Monthly Archives: August 2015

Senate Women’s Adequate Healthcare Study Committee

Capitol 2 edit thumbnailIn 2015, the Georgia Senate approved Senate Resolution 560 creating the Women’s Adequate Healthcare Study Committee.  Members appointed to this study committee include Sen. Renee Untermann as chair, Sen. Greg Kirk, Sen. Dean Burke, and Sen. Nan Orrock.

The Senate Women’s Adequate Healthcare Study Committee will hold it’s first meeting on Monday, September 14, 2015 at 2:00 pm in the State Capitol Room 450.  Meetings are open to the public.

You can find the text of Senate Resolution 560 here:  SR 560 Women’s Adequate Healthcare Study Comm (1)

Striking for Equality

Do you remember the day women across the country went on strike?  Me neither.  I was four months old when it happened, but it was the largest protest for gender equality in U.S. history.

Betty Friedan and the National Organization For Women organized the nationwide Women’s Strike for Equality on August 26, 1970.  Ninety major cities and small towns held rallies that brought together women from across the political spectrum to demand equal opportunities in employment and education.  In New York City alone, 50,000 women marched down Fifth Avenue.

The strike achieved its goal of bringing attention to the status of women in the United States.  The New York Times even published their first major article on the feminist movement due to the events on that day.

A year later, Congress approved a bill, introduced by Bella Abzug (D-NY), declaring August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day.  That day is not only the anniversary of the Women’s Strike for Equality; it is also the anniversary of the day women got the right to vote with the signing of the 19th Amendment by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby in 1920.

The strike and the creation of Women’s Equality Day marks a turning point in the efforts of women in the U.S. to be treated fairly under the law.  For those of us who were born around 1970 and later, we do not know a time when women were not allowed to vote, were not in the workforce in large numbers, or were not in the halls of Congress or state legislatures.  We have always worked in an environment where the 1963 Equal Pay Act held employers accountable for paying us equally.  We have always had women ahead of us proving that we could be anything we wanted to be when we grew up.

We watched women storm the boardrooms in the 1980s with big shoulder pads and even bigger hair.  We watched Sally Ride fly into space on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983.  We watched as women like Carly Fiorina took the helm as CEOs of major corporations and as Madeleine Albright took the post of Secretary of State becoming the top diplomat of the U.S. government.  We watched as Sandra Day O’Conner was appointed the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Just last week, we watched as the first two women graduated from U.S. Army Ranger School.  There are still more firsts to conquer, but we are getting there.

Now we watch Mad Men and giggle at the blatant sexism of the 1950s and 1960s as we cheer for Peggy Olson breaking down barriers in the advertising industry.  The idea that a woman needed to be a pretty office ornament as well as a competent typist seems so quaint.

Today women make up more than half of the work force.  Women earn more than 57 percent of the bachelor’s degrees, and 60 percent of the master’s degrees.  Women are small business owners and executives in large corporations.  It is no longer novel to have a female doctor.  Here in Georgia, we lead the nation in the growth of women-owned businesses.  The suffragists who fought for our right to vote and the women who stood up for equality in the workplace have created a culture where today’s young women have a world of opportunities available to them.

Even with all the victories we have witnessed, there are still barriers to break down so all Georgia women can take advantage of these opportunities.  Women are woefully underrepresented in the lucrative STEM fields.  Women and girls are trapped in poverty at higher rates than men are.  Georgia is at the bottom of the heap in the number of women in elected office, and women’s access to healthcare in the state is just as bad.  We rank 49th or 50th in maternal mortality and 45th in low birth weight babies.  Forty of our 159 counties have no obstetrical care providers.  Atlanta also makes a dubious list as one of the top places in the nation for Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking.  We still have much to do.

Today as we remember the debt we owe to the women who came before us, let’s dedicate ourselves to creating a better world for the women coming behind us.  We may not need to take over the Statue of Liberty and hang forty-foot banners from her crown or stop the American Stock Exchange ticker tape as women did in New York during the Women’s Strike for Equality in 1970.  However, we can encourage young women to consider careers in STEM, identify talented women for elected office, or advocate for better health care for the women of our state.

Happy Women’s Equality Day!

 

Karla Jacobs is a member of the Georgia Commission on Women.  She lives in Marietta with her husband, two kids, a dog, and some fish.

 

Dreams of Summer

CleatsI am a soccer mom.  Like soccer moms worldwide, I watched the Women’s World Cup with my daughter this summer and talked with her about how those women on the field were once youth soccer players just like her.  Little girls with big dreams worked hard as they grew up and became young women living those dreams.

At thirteen, my own daughter’s dreams seem to be of the scientific sort.  She wants to make the big discoveries and advance human knowledge.  Her Women’s World Cup moment may be publishing her research in a major scientific journal or landing a coveted university faculty position.  It will come if she believes in herself and works hard to get there.  She is also thirteen, so her dream may change.

Whatever path her life takes, participation in sports will prepare her for success.

Taco Mac was our viewing venue of choice for the Women’s World Cup games this summer, and almost every game found us there ensconced at a table and ready for a raucous evening.  We were never disappointed as everyone in the room hung on to every play and cheered or groaned depending on what was happening on the field.

As I watched my daughter watch the games, I could not help thinking that those young women on the field were once young girls sitting right where she was sitting watching a U.S. women’s national team lead by the likes of Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain as they won Olympic gold in 1996 or the Women’s World Cup in 1999.  Their parents once sat where I sit on Saturday mornings in the fall and spring watching girls play their hearts out on the soccer pitch.

It was a Circle of Life moment and got me thinking about women’s sports and the benefits to the girls who grow up playing them.

I am a beneficiary of the legacy of women’s sports.  I played basketball through my freshman year of college, and I ran track and cross-country in high school.  I attribute much of my adult success to my early participation in sports.  I learned teamwork and leadership from my coaches and teammates, and the life lessons from being part of a team were priceless.  I learned resilience and perseverance in the face of exhaustion, injury, and defeat.  I learned to set goals and work hard to achieve them, and I learned how to face challenges and meet successes with grace.

I want my daughter to learn these things.  We were completely caught up in Women’s World Cup fever this summer.  We read news articles about the USWNT and followed the players on Twitter.  We learned about the goals they set and about their decisions to work harder than anyone else was working.  We learned how their loss in the World Cup Finals to Japan four years earlier was motivating team members to push themselves harder in hopes of a different outcome this time.  We learned about the times they wanted to quit but decided to stick with it a little longer before giving up on the sport they loved.

Their stories are inspiring, and this is why women’s sports are so important.  Coaches in gyms and on fields across Georgia are teaching our girls and young women the skills they need in life to succeed.  Somewhere a tiny gymnast has fallen off a balance beam, plucked up her courage, and climbed back on it to try again.  Somewhere a softball team has fallen short in a tournament, and the players have vowed to work harder and try again.  Somewhere a basketball player has decided she wants a college scholarship and is putting in extra time at the gym to make that happen.  Somewhere a swimmer has Olympic dreams and is putting in the extra laps at practice to get her there.

U.S. women’s national team member and Georgia’s own Kelley O’Hara told People Magazine, “For me it’s just about that self-confidence and finding what you love and just chasing after it with reckless abandon and never letting anyone tell you that you can’t do something. If you have a goal and you set your mind to it, you can absolutely achieve it.”

The number of young athletes who will become Olympians or play on the World Cup stage is small, but the number of young athletes who will become doctors, scientists, engineers, teachers, business executives, and leaders is enormous.  The lessons they learn on the field, in the gym, or in the pool will be with them throughout their lives and careers.  I encourage all girls and women to find a sport they love and play their hearts out.

USWNT coach, Jill Ellis, summed up the Women’s World Cup win nicely.  When asked at the end of the championship game how she felt about winning the World Cup, she said, “I’m so happy for every little girl who dreams about this.”

The U.S. women’s national team taught us all about living our dreams and striving toward our goals this summer.  I hope our daughters were listening.

 

Karla Jacobs is a member of the Georgia Commission on Women.  She lives in Marietta with her husband, two kids, a dog, and some fish.  She is looking forward to the upcoming fall soccer season and the sweaty uniforms, muddy cleats, and happy girl that come with it.

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