Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gathered yesterday with Democratic leaders and supporters to celebrate the successful completion of her agenda for the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress. Feminists joined Speaker Pelosi, rejoicing in the fact that five out of the six bills passed in the House in the past week directly impact women.
On Tuesday, January 9, the House voted to adopt the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, a battle that has long been the mission of four remarkable women known as the "Jersey Girls." In the Winter 2004 issue of Ms. magazine, the Jersey Girls were honored as four of the "Women of the Year" for tirelessly pressuring President Bush into forming the independent 9/11 Commission.
The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 was passed on Wednesday, January 10, increasing the minimum wage from $5.15-an-hour to $7.25-an-hour by 2009. According to the Economic Policy Institute, women comprise 59 percent of the workers who will benefit from the increase. The House also voted to have the bill cover the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, an American territory that has historically been excluded from US minimum wage and immigration laws. The Islands were featured in an investigative report in the Spring 2006 issue of Ms., where Rebecca Claren explored the Islands' collaboration with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff to keep wages low and labor policies flimsy in order to take advantage of the cheap, mostly female, immigrant workforce that manufactures garments boasting a "Made in the US" label.
On Thursday, January 11, the House voted to expand governmental support of research on embryonic stem cells. Stem cells remain an issue that affects women, as it is so closely tied to debates around abortion and women�s reproductive freedom.
The House also passed a bill to allow the US government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for seniors. Older women on Medicare tend to have smaller pensions than men and are more likely to be dependent on social security. Every out-of-pocket expense for older women hits harder than for older men, and a reduction in price will help reduce their financial burdens.
Finally, the College Student Relief Act of 2007 passed in the House on Wednesday, January 17 that will reduce interest rates for student borrowers. Not only do female outnumber male students in higher education, but more women borrow money for student loans than men. According to the Student Borrower's Statistics Report, 56 percent of student loans are issued to women.
To round-out Speaker Pelosi's six-item agenda, the House passed yesterday a bill to end subsidies for large oil companies and increase the US's investment in renewable energy.
Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal said of the House's progress in the past week, "Women leaders across the nation are marveling at the rapid change in direction that is being led by Speaker Pelosi. The first woman and self-identified feminist Speaker of the House is making feminists everywhere very proud."
1/23/2015 #HeForShe Campaign Launches Pilot Effort Aimed at Institutional Equality - The United Nations' gender equality campaign #HeForShe has launched a new program called IMPACT 10X10X10.
United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson, together with UN Women Executive DirectorPhumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, introduced the one-year pilot effort aimed at encouraging corporations, universities, and governments to play an active role in enhancing women's empowerment and equality in Davos, Switzerland today at the World Economic Forum.
"Women need to be equal participants in our homes, societies, in our governments, and in our workplaces," Watson said.
First introduced in September, HeForShe is a solidarity movement that calls on men and boys to confront gender inequalities that face women and girls globally. . . .
1/22/2015 BREAKING: House to Vote on Abortion Coverage Ban - After they were forced to scrap plans for a 20-week abortion ban, House Republican leaders decided late last night to instead ram through a vote today on a different extreme anti-abortion bill.
House Republicans are now pushing HR 7, a bill promoted as a ban on federal funding of abortion that would actually prevent women from using their own money to purchase health insurance that includes abortion care. . . .
1/22/2015 House Cancels Abortion Ban After GOP Congresswomen Drop Support - House Republicans cancelled plans to vote on a 20-week ban on abortion after Republican Congresswomen removed their names publicly as co-sponsors of the bill.
The vote on the unconstitutional 20-week ban had originally been scheduled for today, the anniversary of Roe v. . . .