden in plain sight. A statistical analysis of violence against children. 2014.
16. Jewkes RK, Dunkle K, Nduna M, Shai M. Intimate partner violence, relationship power inequity, and incidence of HIV infection in young women in South Africa: a cohort study. Lancet. 2010;376:41–48.
17. WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women: initial results on prevalence, health outcomes and women’s responses. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2005
29. Raising Voices. SASA! http://raisingvoices.org/sasa/
30. Wagman JA, Gray RH, Campbell JC, Thoma M, Ndyanabo A, Ssekasanvu J, et al. Effectiveness of an integrated intimate partner violence and HIV prevention intervention in Rakai, Uganda: analysis of an intervention in an existing cluster randomised cohort. Lancet Glob Health. 2015;3:e23–e33.
57. Leclerc-Madlala S., Age disparate and intergeneration sex in southern Africa, the dynamics of hyper vulnerability. AIDS 2008, 22 suppl 4: S17-S25

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and keeping mothers alive

Progress to eliminate new HIV infections among children and keeping their mothers alive has been one of the most impressive achievements of the AIDS response to date.

In 2013, for the first time since the 1990s, the number of new HIV infections among children in the 21 Global Plan1 priority countries in sub-Saharan Africa dropped tounder 200 000. This represents a 43% decline in the number of new HIV infections among children in these countries since 2009 (58). 

Despite successes, progress among young women and adolescent mothers has been slow with many challenges. The average adolescent birth rate in Africa is 115 per 1000 girls, more than double the global average of 49 per 1000 girls (6). In western and central Africa, 28% of women aged 20–24 years have reported a birth before the age of 18 years, the highest percentage among developing regions. In Chad, Guinea, Mali, Mozambique and Niger, 1 in 10 girls has a child before the age of 15 years (9). In sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 36 000 women and girls die each year from unsafe abortions, and millions more suffer long-term illness or disability (9).

 Many young women who marry or enter into partnerships early do not have the knowledge or the personal agency that enables them to protect themselves from HIV – for example, they cannot negotiate when to have sex or to use condoms. 

A core strategy to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV is to prevent pregnancy in young women and adolescent girls who do not want to have a child at that time. According to the United Nations Population Fund, 33 million women aged 15–24 years worldwide have an unmet need for contraception, with substantial regional variations. For married girls aged 15–19 years, the figures for an unmet need for contraception range from 8.6% in the Middle East and North Africa to 30.5% (one in three married girls) in western and central Africa (10). Among unmarried sexually active adolescent girls, the unmet need for contraception in sub-Saharan Africa is 46–49%; there are no data for North Africa (10).

 According to 2013 data, in sub-Saharan Africa, only eight male condoms were available per year for each sexually active individual. Among young people, and particularly among young women, condom access and use remain low, despite offering dual protection against HIV and unwanted pregnancy (11). Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 44% of all unsafe abortions among adolescent girls aged 15–19 years in low- and middleincome countries (excluding east Asia) (9).

 Governments in Africa have already made important commitments in this area that can be leveraged. Among the strongest is the 2013 Ministerial Commitment for Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Sexual andReproductive Health and Rights in Eastern and Southern Africa. This commitment includes action to “reduce early and unintended pregnancies among young people by 75%”(12).

 Providing access to comprehensive sexuality education, keeping girls in school and implementing social protection programmes such as cash transfer programmes have all proven effective in reducing new infections among young women and adolescent girls. Stopping child marriage and early pregnancy is also central to success. Across Africa, 41% of girls in western and central Africa, 34% of girls in eastern and southern Africa and 12% of girls in the Arab states are married as children (13). Child marriage has been associated with higher exposure to intimate partner violence and commercial sexual exploitation (13). Child marriage is a form of violence.

1. ECOSOC E/CN.61201513. Review and appraisal of the implementation and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly Report of the Secretary-General. Geneva: United Nations; 2015.
2. No ceilings: the full participation report. New York: Clinton Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; 2015.
3. World development report: gender equality and development. Washington, DC: World Bank; 2012.
4. Women’s Health. Women’s health Fact sheet N°334; World Health Organisation. Updated September 2013; http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs334/en/
5. All in! Towards ending the AIDS epidemic among adolescents. Geneva: UnitedNations Children’s  Fund and Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; 2014.
6. Adolescents: health risks and solutions. Fact sheet 345. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2014 (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs345/en/).
7. Advancing young women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in the context of HIV. Geneva. GCWA. 2014
8. Most-at-risk Populations: Unveiling New Evidence for Accelerating Programming. Kenya. National AIDS & STI Control Programme (NASCOP) 2013.
9. Motherhood in Childhood. Facing the challenges of adolescent pregnancy. New York. UNFPA 2014
10. The power of 1.8 billion. New York: United Nations Population Fund; 2014.
11. The gap report. Geneva: Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; 2014.
12. Young People Today. Time to Act Now. Regional Accountability Framework.
Ministerial Commitment on comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young people in Eastern and Southern African (ESA). 2013
13. Ending child marriage: progress and prospects. New York: United Nations Children’s Fund; 2014 (http://www.unicef.org/media/files/Child_Marriage_Report_7_17_ LR.pdf).
58. UNAIDS 2014 Progress Report on the Global Plan


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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tahmineh Yousefi

Tahmineh Yousefi is young girl that she’s father threw the acid on her at Qazvin on May 5th this year. After this incident, she’s older brother got her to Qazvin Hospital with private car. But she had been transferred to Accidents and Burning Hospital of Tehran because her face, hands and feet have been burning hardly. Unlucky Tahmineh was in hospital for 20 days, and doctors made 4 skin surgeries on her. Tahmineh’s older sister that was while in hospital because her father knife attack a couple years ago and was one of eyewitness of Tahmineh’s event about this terrible crime said: recently my sister got married with young man that she realized, at the engaged time, that her husband is addicted to drugs, my sister was very sad about this, and she was going to separate from him. My parents opposed to it. The couple of days my sister has a quarrel with them. My father knows that my sister sensitivity to her dowry, so for this reason, he started selling Tahmineh’s furnishings. Until May 5th 13o’clock, Tahmieh coming home and she found that my father was sold her carpet. So their struggle intensified and my mother called my youngest brother that is born 1990, to coming home for solving the problem, when my brother arrived home, mugged Tahmieh. My father said to my brother that to get her face to throw the acid on her that he provided it before. On this time, I run away from home because I was scared to hurt me. The victim of acid throwing about the date of event and the adventure after her sister escaping said: at the first, I want to escape but my brother locked the door after my sister running away, and took my face in his hands tightly and then my father threw the acid on my face and my body, then they hanging me with rope and pulled it of two side until I was unconscious of pressure.

The victim continued: after the hours I woke up and went to bathroom because burning pressure and then my father was going to kill me that gave up after my mother insistence. Then my mother called my older brother to bring me to hospital.
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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Closing the Wage Gap Would Significantly Improve Families’ Finances

Women have higher rates of economic insecurity than do men.  In 2013, women were more likely to live in poverty (14.5 percent of women compared to 11.0 percent of men).[24] Women are thus more likely to rely on public benefits like Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), and housing assistance.[25] Bringing women’s earnings in line with men’s earnings would greatly improve the economic situation for women and their families.  An additional $10,876 per year is enough to: 
. . . pay the median cost of rent and utilities for a year with nearly $700 to spare, or the median mortgage payment and utilities for nearly a year months,[26]
Almost 1.4 million properties nationwide defaulted on a mortgage in 2013.[27] Earnings lost due to the wage gap could have made a substantial difference in helping these families stay in their homes.  They could also affect whether a family can afford to pay rent.
. . . or feed a household of four for a year and five months with more than $100 to spare,[28]
The difficult economy has stretched family budgets for basic needs, particularly for households headed by women. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, women were about 61 percent of nonelderly adult recipients and 64 percent of elderly adult recipients. Additionally, more than half (57 percent) of all SNAP households with children were headed by a single adult, 92 percent of whom were women.[29] With the continuing economic crisis, SNAP participation remains high: SNAP served 46.5 million people in 22.7 million households on average each month in FY 2014.[30]
. . . or pay a year and four months of full-time child care costs for a four-year-old with nearly $500 to spare,[31]
Child care expenditures consume a large percentage of families’ earnings, especially those earned by low-income and single mother families.  In Nebraska, the state at the national median for child care costs, providing care for a four-year-old represented 32.3 percent of a single mother’s income and 9.9 percent of a two-parent family’s income.[32]
In 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, families living in poverty who paid for child care spent an average of 30.3 percent of their income on care, and families earning between 100 and 200 percent of the federal poverty line devoted an average of 18.0 percent of their income to care.  Even higher-income families (above 200 percent of the FPL) paying for child care spent 6.3 percent of their income on care.[33] If women took home the earnings lost due to the wage gap, this financial pressure would be partly alleviated.
. . . or pay for two years and five months of family health insurance premiums in an employer-sponsored health insurance program with over $200 to spare.[34]
Women spend a substantial amount of their income on out-of-pocket health costs and health insurance premiums, and they are more likely than men to experience serious financial hardship as a result of medical bills.  In 2010, the most recent year for which these statistics are available, one-third of working-age women spent 10 percent or more of their income on these expenses, and nearly one-third of women who had medical bill or debt problems were unable to pay for basic necessities like food, heat, or rent because of their medical bills.[35] Closing the wage gap would provide essential help for women to pay for their medical expenses.
 . . . or pay for two years and seven months of student loan payments with almost $100 to spare.[36]
Student loan payments can consume a considerable portion of a woman’s earnings, especially in the years immediately following post-secondary education. In 2013, it is estimated that seven in ten college seniors graduated with student loan debt.  The average debt for students with loans was $28,400.[37] Closing the wage gap would enable women to pay down student loan debt much faster.

Every Woman Matters.
Every Dollar Matters.
The Wage Gap Matters.

[24] NWLC, Insecure and Unequal: Poverty and Income Among Women and Families, 2000-2013 (Sept. 2014), available at http://www.nwlc.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/final_2014_nwlc_poverty_report.pdf.  Poverty rates are for people 18 and older.
[25] NWLC, Cutting Programs for Low-Income People Especially Hurts Women and Their Families (Feb. 2015), available at http://www.nwlc.org/resource/cutting-programs-low-income-people-especially-hurts-women-and-their-families.
[26] Supra note 1 – Rent and Utilities. Median housing cost for owners was $929 per month in 2013. 
[27] RealtyTrac®, 1.4 Million U.S. Properties with Foreclosure Filings in 2013 Down 26 Percent to Lowest Annual Total Since 2007 (Jan. 16, 2014), available at http://www.realtytrac.com/content/news-and-opinion/2013-year-end-us-foreclosure-report-7963. Data are from the 2013 Year-End Foreclosure Report.
[28] Supra note 1 – Groceries.
[29] Kelsey Farson Gray, Mathematica Policy Research, Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2013, at xviii  and 50 (Dec. 2014), available athttp://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/ops/Characteristics2013.pdf.
[30] NWLC calculations from USDA, Food and Nutrition Service, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Data (March 6, 2015), available at http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/34SNAPmonthly.htm  (last visited April 10, 2015). 
[31] Supra note 1 – Child Care. 
[32] Id. at Appendix 3. 
[33] U.S. Census Bureau, Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2011, Detailed Tables, Table 6: Average Weekly Child Care Expenditures of Families with Employed Mothers that Make Payments, by Age Groups and Selected Characteristics: Spring 2011 (2013), available athttp://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/sipp/data/tables/2008-panel/2011-....
[34] Supra note 1 – Health Insurance Premiums.
[35] R. Robertson and S.R. Collins, The Commonwealth Fund, Women at Risk: Why Increasing Numbers of Women Are Failing to Get the Health Care They Need and How the Affordable Care Act Will Help (2011),available at http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Publications/Issue-Briefs/2011/May/Women-at-Risk.aspx.
[36] Supra note 1 –Loan Payments.
[37] Id.


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Monday, June 15, 2015

Older Persons Are Subjected to Abuse & Violence Daily

Older Persons Are Subjected to Abuse & Violence Daily, UN Rights Experts Warn

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – 15 June 2015

GENEVA (12 June 2015) – Older persons have rights and must be able to live free from abuse and violence and with dignity and respect, a group of United Nations human rights experts said today, speaking ahead of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which will be marked on Monday 15 June.

“Our ageing populations are still subject to different forms of abuse and violence on a daily basis, even though innovative policies and programs have been adopted by many countries at the national level,” said Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, the Independent Expert mandated by the UN Human Rights to monitor and report on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons in the world.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo highlighted the need to look at these issues from a gender perspective, age being an established contributory factor for risk of violence.

“Older women, due to their age and related physical, social and economic disadvantages are indeed particularly vulnerable to violence”, she said. “But the ways that older women’s rights are abused and the forms of violence affecting them have been so far seriously overlooked and neglected.”

“The array of forms of violence against older women, as well as the fact that this violence frequently occurs at the intersection of different types of discrimination, calls for the adoption of multidimensional strategies to effectively prevent and fight this violence,” Ms. Manjoo added.

Human rights expert Emna Aouij, who currently heads the UN Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice, noted that “violence and abuse against older women stem from multiple forms of discrimination that they may face during their lifetime.”

“Discriminatory laws and practices against women in all spheres of their political, economic, social and family lives fuel violence and abuse and must be repealed,” Ms. Aouij stressed.

The UN Independent Expert on older persons warned that “implementation and enforcement are still inadequate to prevent, criminalize and eliminate such outrageous practices against older persons.”

“It is time for effective action. Urgent action must be taken to put an end to such a pressing and global issue that destroys lives and families in all regions, in developing and developed countries,” Ms. Kornfeld-Matte said, recalling the obligations on all States to eliminate elder abuse, through legislation and comprehensive policies and preventive strategies.

“On this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we call on all Governments and civic society organisations to renew their commitment to fight against all forms of abuse and violence against older persons,” the human rights experts said.

On Monday 15 June, UN human rights specialists and other international experts will gather in Geneva to mark the UN World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The experts will discuss the issue of abuse and violence against older women, in an event co-organized by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights with civil society organizations.

The Independent Experts, Special Rapporteurs, and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Learn more, visit:
Older persons: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/OlderPersons/IE/Pages/IEOlderPersons.aspx
Violence against women: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/SRWomen/Pages/SRWomenIndex.aspx
Discrimination against women: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/WGWomen/Pages/WGWomenIndex.aspx

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Women and their Families Count on Women’s Earnings

Women and their Families Count on Women’s Earnings            
In 2013, women working full time, year round typically had lower earnings than men ($39,157 compared to $50,033).[15] Women’s lower wages hurt women and families who rely on women’s earnings for all or part of their income. 
Lower earnings have a serious impact on the economic security of the more than 7.3 million families headed by working single mothers.[16]
§  Working single mothers with children struggled to make ends meet in 2013. Over a quarter, or more than 2.0 million, of all such families were poor. Almost an additional 2.5 million working single mother families were struggling to make ends meet, falling between 100 and 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), meaning that more than six in ten (61.9 percent) of working single mother families lived below 200 percent of the FPL.[17] In 2013, the FPL for a single mother with two children was just under $18,800.[18]
Most two-parent families depend on women’s wages, and so also suffer when women receive unfair pay.
§  Nearly 1.4 million married couples with children relied exclusively on women’s earnings at some point in 2013, representing 5.6 percent of all married couples with children.[19]
§  In 2013, more than 14.8 million married couples with children relied on both parents’ earnings, representing 59.7 percent of all married couples with children.[20]
The wage gap impacts single women with no children as well, who are also working to support themselves.
§  In 2013, the typical never-married woman with no children working full time, year round was paid 70.0 percent of what a man working full time, year round was paid.[21]
Fair pay impacts married women with no children who are more likely to be solely supporting their family than married women with children.
§  Nearly 4.2 million married couples with no children relied exclusively on women’s earnings at some point in 2013, representing 11.3 percent of all married couples with no children.[22]
§  In 2013, almost 14.6 million married couples with no children relied on both partners’ earnings, representing 39.2 percent of all married couples with no children.[23]

[16] NWLC calculations from CPS, 2014 ASEC, Table POV-15: Families with related children under 18 by householder’s work experience and family structure, available at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032014/pov/pov15_100.htm (last visited Sept. 29, 2014). The term “single mothers” refers to female-headed families with children. Figure includes all individuals with work experience during the year, not just full-time, year-round workers.
[17] Id. Federal poverty line used in these calculations refers to the Census Bureau’s federal poverty thresholds used to calculate poverty levels.
[18] U.S. Census Bureau, CPS, 2014 ASEC, Table POV35: Poverty Thresholds by Size of Family and Number of Related Children, available at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032014/pov/toc.htm (last visited Oct. 8, 2014).  Exact figure is $18,769.
[19] NWLC calculations from U.S. Census Bureau, America’s Families and Living Arrangements Survey: 2014, Table FG1: Married Couple Family Groups, by Family Income, and Labor Force Status of Both Spouses: 2014,available at http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/data/cps2014FG.html  (last visited April 8, 2015).  Family households are used in this figure to be consistent with the statistics on single mothers. Data are from the CPS, 2014 ASEC but are for the year 2013. No children means no own children under 18 present in the household.  There may be older children who could possibly live with these couples.
[20] Id.
[21] NWLC calculations from CPS, 2014 ASEC using CPS Table Creator, available athttp://www.census.gov/cps/data/cpstablecreator.html (last visited Oct. 8, 2014).   Figure is the ratio of median annual person earnings, compared to men regardless of marital status and number of related children under 18 living in the household. No children means no own children under 18 present in the household.  There may be older children who could possibly live with these women.  
[22] Supra note 19. Family groups are used in this figure so these data are not directly comparable to the earlier statistics on single mothers. Data are from the CPS, 2014 ASEC but are for the year 2013. No children means no own children under 18 present in the household.  There may be older children who could possibly live with these couples.  
[23] Id.

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Open Letter to Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari to #BringBackOurGirls

Dear President Muhammadu Buhari,

As feminist, women and girls’ rights, gender and social justice institutions and organizations, we wish to congratulate you on your election and recent inauguration to the highest office in Nigeria. Your election is a testament that your vision was shared by much of the electorate as they hope for a new beginning in Nigeria. We acknowledge that your priorities include ensuring safety and security for your citizens, recalling your words: “I pledge myself and the government to the rule of law, in which none shall be so above the law that they are not subject to its dictates, and none shall be so below it that they are not availed of its protection.” 

We appeal to you today to show your leadership to the world and most importantly to your Nigerian citizens by ensuring that the hundreds of Chibok girls who are still at the mercy of Boko Haram, one year on are immediately rescued and reunited with their families. 

Your Excellency, we acknowledge the Nigerian military has done much to counter Boko Haram presence, as witnessed by the recent liberation of 800 women and girls from Sambisa forest which we celebrate. Yet, we are horrified by reports from Amnesty that since 2014, over 2,000 women and girls have been abducted. We are also extremely concerned about emerging reports indicating that the abducted Chibok girls have been forcibly ‘married’, and are being used as sex slaves, human shields and suicide bombers. The families and communities of the Chibok girls as well as countless others who have witnessed the abduction of their women and girls have lived in trauma and distress each day that their daughters have been away from home, but continue to believe, despite the time that has lapsed, that they will return. 

Now that you have taken office, we urge that you: 

1. Take immediate action to locate and rescue the abducted girls; 

2. Provide psychosocial support services for the survivors, their families and their communities; 

3. Rebuild damaged schools, ensure public spaces are safe spaces and reaffirm the girls' rights to safety, security and education as a process of restoring their dignity; 

4. Prosecute those responsible for the girls' abduction and exploitation and put in place measures to hold military forces accountable for human rights violations; 

5. In consultation with citizens, civil society and women’s rights organizations institute measures and reforms to protect the safety and human rights of women and girls throughout Nigeria, which are further endangered by the volatile political situation in conflict areas; 

6. Guarantee the safety and security of the communities who have been internally displaced, as a result of the ongoing conflict in the region. 

May your tenure be one in which Boko Haram, and any other fundamentalist and extremist groups who wreak havoc, be challenged and overcome by the collective will and commitment to ensure the safety and security of every citizen – a tenure that values the lives of its girls and boys in the North as it does in the South, its rich as its poor, its majority groups as its minority groups. We look forward to an Administration under your leadership which will act, listen and respond swiftly and effectively to the needs of its citizens.

We stand ready to work with you and your administration to make sure that the demands of countless citizens, both locally and globally, for the safe return of the girls is met and that such a travesty will never be repeated.



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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Fair Pay Is Crucial for All Women

Women in the U.S. who work full time, year round are typically paid only 78 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.[2] This gap in earnings translates into $10,876 less per year in median earnings, leaving women and their families shortchanged. Although enforcement of the Equal Pay Act and civil rights laws has helped narrow the wage gap over time, addressing the significant pay disparities that remain is critical for women and their families.
Fair Pay Is Crucial for All Women
Women of color are paid less than white, non-Hispanic men.
§  African American women working full time, year round typically make only 64 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.  For Latinas this figure is only 56 cents.[3]
Mothers are paid less than fathers.
§  Mothers who work full time, year round typically have lower earnings than fathers ($40,000 compared to $56,999), meaning mothers only make 70 cents for every dollar paid to fathers. [4]
Lesbian women still earn less than men, regardless of their sexual orientation.[5]
§  Women in same-sex couples have a median personal income of $38,000, compared to $47,000 for men in same-sex couples and $48,000 for men in different-sex couples.[6]
§  Lesbian women are far more likely than gay men to support children – 49 percent of lesbian and bisexual women report having a child compared to 19 percent of gay and bisexual men.[7]
Women with disabilities have a wider wage gap than the wage gap between women and men overall.
§  Women with disabilities working full time, year round are typically paid just 69.5 percent of what men without disabilities working full time, year round are typically paid. [8]
§  Women with disabilities working full time, year round are typically paid just 80.8 percent of what their male counterparts with disabilities are paid.
Women are affected by the wage gap as soon as they enter the labor force.
§  The wage gap is smaller for younger women than older women, but it begins right when women enter the labor force.  Women 15-24 working full time, year round are typically paid just 91.1 percent of what their male counterparts are paid. Among older women, the gap is even larger.  Women 45-64 working full time, year round are typically paid just 73.6 percent of what their male counterparts are paid. For women still working at age 65 and older the figure is 76.4 percent.[9]
Older women also experience a wage gap in retirement income, due in large part to the wage gap they experienced during their working years.
§  Based on today’s wage gap, a woman who worked full time, year round would typically lose $435,049 in a 40-year period due to the wage gap.[10] This woman would have to work more than eleven years longer to make up this gap.  A typical woman working full time, year round who starts, but does not finish high school would lose $332,704 over a 40-year period, [11] an enormous amount of money for women who are typically paid $22,248 a year.  This woman would have to work nearly fifteen years longer to make up this gap. These lost wages severely reduce women’s ability to save for retirement. 
§  As a result of lower lifetime earnings and different work patterns, the average Social Security benefit for women 65 and older was about $13,466 per year, compared to $17,598 for men of the same age in 2013.[12]
§  In 2010, women 50 and older received only 56 cents for every dollar received by men in income from pensions and annuities.[13] One study found that the typical woman worker near retirement with a defined contribution plan or individual retirement account had accumulated $34,000 in savings, while her male counterpart held $70,000—more than twice as much.[14]

[1] National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) calculations for each item based on the following sources: Groceries - U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Official USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels, U.S. Average, June 2013 (2013), available at http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood (last visited April 8 2015). Calculation is based on the USDA thrifty food plan for a family of four (two adults 19-50 and children 6-8 and 9-11) estimated at $632.30 per month. Child Care - Child Care Aware of America, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2013 Update (Nov. 4, 2013), Appendix 1, available athttp://www.naccrra.org/about-child-care/cost-of-child-care.  Average costs for child care in a center in Nebraska for a four-year-old ($7,800 annually in 2013 or $650.00 per month). Nebraska cost for this type of child care falls at the median of all state averages (including the District of Columbia).  Rent and Utilities - U.S. Census Bureau, American Housing Survey: 2013, Table C-10-AO. Housing Costs—All Occupied Units,available at http://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/ahs/  (last visited April 8, 2015). Median housing costs for renters ($850 per month in 2013).  Health Insurance Premiums - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey: 2013. Table II.D.2 (2013) Average total employee contribution (in dollars) per enrolled employee for family coverage at private-sector establishments that offer health insurance by firm size and State: United States, 2013, available athttp://meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_stats/summ_tables/insr/state/series_2/2013/tiid2.htm.  Average monthly employee contribution for employer-based family coverage ($4,421 annually or $368 per month).  Loan Payments - The Project of Student Debt, Student Debt and the Class of 2013 (Nov. 2014), available athttp://ticas.org/sites/default/files/legacy/fckfiles/pub/classof2013.pdf. Average monthly payment for a class of 2013 bachelor’s degree graduate with the average student debt of $28,400 for students who had loans. Calculation assumes ten-year standard repayment plan and all debt in the form of direct unsubsidized loans and single taxpayer status (6.8 percent interest). Initial monthly payment of $327 calculated using the Department of Education’s loan repayment calculator available athttps://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/mobile/repayment/repaymentEstimato.... Tanks of Gas - Calculations based on average tank of gas in 2013 and about a 17-gallon gas tank. Gas prices from U.S. Energy Information Administration, Weekly Retail Gasoline and Diesel Prices, available athttp://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_pri_gnd_dcus_nus_w.htm (last visited April 10, 2015). Average cost of all grades of gasoline in 2013 rounded to $3.58 per gallon.
[2] NWLC calculations from U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2014 Annual Social and Economic Supplement [hereinafter CPS, 2014 ASEC], Table PINC-05: Work Experience in 2013 – People 15 Years Old and Over by Total Money Earnings in 2013, Age, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Sex, available at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032014/perinc/toc.htm (last visited Sept. 29, 2014). Women working full time, year round had median annual earnings of $39,157 in 2013. Men working full time, year round had median annual earnings of $50,033 in 2013.
[3] Id. White, non-Hispanic women make 77 cents for every dollar made by their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.
[4] NWLC calculations based on CPS, 2014ASEC using Miriam King et al, “IPUMS, Current Population Survey: Version 3.0)”, available at https://cps.ipums.org/cps/index.shtml. Mothers and fathers have at least one related child under 18 at home. Figures are median annual earnings for 2013.
[5] M.V. Lee Badgett, Holning Lau, Brad Sears, Deborah Ho, The Williams Institute, Bias in the Workplace: Consistent Evidence of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination (Jun. 2007)http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Badgett-Sears-Lau-Ho-Bias-in-the-Workplace-Jun-2007.pdf at 14. 
[6] Gary J. Gates, The Williams Institute, Same-sex and Different-sex Couples in the American Community Survey 2005-2011 (Feb. 2013) http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/ACS-2013.pdf.  Figures only include people in labor force.  Due to data limitations, they do not include lesbian or gay individuals who are not part of a couple.  These figures are median annual personal income for all workers in the labor force – these figures differ from the median annual earnings for full-time, year-round workers reported for the wage gap and are not directly comparable.
[7] Gary J. Gates, The Williams Institute, Family formation and raising children among same-sex couples, National Council on Family Relations, Family Focus on LGBT Families Issue FF51 (Dec. 2011), http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Gates-Badgett-NCFR-LGBT-Families-December-2011.pdf.
[8] NWLC calculations from CPS, 2014 ASEC using CPS Table Creator, available athttp://www.census.gov/cps/data/cpstablecreator.html (last visited Sept. 30, 2014). Ratio of median person earnings for men and women working full time, year round, with and without a disability.
[9] Supra note 2.
[10] Id. These calculations were not adjusted for inflation and assume a constant wage gap overtime. Assumes a constant gap of $10,876 annually, calculated by subtracting women’s median earnings ($39,157) from that of men ($50,033).
[11] NWLC calculations from CPS, 2014 ASEC, Table PINC-03: Educational Attainment— People 25 Years Old and Over, by Total Money Earnings in 2013, Work Experience in 2013, Age, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Sex, available at  http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032014/perinc/toc.htm (last visited Sept. 30, 2014). This compares median earnings for men and women with some high school who did not graduate or receive a G.E.D, who are 25 and older, and who worked full time, year round.  Men in this group had median earnings of $30,565 while women in this group had median earnings of $22,248 for a gap of $8,318 annually. This calculation assumes a constant gap and is not adjusted for inflation.
[12] NWLC calculations based on U.S. Social Security Administration, Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin, 2014 (Feb. 2014), Table 5.A16-Number and average monthly benefit for adult beneficiaries, by sex, type of benefit, and age, December 2013, available athttp://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2014/5a.html#table5.a16.  The average monthly benefit for all female beneficiaries 65 and older was $1,122.20, or about $13,466 per year as of December 2013, compared to $1,466.49 per month, or $17,598 per year for all male beneficiaries 65 and older.  Benefits are slightly higher for both women and men receiving benefits as retired workers. 
[13] Employee Benefit Research Institute, EBRI Databook on Employee Benefits, Tables 8.1 and 8.2 Retirement Annuity and/or Employment-Based Pension Income Recipiency,  Males and Females (Sept. 2011), available at http://www.ebri.org/pdf/publications/books/databook/DB.Chapter%2008.pdf (last visited Dec. 30, 2013).  Based on annual figures for pensions and annuities, ($8,400 for women versus $15,000 for men).
[14] Leslie E. Papke, Lina Walker, & Michael Dworsky, Retirement Security for Women: Progress to Date and Policies for Tomorrow (2008), available at http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/projects/retirementsecurity/03_retirement_women.pdf f.
[15] Supra note 2.

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