Category Archives: Advocacy

Equal Pay, Title IX Bills Clear Hawaii House and Senate

Bills that help to further the issues of equal pay, regardless of sex, and to institute federal Title IX protections within the state passed Hawaii’s conference committees — both bills are supported by the Women’s Legislative Caucus. They have been recommended for passage on final reading, which occurs on Tuesday, May 1. The final step will be Gov. David Ige’s signature.
The equal pay bill, SB2351, would prohibit employers from requiring an applicant to provide her/his wage history when applying for a position. Policies that force employees to keep wage information secret will be illegal under the bill. AAUW’s position is that disclosing women’s salary histories and stopping workers from talking about their earnings perpetuates the wage gap. Many AAUW members submitted testimony supporting the equal pay bill and should be congratulated for their efforts ensuring that this bill will become law.
A bill that establishes some of the same protections of federal Title IX laws, HB1489, also passed. Any Hawaii education program that receives funds from the state would be prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sex, gender identity, expression and orientation. AAUW has supported Title IX protections since the early ’70s and believes extending these protections at the state level is important.

AAUW Hawaii’s Public Policy Committee, State Rep. Della Au Belatti and the Women’s Legislative Caucus Take Action on the Pay Gap Issue

Members of AAUW Hawaii’s Public Policy Committee hopes this year will be year that the state’s gender pay gap is addressed by legislators.

While Hawaii does fairly well when compared to the pay gap in other states – AAUW places it as 10th out of all nationwide, with an earnings ratio of women earning about 83 percent for every dollar a male makes as of 2016 – there is still progress to be made. AAUW Hawaii Public Policy Committee members Jean Evans, Judy McCluskey, Beverly Munson, Youngee Overly and Susan Wurtzburg worked with Hawaii State Rep. and Majority Leader Della Au Belatti on legislation to address the issue.

On the opening day of the legislature, HB2137 (relating to equal pay) was introduced in the state house and SB2351 (relating to equal pay) was introduced to the state senate by the Women’s Legislative Caucus. The bills were part of the caucus’ legislative package that was announced at its breakfast at the YWCA.

There are two important points of the bills that will help address the gender wage gap:

      • They will prevent employers from asking about a potential employee’s previous salaries during the employment process, which stops women’s low salaries from following them to different jobs.
      • They will stop employers from sanctioning employees who speak about their salaries. Women will have the opportunity to discover that they are being paid less than their colleagues for similar work.

AAUW Honolulu will keep you updated as to the progress of these issues in the legislature.

AAUW Honolulu Members Turn Out for Women’s Legislative Caucus Signing Ceremony

The Women’s Legislative Caucus capped off this legislative session with a signing ceremony, with Gov. David Ige, of bills
advocated for and by the group on July 3 at the Richards Street YWCA.

The bills signed included:

  • HB674 – Child Care Provider Insurance Requirement — Childcare providers are now required to carry liability insurance as a requirement for licensing, and disclosure to parents and guardians.
  • SB513 – Pharmacist Dispensing Self-Administered Contraceptives — Allows pharmacists to prescribe and dispense “self-administered hormonal” birth control methods, like the pill, regardless of a previous prescription.
  • SB505 – Opioid Therapy/Treatment Bill — Healthcare providers are required to discuss the increased risk of opioid addiction that come with the prescription, establishes limits as to prescriptions and gives the Board of Nursing the authority to enforce the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, which establishes drug policy.

One of the bills, SB514 – Authorizing Pharmacists to Administer HPV & other Vaccines to Minors, was supported by the testimony of AAUW members from branches across the state. This bill allows pharmacists to administer vaccines for Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), meningococcal and influenza vaccine to those 11 to 17 years of age.

It also allows them to give vaccines for HPV, or human papillomavirus, which is the most commonly sexually transmitted infection that can lead to cancer. The Centers for Disease Control recommends 11- to 12-year-olds receive two doses of the vaccine

SB 501, HB 552, SB 514 Among Legislative Wins for this Session

This legislative session, we’ve helped to pass bills regarding the clear disclosure of reproductive health services, mitigating any negative effects a repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act and allowing pharmacists to administer vaccines.

Senate Bill 501 regulates Limited Service Pregnancy Centers, which (despite their names) are non-medical centers, typically staffed by people lacking medical credentials who pretend to have medical expertise.

These facilities often provide their clients with medical misinformation. Women visit these locations in times of personal duress, when they are considering abortions. But the goal of the centers is to limit women’s access to abortions, through lies, trickery, and manipulation. In addition, they sometimes leak women’s health status.

The new bill clearly defines these centers, typically organized by churches or religious groups, stating they must keep visiting women’s information private. They are also required to provide information about true reproductive health services to women. If they refuse to cooperate with the law, the “clinic” can be hit with civil penalties and actions.

House Bill 552 was passed in the final days of the legislature, when the possibility of losing national health provisions was heightened. The goal of this legislation is to set up an Affordable Health Care Working Group to mitigate the negative effects if/when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed by Congress.

Senate Bill 514 is important since it could diminish the large numbers of unvaccinated young people in Hawaii. It should increase rates of vaccination for HPV, Tdap, meningococcal illness, and influenza, by allowing licensed pharmacists to administer the shots to young people, aged 11 to 17 years.

AAUW Honolulu Members Participate in Equal Pay Day

Equal Pay Day marks the day when women’s salaries match those of their male peers from the previous year.

AAUW branches across the US educated the public about the significance of the event and what things need to change with regards to law, policy, and American ideas about men and women to diminish the gender pay gap. Honolulu branch participated in activities on the day, and in the week leading up to April 4.

Members of Honolulu Branch attended Mayor Ige’s Proclamation of Equal Pay Day, organized by AAUW-Hawaii, and attended by members of all three Oahu branches. We were delighted to have a small child join in the event with his mother, showing gender pay equity has the potential to improve the lives of children, women, and men in Hawaii and across the U.S.

Two other events occurred prior to Equal Pay Day. AAUW Honolulu was represented on Hawaii Public Radio, in a one-hour segment of Town Square hosted by Beth-Ann Kozlovich focused on the gender pay gap. In addition, AAUW Honolulu, in coordination with the YWCA, the Hawaii Commission on the Status of Women and Hawaii Appleseed organized a “salary negotiation” informational event at the YWCA on Monday, April 3.

Equal Pay Day was observed by two proclamations, signed by Governor David Ige and Mayor Kirk Caldwell. Honolulu Branch members also supported a lobbying educational event at the Hawaii State Capitol, organized by AAUW Hawaii, the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, the YWCA, and Hawaii Appleseed. The group visited most of the offices of State House Representatives and Senate, speaking with many of the office staffs, and senators and representatives about the gender pay gap. AAUW materials were left in all the offices, and we can anticipate an equal pay bill in the 2018 Hawaii legislative session.

At the end of the day, AAUW Honolulu provided a wonderful Talk Story Tuesday (un)Happy Hour at Ferguson’s Pub. AAUW Honolulu member Younghee Overly organized a trivia quiz, ending a successful day.

If you missed Equal Pay Day this year, get involved in the AAUW Honolulu Branch Advocacy Committee, and join Younghee, Bev, Judy, and Sue in future educational advocacy events.

Sadly, there will be another Equal Pay Day next year — at current rates, women will not achieve gender parity for many more decades.

The Power of One…Let Your Voice be Heard

The Power of One…never underestimate the power of one voice.  After all, wasn’t the historic Women’s March on January 21, 2017 started by Hawaii’s own Teresa Shook’s Facebook post?

Make your voice heard by paying attention to proposed legislation and then writing or calling your elected officials to express your opinions.  All this can be done by email or voicemail (see contacts at the end of this article) – it’s easier and faster than you might think.

How can you find out about proposed legislation?  In addition to news outlets, you can learn about pending bills at:

For Federal Legislation: and

For Hawaii State Legislation: here you can register for an account and select matters on which you would like to be notified of pending legislation and hearing dates.  After registration, you can also then submit testimony on bills through your account.

For the City and County of Honolulu:

During the Hawaii State Legislative session our Advocacy Committee Chair, Susan Wurtzburg periodically sends out emails notifying us of pending bills and asking for written testimony.  Often the turn-around time for written testimony is tight from when she receives a notice of hearings and the testimony deadline, but every bit helps, so please, when you can, respond to Sue’s emails by submitting testimony.

For Federal Legislation, AAUW National has set-up “The Two-Minute Activist”.  This is a quick, easy tool where you are notified of issues AAUW National has identified as being consistent with our national agenda, and then provides a direct link to your Congresswoman or Senator.  To sign-up go to:

We hope to have “Two-Minute Activist” set up for Hawaii state legislation soon, so stay tuned!

Often people hesitate to contact their elected officials because they aren’t sure “what to say”.  After talking to many elected officials, here are some tips they share:

  • In your opening sentence refer to the Bill in question by number and name and whether you are writing to SUPPORT or OPPOSE the Bill;
  • Be brief and succinct – get your point across in a way that can be read within one-minute (one page or less is best);
  • Be factual, not emotional and always, be respectful (anger, threats and name-calling can result in immediate rejection of your ideas);
  • Personal experience stories grab their attention (hearts and minds) – tell how the issue being considered affects you, your family, your business or those with whom you work.

Elected Officials Contact List

Via U.S. Postal Service:

  • For correspondence to U.S. Senators:

Office of Senator (Name)
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

  • For correspondence to U.S. Senate Committees:

(Name of Committee)
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

  • For correspondence to U.S. House of Representatives:

Name of Representative
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC  20515

  • For correspondence to U.S. House of Representatives Committees:

Name of Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

  • For correspondence to the President or Cabinet:

Name of person to whom you wish to address including title
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

  • For correspondence to Hawaii State Senators/Representatives:

Name of Senator
State Capitol, Room 10
415 Beretania Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Name of Representative
State Capitol, Room 27
415 Beretania Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

  • For correspondence to City & County of Honolulu representatives:

Mayor Kirk Caldwell
Honolulu Hale
530 South King Street, Room 300
Honolulu, HI 96813

City Council Member(s) by name
Honolulu Hale
530 South King Street, Room 203
Honolulu, HI 96813

Via email (go to link and then click “contact me”):

By telephone:

  • The White House public comment line (202-456-1111)
    U.S. Senators and/or Represenatives: (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senator/Representative’s office you request.
  • Representative Tulsi Gabbard: (202) 225-2726
  • Representative Colleen Hanabusa: (202) 225-4906
  • Hawaii State Senate: (808) 586-6720 and your call will be directed to the appropriate Senator’s office.
  • Hawaii State House of Representatives: (808) 586-6400 phone and your call will be directed to the appropriate Representative’s office.
  • Mayor Kirk Caldwell: (808) 768-4141

The Women’s March of Washington in Honolulu — Moving Forward

Despite rainy weather, thousands of women gathered at the Hawaii State Capitol in support of women’s rights.

AAUW Hawaii — in addition to other organizations including ACLU – Hawaii and Planned Parenthood — was a sponsor of the Honolulu march. Despite the size of the march around the world, no arrests were reported in the march at Washington DC and in the other marches held the same day around the world.

To view a gallery of the march, click here.

This historic event plans to be a springboard for continuing advocacy to advance women’s rights. The march is calling on those that participated, and those who support the cause, to take 10 actions in 100 days. The first action to organize, or “huddle”, to visualize a more equitable world in four years and what’s needed to get there.

To read more about 10 Actions/100 Days, click here!

Support Pro-Women Legislation During the 2017 Session!

4234166350_d1a462d913_oIn 2016, the Hawaii Women’s Legislative Caucus supported 37 bills. Each of these bills received several letters of testimony by AAUW members as they were heard by various committees in the Hawaii State legislative process.

This year, the Hawaii Women’s Legislative Caucus will be supporting fewer bills. The caucus will announce their selected bills on Thursday, January 26, at the Women’s Legislative Caucus Breakfast, hosted by the YWCA. However, certain topics seem likely to be included among the Caucus selections: economic justice, reproductive justice, plus violence and safety. These issues fit with the three policy priorities of AAUW Hawaii and AAUW Honolulu: equal pay, reproductive choice, and gender violence.

To prepare for the Spring legislative session, I ask that AAUW Honolulu members complete two tasks before the New Year. First, please confirm the email AAUW has on file is correct by logging into your membership page on the AAUW National website. This will help you to receive requests for testimony at the state level. Second, please confirm that you have registered for the 2-minute activist. If you are unsure, do it again! You receive 2-minute activist emails, helping AAUW support bills at the state and national level.

Hawaii Women’s Legislative Caucus Facebook page:

AAUW membership log in page:

AAUW 2-minute activist page:

Become an Activist…In Less Time it Takes to Get a Coffee

we-need-nine-scotus-october2016-280x170Immediately after the election, AAUW issued a press release, emphasizing that “after this hyperpartisan election year, AAUW’s nonpartisan leadership and research-based advocacy is needed now more than ever.”

In addition to promoting discussion about gender issues based on data, we also need to communicate our message to federal and state decision makers. The fastest and most convenient way to reach our national and local representatives and senators is by using AAUW’s 2-Minute Activist.

If you have not yet signed up for this, take a minute, and do this now — and while you’re at it, send your five best friends an email with a link to 2-Minute Activist.