Violence Against Women: A New Case For the Equal Rights Amendment

By Desiree Hoffman
Director of Policy and Advocacy, YWCA USA 

When the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decides cases, they set precedents in interpreting the Constitution and federal laws, precedents that all other courts, both state and federal, must follow. In the realm of legal equality, there are several legal provisions that feminist lawyer, Catherine MacKinnon argues, currently guarantee against discrimination including the 14th amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which she contends  they have “gone as far as they will or can to produce equality of sexes in life.”

National Voter Registration Day is Here!

By Desiree Hoffman
Director of Advocacy and Policy

Desiree Hoffman

Desiree Hoffman

The YWCA USA is excited to partner with Nonprofit VOTE for National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) 2014 on September 23!

Close to 50 local YWCAs across the country are engaged in this day of democracy, and have pledged to register their own staff, or partner with allied organizations such as the League of Women Voters, to vote in the upcoming midterm elections. The stakes are high, with the entire House of Representatives up for grabs and one-third of the Senate up for re-election. And there’s a chance that the House of Representatives could be made up of 20% female Representatives for the first time in its history if key races are won.

The STEM Promise: Opportunities for Economic Empowerment

By Katie Stanton
Social Media and Online Engagement Manager, YWCA USA

equal pay WH graphicNext week, the national conversation will turn to income inequality as we mark Equal Pay Day. This marks the day on which women must continue to work in 2014, in order to earn as much as men did in the previous year.

According to 2012 numbers from the Census Bureau, the wage gap is still 23 cents, with women earning around 77 cents on average for every dollar earned by white men. The wage gap for women of color is worse: in 2012, the earnings of African American women were $33,885, or 68.6 percent of all men’s earnings and Latinas’ earnings were $28,424, 57.5 percent of all men’s earnings.

Live from the 58th UN Commission on the Status of Women

By Desiree Hoffman
Director of Advocacy, YWCA USA

It’s that time of year again. Non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) from around the world, Representatives of Member States and UN entities have arrived in New York City to attend the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The UN CSW was established in 1946 – 1 year after the UN was created. The YWCA has been involved in the UN CSW since its inception.

CSW photos

YWCA participants at the UN CSW

Women at the Forefront of Change: The YWCA One Imperative

By Desiree Hoffman
Director of Advocacy, YWCA USA

In honor of Black History Month, I was pleased to have the opportunity to interview a true YWCA leader: Mary Douglas, a 40-year YWCA veteran and advocate. She was present during one of the YWCA’s most historic moments; she shares her reflections below.

1) Tell me: how did you get involved in the YWCA? What positions have you held?

Mary Douglas

Mary Douglas

We Must Demand Fairness at Work for Pregnant Workers and Their Families

By Desiree Hoffman
Director of Advocacy and Policy, YWCA USA

Desiree with her son, Jace, and his cousin Amelia.

Desiree with her son, Jace, and his cousin Amelia.

I am very close to my siblings. Not a day passes that we don’t check in with each other via text, phone or Facebook. But, until now, I didn’t know that my sister experienced discrimination on the job when she was pregnant.

Some years ago, my sister was hired as a Sales Representative in the shoe department at a major retail chain. She made a commission based on her hourly rate, and received bonuses if customers applied for credit cards. She was only 21 years old at the time, and about to become a single mother.

The Affordable Care Act: A Pivotal Chapter for the Uninsured

By Desiree Hoffman
Director of Advocacy, YWCA USA

The spectacle to defund, replace, repeal or halt the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues in Congress.

Even though House leadership has now voted 42 times to repeal or otherwise undermine Obamacare, they are at it again. In a ping-pong style match, the House and Senate have come to an impasse over efforts to defund and delay the ACA, resulting in a government shutdown that went into effect at midnight last night. The last shutdown, which occurred during the Clinton administration more than 17 years ago, comprised a total of 28 days and cost the nation more than $1 billion, according to congressional researchers. This one, depending how long it lasts, could have huge costs, both economically and otherwise.

Joining our Foremothers on the Lincoln Memorial Steps

By Desiree Hoffman
Director of Advocacy, YWCA USA

March on Washington“We Demand an End to Bias Now!” was inscribed in big letters on the March on Washington rally sign that Bernice Cosey-Pulley, now 86, carried in 1963. She still has two of the rally signs from the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom perfectly laminated in her living room, as she told me when I asked her about her experience there 50 years ago.

Capitol Hill Day 2013: A National Day of Action on Immigration Reform

By Desiree Hoffman
Director of Advocacy, YWCA USA

YWCA Executive Directors, CEOs, Board Members and staff were on Capitol Hill today, advocating for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) that protects the safety, security, and opportunity of immigrant women, girls and their families.

It was a historic year for Capitol Hill Day. This was the highest attendance ever recorded since Hill Day started in 2006, with 288 attendees making their rounds with Senators and Representatives, and a total of 291 visits with Republicans and Democrats alike.  It is truly impressive to have had so many waves of persimmon walking through the halls of Congress, bringing with them a unified message about CIR. Kendra Woodall, Board Member of YWCA Lorain, said: “”I have always wanted to help people and get rid of the injustices in America. Being at the YWCA USA Annual Conference has elevated my interest in immigration reform and politics.”

The YWCA at the UN Commission on the Status of Women: What’s Next?

By Desiree Hoffman
Director of Advocacy, YWCA USA

On Friday, March 15, United Nations officials from 130 member states adopted their agreed conclusions, a 17-page document setting global standards for action to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. It was the culmination of two weeks of discussion, work and “coming together” at the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57).

By issuing this document, governments have made clear that discrimination and violence against women and girls has no place in the 21st century. They have reaffirmed their commitment and responsibility to take concrete actions to end violence against women and girls, and to promote and protect women’s human rights and fundamental freedoms, as Michelle Bachelet, former UN Women Executive Director, outlined when the document was presented.

The adoption of these agreed conclusions provides concrete steps for all nation states to address what we know all too well here in our own country. In the United States, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in a year, and, on average, more than three women will be murdered by their partners every day. 500 women are sexually assaulted each day in America. Globally, as many as seven out of every 10 women will experience violence in their lifetimes. 67 million girls are forced into marriage before the age of 18, according to the U.N. Population Fund. Unfortunately, many cases of rape and violence of women and girls in every country never make the news, but there is consensus now that they must be addressed so that victims can find safety and protection.