Friday, August 27, 2010

Women's Equality Day, the ERA and CEDAW

August 26, 2010 was the 90th anniversary of women receiving the constitutional right to vote in the United States.  It is now known as Women's Equality Day. Today, women have more opportunities than ever before. For many, the right to vote is equated with full equality for women.  However that is only one step in the process. 

As Terry O'Neill, National President of NOW states, "When history books and the media celebrate women's successful fight for the right to vote, they often imply that women now have constitutional equality. The fact is, sex discrimination against women is not unconstitutional, and statues prohibiting it have no constitutional foundation. It is time to write women into the Constitution by ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment."

In the United States, we need to pass and include the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) in the US Constitition.  We can start by calling on our representatives at the state and federal level to advance the ERA. Women can do their part by voting in 2010. We must vote for candidates who believe that equality is a basic human right -- candidates who believe in reproductive freedom, who support equal rights for lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered people, who are dedicated to eliminating racism and violence, who promote economic justice, and who believe that women must be included in the U.S. Constitution.

And we can do the same for women throughout the world by urging the US Senate to ratify the 30-year-old UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, commonly known as CEDAW.  The US helped draft this treaty.  It has been ratified by 185 countries, including all industrialized nations, with the exception of the United States. While progress has been made in advancing women’s rights in recent decades, women continue to suffer disproportionately from poverty, sexual and domestic violence and lack of access to basic health care and equal education. In countries where CEDAW has been ratified, it has made significant improvement to the status of women. U.S. ratification of CEDAW would lend weight to the treaty and solidify our status as a leader in the global human rights committee. U.S. ratification would lend weight to the treaty and the principle that human rights of women are universal across all cultures, nations and religions and worthy of being guaranteed through international human rights standards.

So in that vein, the Pennsylvania NOW Education Fund has been gathering signatures through Facebook Causes to ratify CEDAW. The petition will be sent to President Obama and the Senate petitioning that they "support human rights by prioritizing and passing the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) without restrictions or reservations."  As of the end of the day of Women's Equality Day, 180 people from 21 states had signed the petition in the last month.   We'd like to thank all of the signees.  And if you haven't signed the petition and are on Facebook, go to our Cause page at to add your name.  If you are not on Facebook, you can sign a similar petition at the National NOW ACtion Center at

Saturday, August 7, 2010

August 8 is my birthday. Please help celebrate!

Tomorrow August 8th is my birthday! Instead of asking for gifts, I’ve created a Birthday Wish where you can share stories, photos, and donate to the cause Pennsylvania NOW, something I really care about. Check it out!

Why I Care About NOW and Women's Equality

I joined NOW in 1979 because I couldn't get my boss to pay me a fair wage (I was paid 59% of what a man that graduated with me was paid). In 1989, NOW helped save my life by intervening in a health insurance dispute that was preventing me from having a bone marrow transplant. I continue to have a passion for equality for all, including for women and children. Current issues like shackling pregnant women in prison or cutting funds for critical women's and children's programs that occured here in Pennsylvania for a second year in a row makes my blood boil. We need funds to help get the word out when these kinds of things are happening. Will you help?

Please help make this a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY for me by making a tax-deductible donation to the Pennsylvania NOW Education Fund. Thank you!
If you are not on Facebook or prefer to make the donation by check rather than credit card, you can send your check or credit card donation to us at Pennsylvania NOW, P.O. Box 68, Bellefonte, PA 16823. A pledge form for this purpose is attached at th end of this blog.

If you want to make a tax deductible donation, make the check out to the “Pennsylvania NOW Education Fund.” If you don't need the tax deduction, then you can make the check out to “Pennsylvania NOW, Inc.” Either way helps.

Put "Joanne's Birthday Wish" in the check memo line so that we know that you are helping make my wish come true.

Thanks so much! I'm so lucky to have such awesome friends and fellow activists for equality.
-Joanne Tosti-Vasey, President, Pennsylvania NOW, Inc. and Pennsylvania NOW Education Fund

PA NOW Pledge Form