Latest from OWL

Thursday April 28, 2016

Miami-Dade Commissioners Pass United Nations Convention to End Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

On September 1st, 2015 the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously in support of an ordinance presented by Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, former OWL board Vice-President, to implement the United Nations Convention to End Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The new ordinance adopts the spirit and underlying principles of the international treaty. CEDAW was adopted by the UN in 1979 but has never been ratified by the United States. Miami Dade is the first county to pass the ordinance and joins other “Cities for CEDAW” nationwide. Originally sponsored solely by Commissioner Levine Cava, the ordinance picked up an additional seven sponsors, over half of the Board.

Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava comes to elected office after having served as an advocate for South Florida residents and communities for over 30 years. Through her experiences working with diverse communities in Miami-Dade, the Commissioner understands first-hand the importance of empowering and supporting women. Issues like pay-equity, access to health care and paid family leave are not just “women’s issues”; they are economic development issues that affect families across the geographic and socioeconomic spectrum. This is why Commissioner Levine Cava championed the Miami-Dade County CEDAW initiative: so that the county could have up-to-date, accurate information on women in Miami-Dade and attempt to address any disparities through policies and initiatives.

The legislation is designed to empower the county’s Commission for Women (CFW). The CFW is an advisory board within the Miami-Dade Office of Community Advocacy that reports directly to the Commission Chairperson, the county and the public at large about issues pertaining to the status of women. The CFW will take on preparing the annual CEDAW report and will make recommendations to the Commission and the Office of the Mayor based on the report’s findings.

The reports will focus on three main areas: economic development (which includes pay equity), health and safety (including crimes that disproportionately affect women), and education. It will also ensure that existing county policies on pay equity and gender balance are effective. CEDAW will serve two functions: to inform the Board, the mayor and our communities on the status of women in Miami-Dade, and then use that information to improve our community and help us close the income inequality gap in the county.

“The purpose of the ordinance is to track the status of women and girls comprehensively in Miami-Dade County so that the Commission can make sound public policy based on objective data. By tracking these critical indicators, we will have access to objective, empirical data to better evaluate local public policy, particularly as it relates to pay parity and reducing violence against women.” said Commissioner Levine Cava. “CEDAW will help us better understand the challenges facing women and girls, and bring us one step closer to helping all of our residents thrive and prosper, free of discrimination.”

A major component of the CEDAW initiative was engaging the community around the legislation and women’s issues in the community. Commissioner Levine Cava’s office took on the role of informing and engaging Miami-Dade residents around this initiative and men and women from around the county attended the final commission vote to show their support. The community at large was our most essential strategic partner. Their backing assured us that CEDAW was much needed in our community. 

Through CEDAW and other economic development legislation, Commissioner Levine Cava hopes to empower our diverse community so that all Miami-Dade County residents may live up to their fullest potential and have the opportunity to thrive.

Posted by Bobbie Brinegar at 10:45 AM

Tuesday April 12, 2016

“Deeds Not Words”

Activist Alice Paul is Recognized as President Obama Designates National Monument Honoring Women’s Equality

Alice Paul, women’s rights activist and founder of the National Woman’s Party, had a motto: “Deeds not words.” On the path to achieving equality in society, it is, more than anything, our actions that demonstrate our commitment and bring about lasting change.

President Obama took such action today when he designated the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum as a national monument.

The House, on Washington’s Capitol Hill, is the headquarters of the National Woman’s Party, whose courageous activism was key to the passage of the 19th amendment and to the 20th century women’s rights movement.

It’s a National Historic Landmark, on the National Register of Historic Places, and a designee of the Save America’s Treasures program.

Now, thanks to the strong support of hundreds of community members and officials — including Senator Barbara Mikulski, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis — this American treasure has been saved.

Renamed the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, it is one of the premier women’s history sites in the country, with a vast collection of archives and artifacts. More than a museum, it’s been a center of political life in Washington for over 200 years, and it continues today the unfinished work of achieving full participation for women through its workshops, conferences, and special programs.

President Obama, in dedicating the new monument, said, “I want young girls and boys to come here, 10, 20, 100 years from now, to know that women fought for equality, it was not just given to them.” I was honored to represent OWL as a witness to this presidential recognition.

The Belmont-Paul is only the second national monument — and only the ninth national park site among over 400 — that commemorates women’s history.

Obama chose to dedicate the monument on April 12, Equal Pay Day — an annual reminder of how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous calendar year.

As we celebrate today’s monument designation, we remain hopeful for more “deeds” that recognize the contribution of women and move them towards full equality and participation in society.

Alice Paul said, “I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.”

Posted by Deborah Akel at 11:38 PM

Tuesday April 12, 2016

Show Us the Money

When women succeed, we all succeed; but more innovation and investments are needed

It was entirely appropriate that the Treasury Department held its 6th annual Women in Finance & Technology Symposium on St. Patrick’s Day, a day symbolized by green. Because green - as in money - is what this gathering was all about: how to earn more of it, how to save it, how to protect it, and how to make it look more like America. Co-hosted by the White House Council on Women and Girls, the event brought together women in senior positions from both the public and private sectors for informative discussions on economic and tech issues. There were panels on enhancing cybersecurity, on inspiring young women to pursue careers in STEM fields, and on redesigning our currency to better reflect our inclusive democracy. Among the most compelling was a presentation by McKinsey & Company’s Vivian Riefberg, who discussed findings of a new report on women’s equality and economic empowerment.

There have long been strong moral and social imperatives for gender equality. But, as Riefberg pointed out, there are increasingly powerful economic ones as well. The McKinsey report, The Power of Parity, found that advancing women’s equality could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025. And in a “full potential” scenario, in which the roles of women and men in labor markets are identical, the number rises to $28 trillion. That’s roughly equivalent to the current size of the economies of China and the U.S., combined.

The basic premise is this: women account for half of the world’s working-age population, and when they can’t achieve their full economic potential, the global economy suffers. The report concludes:

“We believe that the world, including the private sector, would benefit by focusing on the large economic opportunity of improving parity between men and women.”

The report offers six imperatives for bridging the gender gap: financial incentives and support; technology and infrastructure; creating economic opportunity; capability building; advocacy and shaping attitudes; and laws, policies, and regulations. As with all of the challenges discussed at the Treasury symposium, they will require collaborative efforts among the private sector, governments, and nongovernmental organizations.

Considering the positive economic impact that gender equality would create, these imperatives are really investments - in human capital, in society, and in our global markets. The evidence is increasingly clear: equal pay and equal opportunity are not only fair, they’re good for the economy. Let’s invest and innovate towards a more level playing field in the workplace and more prosperity for all.

Posted by Deborah Akel at 10:03 PM

Tuesday February 23, 2016

Full Court Press

In OWL’s latest Huffington Post blog, Executive Director Bobbie Brinegar discusses Congress’ constitutional obligation to fill the SCOTUS vacancy.

In Section 2, Clause 2 of our Constitution—known as the Appointments Clause—our founders laid down clear instructions in the event of a Supreme Court vacancy: the President has the responsibility to appoint a justice any and every time there is an opening on the bench. And because of our system of checks and balances, that nominee must be confirmed by the Senate.

The passing of Justice Scalia has placed this constitutional responsibility on President Obama, and he has pledged to fulfill it. The Senate must also fulfill its responsibility to grant his nominee a fair hearing and a timely vote.

If we look at the historical record since at least 1900, there is no evidence of a president failing to nominate and/or the Senate failing to confirm a Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year due to an impending election. In fact, in that time period, six justices were confirmed in presidential election years, the most recent being Reagan-appointee Justice Kennedy in 1988.

In urging Congress to consider his nominee, President Reagan said: “Every day that passes with the Supreme Court below full strength impairs the people’s business in that crucially important body.” If Congress fails to act, the Supreme Court could - for the first time - have an empty seat for the better part of two terms, leaving us with a weakened judicial system. There are consequential issues coming before the Court, and any 4-4 decisions would have no value in establishing legal precedent on which future decisions and lower courts could rely.

Filling a vacancy on the high court should be viewed as a solemn obligation, not as a political prerogative. In the words of President Reagan: “The Federal judiciary is too important to be made a political football. I would hope, and the American people should expect…for the Senate to get to work and act.” Sadly, partisanship and rancor in Washington too often interfere with the work at hand and the greater good of the nation.

This is a time when Congress needs to rise above the rancor and do its job. And it has plenty of time to do it: since 1975, the average time from nomination to confirmation is 67 days; the Senate has almost a full year to consider and confirm a nominee. Refusing to do so would be an unprecedented dereliction of duty.

Last week, Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a Reagan appointee, summed it up best: “We need somebody there now to do the job, and let’s get on with it.”

Posted by Bobbie Brinegar at 09:16 PM

Friday February 19, 2016

Single Women in Solitude: A Slippery Slope

In OWL’s latest Huffington Post blog, Executive Director Bobbie Brinegar discusses aging and mental health. In the blog, she notes that researchers are calling loneliness the next pressing public health issue and advocates for ways we can help the state of mental health care for America’s rapidly aging population. Read the full blog on Huffington Post here.

Today’s older adults are more likely to live alone than previous generations. Millions of women 65 and over—a full 36%—live alone. The number climbs to nearly half for women 75 and over.

The reasons are varied. Women often outlive their spouses or partners, or see their children move away. Once widowed, older women are more likely to remain unmarried because men tend to marry younger women. There’s been a steep decline in elders living with adult children or other relatives. And 90% of seniors say they prefer to age in their own homes.

With this increase in solo living comes an increased risk of social isolation. As we age, social contacts tend to decrease due to changes like retirement or the death of friends and family. Declining heath, limited mobility, fixed incomes and the challenge of making new friends can deter us from staying active in the game of life.

Social isolation has been shown to have a positive correlation with loneliness, a serious concern for older women. Feelings of loneliness are linked to poor cognitive performance, quicker cognitive decline, and risk of dementia.

Seniors who feel lonely and isolated are more likely to report having poor mental health. And loneliness is a major risk factor for depression: adults who live alone have an 80% higher chance of having depression than those who live with other people.

“Living alone may be considered a mental-health risk factor,” says Laura Pulkki-Råback, Ph.D., lead author of a seven-year study on depression and living alone. “About 1 in every 4 women living alone had purchased antidepressants versus only 1 in 10 women not living alone.”

Researchers have been sounding the alarm that loneliness could be the next big public health issue. With an aging population increasingly living alone, we would be wise to heed their warning. The challenges of aging, coupled with social isolation, can be a slippery slope toward mental illness. We must strengthen the safety net for this vulnerable population.

Connecting seniors with resources such as senior centers, activity programs and transportation services can help to create social networks. Supporting collaborative concepts like villages, which provides services and support to seniors in their own homes, can help to reduce the sense of social isolation. And finally, making a strong commitment to improving our nation’s mental health care is essential. As nearly 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day, and many are living alone, the need for geriatric mental health care grows more urgent and profound.

We must close the gap between federal funds for mental health and aging research and the real and projected mental health needs of older adults. During the recession, mental health funding in states across the country was cut by approximately $4 billion. Last month, President Obama pledged $500 million in new mental health funding. It is a welcome step, but far more will be needed if we are to make up the deficit and seriously address the state of mental health care in America for our aging population.

Posted by Brittany Reid at 04:52 PM

Tuesday February 09, 2016

If not for you

Dear Friend:

It’s Valentine’s Day, and we want to take this opportunity to remind you of how much you are appreciated. Your support makes all the difference in how powerful of a voice we can be for women 40+ on critical issues that impact their quality of life. Thanks to our generous donors, OWL is celebrating 35 years of keeping women’s issues at the forefront of policy discussions. Issues like ensuring meaningful employment opportunities, wage equality, and retirement security; protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; and ensuring access to quality, affordable healthcare.   

And on the subject of health - February is American Heart Month, an annual tradition that began in 1964. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women (and men) in the U.S. For steps you can take to lower your risk, visit: www.fighttheladykiller.org.

Part of OWL’s advocacy is informing and educating members and the public on issues like heart health, the Affordable Care Act, and other topics via our monthly online newsletter, a column on Huffington Post, and our widely circulated Mother’s Day Report, which this year will focus on the timely and important topic of aging in place. 

Only with your support can we continue to make a difference.

Please be our Valentine and make a generous contribution today. 

Sincerely,

Bobbie Ann Brinegar, Executive Director

Posted by Bobbie Brinegar at 04:23 PM

Monday February 01, 2016

LinkAges: Connecting Generations & Communities

At the Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation, part of Sutter Health’s Palo Alto Medical Foundation, linkAges was developed to support older adults in continuing to live independently in their communities while being vitally engaged, enriched and connected with community members of all ages. By leveraging technology to facilitate social interactions across generations (called service exchanges), the program empowers older adults, their caregivers and supporters to engage with one another in meaningful ways. The program’s four related modules can be implemented separately or combined:

Profile: A social health survey that captures information about seniors’ day-to-day lives, interests, needs, and goals that they would like their doctors or linkAges as a system, to know

TimeBank: A community-based network that allows members to exchange hobbies, interests and skills like cooking, board games or driving

List: A localized collection of senior-friendly services and resources

Connect: Passive in-home monitoring of utility usage to detect pre-emptive shifts changes in seniors’ physical and social health status

We designed the linkAges platform to be adopted by communities throughout the United States. It’s currently being tested in the San Francisco Bay Area and Santa Cruz, California. The focus is on making every senior once again, an integral part of their community: connecting all members of a community where one lives, rather than in segregated living facilities or gathering places geared only to seniors, is therefore intentional.

Through linkAges TimeBank, participants earn hours by providing “neighborly services” such as cooking, driving, teaching new skills, and sharing hobbies and interests. They can then use those hours to share hobbies, receive help, or instruction, in return. Through these exchanges, members build community and social connections. Members can also donate hours into the TimeBank’s Community Fund to address the needs of more vulnerable seniors or members experiencing episodic high-need instances, like a temporarily immobilizing medical procedure.

LinkAges TimeBank also includes a program for family caregivers called Meet & Move developed In association with El Camino Hospital, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Meet & Move very simply, is a “Walk and Talk” program with facilitated walks that improves the well-being of family caregivers through addressing physical activity and social isolation. Family caregivers get together to share their challenges of looking after loved-ones while keeping fit themselves. The program, which successfully completed its pilot stage last year, has expanded throughout the San Francisco Peninsula and into Santa Cruz.

LinkAges List is an online platform that combines content about senior-relevant services and resources from social service and community-based databases to create a comprehensive referrals resource to address enrichment as well as everyday needs for seniors and their families.

LinkAges Profile contains information about seniors’ day-to-day lives, interests, needs, and goals that they would like their doctors to know in the context of their healthcare experience. The profile is also intended to link to the TimeBank and List to personalize a members’ linkAges experience.

Connect uses passive in-home monitoring of utility usage (e.g., electricity and water) to proactively detect changes in seniors’ physical and social health status that can be shared via the Web with family caregivers almost like a daily “okay-ness” check. A daily spike in electrical usage at 7 a.m., for example, might be associated with cooking breakfast, while lack of activity may suggest a problem. The data is uploaded to a Web dashboard in a user-friendly format so that a family member or caregiver can be alerted to potential shifts in well-being and health.

760 plus users of ages 18-94 have already exchanged almost 3000 hours of services in the San Francisco South Bay. LinkAges is being made available for adoption by partners nationally, as a place for people of all ages to go to, for making community connections and enriching their lives through meaningful exchanges that improve everyone’s well-being.

For more information, contact John Williams, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), 650-691-6188

Posted by Brittany Reid at 11:08 AM

Tuesday January 19, 2016

Preparing for the Age Wave

In OWL’s latest Huffington Post blog, Executive Director Bobbie Brinegar discusses The White House Conference on Aging, and the timely and much-needed national conversation on the challenges of an aging society it inspired. Below is an excerpt:

We are in the midst of an age wave, brought on by baby boomers who are changing the nation’s demographics and redefining the meaning of old age. Every day, over 10,000 Americans turn 65, and the trend will continue into the next decade and beyond. As we begin the new year, it’s a good time to take stock in our preparedness to deal with the needs of this growing population.

In 2015, we reached significant milestones: it was the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, and the 80th anniversary of Social Security - all successful, cherished institutions critical to the health and well-being of our elderly population.

It was also the year that the White House held its sixth Conference on Aging, a decadal event that brought together seniors, caregivers, policy experts and advocates for discussions on how to improve the lives of older Americans. And it couldn’t have been more timely.

The final report from the Conference has just been released, and it focuses on four areas especially important to seniors: retirement security, healthy aging, long-term services and supports, and elder justice.

Read the full Huffington Post blog.

Posted by Brittany Reid at 02:31 PM

Wednesday December 30, 2015

Presidential Candidate Makes Alzheimer’s Part of the National Conversation

Hillary Clinton has announced an aggressive approach to Alzheimer’s that includes a $2 billion annual commitment to research. That’s the level championed by the dementia movement, which includes the LEAD Coalition to which OWL belongs. Her plan also includes the goal of finding a cure by 2025, and ways to aid caregivers.

Two-thirds of the people over age 65 who have Alzheimer’s are women, as are a majority of
dementia caregivers. A report by Maria Shriver and the Alzheimer’s Association puts the annual economic impact of the disease at $300 billion in the United States alone. The cost of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is $56,800 a year, the bulk of it borne by individual families. With the baby boomers entering their mid-60s, the number of people with the disease is expected to triple to 16 million by 2050.

Clinton is the first presidential candidate to release a proposal on Alzheimer’s disease. As a U.S. Senator, she co-chaired a congressional task force on Alzheimer’s.

Posted by Pat Lewis at 04:15 PM

Thursday December 17, 2015

You Are Still One of Our Favorite Things

There are hundreds of thousands of women and men who embody the holiday spirit year-round.

Day after day, in ways big and small, they strive to improve people’s lives, regardless of whether or not they are acknowledged for their efforts.

OWL’s holiday message this year is one of gratitude for everyone working to change lives for the better.

Your contributions are behind the many welcome heart-warming stories that together point toward a better and more hopeful future.

We are grateful for you.

“The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others’ burdens, easing others’ loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of the holidays.” - W. C. Jones

Posted by Bobbie Brinegar at 11:32 AM

Thursday November 05, 2015

It’s Only Fair

Social Security recipients—who are receiving no cost-of-living increase (COLA) next year—would receive a one-time payment of $580 in 2016 under legislation proposed today by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The amount is 3.9% of the average benefit, reflecting the average raise CEOs at the 350 largest companies received last year.

“It may sound like a small amount to some people, but to a woman who depends on Social Security for basic living expenses, this infusion would mean a lot,” said OWL Executive Director Bobbie Brinegar. “The average annual Social Security benefit for women 65 and older is about $13,500 per year. When you consider what these women have contributed over the years, this ‘bonus’ has definitely been earned.”

It’s also money that will go right back into the economy, Brinegar said. “We know that these are checks that are spent quickly; so it will not only benefit individuals, it will help their communities.”

The one-time payment is not without precedence; a $250 payment was issued to Social Security recipients as part of the 2009 Recovery Act. Later research found that the lump-sum payment was one of the quickest-acting components in that Act.

The cost of the Seniors and Veterans Emergency (SAVE) Benefits Act would be funded by eliminating a tax loophole. Under that loophole, corporations can deduct from their taxable income any amount paid to CEOs and their executives, as long as the pay is “performance-based.” This would save taxpayers $50 billion over 10 years, according to the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation.

Under the legislation, revenue gained from closing the loophole after the one-time payment will be dedicated to Social Security, decreasing the long-range projected shortfall. 

The way the Social Security COLA is calculated has been criticized for years for being based on a Consumer Price Index (CPI) that doesn’t accurately represent how seniors spend money. The current CPI gives more weight to factors like transportation and fuel prices; the drop in gas prices in the last year played a big role in the lack of a COLA increase. Advocates for years have pressed for an alternative index (CPI-Elderly) to be used that would more accurately reflect senior spending.

This is only the third time since 1975 that Social Security recipients are not scheduled for a cost-of-living increase.

Call your Senators today. If they are sponsors of the SAVE Act, thank them. If not, urge them to sign on!

Read more from OWL about women and social security.

Posted by Pat Lewis at 03:51 PM

Tuesday October 20, 2015

Action Needed to Stop Steep Hike in Medicare Costs

By David Lipschutz, Senior Policy Attorney

Center for Medicare Advocacy

Due to a number of converging factors, 2016 Medicare Part B premiums are projected to dramatically increase for some Medicare beneficiaries, and the Part B deductible is projected to dramatically increase for everyone – unless Congress acts to fix it.

On October 15th – the same day that the Medicare Open Enrollment period began, which allows people to make changes to their Medicare Advantage and Part D plans – the Social Security Administration announced that there will be no Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2016. Although the Medicare program has not yet released the official 2016 Part B premium and deductible amounts, this announcement makes it much more likely that these unprecedented increases will occur.

According to the 2015 Medicare Trustees Report, Part B premiums are expected to increase for 30% of beneficiaries by 52% – from $104.90 to $159.30 per month. The trustees also predict that this increase will be accompanied by an increase in the Part B deductible for everyone – up to $223 from $147.

Because there will be no COLA next year, 70% of beneficiaries who have their Part B premiums deducted from their Social Security checks will be protected by a “hold harmless” provision of the Medicare statute, meaning their premiums will stay at the same rate next year ($104.90).

That means the increased costs will be borne by the 30% of individuals described below, rather than a lower amount spread across the entire Medicare population.

The 30% of affected individuals are: o those who will be new Medicare enrollees in 2016; o those with income-related premiums (incomes higher than $85,000 for individuals); o those beneficiaries who pay their premiums directly instead of having it deducted from their Social Security checks (or those who don’t collect Social Security, such as certain government employees); and o individuals dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid (these costs will be paid for by state Medicaid agencies rather than individuals).

There is no “hold harmless” provision that applies to the deductible, so the projected increase from $147 in 2015 to $223 in 2016 (an increase of $76) will apply to all Medicare beneficiaries.  While many Medicare beneficiaries have supplemental or other coverage that includes coverage of the deductible, state Medicaid agencies, employer plans, and certain Medigap plan carriers will pay these increased costs which could, among other things, affect premiums.  Those without any supplemental coverage that covers the Part B deductible will pay the full amount.

It will take action by Congress in order to prevent these steep increases from occurring.  So far, bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate that would hold everyone “harmless” from these premium and deductible increases: “Protecting Medicare Beneficiaries Act of 2015” (S. 2148) introduced by Senator Ron Wyden, and “Medicare Premium Fairness Act of 2015” (H.R. 3696) introduced by Rep. Dina Titus.  Whether and when Congress will act, remains to be seen.

Posted by Pat Lewis at 11:06 AM

Wednesday October 07, 2015

California Closing the Gap

On Tuesday, California took a landmark step in addressing wage discrimination when Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Fair Pay Act, which is being called the strongest equal-pay protection in the nation.

The Act closes loopholes in existing laws that made it difficult for people to prove wage discrimination or challenge their employers.

One such loophole is the phrase “equal work,” which the courts have interpreted to apply only when a male and female worker have the same job title.  The new law changes the standard to “substantially similar work” – and mandates that people doing basically the same job be paid at the same wage rate, regardless of their job title.

Another loophole is that women often are not privy to what their male co-workers earn.  The new law gives them the right to openly ask questions about co-workers’ salaries without fear of retaliation from employers.

California’s law goes beyond federal law by placing the responsibility on employers to prove that higher pay for the same work is based on reasons other than gender – for example, education, experience, skills, merit, or seniority.

Pay Inequality Begins Early On

The pay gap exists nationwide for women at all points in their careers and is even worse for women of color.  And it starts right out of the gate:  a report by AAUW found an inexplicable 7% gender pay gap between males and females just one year after graduating college.

AAUW paygap map

Recent Efforts to Close the Gap

President Obama in 2009 signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which extends the amount of time a woman has to sue an employer once she realizes she’s been illegally paid less for the same work.  He also issued three executive orders in 2014 that help to protect employees of federal contractors from pay disparity.

In Congress, the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen the Equal Pay Act, which hasn’t been updated since 1963, but gridlock has kept it from moving forward.

Popular Support for Equal Pay

The California bill had nearly unanimous bipartisan support, as well as backing from business-oriented groups like the Chamber of Commerce, whose CEO said: “Equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender, should not be an issue in California.”

Most Americans agree.  According to a Pew Research Center survey last fall, 77% of women and 63% of men said, “this country needs to continue making changes to give men and women equality in the workplace.”

Posted by Deborah Akel at 11:49 PM

Wednesday October 07, 2015

Unconventional Wisdom: Life is Too Long, Not Short

Beth Kurth leads investor relations for LeMaitre Vascular; she also chairs the Advisory Council for Boston Women in Finance

How many times have you heard it? Life is too short…  Life is too short to wear boring clothes. Life is too short to hate your job.  To worry about money.  To take a bad exercise class.

But this is exactly wrong.  Life is long, not short.  Too long to dress dully or to hate your job.  If life were too short, it wouldn’t matter.  You could forget about money – spend it all today, why not? Ignore your health – who cares?

Life is too long not to plan.  With life expectancy exceeding 85 years, both women and men need to give careful consideration to the future.  Women in particular need to take proactive steps given their longer lifespans, lower income and potential for higher healthcare costs.

Fortunately, women can and should own their future.  Owning the future is not just planning for retirement, but also taking steps today to ensure lifelong well-being.  Three steps women can take are:

1)    Join a professional association.  Whether it’s the Society of Association Executives or the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, membership in an association will expand your professional network and extend your opportunities.  Already retired? Re-engaging with your profession can provide an opportunity to learn what is new and/or contribute what you know. 

2)    Find an exercise you like.  If Lena Dunham can become an enthusiastic runner, then there is an exercise for every single person.  She notes, “I had to learn, as you age, you have to move. You have to move so you don’t die. You have to move so your brain doesn’t atrophy. You have to move so that you look a little bit like a person that you might want to be. There are a thousand reasons why exercise is important…”

3)    Spend mindfully.  There’s a vast difference between wearing boring clothes and breaking the bank on a clothing budget.  Whether you use a spending app, a monthly budget or a fixed ‘fun fund,’ set a limit on mindless expenditures.  The joy of a balanced budget can be its very own fashion statement.

While there are many wise sayings, “Life is Too Short” is not one of them.  Fortunately, women are wonderfully inventive and we know “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.”  When we acknowledge life can be long, we take the opportunity to own our future.

Posted by Pat Lewis at 10:25 AM

Wednesday September 30, 2015

All-In for the Primaries

In OWL’s latest Huffington Post blog, Executive Director Bobbie Brinegar discusses opening up the primary election process to all voters. Below is an excerpt:

Over half the states have a closed or semi-closed primary system, where only registered members of a party with candidates on the ballot are allowed to vote. Voters who are independent, unaffiliated, or registered with a third party are excluded from voting, or forced to change party affiliation before they can vote.

This is wrong for a number of reasons.

Primaries are publicly funded. Voting machines, election materials, ballot tabulation, etc. are paid for with state tax dollars. All voters deserve the right to participate in a publicly funded election.

Primaries are critical. In many places, especially legislative districts drawn along party lines, the primary vote decides the election.

Read the full Huffington Post blog.

Posted by Brittany Reid at 10:10 AM
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