Action Alert: Encourage Governor Brown to Sign SB 1349!

You can make a difference by showing your support — and it will take just a minute or two.

Click here to send an email directly to Governor Brown.

Or you can call the Governor’s Office at 916-445-2841 to voice your support.

Here’s the message we sent in by email:

Title IX has been the law of the land for over 40 years — but laws on the books do not guarantee implementation.

SB 1349, authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and supported by the California Title IX Coalition, would take a simple yet profound step to require schools to post on their websites information on athletic participation, broken down by gender.

Schools are already required to collect this information — and making it visible and accessible to parents, students and members of the community will help build awareness for the need, in many cases, to step-up implementation efforts.

It’s the year 2014 — and parents and educators want to ensure equitable resources and opportunities for their daughters.

SB 1349 is a practical and almost no-cost means to empower local leaders to meet their legal responsibilities to implement Title IX.

Ask the Governor to support SB 1349 by clicking here.

Interested in additional information?

Check out the letters and links available through two of our CA Title IX Coalition partners.

AAUW California
Offers a zip-code based draft letter to send by email.

Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center
Includes bill info., sample letter, and Gov. Brown contact information.

SB 1349 is supported by the California Title IX Coalition, convened by CCRWF.

AAUW of California
California Center for Research on Women and Families
California Women’s Law Center
Equal Rights Advocates
Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center

Act now to support SB 1349!

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Major Momentum in Legislature to Reduce Backlog of Untested Rape Kits

Before the close of the legislative session on August 31, the fate of many bills will be decided, including several high-profile bills showcased at the 2014 Women’s Policy Summit.

Here is the first of several Summit updates.

AB 1517 Would Reduce Backlog of Untested Rape Kits
January’s Summit featured high-powered panelists who profiled legislation (AB 1517) to reduce the backlog of untested rape kits. Authored by Assembly Member Nancy Skinner, this bill passed the Assembly with bipartisan support and will  be heard next on August 4 in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

AB 1517 is sponsored by the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA),  Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, and Natasha’s Justice Project — all presenters at the Summit along with Assembly Member Skinner.

AB 1517 amends the Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights to provide specific timelines for law enforcement to forward rape kits to labs and for labs to process rape kits and enter DNA profile information into the Combined DNA Index System, known as CODIS.  AB 1517 also requires a law enforcement agency to notify a rape victim when a rape kit has not been tested and the statute of limitations (the time period for filing criminal charges in the case) is about to expire.

Across the nation, local and state jurisdictions are moving to reduce their backlogs of untested rape kits, often finding DNA matches which help bring perpetrators to justice.

Interested in additional background on this critical issue?  Check out an article by Susan Rose, former member of the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors and active with Human Rights Watch.

Also be sure to check back here at the CCRWF website for future updates.

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CCRWF Partners to Move Women’s Health Agendas Forward

For the past two years, primarily due to support from The California Wellness Foundation, we’ve had the opportunity to work with an amazing group of women — our Women’s Health Advisory Committee.  Our major initiatives have focused on developing recommendations to promote women’s health at our 2013 and 2014 Women’s Policy Summits.  We’ve also worked to encourage the Office of Health Equity at the California Department of Public Health to have a more visible and strategic focus on the health of women and girls.

In writing a grant proposal this week, we had the opportunity to pull together a list of our work on women’s health — which turned out to be a valuable retrospective.  Who would have guessed that writing a grant proposal would lead to a moment of deep appreciation for our funders and partners?

Here’s a summary of our work with our amazing partners to move women’s health agendas forward:

In 2013, we:

  • worked with two dozen women’s health advocates to conduct a survey and then develop and release recommendations to help the newly created Office of Health Equity (OHE) use a gender lens in its research, policy, practice, and projects;
  • organized the opening plenary at the 2013 Women’s Policy Summit to focus on women and health care reform, which included recommendations about using a gender lens at OHE;
  • regularly convened the Women’s Health Advisory Committee, comprised primarily of members of the group that formerly advised the California Office of Women’s Health;
  • hosted a Retreat for the Women’s Health Advisory Committee;
  • organized a meeting of the Women’s Health Advisory Committee and the director of the California Department of Public Health and his deputies that work with the Office of Health Equity;
  • conducted education and outreach calling for “gender” to be included in the list of variables that Medi-Cal Managed Care plans would need to assess for quality assurance (AB 411); and
  • sustained ongoing dialogue with OHE for inclusion of women’s health-related priorities.

Following the 2013 Summit and in the first half of 2014, we have:

  • continued to convene and support our Women’s Health Advisory Committee to advocate for OHE to include a stronger focus on women’s and girls’ health;
  • worked with a broad array of women’s health leaders to develop best practice materials to help communities reach out to women’s health and social service networks to ensure that women and their families are enrolled in expanded Medi-Cal or Covered California;
  • organized a plenary session at the 2014 Women’s Policy Summit to release and present these health care reform materials;
  • used these materials to launch a partnership with leaders in one of California’s poorest counties to pilot a women-centered approach to the implementation of health care reform;
  • facilitated dialogue on the need to add a focus on women and girls in the important work on health disparities in California, and organized a panel at the 2014 Women’s Policy Summit to provide a platform for leaders to present perspectives and next steps;
  • to increase opportunities for girls and young women to increase their physical activity, launched the California Title IX Coalition to design and implement a new, collaborative approach to assessing compliance with this ground-breaking federal law (companion legislation has also been introduced and a legislative informational hearing is planned);
  • produced, with partners, a short film that documents for the first time the advocacy history of reproductive health services in California (we have a draft “in the can” but have decided to do extra filming!);
  • convened partners through the Women’s Policy Summit to renew attention to the backlog of rape kits in California (a major piece of legislation is now moving forward, designated by the Legislative Women’s Caucus as a top priority); and
  • organized an effort to educate policymakers about the need for designated OHE staff funded through the state budget, comparable to the state support provided for initiatives like Health in All Policies.

Talk about the power of partnership!!  Thank you for incredible focus, perseverance and commitment.


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How to Build Women’s Political Power

CCRWF Executive Director Kate Karpilow moderated the 2014 Women’s Policy Summit closing general session — Building Political Power: What are we doing . . . and what else needs to happen to achieve equity?  She presented statistics documenting the decline of women’s representation in the State Legislature, summarized in the column below.

We need to do more to elect women to public office in California – but what, specifically, should we do? At the 2014 Women’s Policy Summit, we invited leaders in the field to put forth bold ideas.

Please take a few minutes to read the thought-provoking columns below – from Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, Emerge California Executive Director Kimberly Ellis, and close the gap CA Director Betsy Cotton. Their proposals are strategic and provocative, and will undoubtedly launch a much-needed debate.

If you have any doubt that a call to action is necessary, consider the following red flag statisticsevidence of a dramatic decline over the past decade in the number of elected women in California’s state legislature.

#1 California State Legislature
Overall, the total number of women in the State Senate and Assembly decreased from 2003 to 2013 from 36 to 32, out of a total of 120 seats.

#2 State Assembly
Since 2003, the number of women in the 80-member State Assembly decreased from 25 to 20 (down from 21 at the beginning of 2013). Democratic women decreased in the Assembly from 20 to 13, while Republican women increased from 5 to 7.

#3 State Senate
Since 2003, the number of Democratic women in the 40-member State Senate decreased by 1 – from 11 of 11 women members a decade ago to 10 of 12 currently (up from 8 of 10 earlier in 2013).

#4 Women of Color in the California Legislature
The percentage of women of color decreased from 44% of women legislators in 2003 to 34% (at the close of 2013, based on Caucus membership).

Women in the LGBT Caucus decreased from 4 to 3. Continue reading

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Women in Government: Demanding our Rightful Place

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia contributed the following column to our Women’s Policy Summit Web Forum – summarizing and extending her comments from the 2014 Women’s Policy Summit, which was held on January 16.

Women are half of the population, and more than half of the voters, but hold less than a quarter of elected positions. Men and women can identify with a strong female role figure in their life; whether it is a mother who runs a tight ship at home, a strong wife that runs a business all while running a home, or a female boss they may look up to. It is often said and believed that women are the backbone of families, neighborhoods and communities. So why has political empowerment been so elusive for women? And how can we make this a reality?

Women have been hearing messages like “We don’t need anyone’s permission but our own,” or “Lean In”. They have been getting advice like get trained – so you know how a campaign is run and won. Donate, volunteer, recruit other talented women, and be a mentor. These are all great advice, but they are only part of the solution. This advice specifically talks about what women, as women, can do for ourselves. But none of this addresses the institution or what needs to be done within institutions to make real change. I am often trying to find change from whatever position I am, and for the last year I have been part of the “machine” or “within” the institution, so now I find myself constantly focusing on ways to ways to make changes within it. Some questions I ask myself: What can the leadership in the State and Congressional legislatures do? What responsibility do those in power have to close the gap? While my experience is short, here are some actions I think institutions can take to really empower women. Continue reading

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Five Steps to Elect More Women

Kimberly Ellis is the Executive Director of Emerge California, and spoke at the 2014 Women’s Policy Summit for the “Building Political Power” closing session. Her column below summarizes her remarks.

I believe that every aspect of life is political. At this very moment, someone, somewhere, in some city or town, big or small, is making a decisions like whether or not the local grocery or corner store will be required to carry fresh fruits and vegetables or whether or not the women in the community will be able to readily access reproductive healthcare.

It matters who those people are who are seated at those decision-making tables. Elections matter. If Californians are truly concerned with advancing women’s health, wealth and power, if women are truly concerned with advancing our own health, wealth and power, then we would do well to stop talking about the following five things, and just start doing them:

1)     Educate women on the importance of female leadership in the political arena.  Women need to understand the policy implications but more importantly, the direct, real, and tangible impact on their daily lives of not having women’s voices and perspectives represented at the decision-making tables. Undoubtedly, we have some fantastic male partners who believe in women’s equality and support policies that lift up women, children and families. In my opinion, however, no man, regardless of how big a feminist he may be, can take the place of having the unique and different perspective that women bring to a group’s dynamic. Continue reading

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