KAW Visits the Women’s Leadership Institute

International Women

Nineteen women from six countries (Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Mongolia, Morocco and Pakistan) are spending the summer in Lawrence as part of the Women’s Leadership Institute at the University of Kansas. On July 2, I had the incredibly enjoyable experience of sharing a dinner table with four members of this year’s class. Our conversation focused on politics, as the women at my table are all very interested in increasing the number of women in office in their respective home countries.

We shared our frustrations that women are underrepresented in the political spheres in all of our respective political regions. In their countries, the twenty-something percent of women Kansas legislators would be a significant improvement over the status quo. But I think we all agreed that none of us will be satisfied until women, who make up about around 50% of the population – and 54% in Pakistan, I learned –are represented proportionately in public office.

We talked about other issues that could be improved if more women were in public office. When the group members learned I work with domestic violence victims, they wanted to know about the kinds of domestic violence behaviors I see most often. The most dangerous behaviors that are reported in the areas I serve in Kansas tend to be strangulation and blows to the head, generally inflicted by the victim’s intimate partner. I learned that in Pakistan, it is not uncommon for a woman to be burned by sulfuric acid in her home; the most common perpetrator, in a culture where women live with their husband’s families after marriage, is the victim’s mother-in-law.

One of the women shared her frustration that women in her country have the constitutional right to vote, but many women are prevented from voting because the religious tribal leaders in their communities do not allow them to get to the polls to physically cast their votes.

We talked about ways to get more women elected, from having honest discussions with potential candidates about what it takes to win, to the kinds of training that are most beneficial to political candidates, to how we can help women candidates raise the funding they need to get elected.

At KAW, our focus is getting women elected to public office in Kansas. But we also realize that our world is made better with every woman, anywhere in our world, who is elected to public office with the goal of using her office to improve the plight of all women.

-Rebekah

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Want to get involved?

As you may know, KAW is recruiting good women candidates to run for public office in Kansas. A lot of women don’t think of themselves as viable candidates unless they are asked to run. Even then, it may take some time to convince them.

So, for those of you who aren’t ready to run for the state legislature, there are more accessible opportunities for you. There is a big need for more women to be involved at all levels of government. You can get involved in local government by attending a city commission or school board meeting, or consider running when the next election comes around (sorry . . . we’re always recruiting).

You could join one of the many advisory boards or committees in your city/town. There are lots of options, which vary from city to city, including groups like the tree board, library board, airport board and recreation committee. We’ve started a list of links to city board/committee openings here, but we know we haven’t gotten every city added to the list yet. (If you see a city we need to add, please email that link to us at kansansadvancingwomen@gmail.com.)

There is a need for women to run for county commissions as well; in 2012, women held only about 10 percent of all seats statewide (in a state where we make up 50.4 percent of the total population). The next regular election for county commission seats is in November 2014, so start thinking about open seats in your county.

There are dozens of ways you can get involved in your community and make a positive difference in our state. And when you decide your next step of involvement, send us a note. We’d love to share your ideas with the other members of KAW.

Rebekah (published 6/25/13)

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Thank You Madam President

It is time to start investing in women leaders!
Misrepresentation.org reports that only 21% of girls believe they have what it takes to be a leader. Currently only 18% of American leadership positions, political or otherwise are held by women. Women make up merely 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs and comprise 9% of movie directors –the exact same number as in 1998.
Madam President is working to increase these numbers. Through its annual weeklong summer camp on the University of Missouri – Kansas City campus, Madam President instills confidence and teaches girls aged 10-14 leadership skills and campaign strategies. The camp serves as a valuable introduction to local government leaders. During the camp, young women are introduced to women political leaders and matched with a mentor to guide them through their leadership development. They also develop the skills necessary to run campaigns in their school.
This year’s camp is June 10-14. Start planning ahead for next year! The camp costs $250 and scholarships are available. In the meantime, show your support of this fantastic endeavor in other ways. Please visit www.facebook.com/MadamePresidentCamp for more information and help Madam President develop the next generation of women leaders.
Thank You Madame President.

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A Legitimate Use of Exclamation Points

Well friends, KAW hosted its first social event last night (an UnHappy Hour— more on that later) and it was a great time! But who wouldn’t love spirited people, great conversation, beer, and popcorn? We had a fun mix of old KAW supporters and fresh faces interested in learning more about our mission to help elect more progressive women to public office. And not just fresh-faced women, but men as well! Three cheers for progressive minded male supporters! Listening to both men and women, young and old, say “yes, we feel the voice of women is lost in Kansas politics” and “yes, we are dedicated to fixing that problem” helped reaffirm to us, the founders of KAW, that the time and energy spent creating this PAC was worth it!

Now you may ask, Laurel, why so many exclamation points? Are you like a teenage texter (LOL)? If this was an UnHappy Hour, shouldn’t this be a somber blog with lots of scary facts and periods (for that see Heather’s blog on unequal pay)? A clever thinker you are my friend. This event was designed to create excitement by using an “unhappy” reality; yesterday, April 9th, was Equal Pay Day. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, “This day symbolizes how far into 2013 a woman must work to earn what men earned in 2012” (www.pay-equity.org). Recognizing this day felt like the perfect opportunity to get people excited about KAW’s mission. So while the day marked an unhappy reality (period); it also marked KAW’s exciting launch into the public sphere (exclamation point)!

For those that joined us last night —- thank you! We hope it was as inspiring for you as it was for us. For those that could not make it, don’t worry, more KAW events are on the way, so just keep checking our events tab and join us on Facebook. Finally a special “shout out” to the Red Lyon for allowing us to host our event there; you complete me (and by “me” I mean KAW).

Take care friends and we’ll see you soon! Keep fighting the good fight!

Laurel

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Mind the Gap

April 9, 2013—Equal Pay Day—symbolizes how far into 2013 a woman must work to earn what a man earned in 2012.

In 2011, women working full time in the United States were paid 77% of what men were paid. In Kansas, the numbers were even lower; Kansas women were paid 75.6% of what Kansas men were paid. The average median wage for full-time, year-round female workers in Kansas was $33,269 compared to $43,993 for full-time, year-round male workers. This wage gap, more than $10,000, is equivalent to 15 months of rent; 3,072 gallons of gas; a year of tuition at the University of Kansas; the cost of a 2006 Ford Focus; or 18 months of childcare.

The gender wage gap is a problem across every occupation. In April 2012, The Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that median wage earnings were lower for women than for men in nearly all occupations, even those historically dominated by women. Compounding the problem, female-dominated occupations tend to pay less than male-dominated occupations at similar skill levels.

This disparity exists even when comparing high education level occupations—dispelling the myth that the gender wage gap does not account for education level or experience. Male doctors and lawyers earn significantly more than their female counterparts do. After considering specialties, practice setting, work hours, and other related factors, a study of newly trained doctors found the gender pay gap was almost $17,000 in 2008. A 2012 study of lawyers found that women lawyers made 79.6% of men lawyers’ salaries.

The gender wage gap is even larger between white, non-Hispanic men and minority women. In 2011, African-American women made 64 cents to every dollar earned by a man and Hispanic women made 55 cents to every dollar.

Congress enacted the Equal Pay Act with the aim of abolishing wage disparity based on gender in 1963. Fifty years later, women are still earning nearly 25% less than a man earns for doing the same job. It is time to finally end the gender wage gap.

Confirm the facts:

http://www.pay-equity.org/PDFs/IWPR-Occupation2012.pdf

http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-law-us

http://social.dol.gov/blog/myth-busting-the-pay-gap/

http://www.nwlc.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/wage_gap_faqs_sept_2012.pdfhttp://www.pay-equity.org/info.html

Heather

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