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empowering women, girls and their families to achieve equal opportunities in their personal and professional lives

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Posts Tagged: Women's Empowerment

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Roe v Wadewas originally decided in 1973, 39 years later while the findings of the Supreme Court have managed to still be upheld, different and smaller details regarding reproductive rights are making headlines as changes could possibly be made.

Politicians are attempting to decide the fate of women’s reproduction via contraception.  As seen in recent media headlines reproductive rights are becoming a huge political issue again, and this time everyone from the Obama administration, Catholic Church, the current GOP presidential campaigns to the Susan G. Komen Foundation are making their voices heard.

A few days ago Congress held a hearing regarding the new requirements regarding contraception being provided for employees of hospitals owned by the Catholic Church.  And while the list is ever growing regarding who wants their voice heard on the issue, in this very heated debate, there is a noticeable absence of one particular group: women.

CWEALF has joined forces with many briefs regarding women’s reproduction because of its belief that Roe. v. Wade must be upheld. A woman’s freedom to choose from all reproductive options is essential to women’s liberty and women’s equality.

Written by Rita Keeling. Rita is currently an intern at Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund. She aspires to become a Community Advocate.

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You are invited for a screening and discussion of Pray the Devil Back to Hell. This is one of five films from the PBS Women, War and Peace series. The series challenges the conventional wisdom that war and peace is the domain of men.

“A story of sacrifice, unity and transcendence, Pray the Devil Back to Hell honors the strength and perseverance of the women of Liberia. Inspiring, uplifting, and most of all motivating, it is a compelling testimony of how grassroots activism can alter the history of nations.” The film documents a peace movement called Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace organized by social worker Leymah Gbowee, an African peace activist and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner.


When: Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Refreshments: 6:30pm

Movie and Panel Discussion: 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Cost: Free Admission

Where: Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford, CT
21 Charter Oak Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106

 Who:
Hosted by YWCA Hartford Region and Charter Oak Cultural Center in collaboration with Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF), Girl Scouts of CT, Harriet Beecher Stowe Centerand the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW)

RSVP:
LeahF@ywcahartford.org by November 6, or call (860) 525-1163 Ext. 245

Special thank you to our event sponsor 

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In today’s economy, the modern woman finds herself confronted with a significant number of challenges. So many times we see women trying to balance their career and family; Multitasking has become part of a woman’s daily routine. A great number of women are still attempting to do it all: be a wonderful wife and mother, have a successful career, make time to socialize, and still have time for their hobbies and interests.

Being a modern woman in today’s society is not easy, due to the challenges we are faced with on a regular basis. Many professional women still feel societal pressure to prove themselves. Even though we are in the 21st century, and we have seen a lot of progress, women are still faced with obstacles. There’s a lot more to be done. For example, women still earn less than men. While the gap is getting smaller, it’s still a gap…and the women are on the wrong side.

The data offered by the World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development published by the World Bank this month, offers pertinent information regarding women in today’s society from around the world.  In the past 20 years, women’s lives have seen a substantial improvement but at work gender inequality is still a persistent reality. It is still a global “trend” for women to earn 10-30% less than men. Another interesting fact pointed out by the World Bank’s report is that economic growth does not narrow this gap. Additionally, there is a clear division between “men’s jobs” and “women’s jobs.” Women are now predominant in fields like retail and public administration, communications, health and education. However, traditionally male occupations have seen no significant change. Men still dominate industries such as transportation and mining. The numbers don’t lie: 11% of men work in construction; only 1% of women do.

According to the the World Bank, there are three reasons that can help us explain why this is happening:

1. Discrimination. Some laws (and people) treat the sexes differently, and women are seen less capable to do certain jobs.

2. Women do not have the same access to education that men do which can lead to women being less qualified than their male counterparts. Though advances in female education are widespread, they are not universal.

3. The main reason that women cluster in low-paid fields, the bank argues, is that they do not control their own time.

“A consequence of this uneven sharing of responsibilities among men and women is that women usually enter the labor market with the additional responsibility of domestic work, which affects and shapes the extent of their participation in labor markets and the returns on their endowments.”

In developed countries like Italy or Austria women do at least three times as much housework and childcare as men. Compare this to a less developed country like Cambodia, where they do 50% more. Income has little to do with this.

Not surprisingly, women are more likely than men to take informal or part-time work. There are cases where this is a voluntary choice but sometimes they are pushed by employers’ attitudes or sexist laws. The bank concludes that:

“Reducing the burden of domestic chores on women’s time can open up opportunities in other areas. (…) Progress has been tremendous where lifting a single barrier is sufficient [for example, in education]” 

The reality is that the beliefs and attitudes of an entire society are difficult to change. Due to human biology, women will always have the babies and men in general will always be physically stronger. It’s just a fact of life, but this isn’t what makes society sexist. It’s that women are still paid less, and the off-balance ratios of men to women in jobs that can be done just as well by either sex. People still assume a secretary is a woman and a mechanical engineer is a man. Change may be slow, but it’s happening!

Additional source: Women Across Cultures: A Global Perspective, 3rd Edition by Shawn Meghan Burn

B. Perez

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Despite advancements in workplace gender equity, the women’s movement that began almost a half a century ago is still struggling to achieve their goal. According to the National Women’s Law Center, on average, women make 77% of the salaries paid to men. This statistic does not control for factors like industry, job position, education levels, etc. However, even when these factors are statistically isolated, men with the same job title in the same industry still earn 11% more than women.

Researchers have attempted to minimize the statistical significance of these figures by directing one’s attention from gender discrimination to other factors that may account for such extreme wage disparities. Below are some examples of theoretical explanations for the gender income gap.

  • Women disproportionately select jobs in lower paying fields. Women choose to work as teachers, nurses, and secretaries while men more often work in higher paying fields as lawyers, scientists, and engineers.
  • Although fewer women fulfill stereotypical gender norms, parenting and elderly care are overwhelmingly considered the responsibilities of women. To employers, these responsibilities threaten job commitment and efficiency due to time taken off for maternity leave or other family obligations. As a result, an employer may believe they are taking a higher risk by hiring a woman because her family ties may decrease her productivity.
  • As evidenced by the rarity of female C-level business executives and national political leaders, very few women have been able to break through the glass ceiling. Positions of power are reflected by higher salaries and since women are less likely to occupy these jobs, they consistently will make less on average than men.

However, according to Douglas Massey’s research in “Categorically Unequal: The American Stratification System”, 41% of the gap still cannot be explained by this reasoning. These factors do not attempt to justify wage disparities, however, they do distract from the base discrimination against women in the workplace that plays a crucial role in their inability to earn as much as their male counterparts.

So, how can we as women combat unexplained gender discrimination in order to get the pay we deserve? Studies have shown that by being more assertive, one can negotiate their worth in the workplace by asking for higher salaries. In a study at Carnegie Mellon University, men were 8 times more like to ask for a higher pay than women. I know in my professional life, I have at times taken less than what I think I deserve because I didn’t want to offend anyone or be considered demanding or ungrateful. But, by not even trying to get more, I ended up only hurting myself.

Women need to be more assertive in asking for what they deserve. And need to have the facts to validate why they should earn more, whether it’s their qualifications, education, or the value they can bring to the job.

However, as a word of caution, a follow-up study found that women’s concerns of seeming pushy or difficult to work with when asking for a higher salary were not completely unfounded. In fact, it was illustrated that women were viewed less favorably than men when asking for a higher salary. To many, the social risks outweigh the potential fiscal gains. With that in mind, I still urge you to try and negotiate for a higher salary and take control of your fate. Only you can speak for you. The worst they can say is No, but even so, you have empowered yourself.

M. Sloan

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When I reflect on my childhood and adolescence, I can identify a number of times that I convinced myself that I could not do something or I was not good enough. I played soccer from 1st grade until middle school and I really enjoyed it. In 8th grade, I didn’t make the girls soccer team. I believe I handled the rejection fairly well. I shed no tears and moved on to the next opportunity. I actually loved that year. I was cast as one of the leading roles in our school musical and I made friends that I still have today. However, I have not played soccer since I was thirteen. Why? Because I allowed a subjective party’s arbitrary decision determine my value as soccer player. I have believed “I am not good at soccer” ever since.

Would I have been a soccer star who ignited the nation’s passion for the sport like Abby Wambach? Probably not. But why did I need to be? Soccer was something I enjoyed and had fun playing. Looking back, I see that I quit on myself.

Some psychologists refer to the inner voice in your head that perceives your conscious and subconscious thoughts and feelings as self-talk. While there is positive self-talk, like “I can’t wait to see the movie tonight” or “I need to study for the exam”, the negative self-talk I am referring to can be completely debilitating. This is the voice that views your life and abilities through a pessimistic and unrealistic lens. Negative self-talk can be looking in the mirror and saying “I’m ugly” or not applying to a job you really want because “You’d never get it anyway”.

How can this voice be stopped? To start, you must look within yourself, and ask, “Am I basing this belief on facts or is this just my own self-doubt”. So, using the example that you think you would never get the job, is that because you do not have the qualifications to be hired or because you think they want someone with a better personality than you have? Once you decide whether your self-defeating thought is real or imagined, look for another explanation as to why you may be saying you can’t do something. Perhaps in the past, you applied for a job you really wanted and never heard back. You are afraid to be rejected again, so to avoid failure, you immediately accept that you will fail before you try.

The next step is to distant yourself from the emotional aspect of your negative self-talk and attempt to put your thoughts into perspective. As part of this example, remind yourself that, at worst, you may not hear back again. However, you already know that you have the strength to get through that situation since it has happened already and you have prevailed. Finally, identify the goal you were originally denying yourself, and brainstorm strategies to achieve that goal. In this example, to get the job you want, draft a strong resume, practice your interview skills, and network with the right people.

Employ these strategies the next time a self-limiting thought pops into your head. You may be surprised that by challenging rather than automatically believing these thoughts to be true may completely reshape your way of thinking.

I believe, as women, we need to band together and continue to encourage and empower each other. Especially as parents, we need to give our children the tools to deal with negative self-talk for their confidence may waiver as they grow.

Although I regret the years I have spent not playing soccer, I look at the situation now and realize that by changing my hardened thought process, I am ready to play soccer again. Because I enjoy it. And that IS enough.

M. Sloan