December 15, 2016

Women's issues take front and center for NYSUT conference

Author: Liza Frenette
Source: NYSUT Communications
nysut women's conference

“Speak Up, Stand Up, Step Up!” These are the actions driving a new NYSUT Women’s Conference planned for March 3 and 4 in Albany.

The conference aims to educate, organize and mobilize around women's priorities.

For “Speak Up,” a session on Women and Communications is scheduled to be led by Dante Morelli, a professor of communications and member of the Faculty Association of Suffolk County Community College, and Kerry Broderick, local president of the White Plains TA. The conference will be held at NYSUT headquarters; rooms are available at the union-represented Desmond Hotel in Colonie.

A session on financial security is planned with speakers Arelis Tavares, community outreach director for the New York State AFL-CIO, and Angela Blue, community outreach specialist from state AFL-CIO.

On the theme of “Stand Up,” retiree Jeanette Stapley of the small and rural local Schroon Lake Central School Teachers Association will moderate a panel discussion on domestic violence survival. The panel includes Sandie Carner Shafner, a school-related professional with Saratoga Adirondack BOCES Employees Association; Therese Swota; NYSUT communications staff; and Tabitha Dunn, training director for Unity House in Troy, which runs a shelter for domestic violence victims.

The conference themes reflect pressing issues affecting women’s lives and livelihoods. According to the Shriver Report, there are 18 major issues affecting women. The first is poverty, hunger and homelessness.

“Seventy million women and the children who depend on them are living in or on the brink of poverty in America. Among industrialized nations, the U.S. has the largest number of homeless women and children, the report says. The Shriver Report — Special Editions is a nonpartisan initiative that addresses challenges facing women and their families.

The gender wage gap is another concern, and it is no surprise that women are reported to be the primary or co-primary wage earner in six out of ten American families.

The “Speak Up, Stand Up, Step Up” conference includes a session on women and finances, as well as directive on how women can mobilize to effect change.

In a column posted after the November 2016 presidential election, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said: “Despite these deep political divisions, most American voters agree the economy is the most important issue facing our country. Economic changes from deindustrialization, globalization, technology and the recession have left so many people behind. It seems the only ones who have fully recovered are the wealthy, leaving many to feel that both our government and our economic system are rigged and unfair. Improving the lives of working families is the chief aim of the labor movement.”

The third most pressing women’s issue is violence against women, according to the Shriver Report. Combined with a staggering reported 270,00 rapes or sexual assaults every year, domestic violence takes a major toll on women. “ One-in-three female homicide victims is killed by an intimate partner. Twenty-four percent of adult women have been physically assaulted by a partner at some time in their lives. One in five college women has been sexually assaulted while in college. In almost all cases, the institutional response has been inadequate,” according to the Shriver Report.

The Coalition for Labor Union Women also hosts an annual Women’s Leadership Conference. CLUW is the only national organization for union women and its mission is to unify women and develop action programs.

The NEA is hosting a Minority Leadership and Women’s Leadership training conference Jan. 27-20 in Tampa, Florida.

NYSUT's "Speak Up, Stand Up, Step Up!" conference to educate, organize and mobilize around women's priorities will take place in Albany March 3-4, 2017.