Friday, March 23, 2012

Report on IWO/NOW Event

On the afternoon of March 10th, the Independent Women's Organization (a Democratic Women's Organization based in New Orleans) joined with the NOW Mid-South Conference for a speech by NOW President Terry O'Neill and a Panel Discussion on Fighting Back Against the War on Women: Issues of the 2012 National Election.

IWO Recording Secretary, Shelley Whitehead, submitted this report on the afternoon's session:

Speaker: Terry O’Neill - National President NOW
Ms. O’Neill stated that she was thrilled to be back home in New Orleans. She said that we have got to be clear on what the challenges are and how we can move our own agenda forward. The issues she sees that matter most to women are: 1) Economy, 2) Economy, 3) Healthcare and 4) Economy. We can really make enormous gains on these issues or we can lose a lot. She stated that “The War against Women” started in 2010 when women voters declined. Progressive women stopped voting. The Tea Party mobilized after women stopped voting. The Tea Party swept not only Congress but State legislatures. They ran on an economic platform. The Republican’s primary adjective was to attack access to healthcare and birth control by attacking Planned Parenthood. Governors have eliminated Title X funding, especially in New Jersey. We also saw an attack on Medicare, HeadStart, Social Security and other economic programs women rely on. The majority of Medicare dollars go to nursing homes, which house mainly women and are run by mainly women. The good news is women are getting motivated. There were 100+ anti-reproductive laws passed at the state level. We as women need to make the feminist case. The feminist case for collective bargaining is women do better when they belong to unions. 20-30% better wages for women in unions. We need to get progressive women to qualify to run for offices.

During the Q&A portion of the program a question was asked what can be done to start organizing in communities or universities. Ms. O’Neill’s advice was to: 1) lay out war on women, access to healthcare, abortion care and birth control and 2) focus on women’s economic security due to wage discrimination in the workforce. A question was asked whether the male Republicans go out into the woods and come up with these policies that they take back to their respective States. Ms. O’Neill stated that there is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) where the men get together and exchange ideas and policies and bring them back to their States. The Koch brother, extremists along with financial and business clout funded the Tea Party and are a part of ALEC.

Welcome and Introductions: Felicia Kahn - President IWO
Ms. Kahn called the IWO meeting to order at 3:09 p.m. She welcomed everybody to the IWO portion of the meeting. The elected officials in attendance were welcomed which include: Lourdes Moran- VP of Orleans Parish School Board, Carolyn Kolb- Democratic State Central Committee also running in House District 98A, Deborah Langoff- OPDEC District A running to serve on State Central Committee, Cynthia Willard-Lewis- running for New Orleans City Council at Large. Everyone who is running for elected office was asked to come to the front and give their names and what office they are running for: Lynda Woolard- OPDEC, Carolyn Kolb, State Central Committee 98A, Clay Latimer- OPDEC District A, Lynda Woolard- OPDEC reform, Deborah Langhoff-OPDEC District A, Maggy Carol- State Central Committee , Lisa Diggs, Parish Committee District C and State Central Committee, Lourdes Moran- State Central Committee, Diana Basin-Parish Committee, State Central Committee 91, Felicia Kahn- OPDEC District B.

Ms. Kahn gave announcements stating that today is early voting and encouraged people to early vote. She introduced photographer and corresponding secretary Alla Rosca and recording secretary Shelley Whitehead. It was announced that Ms. Rosca will distribute a questionnaire to get opinions about the candidates meetings and other events. The next Chickie Wah Wah event is on April 3 from 6-8 pm. The Annual IWO meeting is in June where we are negotiating with a place now. Any democrats interested in running as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention have until April 12 to sign up. May 5 is the party election. Interested persons can go to the website and fill out the form. Lynda Woolard, ad hoc chair, did a fantastic job of putting this event together. Ms. Kahn then turned the meeting over to Valerie Bouldin

Ms. Bouldin welcomed everyone in attendance. She introduced the panel: Tania Tetlow, professor of law at Tulane, Nikki Brown, professor of history at UNO and moderator Carol Allen. There were several methods and means to get questions to the panel. Could submit questions on twitter or index cards at the question table, in addition to questions already set for panel. Carol Allen is sitting in for Kelly Bayaoko because she had a death in the family. Turned over to Carol Allen

Panel: Fighting Back Against the War on Women: Issues of the 2012 National Election
Ms. Allen stated that we are here today to focus on the national elections and how the election will affect women’s issues, how to get women and their allies elected and how important women are into making these things happen. Below is a summary of what was discussed during the panel.

Tania Tetlow- Sarah Palin made women buy their own rape kits. Joe Biden made it illegal to have to buy own rape kits. Religions allow for violence against women and some don’t. Sexuality of women is problem to its core. Issues of violence against women. ¼ women will be beaten by a partner in their lifetime. 1/6 will be raped in their lifetime. Risk is higher in universities which is ¼ of women. Start paying attention to women who get beat for not being obedient and society who doesn’t care because they believe the woman provoked it. Pay attention to gender issues being talked about in election and the ones that aren’t. Gender issues aren’t discussed much and invisible.

Nikki Brown- Ms. Brown stated she was going to discuss how black women use their power and how is power changed with race in the mix. Now that women are rising to positions of power, men are scared and don’t know how to make sense of it. Two Nobel Peace Prize winners were black women. A black homeless woman in Connecticut was charged with stealing education for using a friend’s address so her child could go to a better school. Value of education valued at $15000. There is a huge issue of prison and a little less than a million African American men in prison. 1/8 black men have had some contact with prison/jail. 1/3 black men born today are expected to have some contact with prison. This is destabilizing to the black family. The idea is to send black women to prison in greater numbers as well.

What can we lose if Obama is not reelected?- Judgeships and politics of people appointed, federal agencies policies, change in control of the Senate, laws passed in House will now get passed in the Senate. The Ryan budget will be implemented, Planned Parenthood and other clinics are losing funding. Education will be taken away from the state and government and put it into the hands of companies, Charter schools don’t unionize, teachers unions are predominately by women. Support for access to governmentally funded programs for women will decrease.

Can Republican strategists be so stupid seeing as how women voters were such a strong presence in the 2008 election- The constituency of men don’t know where they fit in. They have to appeal to their base even though their shooting themselves in the foot. Republicans used race to get people to vote against their interests, working people are now voting against their interests. We don’t see that in European countries. They are distracting people with issues that seem more important. Also, the Republican party has lost its women, don’t see a lot of women Republicans in office, some have been forced out. Sarah Palin is on her own because she lost as Vice-President. However, Rick Santorum lost Senate but got cushy job at a non-profit funded by Koch Brothers.

Specifics on contraception- There was a billboard in Austin, Texas stating that the most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb. This demonstrates men’s discomfort and that they want women to have as many babies as possible, but don’t want them to have control over what happens with children once born. Men are turning women into baby-making machines. Want to see the case made that that birth control reduces abortions, prevents unwanted pregnancies. All republican candidates except Mitt Romney have signed bill that life begins at fertilization, the Personhood pledge. Romney supports the bill although hasn’t signed it.

What women have done to combat these things- On April 28th,, a coalition of 55 women’s organizations is utilizing social media to raise alarm as to what is at stake for women in 2012 election. A blog carnival is when everyone gets together on one day and writes a blog about a particular topic. Women need to pay attention to judiciary, criminal court and family court which can do damage to families. Vote for women, in New Orleans go to Ashe Cultural Center if interested in black issues. Hollygrove Senior Steppers reduced crime in Hollygrove by 70%.

Alarming statistics- Median net worth for black women is $100 (unmarried), $35000 (married) latina women $125 (unmarried), $18000 (married); white women $41,000 (unmarried), $167,800 (married). Most of that disparity is due to home ownership.. Religion issues (black women go to church more, megachurches have sexist agenda) women are getting mixed messages.

Why is US 83rd in women in office when Afghanistan has more women in office but US is thought of advanced – US is one of only 7 countries that has failed to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. There is also an impact of money and politics, Americans vote on personalities and only have megarich people. Can’t get that power back. America is not seen as a democracy anymore. We are third world in our disparity of wealth.

Change culture of anti-women in armed forces, women get raped twice as much as in rest of society- The will to change is not there, but will can be there. Chicken or egg as far as does the profession attract men who are angry.

How can GOP LGBT targets be mobilized- they already are, encourage them to stay with Obama he overturned Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,

We want to thank IWO for allowing us to use their meeting minutes to offer this report and Shelley Whitehead for the wonderful notes she took!

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