Friday, December 05, 2008

National Popular Vote - Among the lively interest group meetings I have attended recently was one devoted to the National Popular Vote (NPV).

Now that the elections are over, perhaps it is time to consider a different way of electing the president and vice president of the US.

Among the lively interest group meetings I have attended recently was one devoted to the National Popular Vote (NPV).

What is it? NPV is a compact between the states which must be passed by the legislature of each state joining the compact that agrees that all of the votes of that state will go to the candidate securing the greatest number of popular votes in a presidential election.

Why is this important? Because as it stands only the handful of “battleground” states receive the attention of presidential candidates, and only issues of concern in those states receive concern. As noted on the National Popular Vote web-site, (http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/pages/explanation.php#exp_1page, “This means that voters in two thirds of the states are ignored in presidential elections. In 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in just five states; over 80% in nine states; and over 99% of their money in just 16 states.”
Haven’t you noticed how quiet it is in New York during presidential elections?
The speaker I heard on this topic noted that the only reason we hear about corn ethanol is because of the Iowa caucuses. New York, meanwhile, does not rate much attention.

Why use a state compact? Because according to the constitution and the Supreme Court, the states control the appointment and “mode” of appointment of the electors.
What should AAUW do about this? As an organization devoted to education and equity for women and girls, action on this issue may not be a good use of our resources, but as an organization long devoted to education in the broadest sense, this would appear to be an issue we should be informed about.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Salary Equity? NOT!

A story in our local paper was headlined "Base pay of female CEOs tends to be higher than men’s". Looking further, though, the subtitle told the real story - "However, women getting short-changed on total compensation".

It turns out that only 3% of the CEO's in the study were women (based on 3,242 Canadian and US companies). Their base salaries were about 3% higher than those of their male counterparts. But - when total compensation was reviewed, the women only earned 85% of their male counterparts' income.

There's always more to the story...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

GOOD NEWS FOR LAF

I have just had word that Claire Schuster received a favorable decision from the appeals court on her case, Schuster vs. Berea College.

Visit the aauw.org website, to read the entire case. Claire was our keynote speaker at the LAF Luncheon, AAUW New York State Convention in April of 2008.

As details on the decision become available I will post the information at the AAUW NYS website.
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Friday, July 04, 2008

CARE Initiative Against Maternal Mortality

A woman dies each minute from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Nearly all of these deaths occur in the developing world. The leading cause of death is bleeding, for which there are simple, cheap solutions. For every woman who dies, 30 others are injured, infected, or disabled.


CARE, one of AAUW's partners, launched an initiative in September, 2007 to mobilize a global coalition to reduce maternal mortality and child malnutrition in 10 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The program will train health care providers, work with ministries of health and local partners, and establish policies and procedures. An pilot CARE program in Peru reduced mortality rates by 49% in less than 4 years.


The program will include access to contraceptives to avoid unintended pregnancies; access to nutritional support and basic medical care during pregnancy; skilled care during delivery; quality emergency obstetric care; and information to ensure optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding.


CARE began in 1945 when 22 American organizations came together to send lifesaving US Army surplus food parcels to survivors of World War II. It expanded in the 1950's to send US agricultural surpluses to developing countries. The organization added primary health programs in the sixties, agroforestry in the seventies, small business development in the eighties, and family planning in 1990.

Monday, June 30, 2008

LEGAL ADVOCACY FUND

As the AAUW New York State Legal Advocacy Fund Vice President, I want to remind everyone that we still have work to do. Equity Is Still An Issue.

We are pleased with a settlement in the Chichilnisky case but our fight for gender equity and the end of pay discrimination still goes on. Graciela had to stand up to a fleet of lawyers and a university with funds available to pursue their case.

In most cases this is exactly what women have to face. Long term legal battles up against large institutions, academia or corporate, with very deep pockets.

We owe these women a great deal of gratitude for the their fortitude in pursuing difficult law suits for many years. Most cannot work in their chosen profession after pursuing a court case against the institution they worked for.

My work with AAUW in leading our branches and members to support the Legal Advocacy Fund is most important and rewarding to me.

As we enter the second half of 2008, I am asking all of you to remember Graciela Chichilnisky and think of all the others who are still pursuing their suits. Claire Schuster is still awaiting a judges decision on her appeal.

By supporting LAF you give positive evidence that you believe in the AAUW mission of Equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and research.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Problem with NPR story

I just received the following from AAUW:

The NewsHour interview with AAUW Executive Director Linda Hallman was to be a point-counterpoint discussion with gender equity writer Tom Mortensen. The communication lines with Des Moines, where Mortensen is just went down making him unreachable, and no last minute replacement could be found; so the feature was canceled. There is some chance that it will be rescheduled for tomorrow. We will let you know if it is rescheduled.
Sandy Monroe Sr. Executive Associate AAUW

Sorry about that to all,

Diane

Monday, April 21, 2008

EQUAL PAY DAY and NYS LEGISLATION

In my April 12 blog I promised to let you know what happened to the motion to bring the NYS Fair Pay Act out of the NYS Senate Labor Committee. First information about the Act and Pay Inequities.

1. The NYS Fair Pat Act would provide Equal Pay for Equal Work.
Did you know:
*About 50% of American women live without a spouse which demolishes the myth that women need less money because they have “someone to lean on.”
*Higher education isn’t protection from pay inequities, though it increases annual incomes. NY women with professional degrees earn 67% of what their male counterparts earn!
*Over a working lifetime, wage disparity costs $700,000 to $2 million in lost wages, impacting families every day, but also Social Security benefits and pensions.
*AAUW’s research publication Behind the Pay Gap has facts documenting sex discrimination
2. The NYS Fair Pay Act would provide Freedom of speech in regard to salaries. How can pay inequities be claimed without knowledge of what others are earning. Without proof there is no case. Now giving wage information can result in retribution including being fired
3. The Assembly has passed the NYS Fair Pay Act every year since 2002.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS INCLUDING ACTION ON THE MOTION

April 2, 2008, Gloria Steinem Day for Equal Pay in Albany. About 200 supporters of Equal Pay came to hear Steinem and legislators speak. On April 4, Senator Craig Johnson, sponsor of the NYS Fair Pay Act in the Senate, instituted action to require the Senate to vote on bringing the Act out of the Labor Committee and on to the floor. The vote was set for April 14. On that date only 10 members of the senate majority appeared. It was defeated. However this pressure, enhanced by your messages of concern, has made them aware that Pay Equity is an issue of concern to voters. As Irene Liu says "No politician wants to be accused of not supporting equal pay for women and minorities"

In April, before the Senate vote to bring the NYS Fair Pay Act out of the Labor Committee, The Senate Majority and Senator Robach, Chair of that committee, fast tracked a bill through the Senate that calls for an Equal Pay study. There are already many equal pay reports available. This political cover bill passed 62-0.

The Senate Majority then told the press that they had passed Pay Equity legislation. These Senators seem to have a gross misunderstanding of what Pay Equity is. We need to let them know how misinformed they are.

We in AAUW know that the NYS Fair Pay Act with its provisions for equal pay for comparable work with freedom of speech regarding salaries will bring TRUE PAY EQUITY to NYS. We will continue our efforts to bring this bill to the floor to be voted upon.

Nancy Mion

Friday, April 18, 2008

MODERN DAY SLAVERY

A Human Trafficking Conference, Modern Day Slavery, sponsored and organized by the North Shore Branch of AAUW, was held today, April 17, 2008 at New York Institute of Technology. Information about human trafficking, federal legislation enacted and upcoming and the plight of child prostitutes in NYS were discussed, This is an issues in which AAUW NYS has been concerned for several years and has passed a resolution to support legislation on behalf of those trafficked.

Did you know that 800,000 humans are trafficked across international borders annually and that millions are held as slaves within countries? These are large figures but each number added is a person who has lost everything. They leave their homes because they believe they will have a chance for a better life, actually they become people without an identity or a country. Their funds are illegally seized as are their passports and paper. They are brutalized, isolated and subjected to inhuman treatment and more. They become slaves without any rights, or hopes of escape. Human Trafficking is the third largest money maker worldwide for Organized Crime after drugs and arms. The product, a human, cost nothing and can be resold many times which brings in more money. Restriction on borders between nations has lessened making moving trafficked humans easier this reduces the risk of traffickers being caught. Trafficking is a new phenomenon; it has grown in the last decade to immense proportions.

The UN developed a Convention and a protocol regarding Trafficking. It is now international law. The same year the US Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act which provided services and T-visas for victims, penalties for traffickers and sanctions against nations that are not curtailing satisfactorily their trafficking. This act will expire this year. It needs to be renewed. H.R. 3887 The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act would make it easier to prosecute traffickers by removing the requirement that prosecutors prove fraud, force or coercion and higher penalties if a minor is involved. This bill passed the House and now is awaiting a US Senate sponsor. Congresswoman Mahoney has introduced H.R. 3424 which would authorize funds for the IRS to prosecute sex trafficker for violations of tax laws.

NYS passed strong Anti-Trafficking last June, one of the best in the nation. AAUW helped secure passage of this vital law that went into effect November 1, 2007. It provides access to social services and strong penalties for traffickers. However, the law failed to address, children 16 and younger in NYS, who, though born here, are the victims of sex trafficking.

Child prostitution is domestic trafficking in its most insidious form. These children are charged as Juvenile Delinquents and incarcerated. They are really victims of domestic Human Trafficking and need to be rehabilitated, given their childhood back. The average age is 14. There are believed to be between 500.000 and 10 million annually. This sex industry has a monetary value of $14-20 million. Society is in a state of denial that these children are trafficked. They have runaway from abusive deprived homes. They arrive in bigger cities, are vulnerable and easy targets for traffickers. The chances of a child being sexually exploited are greater than the risk of death by firearms, accident, homicides and suicides.

Two weeks ago the NYS Senate passed the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Act (S6746). It provides that children under 16 picked up for prostitution be provided social services. It provides strong penalties for those who exploit and rape these children. The Act has been passed to the NYS Assembly. If you are a NYS resident please contact Speaker Sheldon Silver and Keith Wright, Chair of the Social Services Committee and ask them both to take action on this Act. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

FAIR PAY BILL IN NY-DEMOCRACY IN ACTION

Gloria Steinem Day for Equal Pay (discussed in an April 2, 2008 AAUWNY blog)was held in Albany NY April 2, 2008. Its purpose was to pressure the NYS Senate to act on the NYS Fair Pay Bill, which was passed in the NYS Assembly, and has been held in the Senate Labor Committee. A Press Conference was held and articles about Fair Pay legislation appeared across the state.

Did it work?
On April 3 a motion was made, by a senator, to have the Senate vote on bringing the NYS Fair Pay Bill out of Committee so that the Bill can be discussed and voted upon by the Senate. The vote will be on Tuesday, April 14.

The NYS Fair Pay Bill would provide equal pay for equal work and freedom of speech regarding salaries for men, women and people of color. AAUW NYS has been actively working, in coalition with like minded organizations to secure passage of this Bill. About 2600 members of our AAUW e-groups across the state have been urged to call their NYS Senators. If you live in NYS please join us in contacting your senator. I’ll let you know next week what happened.

Nancy M.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Children and What Matters

As part of AAUW's ongoing commitment to education about public policy issues which affect women and girls, AAUW New York State is a member of several coalitions which support our values. One of them, Every Child Matters has recently published a study of the welfare of children in all fifty states at www.everychildmatters.org.

It shows that New York ranks at 36 of the 50 states is overall child health and welfare. We are not above average. More than 20% of our two-year-olds are not immunized. 43% are not enrolled in pre-K, and 31% of our fourth-graders score below minimum levels in reading.

At the same time voters rank children's issues third in overall importance well above lowering taxes. 82% of American voters believe that every child should be covered by a federal health care policy if the parents cannot otherwise afford health care. Even 64% of "conservatives" support this.

If children's issues are so important, why don't we do better? Why is education funding equity in NYS still in jeopardy? It is easy to blame the economy or the forces of evil. But is it in part because we have not told our leaders how we feel? Have you written or called your representatives lately?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Voting and STEM

Just out from www.aauw.org is a new Woman to Woman Voter Turnout Manual. Women tend to be "drop-out" voters, more so than men. Apparently we have a hard time learning to show up for every election. We also have a hard time making ourselves heard on issues. (I did not say that we are never heard.) Persuading more women to vote while not excluding men is good place to start. Even more resources are available at the Woman-to Woman Voter Turnout website.

AAUW has also released a new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) position paper and resource page. The position paper is available as www.aauw.org then to the STEM issues web page.

Happy hunting.
We would be happy to have you join us to work on these issues at www.aauw-nys.org.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Gloria Steinem Day

Between 200 and 300 people by my estimate, AAUW members among them, gathered in the well of the Legislative Office Building in Albany today to hear Gloria Steinem and state leaders working for pay equity speak on pending legislation that would level the paying field for women.

What Ms. Steinem said: Professions have been valued by the social value of the worker not the value of the work.
During World War II to discourage strikes, jobs were classified and similar jobs were given similar salary schedules. Then all those jobs where women predominated had their salaries reduced by one-third resulting in scales where the best-paid women earned less than the worst paid men.
(among other cogent words--these are the one I got down)

What the legislation would do:
  • Provide that those employed in job titles where women and people of color predominate receive equal pay for equal work.
  • Grant employees freedom of speech regarding salaries by making it unlawful to discharge an employee for disclosing or discussing wages
Bill number: S3936

Why: At the present rate of progress, women will achieve salary parity with men in 96 years. We need to make faster progress than that. Women can not know if they are suffering discrimination if they do not know what others are paid. The pay gap in New York places us at 36 among the 50 states. New York is not a leader in this area.

What AAUW NY has done: Pay equity has been one of our chief public policy targets this year along with family friendly work place policies. Many branches have Equal Pay Day events in April. We have joined with others in the New York Pay Equity Coalition. Our public policy director, Nancy Mion, has kept us abreast of the issue, especially those on the public policy e-list.

What you can do: Write your state senator now. The Assembly has passed this legislation every year for six years. Visit your state senator in his office and take friends with you. It does not need to be a large group, but if they represent groups that support this legislation, it strengthens your impact.

To learn more contact public-policy@aauw-nys.org or president@aauw-nys.org or NYSPEC at haigner@nycap.rr.com or 518-464-0991 or Women on the Job at wojtf@optonline.net

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Buffalo, NY Branch is Tech Savvy!

Tracy Sherman has posted this on the Association blog and I feel compelled to repeat it here since I was also there. Congratulations to chair Tamara Brown for a great event!

Girls and STEM Education
March 21, 2008, by tracysherman

Do you ever wonder what types of events other AAUW branches put on? This weekend I visited the AAUW Buffalo (NY) Branch for their third-annual Tech Savvy event. The day exposes sixth to ninth grade girls to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Although women make up more than 50 percent of the workforce, the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology states that women comprise only 25 percent of the science, engineering, and technology labor force. While discrimination, lack of encouragement, and outdated stereotypes all contribute to women not participating in STEM fields at the same rate as they do in the workforce, informal learning and hands-on experiences like Tech Savvy encourage girls to become the next generation of STEM professionals.

Throughout the day, more than 350 girls at Tech Savvy attended workshops where they learned about careers in dentistry, veterinary medicine, and nursing, as well as those with the FBI and NASA. While the girls were at these sessions, more than 200 parents learned about barriers girls face in these fields, how to encourage their daughters to enter these fields, legislation to diversify STEM fields, and how to prepare for college. The day closed with a keynote address by Camille Alleyne, an aerospace engineer at NASA and the founder and president of the Brightest Stars Foundation, an organization whose mission is to educate and empower young women to be future leaders in STEM. Hearing Camille’s life story of dreaming big and believing in herself inspired these girls to believe that they can — and will — be the next generation of scientists, engineers, computer scientists, and mathematicians.

AAUW supports legislation to encourage girls to enter STEM fields. Interested in doing a similar event in your community? Contact AAUW Buffalo for more information on their Tech Savvy program.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Creating a Level Playing Field for Women

At this year's convention there will be much information about creating a level playing field for women.

Lilly Ledbetter will be our keynote speaker on Friday night. She will share with us her experience fighting pay discrimination again Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Her fight went all the way to the Supreme Court and inspired the Ledbetter Fair Pay act which passed in the house this past year.

We will be hearing from Claire Schuster about her fight against sex discrimination at Berea College.

But AAUW member are not "poor us" thinkers. We are doers and we will be participating in empowering workshops including topics such as Grassroots Organizing; Finding Your Voice, Telling Your Story and Making Your Point; Health Care in the 21st Century and Diversity Issues. We will be networking with other "doers" from around New York State to learn how others are effecting change in their communities.

We will be hearing from Christianne Corbett, Research Associate at the American Association of University Women national office. One focus of Christi's research is the concept of the "boy's crisis," the subject of the latest Educational Foundation report Where the Girls Are, to be released in May, 2008

Non-members are welcome to come and share with us and learn from us. It's not too late to register. Visit our convention page to learn more and register today.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ode to Newspapers and READING

We just returned from a cruise. Yes, it was warm. Yes, it was relaxing. Yes, it was wonderful. Except. We ordinarily get two newspapers (one local, one national) every morning and pretty much read entirely through both of them. TV and radio news supplement, but are not our main source of information. Now imagine - two weeks cut off almost entirely from civilization as we know it. Yes, all newspapers are biased one way or another - nothing is completely objective. But they at least tell us what's going on in our home states and communities. We were certainly kept up-to-date on Britney's latest capers and who was going where in the NFL, but news??? Not much.

I've heard it said that newspapers will eventually be obsolete, that we'll get all our information from more easily digested media. I hate to think that that may be the truth. However, after a visit to the library this afternoon where a father with his two school-age sons (who should be reading!) checked out about 15 videos and books on tape (but no books!), I believe that the prophecy may come to be.

What can we do? As adults we should read. As parents we should encourage our children to read (and not just comic books although they do have their place). We should support our libraries and bookstores. If you can't afford new books, check out the used booksales held by many libraries and AAUW branches.

See you in print soon!

Friday, March 14, 2008

You & Your Doctor Should Decide Which Health Screeninga Are Right for You

Because it's National Women's History Month and March 8 was International Women's Day, I thought I'd highlight an article from the online National Women's Health Report in which Dr. Pamela Peeke stresses the importance of individualizing your health screening needs. She points out that screening tests and preventive efforts, while extremely important over one's lifetime, do have their limitations. She explains that many tests may be unnecessary and are usually expensive, citing a Consumer Reports survey of 300 primary care physicians where 34% said their patients "very frequently" or "quite often" requested unnecessary or duplicative medical tests. (However, the doctors themselves admitted that, as protection against malpractice suits, they often order unneeded tests.) She recommends sitting down with your health care professional and asking for a list of screenings you should receive, based on your own individual health history. Good health, everyone! JH

Thursday, March 13, 2008

National Issues Forum

Last Saturday, March 8, several other AAUW members and I joined with almost 200 local residents at Dutchess Community College to discuss "Americans' Role in the World: Building a More Secure Future". During the morning small groups of participants ranging from college students to retirees discussed the four proposed approaches: preserving and sharing global resources, seeking security through free trade, promoting democratization and human rights, and using military power to secure the peace.

The groups expressed concern for destruction of the environment, and felt that personal efforts could not solve the problems without major changes of public policy including investments in mass transportation. Globalization was seen as inevitable, but current free trade agreements did not create a level playing field. Subsidies to agribusiness persist, while labor, environmental, and product safety standards have been sacrificed. Many noted the decline in world respect and prestige of our country. Multilateral approaches to promoting democracy and human rights and to deterring aggression were preferred. They were felt to be less threatening to other countries, and more likely to be effective over the long run.

After lunch a panel of experts answered questions. Professor Lewis Brownstein of SUNY New Paltz discussed the history of American ambivalence towards promoting democracy abroad. Major Tania Chacho of the US Military Academy and Professor Steve Rock of Vassar College both warned of over-reliance on military power to the neglect of diplomacy. Professor Himadeep Muppidi of Vassar College said the building of a secure future requires understanding the interests of others and seeing people as they see themselves. John Yaukey of Gannett News Service urged participants to check out web sites when they fail to find information in the mainstream media.

The National Issues Forum, the eleventh held at the college, was sponsored by the "Poughkeepsie Journal", the Dutchess Community College Foundation, the Gillespie Forum, the Mid-Hudson World Affairs Council, and the Dutchess Community College Political Science Club.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

VOTER EDUCATION

AAUW’s Voter Education Campaign encourages women voters to get involved in the political process and shows the impact congressional action has on their lives and the lives of the people they love. You can learn about all these actions at the website www.aauw.org.

Register to vote – and vote!
Do not under estimate THE POWER OF ONE VOTE!
Educate yourself and others. Discover where to find candidate information and how you can help others learn about the issues. Share your accomplishments. How have you influenced the debate?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Moving The Mission Forward

When my 8yo daughter asks me what I do for and with AAUW, I tell her that I work to help women and girls so that they are treated fairly. I use an example she can relate to. I ask her if she does the same chores as her brother, would she think its fair if she gets paid less because she's a girl.

Well you can imagine the indignation an 8 year old girl would display at the mere suggestion. Even her 6 year old brother is outraged.

If 8 and 6 year olds get it, why do our legislators have such difficulty with the concept?

This is one of the topics AAUW members from around the state will be discussing at our convention April 25-27 in Cooperstown, NY.

Lilly Ledbetter will be our keynote speaker on Friday night. Ms. Ledbetter was launched into the national spotlight when she sued Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company for unfair pay. A jury awarded her $223,776 in back pay and $3 million in punitive damages. She never received any money and ultimately the case was thrown out when the Supreme Court ruled that the 180 day filing limit had begun with the first check she received showing her lesser pay. (So apparently our Supreme Court justices don't get it either!)

The House Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would return us to the longstanding rule (before the Supreme Court changed it in May), which treated each and every discriminatory paycheck as a new discrimination, thus re-starting the 180-day clock.

We will also be hearing from Clair Schuster, a tenured Associate Professor of Nursing at Berea College, who sued the institution for sex discrimination in pay in violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract. More details on this case are available on the Association website - http://www.aauw.org/advocacy/laf/cases/schuster.cfm. AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund supported Ms. Schuster in her fight for equity.

Workshops will focus on grass roots activism, personal and professional development along with some general interest topics.

It's a great opportunity to network, learn about AAUW and help us Move The Mission Forward.

If you are interested in finding out more, visit our website at aauw-nys.org/convention.htm.

You can contact me directly with any questions. I hope to see you there.

International Women's Rights Treaty

Equity is the legal right of all women and girls. AAUW frames and fosters factual, in-depth, objective dialogue among legislators and change makers that results in political, institutional and legal support for women's equity in all areas of life and work.

Support an International Women's Rights Treaty Learn about the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and ways to work towards the ratification of this important treaty. The AAUW International Affairs Committee has compiled this comprehensive set of resources to assist AAUW states and branches in their education and advocacy efforts on behalf of the ratification of CEDAW, the women's rights treaty. More information at www.aauw.org/advocacy/legal advocacyfund.

International Women's Day.
Visit www.internationalwomensday.com for background information and find out how you can celebrate this important day for women around the world.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Diversity Books

AAUW has published book lists devoted to diversity for several years. It is time to create a new list. Old lists are available on the web-site at www.aauw.org if you would like to know more. If you have read a wonderful book that deals with a group or disability and which would increase our understanding of others, please contact me at president@aauw-nys.org. Examples would be books dealing with growing up Hispanic, life with a visual impairment or an emotional disability, or life as a native American. There are many possibilities We are also looking for books that will increase our financial literacy and dealing with change in organizations such as AAUW.

Read any good books lately? Let me know.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Background on CTAUN:

"You behave very differently if you think you're the only elephant on the block." (Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations)

"What does it mean to live in a global society? In this era, complete self-sufficiency is an illusion. We are, whether we like it or not, interconnected, and linked internationally through the media and telecommunications, culturally through our societal interactions, economically through trade, politically through our treaties, and environmentally through the air we breathe.

The issue of interdependence is not simply a case of emerging nations dependent upon the West. Nor can we afford to be arrogant about our own capacity for independence. We live in a a world where climate change is becoming a reality; our security is at risk; we are open to pandemics; and even the safety of everyday items - food, toys, toothpaste, cosmetics, etc. - can no longer be taken for granted. We depend on other nations for energy, intelligence gathering, and even disaster relief. In the summer of 2003, heat waves in Europe killed 35,000. In 2007, firefighters from Australia, Canada, and Mexico were needed to battle blazes in the American West. The UN itself depends for its effectiveness on the political will and cooperation of its 192 member states.

Teaching about interdependence should be a focus of curriculum at all levels. Education is a powerful tool for change. We cannot deny that the lives of children are increasingly shaped by events in other parts of the world." (conference brochure)

CTAUN provides educators with oportunities to learn about the work of the UN and to incorporate global awareness into curricula and school activities at all levels. 30 AAUW members from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut attended this year's conference. There are 7 AAUW New York State members on the CTAUN committee who were actively involved in planning the conference. Carolyn Donovan, AAUW's Representative at the UN, serves as CTAUN's Second Vice Chair. CTAUN is always looking for new members to help plan the annual conference. Send inquiries to dfcamc@aol.com

Friday, February 08, 2008

CTAUN CONFERENCE

"Teaching and Learning in an Interdependent World", the tenth annual conference of the Committee on Teaching About the United Nations, was held on Friday, February 1, at United Nations Headquarters in New York City. 473 people fron as far away as Texas came to hear speakers on climate change, learn about multicultural efforts, and discover innovative educational approaches.

We were welcoomed by Radhika Coomaraswamy, Under-Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict. She spoke about the problems of child soldiers and sexual abuse, and UN efforts to act against genocide and mass abuses. She quoted Sylvia Gordon describing the classroom as "a sheltered environment for children".

A panel on "Climate Change: Rethinking the World We Share", was moderated by AAUW's Carolyn Donovan, who will be our speaker at the NY State Convention in April. Dr. Alan Robock, Professor of Climatology at Rutgers University and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, gave a lucid and compelling presentation. He addressed three questions: How will climate change in the future? (considerable warming, glacier retreat, greater and more extreme precipitation, extinctions, stronger hurricanes, sea level rise); How will it affect us? (water availability, tropical agriculture, national security); and What should we do? It's cheaper to mitigate right now (reduce emissions, increase efficiency).

Rebecca Pearl of the Women's Environment and Development Organization spoke on the interaction of climate and gender. When men and women have equal rights, equal numbers die in natural disasters. Where rights are unequal, more women die. 55%-85% of the dead in the tsunami were women.

Dr. Steven Frantz, Sustainability Education Coordinator for the Scarsdale School District, showed how his district is trying to "meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" in facilities, grounds, and transportation; curriculum and staff development; and attitudes and behavior. He concluded that "It's good to change your light bulbs, but it's more important to change our leaders."

The final speaker of the day, Dr. Spencer Wells, Genographic Project Director of the National Geographic Society, gave a cogent explanation of how DNA mutations, the Y chromosome, and mitochondrial DNA can be used to trace the origins and migration of human populations from subsaharan Africa. Climate change in the Sahara 50,000 years ago and at later periods was the main determinant of migration routes. he is currently testing indigenous populations around the world as well as any volunteers to refine this knowledge.