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WREI UPDATE— Issue 15

 

April 2003

IN THIS ISSUE
Did you know?
Women in the Military
2003 Congressional Fellowship on Women & Public Policy
Women Writing Africa
The American Woman
Protecting Title IX
Where are they now? Catching up with a Former Fellow
Important Upcoming Events

 

DID YOU KNOW?

88 American servicewomen-all but one in the Pacific theater-were taken prisoners of war in World War II.

 

WOMEN IN THE MILITARY

The war in Iraq has evoked tremendous interest in the role of women in the U.S. armed forces. WREI has received up to 25 calls a day from media outlets around the country and the world, eager for information about women soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and Coast Guardsmen. Retired Navy Captain Lory Manning,
director of WREI's Center for Women in Uniform, has provided in-depth commentary on women's participation in the war as well as on the charges of sexual assault at the US Air Force Academy.

Since mid-January, Lory has appeared on the ABC Evening News, CBS's Early Show, "48 Hours," "The Jim Lehrer News Hour," and Fox Network News. She has also provided background for NBC Evening News, NBC Dateline, CNN, MS-NBC, and NPR-Boston. Magazines seeking her expertise include U.S. News and World Report, Defense News Weekly, The American Spectator, Time, People, Glamour, and Woman's Day. Perhaps one of the most interesting inquiries came from Woman's Day: "Are U.S. women soldiers allowed to wear make-up?"

Lory has also provided background and statistics to the Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Colorado Springs Gazette, Dallas Morning News, Grand Rapids Press, Indianapolis Star, Jacksonville Clarion, Atlanta Constitution, New York Times, Oregonian, Santa Fe New Mexican, Denver Post, and the Associated Press wire service.

WREI is also getting out the facts on women in uniform through Lory's radio interviews with Susan Stamburg of National Public Radio as well as other NPR stations in Minnesota, Philadelphia, New Hampshire, and Boston.

 

CONGRESSIONAL FELLOWSHIPS ON WOMEN & PUBLIC POLICY

The seven members of the Class of 2003 are now hard at work in their Congressional offices. Here is what they are doing and where:

JOLEIN ANDERSON is working for Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota in the
area of international women's rights, including the African AIDS crisis and stoning as a cultural discipline. Jolein recruited sponsors for and helped schedule the successful vote in favor of the Congresswoman's resolution on stoning.

In the office of Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Wisconsin, MELANIE DONOHUE is handling a wide variety of health care issues, particularly Medicaid and Medicare. She researched Medicare changes and statistics for the Congresswoman before a recent reform vote and keeps an eye on all proposed changes and cuts to both programs.

JESSICA DONZE is now on the staff of Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, staffing such public health issues as obesity, child nutrition, and Medicaid/ Medicare. Specifically, Jessica works on bills to increase the number of mental health professionals assisting children, provide funding for eating disorder and obesity programs for children, and expand medical nutrition coverage for children under Medicaid.

YOULANDA GIBBONS took a position with Senator Patty Murray of Washington. She is working with various committee staffs to develop legislative strategy and specific legislation dealing with education, particularly targeting children with disabilities and those coming from educationally disadvantaged families, including TANF and the No Child Left Behind Act.

SONIA KANDATHIL is working with health caucuses for Congresswoman Lois Capps of California, including school health and safety, cancer research and prevention, and biomedical research. Sonia has already begun work on legislation to regulate the types of food offered in school vending machines, as well as on microbicides and an HIV vaccine.

DANA McGRATH has joined the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee staff of Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. Dana is handling a wide range of women's issues, including recent Senate abortion legislation and Title IX.

ELIZABETH VOGEL handles women's issues in the office of Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York. She found 200 cosponsors for the Equal Rights/Women's Equality Amendment and helped draft the Fair Play/Equal Access in Membership Resolution, which asks government officials to boycott clubs that discriminate on the basis of race or sex. Elizabeth also staffed the Congresswoman for the SARS hearings and is developing legislation for equitable insurance coverage for double mastectomy patients.


WOMEN WRITING AFRICA

WREI is now the home base for public education about the WOMEN WRITING AFRICA, a landmark literary project ten years in the making. The books brought together over 100 African women to collect, translate into English, and edit documents, histories, stories, poems, newspaper articles, and brochures by African women since the 18th century. When completed, WOMEN WRITING AFRICA will be a four-volume set that divides the continent into geographic regions. The first volume, SOUTH AFRICA, has just been published in hardback.

WREI is organizing events in Washington to celebrate the project and to promote the new history of Africa that highlights the voices of African women. On March 6th, International Women's Day, we joined with the National Council of Women's Organizations at the South African Embassy for a program focused on this unique scholarly effort. A capacity crowd turned out to hear Florence Howe of the Feminist Press and Tuzyline Jita Allan of the City University of New York read stories, poems, and songs of African women.

WREI also partnered with the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University to present Women Writing Africa to the academic community. The seminar highlighted the language, literature, culture, and ideology of this 100 year-old collection and drew more than 30 scholars from universities in Washington, Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. Among the panelists: Dr. Delores Finger Wright, professor of social work at Delaware State University and WREI Fellow (1981-82).

 

THE AMERICAN WOMAN

We are delighted to report that Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney and Sue Kelly sent out copies of THE AMERICAN WOMAN 2003-2004 to every member of the House of Representatives under a joint "Dear Colleague." They cited DAUGHTERS OF A REVOLUTION as "an invaluable resource from an outstanding organization that has a long history of working with members of Congress to provide unbiased, accurate information."

Our publisher, Palgrave Press, reports that the book is selling well and a second printing seems likely. The most recent issue of "On Campus with Women," an electronic newsletter published by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, includes a whole "page" on the book. You can check it out at www.aacu.org/ocww/index.cfm. Pamela Dohring, a Ph.D. candidate at McGill, wrote a fine article in the newsletter of the McGill Centre for Research and Teaching on Women. The Library Journal reviewer described the book as "a user-friendly resource recommended for all libraries."

We are also pleased to announce that former WREI Fellow Suzan Harkness is using DAUGHTERS OF A REVOLUTION as the basic text for her women's studies course at the University of the District of Columbia. PROTECTING TITLE IX. The Women's National Basketball Association is promoting a petition asking President George W. Bush and Secretary of Education Roderick Paige to preserve and enforce current Title IX athletic policies.

Title IX, the legislation that began a revolution for women and girls in sports, faces a threat from recommendations in the final report of the Secretary's Commission on Opportunities in Athletics. Open to All: Title IX at Thirty proposes changes that could seriously weaken the legislation and lead to fewer opportunities for female athletes. Secretary Paige can unilaterally implement these recommendations without Congressional approval. To read the report and recommendations, go to
www.ed.gov/pubs/titleixat30/.

If you believe sports participation opportunities confer benefits to both boys and girls, please consider signing the WNBA petition to tell our government that Title IX works. Click on the link below and pass it on to others. It will be posted until the start of the WNBA season on May 22. www.nba.com/wnba/title_IX_petition.jsp

 

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? FORMER WREI FELLOW ELIZABETH CONWAY, CLASS OF 1986-87, BRINGS US UP-TO-DATE

1. What is your educational background? B.A., Oberlin College; M.A.,Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota

2. With which Congressional office did you work during your WREI Fellowship? I was a Fellow for what was then called the House Education and Labor Committee's Subcommittee on Labor-Management Relations. It's the subcommittee that dealt with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and other pension issues.

3. What are you doing now? My husband, Matt Kane, and I have been tag-teaming our way through parenthood and the paid labor force. We've been fortunate to be able to do periodic trade-offs: one of us works a full-time-plus job while the other works part-time and coordinates the home front, and then after five or six years we switch roles. We made another change last fall, when we relocated from Detroit to Minneapolis and I left my job as Director of Product and Program Development and
Implementation at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Now I've got an office at home, where I work part-time as a consultant on health care policy issues. The rest of my working hours are spent on unpaid kids-and-community stuff - tutoring and other work in the Minneapolis schools, Habitat for Humanity building, etc.

4. How has your WREI fellowship affected your career path? On the career front, the WREI fellowship is what sent me into my field of health benefits and health care policy. During the first days of the fellowship program, we had a speaker who talked about the importance of pension issues to women - and about the unfortunately small number of women with expertise in that area. Her comments led me to an assignment with the House Labor-Management Subcommittee, where I set about learning whatever I could about ERISA (both through my work on the subcommittee and by auditing an ERISA class at Georgetown Law School). Ironically, I spent just a few weeks on pension issues before being assigned to staff
a work group on health benefits that was organized by my subcommittee and the Senate Select Committee on Aging. It was a terrific experience, and I've been in the health policy world ever since - often with an emphasis on the employee benefit side of the issues.

5. Tell us a bit about your family and what you do that isn't work. I've got three children. Maggie is in 6th grade, Nora is in 3rd grade and Kevin is in 1st grade. The kids are involved in the typical array of activities - school, music, art, sports and church. Given the limited number of hours in a day, that's where I spend most of my non-work time. Matt and I are very committed to getting the kids involved in social justice and community service work from an early age, so we're always
looking for family volunteer opportunities. We also like to travel when we have the opportunity.

6. What activity/book/experience/person has changed the way you look at the world? How and when did this happen? I've gotten inspiration from a wide variety of people, books, activities and experiences. But if I have to pick one, it would be my paternal grandmother. She was widowed with three small children during the Depression, and she struggled to keep her family going. She went to work for the Iowa state employment service, taking a 70-mile bus trip from her small town to Sioux City on Sunday evenings and returning to her children, who stayed with their
grandparents, on Friday nights. She retired in 1966 as the assistant director of the agency's largest office (she was offered the director's position at one point but declined because she felt that, as a woman, she wouldn't receive the necessary bureaucratic backing to keep the office effective!). Grandma was a charter member of the National Business and Professional Women's Association, and she remained active in that group until the end of her life. In retirement, she became a
full-time volunteer, serving as membership director of the senior citizens' center in Sioux City. Grandma could talk to anyone - from the many unemployed people that she counseled at the employment agency to the presidential candidates who paid visits to the senior center during Iowa caucus season - and she had a great sense of humor. She taught me incredible lessons about adversity, opportunity, and the importance of treating all people with dignity and respect.

7. What do you do when you want to escape the world and relax? I don't know if it quite qualifies as relaxation, but my favorite escape is dancing. I've taken workshops in buckstep and Acadian clogging, swing dance and Cajun dancing, and I love them all. But my main event is Irish step dancing. I started about five years ago, just for exercise, after my daughter Maggie started taking classes. Since I was almost 40 when I started (and perhaps lacking in a few things, like talent!) you probably won't be seeing me in Riverdance any time soon. But it's a
great workout. And the completely physical sense of accomplishment that comes from mastering a new step is a great change for someone who spends most hours reading, analyzing, writing and talking on the phone

 

IMPORTANT UPCOMING EVENTS

1. WREI is cosponsoring the International ATHENA Conference to be held in Washington on May 8-10th at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. For ten years, the ATHENA Foundation of Chicago has worked to create leadership opportunities for women by liaisoning with chambers of commerce, universities, major corporations and small businesses. Over 250 women and men are expected to participate in panel discussions and lecture sessions while networking to become or improve as leaders in their fields.

For more information or to register for the conference, please go to www.athenafoundation.org.

2. On June 17th, WREI will hold our 24th annual Capitol Hill reception to salute the Class of 2003 Congressional Fellows on Women & Public Policy. Please plan to join us for a light-hearted evening of short speeches, good food and great fellowship. The event will be held from 6:00 until 8:30 p.m. in room 121 of the Cannon House Office Building. In addition to the seven outstanding women who are will be honored, we expect a big turnout of former WREI Fellows, quite a few Congressional staffers, and leaders from women's organizations in and around
Washington.

3. More than 660 researchers, activists, scholars, and policymakers will gather when the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) holds its seventh annual International Women's Policy Research Conference on June 22-24 at the Capital Hilton in Washington. Women Working to Make a Difference in the World will focus on women's progress in a time of uncertain national economies and increasing globalization. This event also commemorates the 15th anniversary of IWPR's founding by celebrated economist Heidi Hartmann.

Visit www.iwpr.org for the conference program, costs and fees as well as to register on line.