International Women’s Day: Progress for Women

by Madeleine Hage

March 8th of every year marks International Women’s Day. This day is a celebration of women and of their economic, political, and social accomplishments. This day is a day to applaud, love, respect, and appreciate the women all around the world.

International Women’s Day began in the early 1900s as a way to promote equal rights for women. The right to vote and the right to hold office were of particular interest during that time. International Women’s Day became an officially recognized holiday in the United States in 1994. Every year, the celebration has a theme. The theme for 2014 is “Equality for Women is Progress for All.” In honor of this year’s holiday, let’s celebrate the progress that women have made in the U.S. this past year.

1. A record high number of women are running and winning seats in political office.

Congress  has a record high number of women in it. Although, it is still not an equal split, the numbers are on the rise and a significant amount of progress has been made.

2. The Affordable Care Act gave women access to birth control at no cost.

Women who have health insurance can now have access to free birth control so that they can have more control over their bodies.

3. Powerful people are standing up for women’s right to control their own reproductive health.

Politicians like Democrat Wendy Davis of Texas and Republican Doug Cox of Oklahoma are fighting for women to have the right to make decisions for themselves regarding their bodies. Doctors like Julie Burkhart are keeping their abortion clinics open despite violent threats from anti-choice advocates.

4. Companies are equalizing promotion practices

Companies like State Farm, Marriott International, and Abbott are making an active effort to put an equal number of men and women in senior managing jobs equal. At all of these companies there is almost a 50-50 split between men and women in powerful positions.

5. Women can fight on the front lines.

Defense Secretary Panetta declared that women should and will be able to fight in front-line combat as of early 2013.

Of course, this is not to say that all of the progress that women have made is monumental. There is still much work to be done in many areas. However, on this day that celebrates the achievements of women, it is good to look at the positive and strive for more advancements in the coming years.



Community Voices: I Am Thankful For…

by Madeleine Hage


5 Things Feminists Can Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving


It’s a tradition in my family to go around the table and have each family member say what they’re most thankful for. My preschool-age brother usually says something like “Buzz and Woody!” whereas my grandmother will without a doubt say “Family and prosperity.”


This year, I am thankful for feminism and I am thankful for what feminists have accomplished so far. I’m aware that there is still much work to be done, but on this year’s day of thanks, I will be celebrating the walls that have been broken and the barriers that have been surmounted.


If you’re looking for things to be thankful for this year, here are 3 things that feminists can celebrate this Thanksgiving:


3. HBO made a movie about Gloria Steinem

Here’s to something we can show the young women in our family! Take a break after eating turkey and tune in!


2. Birth control now covered by insurance

Birth control is not becoming affordable to every woman in the country. Women can now take control of family planning and money does not need to be a deterrent.


1. There are resources for women like never before

From women’s centers to support groups to help lines, there are people available to help women in any situation. Whether it is help networking for a job, counseling following a sexual assault or a domestic violence attack, or family planning women can find help. There are resources now that did not exist when my mother was working and for that I am thankful.


The world is still not perfect, but there has been progress. This year let’s celebrate the progress that has been made and hope for more to come.



Power Woman Wednesday:Winona LaDuke

#PowerWomanWednesday is a weekly series on how some of the most powerful women in the world fight for women’s rights.


In honor of Thanksgiving, we are featuring  Native American women who are fighting for indigenous rights and breaking down barriers for both Native American women and all women across the country.


Winona LaDuke of Anishinaabe descent is a Native American activist and writer. She helped found the Indigenous Women’s Network in 1985 working to regain reservation land lost in the nineteenth century. She has worked with Women of All Red Nations to highlight the issue of forced sterilization among indigenous women. She even ran for Vice President as the nominee of the Green Party of the United States. She is currently the Executive Director of  both Honor the Earth and White Earth Land Recovery Project.

She co-founded Honor the Earth with the music band The Indigo Girls. It is a non-profit founded to raise awareness and financial support for Indigenous environmental justice. The organization works with various issues including creating sustainable energy, sacred site protection, buffalo restoration, nuclear waste policy and promoting leadership amongst youth in Native communities. She has been outspoken against the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline which would go through native lands and destroy important sources of water for the Lakota people.

LaDuke has penned three books exploring themes of indigenous sovereignty, native cultural preservation and environmental justice. She was named woman of the year in 1997 by Ms. Magazine and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007.

She gave an incredible TED talk on food sustainability and exploring the importance of preservation of indigenous crops.

Winona LaDuke is an amazing activist bringing indigenous voices to the forefront of environmental justice work and that’s why she is our choice for Power Woman Wednesday.


If there is another powerful woman that you think we should feature leave a comment below!


#PowerWomanWednesday: Tonantzin Carmelo

by Madeleine Hage

In honor of Thanksgiving, we are featuring a Native American #PowerWoman who is breaking down barriers for both Native American women and all women across the country.

As an actress, Tonantzin Carmelo has portrayed many different characters over the years. However, as a Native American actress, the roles offered to her have often been less diverse than those offered to her white colleagues.

Carmelo’s resume includes characters ranging from “Eskimo Cutie” and “Navajo Woman” to named characters such as “Soolewaha” and “Shayla Stonefeather.”

Carmelo, however, has been able to break through all of this and is now recognized as a talented and diversely cast actress. In interviews, Carmelo has attributed her ability to fight against type casting to people recognizing her for her talent and not her ethnicity. Carmelo hopes that her fight to break down these barriers in the acting industry will help future Native American actresses.  This is why she’s our choice for #PowerWomanWednesday!



Power Woman Wednesday: The Women of Mending the Sacred Hoop

#PowerWomanWednesday is a weekly series on how some of the most powerful women in the world fight for women’s rights. This week, instead of focusing on one person we are highlighting how women can be powerful collectively.

“The challenge for our communities to reclaim traditional views of women, developing a culturally based response that ensures safety of Native women and upholds accountability of batterers. It is our effort to develop strong and cooperative working relationships with one another.”

This is the central framework of Mending the Sacred Hoop, a Native owned and operated non-profit organization that exists to address violence against Native women and works to end it. Though they are based in Minnesota, they work with Native American women in Alaska and with organization across the nation on issues such as domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. They do trainings on such subjects, create advocacy and support systems for survivors, build community understanding of violence, engage men in the work to prevent violence and coordinate community responses that provide for women’s safety and uphold perpetrator accountability.

Native American women have the highest rate of victimization of sexual violence. The U.S. Department of Justice published a report on violence against Native women. It states that “American Indians are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault crimes compared to all other races, and one 1 in 3 Indian women reports having been raped during her lifetime”. Native American women face extreme marginalization due to a long history and ongoing systematic oppression in the United States. Facing this, Mending the Sacred Hoop is doing amazing work to foster leadership and raise awareness about violence in native communities.


This organization is also invested in valuing the culture of the various tribes that they work with when addressing issues of criminal justice. They want to protect the sovereignty of tribal nations while improving the safety of women who experience sexual violence. Their mission statement says that “our approach recognizes that individual Nations are responding to violence against women by creating strategies at the local level distinct to their available resources and cultural perspectives”. They focus on creating transformative justice models that upholds accountability for offenders and promote cooperative, working relationships that work to end violence.

Click here to know more about their work or to support them through online donations and if there is another powerful woman or group of women that you think we should feature, leave a comment below!

Where are the Women Veterans?

by Nowmee Shehab

When you think of a veteran, what image comes to mind? Is it an elderly man wearing a uniform dotted with badges and military decorations or do you see the invisible women who serve?  While the majority of veterans are in fact men, women are the fastest growing group among veterans.  Furthermore, women veterans are not receiving the care that they need. This Veteran’s Day we are highlighting some issues of women veterans and advocates who have been calling for reform within the military as well as expansion of services through Veteran’s Affairs.


What’s the Problem?

Erasure of women veterans from the media and public discourse can have negative effects. Rahael Stoevec, writer for YES! Magazine writes that “some women who have served in the military do not identify as veterans”. This, in itself, is a huge barrier to women accessing educational and healthcare benefits for veterans. Stoevec also writes that some women “may be survivors of military sexual trauma, have been alienated by the system, and do not want to associate with anything military, even the V.A.”  Sexual violence is a prominent issue for women in the military; in 2011, 3192 instances of sexual assault were reported. Sexual violence is strongly associated with a wide range of mental illnesses including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and can even be a risk factor for homelessness.


Who’s Doing the Work?

There are several service and advocacy organizations that are working with women’s issues in the military. One of these amazing groups that has received recent media attention is called The Service Women’s Action Network. They are working with women veterans on issues such as sexual assault, access to benefits, reproductive healthcare and LGBT equality. They have reported that while combat trauma is the leading cause of PTSD among men, Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is the leading cause of PTSD among women veterans. Even though there is such a high rate of sexual violence in the military, the VA rejected two out of three MST claims in the fiscal year 2008-2010. One particular challenge that Anu Bhagwati, Executive Director of the Service Women’s Action Network and former captain of the Marine Corps has brought attention to is the exacerbated unreporting of sexual violence. This is because survivors have to go through their commanding officer; those officers then have the authority to either proceed with the case or not. Bhagwati explains in this interview the issues with that structure.


What Can You Do?

There are several ways that you can get involved in this issue. You can start by simply finding out who the women veterans are in your life or in your community and thank them today. You can donate or volunteer directly with Veteran’s Affairs . You can get involved with advocacy groups such as the Service Women’s Action Network.  You can also look into organizations such as Changing the Present or Veterans for Peace who are tirelessly working to end violence.


#PowerWomanWednesday: Diane Humetewa

In honor of Thanksgiving, we will be featuring a Native American #PowerWoman who is breaking down barriers for both Native American women and all women across the country.

Diane J. Humetewa, a Hopi Indian Tribe member, was educated at Arizona State University before getting her law degree at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Her work in the private sector included working as a federal Indian law and natural resources attorney representing various tribal government clients. She also served in the public sector as the Assistant U.S. Attorney and later as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona where she prosecuted a huge number of federal crimes having to do with anything from violent crimes in Indian Country to Native American cultural crimes. In the 80s, Humetewa helped establish and supervise the U.S. Attorney’s Victim Witness Program, one of the first federal victim services program in the country.


When Humetewa was appointed to the position of U.S. Attorney she became the first Native American female  to achieve this prestigious appointment. She took on one of the largest caseloads in the country and presided over one of the largest U.S. Attorney Offices.


Humetewa has recently been in the media spotlight for her nomination by President Obama to serve as the United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. Her nomination is currently pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee and we wish her the best of luck.


As a Native American woman, Humetewa has not only broken boundaries in the highly male-dominated, minority-lacking United States judicial system, but she has also served as a role model for girls and minorities alike. Her work has made her a national expert in Native American legal matters and a highly respected legal figure in the country. And this is why we think she’s a great choice for #powerwomanwednesday!


#PowerWomanWednesday is a weekly series on how some of the most powerful women in the world fight for women’s rights. Comment below to suggest a Power Woman feature.