AAUW Gives Thanks: 2014 Edition

November 24, 2014

When it comes to AAUW advocacy, we have so much to be thankful for — including you! (I’ll get to that in a moment.) With Thanksgiving around the corner, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you the top six achievements and accomplishments for which our public policy team is thankful this year.

This list is by no means exhaustive; search for #AAUWthanks on Twitter to see more 2014 advancements for women and girls for which we are thankful, or view the full list here.

As always, we are thankful for all the members of AAUW Action Network and their enthusiastic advocacy to ensure that women and girls have a fair shot. AAUW could not have achieved any of these successes without you, our dedicated advocates — and we can achieve even more if we continue to grow our AAUW Action Network family.

If you haven’t joined Action Network yet, it’s easy! Simply fill out this form and you’ll start receiving e-mail notices when it’s time to contact your legislators or the White House about urgent policy issues.

If you are already signed up for Action Network: Please take two minutes (in typical Action Network fashion!) to share this message with three friends and family members, and urge them to join our Action Network community today.

From all of us at AAUW, best wishes for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving and a safe and joyful beginning to your holiday season!

1. President Barack Obama Advances AAUW Priorities through Executive Orders

AAUW staff celebrate an equal pay victory for women on Equal Pay Day 2014.

We are thankful that the White House’s “year of action” advanced several AAUW priorities, including two equal pay executive orders for which AAUW members and supporters had been pushing for years. We’ve already collected more than 6,000 comments in support of the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed rule to implement the executive order focused on requiring federal contractors to report compensation by race and sex, and there’s still time for you to add your voice! Obama also issued executive actions to raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors; expand the government’s income-based repayment plan to more student borrowers; protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees of federal contractors from discrimination; address safer workplaces for employees of federal contractors; and encourage federal agencies to review and expand flexible workplace policies.

2. States and Cities Make Progress on Women’s Economic Security

We are thankful that states and cities across the country have made progress on minimum wage, equal pay, paid sick days, and other women’s economic security issues in spite of gridlock in Washington, D.C. AAUW members were involved in many of these big wins, including passage of the Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act, New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act, minimum wage ballot initiatives in five states, a paid sick days ballot initiative in Massachusetts, and a state version of the Equal Rights Amendment in Oregon. Voters also passed paid sick days ballot initiatives in Trenton and Montclair, New Jersey, as well as Oakland, California. On the legislative side, lawmakers enacted minimum wage legislation in Connecticut and Seattle, Washington, and paid sick days legislation in New York City; San Diego, California; Eugene, Oregon; and Newark, Passaic, East Orange, Irvington, and Paterson, New Jersey.

3. White House, Campuses, and Advocates Collaborate to End Campus Sexual Violence

We are thankful for the national conversation on ending campus sexual violence. AAUW and our members have both fueled and led this national teach-in. AAUW worked with the White House and our partners in the It’s on Us campaign, students across the country, and states like California and New York that are redefining consent to an affirmative standard of “yes means yes.” We are thankful for the creation of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, which released a groundbreaking report in April with recommendations for colleges and universities, and for the new website NotAlone.gov, which consolidates resources for students and schools. We will continue to play a leading role in these efforts, from testifying before elected officials seeking answers to the problem of campus sexual violence to documenting and shaping the development of regulations to implement new campus safety provisions in the 2013 Violence Against Women Act reauthorization. We are grateful that the U.S. Department of Education finalized the regulations last month. A special thanks to the more than 4,600 AAUW members and supporters who wrote to the Department of Education in July to express support for the draft regulations!


4. AAUW Members Enthusiastically Lead 2014 It’s My Vote Campaign

We are thankful for the AAUW members, branches, and state affiliates that invested their hearts and talents into the 2014 It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign to educate and turn out women voters, especially young women. The numbers are still pouring in, but so far we know that AAUW members hosted more than 230 voter registration and voter education events in at least 36 states! Make sure you tell us about your activities so your activities can be a part of AAUW’s nationwide impact.


5. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Is As “Notorious” As Ever

Image via Wikimedia Commons

We are thankful for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 21 years of service on the Supreme Court and her fierce defense of gender equality, civil rights, and reproductive rights. Ginsburg’s strong dissents in the Hobby Lobby case and a recent order allowing a voter identification law to proceed in Texas remind us of how lucky we are to have such a smart, savvy jurist on our nation’s highest court. She is the “Notorious R.B.G.,” indeed!



6. What a Year for Breaking through the Glass Ceiling

We are thankful for all the firsts that happened for women in 2014, including Janet Yellen becoming the first female chair of the Federal Reserve Board; Malala Yousafzai becoming the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize; Becky Hammon becoming the first female regular season assistant coach in the NBA; Megan Brennan becoming the first female U.S. postmaster general and chief executive; Adm. Michelle Howard becoming the Navy’s first female four-star officer; Maryam Mirzakhani becoming the first woman to win the Fields Medal (commonly known as the Nobel Prize for mathematics); and Rep.-elect Alma Adams (D-NC) becoming the 100th woman member of the 113th Congress — a new record for women’s representation in government. A special shout-out to 13-year-old Mo’ne Davis for being the first girl to throw a shutout in Little League World Series history and becoming the first Little League player to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated!

Lisa Maatz By:   |   November 24, 2014