Tag Archives: Advocacy

Local Ratification Of Initiative To Eliminate Discrimination Against Women – A Top Priority

AAUW Honolulu’s Advocacy Committee currently numbers four, and we will be meeting Monday, September 14 (7-8 pm) at the Aiea Starbucks. If you would like to become part of the Committee, we would be delighted to include you. A few more members would make our jobs easier! If this interests you, please e-mail the advocacy chair [susan.wurtzburg@gmail.com], so she can provide you with an agenda, and a little more information about the committee. If more committee work doesn’t suit, there are other ways to help with AAUW Honolulu’s advocacy efforts.

If you would like to be an advocate for social change, but don’t have time for additional meetings, please “like” the Facebook pages for AAUW Honolulu and AAUW Hawaii. Plus, please join the 2-minute activist on the AAUW page. If you need help with any of these tasks, e-mail the advocacy chair [susan.wurtzburg@gmail.com] and we can schedule a time for me to talk you through the actions while you are on your computer. The Facebook and 2-minute activist links will help with better understanding of CEDAW and other political issues. Plus, we encourage everyone to spend time exploring the AAUW website which has lots of detail on CEDAW and other AAUW advocacy issues.

The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW, was adopted by the United Nations in 1979. CEDAW “is often described as an international bill of rights for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination” (UN Women). Despite being a signatory to the Convention in 1980, the US has never ratified it, meaning that CEDAW is not enforced in this nation, despite the importance of its articles for women’s rights. In 2005, Amnesty International appealed to the US to uphold the Convention: “The United States is among a small minority of countries that have not yet ratified CEDAW, including Iran and Sudan. The United States has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the Western Hemisphere and the only industrialized democracy that has not ratified this treaty.” Ratification requires that two thirds of the US Senate support the motion.

The disappointing progress of ratification fits with American political indifference to most international conventions supported by the UN. The US has ratified very few, despite American politicians spewing endless rhetoric about democracy overseas and nationally. For all of these reasons, it seems that progress toward American ratification must occur on a piecemeal basis, with individual urban centers supporting the resolution, in the hope that ultimately national leaders will follow their lead, and ratify CEDAW. This is the reason why it is valuable for Honolulu City and County to enact CEDAW at a local level and form a committee.

In conclusion, please consider supporting CEDAW further as it moves through the Honolulu City Council process, and also “liking” the various Facebook pages, while becoming a 2-minute activist. Plus, if you still have some advocacy energy, please join our Committee!

Let’s Change Hawaii for the Better!

AAUW is about mobilizing for social change, and it is exciting that Honolulu Branch is developing an Advocacy Committee to be part of this national activist movement. Public policy events are important for Branch viability as well as being the best way to diminish gender inequities in Hawaii. Policy action builds AAUW visibility on Oahu, increasing the organization’s appeal for women, resulting in membership growth, key for the long-term survival of our Branch.

Become part of the Advocacy Committee, and determine the public policy direction and events for fall 2015. It is essential to get the Committee structure up and running in time for an action-focused spring legislative session. The Committee is about organizing what will happen, and then locating allies to help make it happen. The goal is to make activism fun and rewarding, and to involve many people, each doing a piece of the whole, so the Committee is self-sustaining, without burning out the core membership.

During the fall, we will also educate ourselves about different aspects of activism, with the assistance of the excellent AAUW national website, which I encourage everyone to explore, and we will spread our knowledge to the Branch as a whole. Building branch capacity will mean that we are able to spring into effective action with the start of the legislative session in January 2016.

Join the Advocacy Committee by contacting Susan Wurtzburg, and providing your preferred e-mail and phone contacts. A meeting is being planned for early September, and a prompt email to Sue will mean that you are involved in planning the date and time.

AAUW National Awards Grant to the Public Policy Program of AAUW-Hawaii

Kayaker Susan W.AAUW National has awarded a Grant to the Public Policy Program of AAUW-Hawaii and appointed Dr. Susan J. Wurtzburg to the AAUW Public Policy Committee for a 2-year period beginning July, 2015. This means that Susan, Public Policy Chair for AAUW-Hawaii, and Chair of the Advocacy Committee for the Honolulu Branch of AAUW, will be spending less time kayaking and more time advocating for Equal Pay and helping to set national AAUW public policy. A number of advocacy initiatives will be occurring in fall 2015 and spring 2016, and it is hoped that the AAUW membership in Hawaii will be highly involved in these events. Please contact Susan at aauw.hi.publicpolicy@gmail.com if you would like to participate. She eagerly awaits hundreds of responses!

Equal Pay Day 2015

AAUW-SM & Honolulu Branch Hosted an EQUAL PAY DAY EVENT at the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus on: APRIL 14, 2015!

EPD2015-1Nationally, Equal Pay Day takes place on Tuesday in April and symbolizes the point in the next year to which a woman must work to match men’s earnings from the previous year. In 2015, Equal Pay Day will be observed on Tuesday, April 14. This year the event was commemorated at the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus with a Equal Pay Day event organized and coordinated by AAUW’s student organization (AAUW-SM) in partnership with AAUW Honolulu Branch.

The event was a huge success! 42 students signed up to be AAUW E-affiliates and two-minute activists and 56 students filled out equal pay postcards (provided by AAUW national) urging congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 84/H.R.377) that will be mailed directly to the US Senate!

AAUW-SM also displayed two proclamations obtained from both the mayor’s and governor’s office that declared: April 14, 2015 Equal Pay Day in the State of Hawaii.

Students also handed out more than 100 Equal Pay stickers and pay equity “Quick facts” sheets and an estimated 200 students participated in the event in some capacity!

It was a very well attended event, full of high energy and AAUW sure made their presence known at the University!

Last in Statehood but First in Reproductive Choice

Image by thecrazyfilmgirl, Flickr Creative Commons

Image by thecrazyfilmgirl, Flickr Creative Commons

AAUW members are fighting for women’s reproductive freedom all over the United States, but it’s part of a long legacy: AAUW members helped legalize abortion in the first place.

In 1970, AAUW of Hawaii spearheaded an effort to repeal the state’s restrictive abortion law. The century-old law stated that abortion would only be available when necessary to save the life of the mother. The momentum began one year earlier, in April 1969, at the AAUW of Hawaii board meeting. There, AAUW members, led by then-Legislative Chair Joan Hayes, voted to support repealing the law. In a statement written to the AAUW national office, Hayes explained that the group believed abortion should be a personal decision between a woman and her physician.

According to Hayes, “Women told us that they had just been waiting for some women’s group to make the start.” So AAUW of Hawaii did just that. Members organized an AAUW-sponsored Citizens’ Seminar on Abortion. The event drew legislators, community and religious organizations, labor unions, business groups, professional associations, and citizens. They gathered to listen to reasoned debate on the issue.

At the seminar, state Senator Vincent Yano, in a surprising move, announced that he supported an outright repeal of the law. Other legislators had proposed simply weakening it. Yano was a devout Catholic with 10 children and was personally opposed to abortion. Despite his own personal beliefs, he said that he did not have the right to impose his views on others. Hawaii’s then-Gov. John Burns, who also opposed abortion, ultimately decided to support the repeal but made his personal views clear by never signing the legislation (in Hawaii, bills that aren’t vetoed or signed become law after 10 days).

The new law made abortion available to Hawaii residents in an approved hospital by a doctor or surgeon — making the Aloha State the first to legalize abortion. In reflecting upon the success of the campaign, Hayes said, “Women are coming to realize that the right to control their bodies is as important as the right to vote.”

Hawaii led the way, but other states quickly followed suit. AAUW state organizations across the country addressed the issue of reproductive freedom and called for the repeal of restrictive laws in their own communities. In addition, AAUW of Hawaii laid the groundwork for a national resolution in support of women’s right to choose, which passed at the 1971 AAUW National Convention in Dallas.

Hayes, who passed away in 2005, thought the effort was so successful in Hawaii because of the state’s diversity and tolerance and said that Hawaiians were “unafraid to innovate.” How true, considering that it took the U.S. Supreme Court three more years to legalize abortion nationwide.

This article was originally published on the AAUW National website.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell Signs an Equal Pay Day Proclamation

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed an Equal Pay Day Proclamation alongside AAUW representatives from the Honolulu branch, University of Hawaii at Manoa’s student organization (AAUW-SM), Kapiolani Community College, and University of Hawai’i – West O’ahu. Click the images below to enlarge!

Amy Monk- AAUW Honolulu Branch, Trung Huynh-UHWO, Milli Boritzer-UHWO, Janet Morse-AAUW Honolulu Branch, Amanda Kamakea AAUW-SM, Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Kathy Hanson-AAUW-SM, Natasha Ariyoshi-AAUW-SM, Georgette Raynon-AAUW-SM, Vera Taylor-UHWO, Summerly Botelho-Jamorabon-AAUW-SM, Malia Ishimura Infiel-KCC.

Amy Monk- AAUW Honolulu Branch, Trung Huynh-UHWO, Milli Boritzer-UHWO, Janet Morse-AAUW Honolulu Branch, Amanda Kamakea AAUW-SM, Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Kathy Hanson-AAUW-SM, Natasha Ariyoshi-AAUW-SM, Georgette Raynon-AAUW-SM, Vera Taylor-UHWO, Summerly Botelho-Jamorabon-AAUW-SM, Malia Ishimura Infiel-KCC.


Pay equity and a higher minimum wage will affect women, families, communities and the nation

StarAdvertiserNot just a women’s issue

Pay equity and a higher minimum wage will affect women, families, communities and the nation

Hanabusa-AmbergerBy U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Joanna Amberger

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Apr 07, 2014

The recovery of the American middle class begins with good-paying jobs, but that cannot happen if women continue to earn less than they deserve.

The American Association of University Women’s research report, “The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap (2013),” reveals that, even 50 years after the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, women in Hawaii on average can expect to be paid only 82 percent of what their male colleagues are paid.

Equal pay isn’t just a women’s issue; it is a family and community issue. Women represent half of the paid workforce, and two-thirds of women are either the primary- or co-breadwinner for their families. Women also make up more than two-thirds of workers earning minimum wage.

In other words, increasing the minimum wage and pay equity present enormous implications not just for women, but also for working families, communities and the nation. In this economic climate, we cannot ignore such a critical issue.

As a member of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa co-sponsored legislation that would increase the minimum wage to $10.10. She also is a co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, to ensure that woman receive what they deserve: equal pay for equal work. Data continually supports the notion that fair pay affects everyone in the family. A recent study conducted by the AFL-CIO and the Institute of Women’s Policy Research found that if married women were paid comparably to men, they would see an almost 6 percent rise in their families’ incomes. That extra income could go a long way for the families of Hawaii.

Equal Pay Day, observed this year on April 8, is the symbolic day when women’s earnings “catch up” to men’s earnings from the year before. Because of the wage gap, it takes an extra three months for women to earn the same amount as men earned in 2013. Let’s celebrate this year by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would update the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by closing significant loopholes that exist in the law. It would also prohibit retaliation against workers who disclose their own wages to co-workers, and give employers and employees the tools they need to end unequal pay practices.

Another important step in ensuring pay equity is protecting workers’ rights to discuss their pay, and increasing our capacity to track earnings of different demographics over time. President Barack Obama is being urged to sign an executive order banning retaliation against the employees of federal contractors for disclosing or inquiring about their wages.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research reports that nearly half of all U.S. workers are either forbidden or strongly discouraged from discussing pay with their colleagues. This often prevents women from knowing that they are being paid less than their male colleagues, and therefore prevents them from being able to challenge discriminatory practices. If the president were to sign this order, more than 20 percent of the U.S. workforce would be able to discuss their salaries without the fear of losing their jobs.

Alarmingly, there is currently no mechanism for federal enforcement agencies to detect widespread wage discrimination, so the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is being urged to quickly finalize and implement its compensation data-collection tool to monitor average starting pay, raises and bonuses, minimum and maximum salaries, number of workers by gender, race, age and ethnicity, and other important data.

We must ensure that our workplace policies truly embody the spirit of aloha by demonstrating that all people are equally valued for their contributions.

2013 Equal Pay Day Fair

Equal Pay Day Fair — November 12, 2013 — UHM Campus Center

It’s Time to Close the Gender Pay Gap

On June 9, 2013, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser published the following op-ed written by Joanna Amberger, president of AAUW of Hawaii and the Honolulu Branch of AAUW.

It’s Time to Close the Gender Pay Gap
By Joanna Amberger

For many people in my generation, it may come as shock to learn that women continue to face work-force discrimination in the form of lower wages. We don’t like to talk about money, so it takes a research report like the American Association of University Women’s The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap (2013) to reveal that, even 50 years after the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, the women in Hawaii on average can expect to be paid only 82 percent of what their male colleagues are paid.

The gender pay gap is personal. For my own profession, I’ve chosen one of the hardest old boys’ clubs to try to break into: finance. According to AAUW’s report, this is the occupation with the biggest gender pay disparity, and I see the evidence firsthand. The broker dealer I use publishes an internal ranking of the top 150 representatives. A survey of that list shows only six women named, with not one in the top 10. That’s a pretty steep professional hill to climb! I’ve got my climbing gear on and I’m scaling that mountain, but there’s no reason that mountain should be so steep in today’s age.

Women’s roles have changed dramatically since the Equal Pay Act was signed into law in 1963. Women today are working to support themselves and their families. A majority of women are in the work force, and in six out of 10 families women are the primary or co-breadwinners. Hawaii families can scarcely afford to have our women earning less simply because our elected officials refuse to redress the injustice of paying workers based on gender instead of their skills and performance.

Yes, women’s roles have changed, but only marginal strides have been made in closing the gender pay gap since the Equal Pay Act was signed into law 50 years ago. Since 1970, the gender pay gap has only closed by 17 percentage points, to an average of 77 percent nationwide.

That’s because the Equal Pay Act has loopholes that make closing this wage gap difficult. The law hinders employees’ ability to learn about wage disparities and to evaluate whether they are experiencing wage discrimination. It doesn’t have any provisions preventing employers from retaliating against employees who ask about wages or share their salary information. And it makes it too easy for employers to pay different wages to male and female employees performing the same job without providing a legitimate business reason.

We need to update this important legislation to give the current generation the tools it needs to continue to close the gender pay gap. The Paycheck Fairness Act would do just that. It would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, prohibit retaliation against workers who disclose their own wages to coworkers, and give employers and employees the tools they need to end unequal pay practices.

Lucky we live Hawaii. Our elected officials understand the importance of this legislation to the people of Hawaii.

Let’s get the Paycheck Fairness Act passed for Hawaii. Let’s make sure our mothers, sisters, wives, aunties, daughters, nieces, grandmothers and granddaughters are treated with the respect they deserve and paid a fair, equal wage for the work they do.