HERvotes Blog Carnival: Protecting Unemployment Benefits

by Hannah Gordon, Feminist Majority Foundation

Welcome to the seventh #HERvotes blog carnival on the need to protect women and employment during these tough economic times, with a focus on the importance of extending Unemployment Insurance (UI) before the December 31st deadline.

It is critical that Congress acts before the end of this calendar year to renew federal UI.  The loss of this lifeline will hurt over 6 million people and their families who stand to lose their benefits during 2012.

If Congress fails to extend the benefits, women will suffer.  According to Dr. Adriana Kugler, chief economist for the Department of Labor, 2.2 million women will lose their benefits if UI is not extended.  Many others will be affected too, including 500,000 Latinos and 400,000 Latinas, 1.2 million African Americans (including 500,000 African American women), and millions of children.

UI must be extended in order to protect American families.  1.8 million struggling families will be immediately kept afloat.  This will have a positive impact on our overall economy too; studies show that every $1 spent on unemployment insurance stimulates $2 in growth in the U.S. economy.

Extending unemployment insurance must be a vital priority for Congress.  For many American families and many American women, the protection of their benefits is crucial.

Join us by sharing the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media.

Let’s spread the word and make sure Congress hears our voices.

The blog posts below include personal stories and more information on why unemployment insurance is critical.  Happy reading and thanks for joining in the fight to protect women’s economic welfare.

#HERvotes, a multi-organization campaign launched in August 2011, advocates women using our voices and votes to stop the attacks on the women’s movement’s major advances, many of which are at risk in the next election.  We are very excited HERvotes is growing in membership and reaching millions of people.

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

Congress Must Protect the Lifeline Women and Families Depend On– Vicki Shabo, National Partnership for Women and Families

A Day Of Thanks & Of Aspiration: No Child Should Be Hungry On Thanksgiving, Or On Any Day – Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Mom’sRising.org

No Time for Games: Extend Unemployment Insurance– Katie Kopania, Say It Sister- NOW’s Blog for Equality

The Cycle of Abuse and Financial Security– Lauren Levine, Jewish Women International

Looking for Jobs that Don’t Exist Is Hard Work – Anna McClure, National Women’s Law Center

Latinas call on Congress to Extend Unemployment Insurance Set to Expire on Dec 31– Natalie D. Camastra,  National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

Extend Unemployment Insurance!– Heather Munro Prescott, Knitting Clio

At the Edge-Emily Alfano, National Council of Jewish Women

Women and Families Need Unemployment Benefits Extended Now!- Carol Rosenblatt, Coalition of Labor Union Women

I may lose my home because I can’t find work–  Juli from Wisconsin, unemployedworkers.org

I Want My Pay Equity– Emmily Bristol, Sin City Siren

Women and Unemployment–  Dren

Women, Black Workers Hard Hit By Attacks on Public Employees– Tula Connell, AFL-CIO

Even in a Recession, Flex Makes (Dollars and) Sense– Nanette Fondas, MomsRising.org

Unemployment Insurance in the 1930s and Today– Michael J. Wilson

And Now, About Those Mega-Rich Alleged Job Creators…– Lily Eskelsen, National Education Association

Congress Should Act Now to Extend Unemployment Insurance– Beth Scott, American Association of University Women

The 99% and Our Homes– Nancy Wilberg-Ricks, National Council of La Raza

Small Steps Forward in Job Gains, But Not Enough to Close Gender Gap– Caroline Hopper, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Unemployment and Taxes– Andrew Brusnahan, UnemployedWoman.com

Unemployed Blogger Finds Humor In Rich/Poor Divide– Claire Gordon, AOL.com

I Am ‘Occupying’ D.C. for My Children and Future Generations– Linda Evans

When My Husband Faced Unemployment– Karoline, Mom’s Rising

Unemployment Insurance is the LEAST We Can Offer Working Families- Elisanta “Lisa” Batista

Without Unemployment Insurance, My Family Would Have To Choose Which Bills to Pay Teresa “Tigger” Rey, Mom’s Rising

Good Education. Good experience. Still Unemployed– Theresa Witt

Holiday Fear– Christy Jones, AAUW

Unemployment, Congress, and People Like Me– Danielle Jackson, National Women’s Law Center

The Pathways Back to Work Act: A Must-Pass Piece of Legislation for Women– Julie Vogtman, National Women’s Law Center

Happy Holidays, Congress! It’s Time to Extend UI– Julie Vogtman, National Women’s Law Center

“No Christmas for Congress” Unless UI is Extended– Anna McClure, National Women’s Law Center

November’s Drop in Unemployment News Leaves Vulnerable Groups Behind- Abby Lane, National Women’s Law Center

Action Alert: Tell Congress to Extend Unemployment Insurance- YWCA USA

Navigating Unemployment– Jen, Mom’s Rising

Women, the Economy, and Unemployment Insurance– Angel Savoy, Metro DC Chapter, Coalition of Labor Union Women

Unemployment Insurance, Good For People, Good For Country– Sherry Saudners, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation

Women and the Unemployment Crisis– National Association of Social Workers

Surviving a Corporate War on the Middle Class– Verlene Jones, Seattle Washington, Coalition of Labor Union Women

Extend Unemployment Benefits, But Don’t Stop There- Lindsay Beyerstein, Ms. Magazine Blog

Tough Job Market for Recent College Grads– Corrina Beall, Feminist Majority Foundation

Women, Sexism, Racism & the Economy: Why Congress Needs to Reauthorize Unemployment Insurance- The Opinioness of the World

Let(ting) Her Die is NOT an Option

“I was pregnant, I was miscarrying, I was bleeding. If I had to go from one hospital to the next trying to find one emergency room that would take me in, who knows if I would even be here today. What my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are trying to do is misogynist,” admonished Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) from the floor of the House last week.  What she’s warning against sounds impossible.  Why would a dying woman be refused life saving measures?

This scenario could not just be a horror story- it could be reality.  The Let Her Die bill (officially called the “Protect Life Act” H.R. 358), sponsored by Representative Joe Pitts (R- PA) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), seeks to do just this.  The bill would “prohibit federal funds from being used to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion services.”  The Hyde Amendment has prohibited federal funding of abortion since 1976, so what makes this bill different?  Let Her Die allows any hospital with moral objections to abortion to deny women the procedure, even if the life of the woman is at risk.

Hospitals would be allowed to NOT save the life of a dying woman on “moral grounds”.

Such a cruel bill would never become law, right?  Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case.  Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Let Her Die bill with all Republicans except two voting for it.  That’s right, members of the United States Congress actually signed off on a law that would allow women to be denied lifesaving treatment!

Before becoming law, the bill has to be approved by the Senate, a situation that is extremely unlikely to happen.  Plus, President Obama has said he would veto the bill immediately.

As Representative Speier’s story shows, real lives are at stake.  Real women will die if this bill would become law.  Congress must realize that Let[ting] Her Die is NOT an option.

African Women Need Contraception AND HIV Prevention

A study published on Monday called into question the benefits of injectable hormones, the most popular form of contraception used in Southern and Eastern Africa, and identified a link between the contraception and HIV transmission.  The study appeared in a front page, above the fold article in Tuesday’s New York Times, attracting attention to the possible implications for the women of Africa who rely on this method of contraception.

Affordable and convenient contraception is a pressing issue for women in sub-Saharan Africa who often face dangerous unintended pregnancies.  Injectable hormones protect a woman for multiple months and are more convenient than oral contraception.  However, researchers found that women who used the injectable contraception had twice the risk of contracting HIV from their partner than those who had not used contraception.  It is unclear what is responsible for this but researchers suspect that the cause could be biological.  Researchers dismissed the idea that diminished condom usage was a cause as they found that the couples continued to use condoms whether or not they received the injectable contraception.

Reproductive protection and HIV prevention is a global issue that has an extreme impact on women living in sub-Saharan Africa.  Women in this region are at great risk of infection and death during childbirth.  Many marry and have children at very young ages and family planning can help women to time pregnancies.  In sub-Saharan Africa, HIV disproportionally affects women, with females accounting for 60% of those infected with HIV.

Reproductive rights and HIV prevention are entangled in one another and cannot be addressed separately.  The recent study is disheartening but doesn’t mean that the government should restrict contraception.  The study itself does not necessarily mean that contraception- including injectable hormones- is not the answer.   The data was collected through self-reporting and lacked the precision of a clinical trial.  Still, the study needs to be taken seriously.  Access to contraception is an important issue in sub-Saharan Africa and attempts to limit access to injectable hormones could have dire consequences.  This study must be a push to take innovative action.

Women’s rights need to be protected so they can have access to birth control AND prevent the spread of HIV.  Researchers suggest that there should be an emphasis on condom use and that there needs to be better access to and education about multiple alternative contraceptive methods.

The fight to protect women’s reproductive rights and the prevention of HIV is not a zero-sum struggle.  Instead, these are two linked issues that can be addressed in conjunction with one another.  In a region such as sub-Saharan Africa where women marry young and face devastating health risks, there needs to be protection of contraception and education about a woman’s options.

Though the study provides a grim look at potential problems of one form of contraception, it could have some positive impacts.  It can draw attention to the issue of women’s reproductive rights and HIV protection.  This can help prompt the research and education momentum that is necessary if women’s health is to be protected globally.

HERVOTES: “Mancession” Gives Way to “He-covery”

As the “Mancession” gives way to the “He-covery”, women are calling for their fair share.  President Obama’s jobs bill offers a plan to get Americans back to work, allocating funds ranging from payroll tax cuts to those for school revitalization. The White House estimates that 280,000 teacher layoffs will be avoided.  Women represent 78% of pre-K through 12th grade teachers and this will provide vital relief.  Furthermore, the extension of unemployment benefits will alleviate the economic woes of some of the 2.6 million women receiving this financial lifeline.  77.9 million women in the workforce will see greater take-home pay as the payroll tax cut is extended.  These components will help our nation’s women as we get back to work.  The bill goes even further though, notably helping those women who have severely suffered— the young and the long-term unemployed.

The overall youth unemployment rate is 25.4 percent.  22.6 percent of women between ages 16 and 19 are unemployed.  The numbers are even worse if you isolate African-American unemployment with 46.5 percent of African-American youth unemployed.  This staggering number has consequences for our society as a whole as reflected in the most recent American poverty rates.  The American Jobs Act does try to address this; $2 billion will be set aside for youth subsidized employment and an additional $1.5 billion will be allocated to help provide year-long and summer jobs for unemployed youth.  Those who dropped out of high school or lack basic skills will be given priority in these programs.  Some of these opportunities will even include childcare so that young mothers can have a fighting chance to gain skills and a link to the workplace.  This is a problem that needs to be addressed if women of all ages (and men too) are to experience real recovery.

But it’s not just the young who are critically suffering. Laurie-Ellen Shumaker, a 59 year-old lawyer who was laid off in early 2009 told her story to the Huffington Post, saying she has applied for over 1,000 jobs in the past year and a half.  She likened getting an interview to “seeking unicorns.”  Laurie-Ellen is just one of the 2.8 million women who have been unemployed for over 6 months.  The American Jobs Act tries to mitigate this by extending unemployment benefits and offering tax-credits of up to $4,000 to employers who hire someone who has been out of work for over 6 months.  It goes even farther though, specifically setting up legislation that makes it illegal to discriminate against the unemployed.  Employers would not be permitted to arbitrarily reject applicants who are currently unemployed nor could they post job requirements that bar the unemployed from applying.  If the American Jobs Act becomes law, unemployed workers will have the legal protections that they deserve and Laurie-Ellen and the other 2.8 million women will have an important safeguard.

The American Jobs Act can help women who are unemployed.  It offers assistance to our teachers, those in the public sector, non-profit organizations, those receiving unemployment benefits, and many others.  On top of all that, it doesn’t ignore those women who have been ignored for far too long.

This blog is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival. Read more HERvotes posts by other women’s groups.

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