Category Archives: Press

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Anti-violence act crucial for women — Sept. 17, 2017

AAUW Honolulu member and former president Linda Weiland penned this op-ed to recognize the anniversary of the passage of the Violence Against Women Act. Read it here or if you aren’t a subscriber to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, read it below.

Anti-violence act crucial for women
By Linda Weiland

September 17, 2017

The Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, is a reflection of how serious society now views domestic crimes and crimes against females.

In 2017, victims of those offenses have resources, services and laws to fall back on: A federal rape shield law that prohibits the past sexual history of the complainants to be brought up in court. Protections against eviction by women who are being stalked. Funding for prevention programs, rape crisis centers and hotlines. Legal aid, and aid for immigrant women, women with disabilities and who are minorities.

These are programs and protections that various groups — including domestic violence and sexual crimes advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts — advocated for, and are now what we expect.

However, until this month in 1994, VAWA didn’t exist. There was no Office on Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice, and those who wanted to bring charges against their husbands or those who had assaulted them faced a much more difficult path.

AAUW Honolulu has supported, and continues to support VAWA. The reduction of violence against women is one of our primary priorities in public policy. We feel that VAWA addresses freedom from violence and fear of violence in homes, schools, workplaces and communities, and is a very important law.

Locally, VAWA bolstered the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office with efforts in enforcing the law. According to the office, it receives a grant because of VAWA that provides salary support for a deputy prosecuting attorney that handles felony domestic violence cases. This grant has been ongoing for several years.

Subsequent reauthorizations of the act added protections for college students and addressed the rise of campus sexual violence. In 2013, the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act was included with that year’s reauthorization. College disciplinary procedures have become more transparent, educate faculty and staff, and institutions have updated their policies regarding domestic crimes and sexual assault. Colleges are now required to keep data about stalking and dating and domestic violence.

However, Candice Jackson, the U.S. Department of Education’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, remarked to The New York Times on July 14 that she felt investigations into accused rapists went too far and produced an invented, false statistic to justify her claim. She later said she was “flippant.”

AAUW joined with the National Women’s Law Center in its statement that rejected Jackson’s position and her subsequent attempt at walking back the remarks: “But the problem with your remark was not its tone but its substance, which you have yet to disavow. As advocates for student survivors, we are gravely concerned that rape myths like the one you articulated to the Times will motivate your office’s policies. Stereotypes like the one you repeated have long fueled skepticism of rape victims by courts, communities, and, yes, schools.”

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos also weighed in, on Sept. 7 claiming that sexual assault protections instituted under the Obama administration “failed.”

AAUW Chief Executive Officer Kimberly Churches stated, hours after DeVos’ quote was reported, “Secretary Betsy DeVos’ decision to open up Title IX for changes represents a blatant intent to roll back protections for students. It is an action that is at direct odds with upholding the civil rights of all Americans.”

Despite the progress made in raising awareness of domestic and sexual violence, these recent incidents remind us of how far we’ve come, how much more work there is to do and that VAWA is a law worth protecting.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Hawaii has proud history of women in leadership — Aug. 15, 2016

Bev Munson, AAUW Honolulu member and chair of the advocacy committee, penned a opinion piece about the passage of the 19th Amendment that was published on Aug. 15. Read it here, or if you aren’t a subscriber to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, read it below.

Hawaii has proud history of women in leadership
By Beverly Munson
August 15, 2017

Aug. 18, 2017 — this Friday — marks the 97th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, the “Women’s Right to Vote” amendment. This occasion is the perfect time to recognize the contributions of women in Hawaii’s government and public service.

Throughout Hawaii’s history we have benefited greatly from the involvement of women in governance. From Kaahumanu, the favored wife of King Kamehameha II who used her position to champion for the rights of Native Hawaiian women, to our current congressional delegation and Hawaii State Legislative Women’s Caucus, women in government and public service have been and still are a catalyst for change that has advanced our society. These women have been the “action team” for advocacy, education, community service, collaboration and public policy development. To these women, both past and present, we say mahalo; your contributions are appreciated.

Queen Emma Kalanikaumakaamano Kaleleonalani Naea Rooke (Queen Emma) is known for establishing Queen’s Hospital and St. Andrew’s Priory School. She also was the first woman in Hawaii to run for elected public office, running against David Kalakaua in the Royal Election of 1874.

Following the 19th Amendment’s passage, women’s interest in holding public office and the demand for representation of women in appointed political positions both in Hawaii and nationally followed.

In 1924 Rosalie Eliinoi was the first women elected to the Legislature of the Territory of Hawaii. Elsie Wilcox was elected as Hawaii’s first Territorial Legislature Senator in 1932. Jean Sadako King was the first woman elected to be Hawaii’s lieutenant governor in 1978.

In 2002 Hawaii elected its first woman governor, Linda Lingle: She is noted for developing a strong economy, leaving Hawaii with a very low unemployment rate, and for moving the state from a $250 million budget deficit to creating a surplus of $730 million.

Patsy Mink, Hawaii’s first woman member of Congress, was a champion for civil rights both locally and nationally. She is known as the “Mother of Title IX,” which prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions receiving federal funds.

Locally, Mink helped women in the state Legislature establish the Hawaii Women’s Legislative Caucus, which is comprised of women from both the state House and Senate and includes members from both political parties.

Today Hawaii is represented at the national level by three women, each of whom has an outstanding history of accomplishments: Sen. Mazie Hirono, and Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard.

Despite the increasing role of women in government and public service, women still are vastly underrepresented despite making up 50.8 percent of the U.S. population. Currently only 21 percent of the 100 U.S. senators are female, and only 19 percent of the 435 seats in the U.S. House are held by women. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 49.8 percent of Hawaii’s population is female, but only 27.6 percent of our state legislative positions are held by women.

As history has shown us, the contributions of women in public office are great. These contributions benefit all segments of our society, and are important to the future of our state and country.

In recognition of the 97th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, AAUW Honolulu salutes our women in elected office and encourages more women to run for office or serve in government. What better way to honor our proud history of the contributions made by our predecessors?