Katie Helde, 17, (L) and Jasmin Brent, 13, interview Geena Davis. Photo by Rebecca Richards Bullen
Katie Helde, 17, (L) and Jasmin Brent, 13, interview Geena Davis. Photo by Rebecca Richards Bullen
TVbyGirls meet “Madame President”
“During her earlier, more demure years as an actor, she may have turned a blind eye to a female coworker being harassed; today, she would not think twice about standing (her 6-foot-tall stance) up to her fellow-woman’s oppressor. That is what made (my good friend) Geena Davis so awesome upon first impression and so fascinating to interview. That is what makes one cool role model for girls everywhere, including myself.”

—Katie Helde, 17, wrote this after interviewing Davis, the fictional U.S. President on the ABC show Commander in Chief. Helde is one of six TVbyGirls Core Girls who traveled to New York to present Davis with an award at the White House Project’s fourth annual EPIC Awards dinner. The awards recognize producers, filmmakers, actors and others who have contributed to enhancing the perception of women as leaders through pop culture.

Give peace a piece
Some Minnesota state and federal lawmakers turned out to support peace on May 8. U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Becky Lourey, state Rep. Keith Ellison and others spoke at the “Peace Wants a Piece of the Pie” rally at the State Capitol.

Supporters want to establish a U.S. Department of Peace with 2 percent of the nation’s $400 billion defense budget. Minnesota’s Sen. Mark Dayton and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich have both introduced bills that would promote polices that encourage peace domestically and abroad; fund programs that reduce gang, drug, prison and school violence, domestic and child abuse and hate crimes; and establish a Peace Academy.

Organizers will be sending legislators in several states “peace pies” in the next few weeks.

Source: www.thepeacealliance.org

Pregnancy and income
Poor women are having more unplanned pregnancies, and more abortions, while women with higher incomes are having fewer.

Researchers at the Guttmacher Institute analyzed federal data from 1994 to 2001 and found that unplanned pregnancies rose nearly 30 percent among women who live below the poverty line ($16,000 for a family of three) and increased about 25 percent among women earning between $16,000 and $32,000. Pregnancies decreased by about 20 percent among women earning more than $32,000.

Black and Hispanic women had higher pregnancy rates than white women; black women were more likely to have unintended pregnancies and abortions.

Researchers said the difference in pregnancy rates corresponds to different levels of contraceptive use—its use has declined among poor women. They speculate that the decline in contraception use may be caused by cuts in state and federal reproductive health programs and a shift in focus to abstinence rather than contraception.

Also noteworthy, the National Campaign to Prevent Pregnancy recently released findings showing that one in three sexually active teenage girls in the U.S. becomes pregnant. Read the details at www.teenpregnancy.org.

House passes Juarez resolution
“The United States Congress rarely passes free-standing resolutions expressing concern about human rights conditions in a friendly country such as Mexico. The situation in Juarez and Chihuahua is so bad, however, that the U.S. Congress could no longer ignore it .... By pressing Mexican authorities to make every effort to stop the killings, the secretary of state and ambassador to Mexico can help to ensure justice in Chihuahua.”

—Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA, after the unanimous approval of a U.S. House resolution condemning the murders of more than 400 young women and girls since 1993 in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico (across the border from El Paso, Texas). The resolution also proposes measures for investigating and preventing the crimes.

Source: www.feminist.org and Amnesty International

Women janitors sue
Eight Latina women filed a class action civil rights lawsuit May 15 against a San Francisco-based janitorial company that services several major Twin Cities clients, according to a press release from Miller-O’Brien, P.L.L.P., the Minneapolis law firm representing the women.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, claims women janitors employed by ABM Industries Incorporated (ABM) have been victims of coerced sex and subjected to repeated sexual insults, physical intimidation and other abuses by male supervisors.

The suit alleges ABM has failed to address these civil rights violations for years and fostered “a work environment where male supervisors have been free to sexually harass their female subordinates.”

ABM provides janitorial services at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and several downtown office towers.

Say cheese!
Women in the Big Apple are using camera phones to fight back against men who harass them on the street by posting their harassers’ photos and sharing their experiences online at the Holla Back NYC blog. Holla Back has received submissions from around the world and sparked sister sites in Europe and India.

Source: Women’s eNews and www.hollabacknyc.blogspot.com

Kids are #1
Children’s health, safety and education top the list of issues Minnesotans say are important, according to a poll conducted in May for the newly formed Minnesota Children’s Platform Coalition (MNCPC) and the national group Every Child Matters.
The poll also found that nearly four times as many likely voters worry about substandard schools, inadequate protection from abuse and lack of children’s health insurance than worry about high taxes.

Source: www.everychildmatters.org/mn

Compiled by Elizabeth Noll