Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSS Roundup: Montgomery Council President Speaks Out Against Republican Sick Leave Proposal on Capitol Hill<p> <strong>Riemer promotes county&rsquo;s paid sick and family leave law on Capitol Hill</strong></p> <p> Montgomery County Council President Hans Riemer testified Wednesday during a U.S. House of Representatives&rsquo; subcommittee meeting against a new Republican-sponsored bill that could preempt the county&rsquo;s new sick and paid leave law.</p> <p> The&nbsp;<a href="">National Women&rsquo;s Law Center has described HR4219</a>, the bill introduced in November and dubbed &ldquo;Workflex in the 21st Century,&rdquo; as a way for employers to circumvent local and state paid sick and family leave laws.</p> <p> Republican representatives during the subcommittee meeting Wednesday described the bill as a more simple way for businesses to offer flexible leave days without having to comply with a &ldquo;patchwork&rdquo; of state and local paid leave laws.</p> <p> The Women&rsquo;s Law Center described the bill as problematic because it would let employers decide &ldquo;when and whether workers would be allowed to use paid time off to care for themselves or family members.&rdquo;</p> <p> <a href="">Montgomery County&rsquo;s law requires employers</a>&nbsp;with five or more employees to provide workers with one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours an employee works, up to a maximum of 56 hours of earned paid sick leave annually.</p> <p> Riemer said Wednesday that if Congress made a strong federal sick and family leave policy, fewer local and state governments would feel compelled to act. However, he told the representatives during the committee meeting that the if the bill put forth by the Republicans were to pass, it would reduce the rights given to Montgomery County employees in the county law by enabling local employers to circumvent the county law by complying with the less stringent federal requirements.</p> <p> &ldquo;A worker could easily end up with very little paid sick days, without even the right to claim them when they need it,&rdquo; Riemer told the committee about the possible effects of passing the federal bill.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Another witness, Carrie Lukas, president of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, testified in favor of the bill by saying it would give employers, particularly small businesses, greater flexibility in making paid leave decisions. She said state and local paid leave requirements might have the unintended effect of pricing low-income individuals out of jobs because some businesses might not be able to comply with them.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Democratic representatives who participated in the panel advocated instead for a different House bill&mdash;the&nbsp;<a href="">Healthy Families Act, HR1516</a>&mdash;that would establish a federal paid leave baseline. The bill would require employers with 15 or more employers to provide 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours per year&mdash;a policy that closely aligns with the county law, although the employee threshold is higher in the county version.</p> <p> Riemer, a Democrat, said he doesn&rsquo;t think the Republican legislation will gain support because he believes Americans are seeking more rights to paid sick and family leave, but he hoped the Democrats&rsquo; bill moves forward.</p> <p> &ldquo;The Democrats&rsquo; bill that they are championing is quite similar to ours,&rdquo; Riemer said. &ldquo;I think the basic point is the county&rsquo;s law is a workable national standard.&rdquo;</p> <p> &mdash;<em>Andrew Metcalf</em></p> <p> <strong>Raskin throws himself a birthday party, but without once-featured guest</strong></p> <p> U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin turns 55 next week. On Sunday, he&rsquo;s throwing what a recent invitation described as &ldquo;my true-blue, rock-and-roll birthday bash&rdquo; (and campaign fundraiser) for more than 500 friends and supporters at the Silver Spring Civic Center.</p> <p> The entertainment includes local musicians, and the food will feature &ldquo;Effective Progressive&rdquo; mustard from Raskin&rsquo;s cousins in Wisconsin and what Raskin labeled &ldquo;8<sup>th</sup>&nbsp;District and District 20 Salsa (Spiced Globally, Stirred Locally and Served Liberally).&rdquo; Featured guests include Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Virginia Lt. Gov.-elect Justin Fairfax, among the victors in last month&rsquo;s Democratic sweep of statewide offices there.</p> <p> But while one of Raskin&rsquo;s House freshman colleagues, Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, will be there, another freshman, Nevada Rep. Ruben Kihuen, will not&mdash;even though Kihuen was touted as a featured guest in a mid-November invitation from Raskin for Sunday&rsquo;s event.</p> <p> The Mexican-born Kihuen&mdash;like Raskin, a member of the House Progressive Caucus&mdash;was considered a rising star on Capitol Hill until late last month, when he joined a growing number of legislators accused of sexual harassment. Kihuen made unwanted advances to a female staffer then in his employ, according to a report in BuzzFeed<em>.</em></p> <p> For Raskin, it was the second time in recent weeks that he faced the awkward situation in which a colleague to whom he has close ties stood accused of sexual harassment.</p> <p> Last week, Raskin joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in calling for the resignation of long-time Rep. John Conyers&mdash;for whom Raskin once interned as a college undergraduate and with whom he recently served on the Judiciary Committee. Conyers resigned this week.</p> <p> However, Raskin so far has refrained from joining Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders in calling on Kihuen to leave Congress.</p> <p> &ldquo;I have been emphatic that we need to have a zero-tolerance policy with respect to harassment, but I have not yet issued a statement on that particular case,&rdquo; said Raskin, who sits on the House Administration Committee, which is working to craft future policies to curtail sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.</p> <p> In a phone interview Thursday, Raskin sidestepped questions about whether he had disinvited Kihuen from Sunday&rsquo;s gathering, saying he had shifted the focus of the party to the recent off-year elections in the region. &ldquo;I just thought that, all things considered, it would be better to celebrate the victory in Virginia and Frederick and Annapolis,&rdquo; said Raskin, alluding to Democrats winning the mayor&rsquo;s post in the latter two cities.</p> <p> About Kihuen&rsquo;s absence at Sunday&rsquo;s event, Raskin added: &ldquo;As it turns out, he&rsquo;s not going to be in town anyway. And so I think all&rsquo;s well that ends well for the party.&rdquo;</p> <p> &mdash;<em>Louis Peck</em></p> <p> <strong>Riemer files for more public campaign funds; Albornoz says he&rsquo;s met threshold to qualify</strong></p> <p> On Tuesday, when at-large County Council member Hans Riemer of Takoma Park was sworn in Tuesday as the council&rsquo;s new president, his campaign filed paperwork to tap into additional aid from the county&rsquo;s public campaign finance system as he seeks a third term next year.</p> <p> Riemer previously qualified for more than $86,000 in public funding in August. His latest filing reported another $12,000 in private fundraising, which will trigger additional public funding of a little less than $40,000.</p> <p> Meanwhile, another candidate for an at-large seat, Gabriel Albornoz of Kensington, said in a press release this week that he has met the legal threshold to qualify for public funding by raising at least $20,000 from a minimum of 250 contributors.</p> <p> While Albornoz&rsquo;s campaign has yet to file the required paperwork with the state Board of Elections, his campaign manager, Ashley Bynum, said Thursday that Albornoz had raised a little more than $25,000 in qualifying private donations and expects to receive about $80,400 in public funding.</p> <p> Albornoz has headed the county&rsquo;s Department of Recreation for the past 11 years, and chaired the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee from 2012 to 2014. His parents are immigrants from South America, and he has been endorsed by District 4 County Council Member Nancy Navarro, now the only Latino or Latina member of the council.</p> <p> Albornoz has enjoyed strong support from the inner circle of retiring County Executive Ike Leggett: Leggett has endorsed him, and the Albornoz campaign is chaired by Charles Short, a longtime special assistant to Leggett.</p> <p> Riemer&rsquo;s newly filed fundraising report also shows him benefitting from support from leading members of the Leggett administration, including a $150 donation from Leggett himself&mdash;the maximum amount an individual can give to a candidate who is tapping into public financing.</p> <p> Lily Qi, an assistant chief administrative officer under Leggett, also gave Riemer $150, while Department of Transportation chief Al Roshdieh donated $50.</p> <p> Riemer has qualified for $136,000 in public funding, the most of the three at-large candidates who have received public campaign subsidies so far. Bill Conway of Potomac has received a little more than $100,000, and Hoan Dang of Silver Spring slightly less than $74,000.</p> <p> Among 18 other at-large council candidates who have created public financing committees to date, only two&mdash;Albornoz and Chris Wilhelm of Chevy Chase&mdash;have claimed publicly to have met the threshold for public funding. Wilhelm said last month he had raised about $24,000 to qualify for $80,000 in public subsidies, but has not yet filed the paperwork to receive the money.</p> <p> <em>Image of Gabriel Albornoz, left, via Montgomery County government.</em></p> <p> &mdash;<em>Louis Peck</em></p> <p> <strong>Rockville investment firm exec mulling independent run for U.S. Senate, spokeswoman confirms</strong></p> <p> Neal Simon, chief executive officer of Bronfman Rothschild&mdash;a Rockville-based investment firm&mdash;is mulling a bid for U.S. Senate as an independent candidate, a spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.</p> <p> &ldquo;He is considering a run,&rdquo; Leah Nurik said, adding that Simon will make a decision &ldquo;by the end of February.&rdquo; Through Nurik, Simon, a 49-year old Potomac resident, declined a request to be interviewed.</p> <p> The seat has been held since 2006 by Democrat Benjamin Cardin, who, at 74, has yet to file or announce his intentions for 2018. But Cardin, who has been actively fundraising and moving around the state, is expected to seek a third term.</p> <p> The filing deadline for next June&rsquo;s Democratic and Republican primaries is Feb. 27. Independent candidates for statewide office have until the first week in August to file the 10,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot.</p> <p> If he decides to run, Simon, as practical matter, would need to begin campaigning well before that to boost name recognition and overcome the institutional disadvantages of seeking office as an independent.</p> <p> With the exception of a couple of iconoclastic states on opposite ends of the country&mdash;Alaska and Maine&mdash;independent candidates in the U.S. rarely have had much success in the modern political era. Maryland fits squarely into this mold.</p> <p> In fact, Cardin faced an independent challenger in 2012: international businessman Rob Sobhani, a former Georgetown University professor. Sobhani set a record for an independent candidate in Maryland by garnering nearly 16.5 percent of the vote. But he ran well behind Cardin, with 56 percent, and Republican Dan Bongino, with 26 percent.</p> <p> Sobhani, then a Montgomery County resident, reported spending about $8.1 million, of which nearly 98 percent came out of his own pocket. As CEO of a wealth management firm with 10 offices along the East Coast and in the Midwest, Simon could be in a position to give or lend significant personal funds to his campaign.</p> <p> Simon joined Bronfman Rothschild in 2015, when that firm acquired Highline Wealth Management, which Simon founded in 2002. He is a past board chairman of the Community Foundation of Montgomery County.</p> <p> Simon&rsquo;s interest in a Senate run was first reported by the Maryland Reporter<em>,&nbsp;</em>which said he has been in conversations with the Colorado-based Centrist Project. On its website, the group describes itself as a &ldquo;grassroots organization &hellip; encouraging more independent candidates to run for public office to put our country ahead of any political faction in order to solve problems.&rdquo;</p> <p> &mdash;<em>Louis Peck</em></p> <p> <strong>Madaleno to accept public financing in gubernatorial bid</strong></p> <p> State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Kensington) announced Friday he would use the state&rsquo;s public campaign financing system to help fund his run for governor. Under the system, Madaleno can raise as much as $2.8 million with about half of that being provided to him in matching public funds.</p> <p> The choice to accept public financing will enable Madaleno to raise funds during the 90-day 2018 General Assembly session, as long as individuals provide donations of up to $250, according to&nbsp;<a href=""><em>The Baltimore Sun</em></a>. Had he not accepted public financing, Madaleno, as a state elected official, would not have been able to raise money during the session.</p> <p> In 2014, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan used the public financing system to defeat his Democratic opponent Anthony Brown&mdash;who outspent Hogan by a 3-to-1 margin. Madaleno told the&nbsp;<em>Sun</em>&nbsp;he hopes to do the same to Hogan, who has been fundraising consistently since winning the election and reported having $4.6 million in his campaign account in January.</p> <p> Madaleno is the first of eight Democrats pursuing the party&rsquo;s gubernatorial nomination to choose public financing, according to the&nbsp;<em>Sun</em>.</p> <p> <em>- Andrew Metcalf</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasFri, 8 Dec 2017 14:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAnother Big Winner from Tax Reform<p> Media coverage of the tax bills--which are now in conference and could be brought to a final vote this year&mdash;has focused on how it will impact corporations, workers, families with children, and higher income residence of states with high state income tax rates.</p> <p> This makes sense:&nbsp; When this legislation becomes law, it&#39;s most sweeping effects will be in reducing burdens on businesses large and small, which will benefit workers and those looking for jobs, as well as shareholders.&nbsp; Regular taxpayers will also be among the biggest winners, with rate cuts that will mean people will keep more of their earnings and a rationalization of deductions, which could encourage reform at the state level.</p> <p> Families with children are also among the biggest winners.&nbsp; Not only will the child tax credit expand from $1,000 per child to at least $1,600, but an under-reported change that was in both the House and Senate bills is also good news for parents.&nbsp; The legislation would liberalize how people can use money that is saved in 529 accounts, which have traditionally been savings vehicles for college, so that families can draw on those resources for educational expenses during elementary and high school as well.</p> <p> There are currently&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">about 10.9 million</a>&nbsp;529 accounts,&nbsp; with assets totally in excess of $224 billion.&nbsp; After this change, families will be able to consider using a portion of these resources for elementary and high school expenses, including for homeschooling.&nbsp; This change would allow people to make investments in education services today, and to consider saving more since they know that they can use these resources not just for college but for more immediate needs.</p> <p> Importantly, this change also sends a critical message both to families and to the education sector.&nbsp; For too long, college has been positioned as the ultimate goal of the education process.&nbsp; Families have been encouraged to see getting their children degrees at four-year higher education establishments as the definition of success and they have been encouraged to sacrifice spending earlier&mdash;on education or on other family needs&mdash;to prepare to make a massive investment in the education that occurs between the ages of 18 and 22, at a college or university.</p> <p> Many have come to question the logic of this approach.&nbsp; Colleges have been able to rapidly increase tuition costs since people have been force-fed the idea that their service is a must for a successful life.&nbsp; As a result, the average student at a four-year public college is now expected to invest about&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">$100,000</a>&nbsp;in higher education for a bachelor&#39;s degree.&nbsp; During the recent economic downturn, unemployment and underemployment increased among recent graduates, which meant that millions of young people were trying to service nearly six-figure debts, while working jobs that barely paid the bills.</p> <p> No wonder that a growing share of the population no longer thinks that college is a good investment. In fact,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">a poll taken this summer</a>&nbsp;found that just 49 percent of Americans think a four-year degree will &ldquo;lead to a good job and higher lifetime earnings.&rdquo;&nbsp; Nearly as many (47%) disagreed.&nbsp; Three in ten college graduates thought that college wasn&#39;t worth the cost.</p> L. LukasThu, 7 Dec 2017 08:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumRubio-Lee child tax credit isn't the only way to help struggling families<p> You wouldn&#39;t know it from the media&#39;s coverage of the tax bill, but families with children will be among the biggest winners if this tax reform package becomes law.</p> <p> Both the House and Senate bills dramatically expand child tax credits, from $1,000 to $1,600 in the House&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">version</a>&nbsp;and to $2,000 in the Senate&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">bill</a>. &nbsp;This means that a middle-income family with two kids could save between $800 and $2000, from this one provision alone. &nbsp;</p> <p> Senators Rubio and Lee want to do more to help families with children, particularly lower-income families who won&#39;t benefit fully from these tax credit increases because they already have little to no income tax liability and only a portion of the tax credit is refundable (in the House bill, the first $1,000 of child tax credit would become refundable). Rubio and Lee want to make the child tax credit apply not just to income tax liabilities, but&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">also to payroll taxes</a>, which would benefit millions of lower-income families.</p> <p> Helping families who are struggling most certainly sounds like a good idea. &nbsp;However, this reform overlooks that payroll taxes have a very different purpose than regulator income taxes. &nbsp;Workers pay payroll taxes specifically to support the Social Security and Medicare programs, which they then expect to be able to draw benefits from during retirement. &nbsp;Making these deductions apply against these payments undermines the idea that Social Security and Medicare are earned benefits with separate funding streams.</p> <p> To offset revenue lost by making these tax credits refundable, Rubio and Lee propose increasing the corporate tax rate: &nbsp;Rather than cutting the corporate tax rate from its current 35 percent to 20 percent, they propose reducing it to 22 percent. &nbsp;The political appeal of this solution is obvious: &nbsp;The Senators are positioned as the champions for poor children over big, faceless corporations, which, the argument goes, &nbsp;should surely be able to shoulder a 2 percentage point higher tax rate to help the kids. &nbsp;</p> <p> That makes for a nice political statement or advertisement, but it doesn&#39;t reflect reality. &nbsp;Higher corporate tax rates don&#39;t just hurt shareholders and well-paid executives. &nbsp;They impact workers at all levels, including people who are currently out of work or only working part time. &nbsp;Reducing corporate taxes will allow businesses to pay more and hire more, which is good news for those struggling in today&#39;s economy. &nbsp;</p> <p> Policymakers from both sides of the aisle have recognized that our too high corporate tax rate has been strangling economic growth, leading to fewer jobs in the United States and slower wage growth. &nbsp;Shrinking the proposed rate reduction will mean that we will sacrifice some of these benefits and have less economic opportunity, which is particularly important for those who want to climb the economic ladder. &nbsp;</p> <p> This doesn&#39;t mean that Congress shouldn&#39;t be trying to provide greater financial assistance to lower income workers, particularly those with children. &nbsp;After all, society benefits from investments made in the next generation, and we want kids to have the resources that they need to flourish.</p> <p> But rather than increasing the corporate tax rate, the Senators should make the case that Congress should reforming spending programs to free up resources to help these families. &nbsp;According to the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Urban Institute,</a>about a tenth of the federal budget, or $377 billion, is spent on children, and the majority of that is targeted to lower-income children. &nbsp;Unfortunately, some of this funding never reaches these families, but is instead eaten up by inefficient bureaucracies. &nbsp;</p> <p> Ask lower income families if they&#39;d rather have more government programs or more money in their pockets, most would surely choose the later. &nbsp;Congress should take a serious look at all these programs, identify those that aren&#39;t working and providing real value, and consider how they could instead return these resources to the people that they are supposed to help, but often fail to. &nbsp;</p> <p> It&#39;s admirable that Senators Rubio and Lee want to do more to help struggling families. &nbsp;They should take heart though that it&#39;s not just the child tax credit that will benefit families with children: &nbsp;The entire tax reform package will do so by creating a better economic environment that will lead to more and better job opportunities, which are the real keys to improving people&#39;s financial situation, permanently.&nbsp;</p> L. LukasThu, 30 Nov 2017 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIvanka says her father's administration will launch a major paid family leave campaign early next year once it's finished with tax reform<p> <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Ivanka Trump</strong></a>&nbsp;revealed Wednesday that paid family is next on the Trump administration&#39;s agenda.</p> <p> The senior White House adviser said the administration will initiate a full-court press on Congress to pass a national paid family leave program after it finishes with tax reform while she spoke at a conference geared toward women in India.</p> <p> &#39;Coming into the new year, you will hopefully see it in a national paid family leave program that we&#39;re working hard to build coalitions of support for,&#39; Trump said of the White House&#39;s desire to implement &#39;policies that support the modern working family.&#39;</p> <p> The president&#39;s daughter reminded her audience that a federal leave program was part of her father&#39;s first, White House budget.</p> <p> &#39;I&#39;m very encouraged by that step, and we&#39;ll be working with Congress to try and pass what is a long overdue policy.&#39;</p> <p> Trump&#39;s announcement, during a panel on workforce development, was applauded by the entrepreneurs attending the summit.</p> <p> Allies of the administration, however, were left scratching their heads.&nbsp;</p> <p> Senior Republican congressional aides were unaware of any such plans. A source on the right with knowledge of the issue was &#39;surprised that this was going to be the priority.&#39;&nbsp;</p> <p> Establishing a federal paid family leave program is a leading aim of the president&#39;s daughter. She has been lobbying Republican lawmakers on a set of reform since her father became the party&#39;s standard bearer.</p> <p> In a previous ask, Ivanka Trump challenged Republicans to pass legislation granting six weeks of paid family leave to new and adoptive parents. That version of the program, which she managed to insert into her father&#39;s fiscal year 2018 budget, utilized state unemployment programs to distribute the funds.</p> <p> The White House estimated the program would cost $25 billion over the next decade.</p> <p> She has signaled her openness to other payment and leave structures since then, including&nbsp;a nonrefundable, 25 percent tax credit for businesses that voluntarily offer four to 12 weeks of paid leave that was proposed in the Senate by Florida Republican Marco Rubio.</p> <p> Tax legislation that comes for a vote this week in the Senate includes a paid family leave provision - but it does not have the heft of of Ivanka&#39;s proposed leave program.</p> <p> The provision, shepherded by Republican Sen. Deb Fischer, provides for significantly less than the mandatory 12 weeks of paid leave that national Democrats are proposing.</p> <p> Fischer&#39;s measure gives companies that offer at least two weeks of paid leave a tax credit comparable to 25 percent of the affected worker&#39;s salary.</p> <p> Included in a rewrite of the GOP&#39;s tax overhaul bill when the legislation went through committee, sources familiar with the issue said it&#39;s unlikely that the proposal will make it into the law.</p> <p> A White House official declined comment earlier this month on Fischer&#39;s push, and Ivanka made no mention of it on Wednesday as she spoke about paid family leave at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, India.</p> <p> The topic of paid leave came up as the president&#39;s daughter discussed the cultural and social blockades for women in the workplace.</p> <p> America&#39;s institutions &#39;were not set up with the assumption that there would be two parents in the workforce, so we just have to fundamentally change things,&#39; she had just been saying.</p> <p> In the corporate world, particularly in the sectors of technology and finance, businesses are introducing flexible work programs.&nbsp;</p> <p> Those enhancements are beneficial for affluent Americans who are already making large amounts of money. &#39;Not for women working at the lower-income end of the spectrum,&#39; she said.&nbsp;</p> <p> &#39;So, I think that&#39;s where government policy comes in, and we need to start thinking about ways to support the modern workforce, and the modern reality of dual-income households,&#39; Trump added.</p> <p> A successful business owner with three children, Trump said &#39;it&#39;s incredibly important&#39; to her that &#39;we have policies that support the modern working family.&#39;</p> <p> &#39;You see in tax reform the expansion, the vast expansion of the child tax credit, recognizing the massive investment parents make into their families at a time when wages have stagnated for so long and working parents really need relief,&#39; she stated.</p> <p> The White House adviser referenced the child and dependent care tax credit, which covers up to 35 percent of expenses at a limit of $3,000 for every qualifying person and remains unchanged in an already-passed House tax bill.</p> <p> &#39;Tackling the cost of childcare, and the fact that it&#39;s not only inaccessible in large portions of the country, particularly in rural areas, but the cost is enormous to, to many American parents, and they&#39;re unable to afford to provide high-quality child care,&#39; she continued, &#39;So that&#39;s another issue we&#39;re addressing.&#39;</p> <p> Ivanka then said then that &#39;you see some of that agenda coming to life through components of tax reform,&#39; the current focus of the the administration.</p> <p> &#39;And coming into the new year, you will hopefully see it in a national paid family leave program that we&#39;re working hard to build coalitions of support for,&#39; she asserted.&nbsp;</p> <p> &#39;The president included it for the first time ever in his budget this year, paid family leave, maternity, paternity and adoption, and I&#39;m very encouraged by that step.&nbsp;We&#39;ll be working with Congress to try and pass what is a long overdue policy.&#39;&nbsp;</p> <p> A high-ranking leadership aide told earlier this fall, when House Republicans were passing their budget, there is &#39;no appetite&#39; to tackle a paid family leave program.</p> <p> Asked about the issue again after Ivanka Trump&#39;s India comments, the aide said nothing has changed.</p> <p> If the 36-year-old White House official wants to see a national paid family leave program enacted, she will most likely need the help of congressional Democrats.&nbsp;</p> <p> More than 100 Democratic members have signed on to a letter smacking down her previous paid family leave proposal.</p> <p> House Democrats told her father in June: &#39;We appreciate your interest in paid leave; however we are concerned that the proposal included in your 2018 budget request is inadequate because it only provides six weeks of paid leave for limited circumstances and without a solid funding mechanism.&#39;</p> <p> Democrats favor a comprehensive leave policy that allows workers to take time off for reasons other than a newborn child.&nbsp;</p> <p> A program approved by New York this year takes the money out of workers&#39; pay checks. It starts slow, at eight weeks in 2018, and scales up.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Carrie Lukas, president of the Independent Women&#39;s Forum, a conservative conglomeration of women, said a national paid family leave initiative is a &#39;tough policy&#39; to implement.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Paid leave &#39;can backfire on workers and the economy&#39; if the government adopts an approach that assumes one-size-fits-all,&#39; she said.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&#39;I think it&#39;s a very interesting idea and worth exploring how you could improve the unemployment system to provide support like this,&#39; Lukas said in an assessment of Ivanka Trump&#39;s original plan.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The women&#39;s organization head said she favors the idea of helping low-income workers who must take time off stay in the jobs they already have. She wants more information on the proposal, though, before IWF would endorse it.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&#39;I appreciate what they&#39;re trying to do, which I think is to try to find a way that avoids a sweeping new entitlement program, or a huge business mandate, and to target aid at those who really need it,&#39; she said, &#39;but I feel like we would need to see a lot more about how this would work in practice and what the costs and unintended consequences would be.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&#39;But I think its a great conversation to start having,&#39; she added.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasWed, 29 Nov 2017 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNancy Pelosi’s troubling Dem double standard • FBNAM L. LukasTue, 28 Nov 2017 21:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNew Tax Reform Plan includes Sen. Fischer's Paid Leave Plan<p> Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch has released a new tax reform plan, which includes Senator Deb Fischer&rsquo;s paid leave proposal, the Strong Families Act, according a press release from Deb Fischer&#39;s office.</p> <p style="margin-left:inherit;"> &ldquo;I am thrilled Chairman Hatch adopted my paid family leave proposal in his tax reform markup. This is a big step toward enacting the first nationwide paid leave policy in U.S. history.&quot;</p> <p style="margin-left:inherit;"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="1" id="google_ads_iframe_/4756/KHGI/Web/news/local_5" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" name="google_ads_iframe_/4756/KHGI/Web/news/local_5" scrolling="no" title="3rd party ad content" width="1"></iframe>&ldquo;For the four years I&rsquo;ve been working on this plan, my goal has always been to balance the workplace challenges of employers with the needs of 21st-century working men and women. By encouraging flexible work arrangements, this proposal would allow workers to take leave on an hourly basis so they could care for a sick child or take an elderly parent to a doctor&rsquo;s appointment. It also would cover maternity and paternity leave for biological and adoptive parents.</p> <p> &ldquo;Importantly, the measure is also targeted to those who need it most: lower-to-middle income and hourly workers. The plan sets a limit on the salary-level eligible for the credit, which would expand access to paid family leave for workers who currently don&rsquo;t have it.</p> <p> &ldquo;I thank Chairman Hatch for his support, and I look forward to continuing these efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of working families across this nation,&rdquo; said Senator Fischer.</p> <p align="center"> <strong><em>BREAKING: Thrilled to see Chairman&nbsp;<a href="">@SenOrrinHatch</a>include my&nbsp;<a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PaidFamilyLeave</a>&nbsp;plan in the&nbsp;<a href="">@GOPSenFinance</a>&nbsp;<a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TaxReform</a>&nbsp;mark. This is a big step towards the first nationwide&nbsp;<a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PaidFamilyLeave</a>&nbsp;policy!&nbsp;<a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StrongFamilies</a>&nbsp;<a href=""></a></em></strong></p> <p align="center"> <strong><em>&mdash; Senator Deb Fischer (@SenatorFischer)&nbsp;<a href="">November 15, 2017</a></em></strong></p> <p> A&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="">Pew Research report</a>&nbsp;found that 87 percent of Americans favor Senator Fischer&rsquo;s solution for paid leave in March. The&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="">American Action Forum&rsquo;s analysis</a>&nbsp;of the study noted that Americans are &ldquo;extremely supportive&rdquo; of her approach.&nbsp;</p> <p> Statements of support for Senator Fischer&rsquo;s paid family leave plan:</p> <p> &ldquo;This concept would change the game for many newborn babies and their parents, allowing them the time they need to bond and establish a nursing routine without as much of the stress and guilt they face today. It would provide families with the financial support they need in order to do what&#39;s best for their family, but also help businesses that struggle with putting a plan in place due to the financial burden extended absences create. Failures in the family unit are the root of many of our problems in this country, and I believe anything we can do to help families get off on the right footing will manifest in long-term benefits. In this case, the employee gets the time they need and the employer bears less burden. Our country wins when we focus on and invest in healthier families,&rdquo; said Alison Ritter, an employee at Applied Systems, Inc. in Lincoln, Nebraska. Alison is helping her company&rsquo;s leadership develop a paid leave policy.</p> <p> &quot;I want to offer my employees paid leave, but a mandate forcing me to do so would be hard. I have to make payroll. Senator Fischer&rsquo;s approach is much more workable and wouldn&#39;t provide a disincentive to hire anyone,&quot; said Eric Dinger, the CEO of Powderhook in Lincoln, Nebraska.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;Balancing work and family responsibilities can be a big struggle for workers, particularly for women. Most companies want to help workers and provide support, and the Strong Families Act will make it easier for them to do so. By creating a 25 percent tax credit for the costs of providing paid leave benefits, this bill will encourage more companies to give workers paid time off, which will make it easier for parents to take care of sick children, and workers to assist with aging parents as well as attend to their own health issues. We applaud Senator Fischer for taking this approach, which focuses on encouraging private action, rather than creating a one-size-fits-all government solution or mandate that often backfires on the people we most want to help,&quot; said Carrie Lukas, Vice President, Independent Women&#39;s Voice.</span></span></span></strong></p> L. LukasWed, 15 Nov 2017 14:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLAUGHABLE END-OF-YEAR TRIBUTES STARTING<p> <strong>Glamour and Linda Sarsour &hellip;&nbsp;</strong>Glamour magazine named anti-Semite Linda Sarsour as one of the magazine&rsquo;s &ldquo;Women of the Year.&rdquo; Like Kaepernick, Sarsour is a progressive darling because she dares to stand up to &ldquo;patriarchy&rdquo; and Donald Trump. <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum leader Carrie Lukas&nbsp;</span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">goes through why</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&nbsp;Sarsour and other women honored by Glamour are undeserving.</span></span></strong></span></p> L. LukasMon, 13 Nov 2017 15:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDo Conservative Women Deserve Respect Too?<p> Nearly each day there is&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">another revelation</a>&nbsp;about a man who abused women (and&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">girls</a>, and&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">boys</a>) and took advantage of his powerful position. Abusers banked on people staying silent and tolerating their behavior. The good news is that these days seem to be coming to an end: Powerful men are surely taking note that whatever advantages they wield won&rsquo;t hold up for long, especially if accusations stack up and women are given the support to speak out.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s about time.</p> <p> Of course, the national discussion of this issue needs to include how to protect men (and women) from wrongful accusations. Abusers rightfully pay a heavy price in terms of lost reputation, employment opportunities, and potentially jail time; therefore, the accusation itself is a serious weapon that could be misused. We also want our ire&mdash;and our resources&mdash;focused on punishing those who are truly abusive, and not on policing all speech or bullying those who are just socially awkward. Asking someone out isn&rsquo;t a criminal offense and neither is telling a bad joke, but threatening speech and unwanted physical contact is unacceptable. We need to make these distinctions clear.</p> <p> Hopefully, this national attention to the problem of sexual assault will also encourage a broad examination of how we treat women publicly. While we have a limited ability to control what happens behind closed doors beyond trying to deter bad behavior with the threat of serious punishment, society can shape what&rsquo;s considered acceptable in the public sphere.</p> <p> Unfortunately, much of the media&mdash;and even those who claim to be feminists and on women&rsquo;s side&mdash;tolerate abusive treatment of women in public. Consider&nbsp;<a href=";v=zwoGrDa5g2c" target="_blank">this video montage</a>&nbsp;that&nbsp;<em>New York</em>&nbsp;magazine created, using Comedy Central footage, which has been watched on YouTube by nearly three million viewers&mdash;most of whom guffawed along in the comments. In this video, about a dozen celebrities mock Ann Coulter, with statements including:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>&ldquo;Ann Coulter is one of the most repugnant, hateful bitches alive&mdash;but it&rsquo;s not too late to change, Ann. You could kill yourself.&rdquo; (Jimmy Carr)</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>&ldquo;The only person you will ever make happy is the Mexican who digs your grave.&rdquo; (Nikki Glaser)</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>&ldquo;Why is Ann Coulter here tonight? Because the right-to-lifers wanted everyone to see what an abortion looks like up close.&rdquo; (Rob Lowe)</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Saturday Night Live</em>&nbsp;star</a>, Pete Davidson also called her a &ldquo;racist c**t.&rdquo;</p> <p> Is this really acceptable treatment of a woman?</p> <p> Undoubtedly, those who slammed Ann Coulter would argue that she makes plenty of outrageous statements of her own and can give as good as she gets. Yet I don&rsquo;t believe that Coulter has ever singled out anyone with such vile names and expected the target of her abuse to sit calmly on camera and not respond.</p> <p> You don&rsquo;t have to agree with anything Ann Coulter has said or written to recognize that this isn&rsquo;t appropriate. It&rsquo;s not appropriate to talk like that to anyone or about anyone, and it&rsquo;s particularly not appropriate to talk like that about someone sitting near you and in public, thereby inviting the entire world to believe it is okay to humiliate someone in this manner.</p> <p> Ann Coulter isn&rsquo;t the only woman who has faced criticism that crosses over into abuse. In fact, another question the public ought to explore is why women who are on the political Right seem to be singled out for particularly vicious attacks. Perhaps there are examples of women on the Left and men who have been publicly insulted, but the Left and the mainstream media seem to tolerate treatment of conservative women that would otherwise be considered out-of-bounds were it directed at women on the left. Consider this treatment of&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Sarah Palin</a>&nbsp;(and her family) and&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Kellyanne Conway</a>, and even&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Sarah Huckabee Sanders</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Ivanka Trump</a>. Needless to say, no one in the media or in Hollywood would ever consider denigrating Chelsea or Hillary Clinton, or Michelle Obama, in such a manner. That is as it should be, but why is the standard different when the woman is a conservative?</p> <p> The media and the Left talk a lot about wanting more women to run for office and take bigger roles in political debates. But these vicious personal attacks are intended to mock, delegitimize and silence these women, and ultimately discourage others who share their views from speaking out and getting involved. That shouldn&rsquo;t be okay.</p> <p> Preventing abuse and encouraging more respectful treatment of women should be a priority, and should extend to all women&mdash;even conservatives.</p> L. LukasMon, 13 Nov 2017 13:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumChanging The Culture & Election 2017 • PBS To The Contrary L. LukasSun, 12 Nov 2017 11:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumConservative women are routinely ignored and maligned by popular media and culture • The Vicki McKenna Show L. LukasTue, 7 Nov 2017 06:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGlamour’s unworthy ‘Women of the Year’<p> Glamour Magazine just announced&nbsp;<a href="">its 2017 &ldquo;Women of the Year&rdquo; awardees</a>, whom they describe as &ldquo;game changers, rule breakers, and trailblazers.&rdquo; Perhaps some recipients are changing the world &mdash; though not all for the better &mdash; but nothing is changing at Glamour. The magazine continues its tradition of using this award to honor women who advance an extreme, leftist political agenda, while ignoring every woman with right-of-center views. The big question is, will this be the year that its readers decide enough is enough?</p> <p> The average Glamour reader who seeks out the magazine for advice about this season&rsquo;s hot lipstick shade and skirt length probably isn&rsquo;t interested in a loving tribute&nbsp;<a href="">to the organizers of the intensely partisan Women&rsquo;s March</a>.</p> <p> The march, held in January to protest President Trump&rsquo;s election, talked a lot about women coming together, diversity and inclusivity. But organizers weren&rsquo;t even open-minded enough to allow a pro-life group that wanted to join them in protesting Trump to soil their ranks.</p> <p> Today, it&rsquo;s clear the march and movement were never really about women. The real purpose is to advance the left&rsquo;s political agenda: The whole &ldquo;women&rdquo; thing is just a convenient political banner.</p> <p> How else to explain why one of the march&rsquo;s leaders, Linda Sarsour, who was featured by Glamour, defends sharia law and Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s legal system &mdash; which, as CNN explains, denies women basic rights, such as the freedom to &ldquo;marry, divorce, travel, get a job or have elective surgery without permission from their male guardians&rdquo;?</p> <p> Sarsour is pals with terrorist sympathizers and tweeted that female-genital-mutilation survivor and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali is asking &ldquo;4 an a$$whippin&rsquo; &rdquo; and &ldquo;I wish I could take their vaginas away &mdash; they don&rsquo;t deserve to be women.&rdquo; Is this really the new poster girl for women&rsquo;s lib?</p> <p> Rep. Maxine Waters, the 79-year-old Democratic congresswoman from California,&nbsp;<a href="">is also honored for &ldquo;speaking truth to power.&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;According to Glamour: Waters &ldquo;has long wielded her unapologetically laser-sharp tongue &mdash; surgical in its precision, devastating in its impact &mdash; in service of her progressive politics.&rdquo;</p> <p> They leave out she&nbsp;<a href="">received another title from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington</a>: One of DC&rsquo;s &ldquo;most corrupt&rdquo; legislators, for her shady business dealings, in which she used her office to enrich her family. She also told members of the Tea Party movement they can &ldquo;go straight to hell.&rdquo; Did Glamour consider this may include many of its subscribers?</p> <p> To mix things up, Glamour moved away from those directly involved in politics&nbsp;<a href="">to honor late-night comedian Samantha Bee</a>. Bee is a leader of another flank in the war on Trump, known for such open-minded and insightful comments as: &ldquo;Once you dust for fingerprints, it&rsquo;s pretty clear who ruined America: white people.&rdquo;</p> <p> Glamour applauds Bee for doubling her ratings but fails to note her audience of 1.3 million viewers is dwarfed by those of other shows featuring strong women &mdash; such as Fox News Channel&rsquo;s &ldquo;The Five,&rdquo; with conservative powerhouses Dana Perino and Kimberly Guilfoyle, which pulls in 2 million viewers. Why weren&rsquo;t Perino and Guilfoyle on this list? Smart Glamour readers can figure that out.</p> <p> Glamour did manage to include a few worthy recipients in the mix,&nbsp;<a href="">like NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="">Syrian refugee Muzoon Almellehan</a>, who is now an advocate for girls&rsquo; education. But it&rsquo;s notable that while heavy on American politicos, not one of Glamour&rsquo;s honorees who shows her political cards could be considered a centrist, let alone on the right.</p> <p> Most Americans are tired of the politicization of everything, from football games to women&rsquo;s fashion. Glamour would be wise to rethink whether its readership really wants a big serving of partisan politics served up when they pick up their magazine.</p> <p> New York City editors may consider it the ultimate &ldquo;don&rsquo;t&rdquo; to recognize non-leftists, but they ought to keep in mind that in 2016 four in 10 female voters nationwide cast their support for Trump. These women are shoppers who advertisers probably don&rsquo;t want to offend. Female Trump voters even buy women&rsquo;s magazines &mdash; at least they do for now.</p> L. LukasFri, 3 Nov 2017 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumResearchers study Social Security and working moms<p> Researchers at Boston College&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">reviewed</a>&nbsp;how much motherhood costs women in Social Security benefits. They found that, among other things, mothers with one child receive 16 percent less in benefits than non-mothers, and each additional child reduces benefits by another two percent.</p> <p> &quot;The motherhood penalty is almost negligible among women receiving spousal benefits,&quot; the researchers stated, &quot;but mothers who receive benefits on only their own earnings histories see significantly lower Social Security income.&quot;</p> <p> Before jumping to any conclusions that the Social Security Administration is sexist or biased, <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Carrie Lukas of the&nbsp;</span></span><a href="" target="_blank"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&nbsp;says the figures related to what she calls an &quot;arbitrary&quot; formula.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;It has some strange factors to it and that in some ways it&#39;s actually titled towards stay-at-home moms,&quot; she says. &quot;If you&#39;re a married woman and you don&#39;t work, you can get 50 percent of what your husband&#39;s benefits are, and you earned that even though you didn&#39;t contribute to Social Security during your own lifetime.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">If a woman worked but earned only half of her husband&#39;s earnings, Lukas continues, she will get the same benefits as a woman who never paid in to Social Security.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Lukas says she remains interested in moving towards a savings-based retirement system.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;Or just make it so some of those unfairnesses are ironed out and it truly becomes something that is linked exclusively with how much you put in,&quot; she says.</span></strong></span></span></p> L. LukasTue, 31 Oct 2017 13:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLet's Prioritize Protecting Girls<p> Beyonc&eacute; has often been&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">controversial</a>, but her&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">latest video</a>&nbsp;deserves unanimous applause for raising awareness of how girls are still treated as second class citizens in too much of the world, where violence, female genital mutilation, and child marriage are too often the norm.</p> <p> American women on the right and the left may have different opinions about tax policy, government&rsquo;s role in regulating the workplace, and the size of the social safety net. But we should be able to speak with one voice on this:&nbsp; Women and girls everywhere deserve basic human rights and to be free from violence and exploitation.</p> <p> We should call on American leaders to prioritize encouraging countries around the globe to recognize women&#39;s human rights and make progress toward women&rsquo;s full and equal participation in society.&nbsp; U.S. policy leaders should also double down on their commitment to ensuring that we don&#39;t import some of the worst practices from overseas into our borders.</p> <p> <strong>A Place to Start:&nbsp; Combating Female Genital Mutilation</strong></p> <p> The World Health Organization estimates that at least 200 million women and girls have experienced Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which is the term used for the practice of cutting, removing or otherwise damaging female genitalia.&nbsp; The purpose of FGM is simple:&nbsp; to prevent girls and women from the potential of experiencing sexual pleasure, and therefore to discourage sex outside of marriage. There is no medical benefit to this practice.&nbsp; Rather it results in severe medical complications that can inflict a woman for a lifetime.</p> <p> If feminism stands for anything, it ought to be unequivocally against this abhorrent practice that violates women&rsquo;s human rights and dignity, and seeks to render female bodies as vessels for men&rsquo;s enjoyment, while denying women any of their own.</p> <p> Rates of FGM in some parts of Africa are staggering:&nbsp; According to&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">this report</a>&nbsp;by the General Accounting Office, in Egypt, Sudan, Mali, Guinea, and Somalia, more than 80 percent of women between the ages 15 and 49 have reported undergoing FGM.&nbsp; Turning these country&rsquo;s laws and customs away from this practice will be no easy feat.&nbsp; It should be a diplomatic priority to develop strategies to outlaw this custom and to educate leaders on the significant negative impact this has on women and society.</p> <p> We also need to take action to prevent the importation of this practice to America, and to prevent American citizens from being forced to undergo FGM elsewhere around the globe.</p> <p> <strong>Preventing FGM in the USA</strong></p> <p> There is no solid data on how many girls or women in the United States have been subject to FGM.&nbsp; Yet there is evidence that some communities are seeking to continue their native-land&#39;s tradition of FGM here in America.</p> <p> Just this year, three Michigan based doctors (Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, Dr. Fakhruddin Attar and his wife, Farida Attar) with ties to an extreme Muslim sect were arrested for being involved in or practicing FGM. &nbsp;The Assistant U.S. Attorney on this case reports that at least 100 may have been cut in these facilities.&nbsp; Newsweek reports that two girls from Minnesota who were victims were told &ldquo;they were going to Michigan for a &ldquo;special girls&rsquo; trip,&rdquo; and&nbsp;&ldquo;not to speak about the procedure.&rdquo; Following the procedure, one girl reported barely being able to walk and that she &ldquo;felt pain all the way down to her ankles.&rdquo;</p> <p> Congress made FGM a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">federal crime</a>&nbsp;in 1996, and anyone found to have knowingly performed FGM on a girl under age 18 can be punished with up to 5 years of imprisonment.&nbsp; Twenty-five states have also outlawed FGM and there&rsquo;s a federal law against transporting girls under age 18 for the purpose of performing FGM elsewhere.</p> <p> <fbs-ad position="inread" progressive=""></fbs-ad>Yet the White House and Congress can further deter this practice by encouraging more attention to and study of this issue and developing best practices for prevention.</p> <p> The White House can take the lead by establishing a Task Force to Prevent FGM.&nbsp; A leader at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue could bring each of the agencies to the table to work on a national strategy to end FGM.&nbsp; The Department of Health and Human Services can make the medical community more aware of the dangers and need for prevention; the Department of Education can raise awareness among the school community; the Department of Justice should prioritize enforcement of the laws against FGM; and Departments of Homeland Security and States can increase efforts to prevent the transportation of Americans to countries for the purpose of FGM as well as trying to encourage international partners to join efforts to prevent FGM.</p> <p> This isn&#39;t an issue that people like to think about.&nbsp; Yet it demands our immediate attention so that we can make strides to encourage widespread recognition that women and girls deserve human rights and to be free from this kind of sexist violence. On this, American women can surely stand together.</p> L. LukasTue, 31 Oct 2017 12:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWomen’s March just politics<p> Last week, Bernie Sanders dropped out as the keynote speaker at the Women&rsquo;s Convention, the inaugural summit presented by The Women&rsquo;s March taking place in Detroit this weekend. Sanders said it was because he wanted to assess the status of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, but his decision may have also been driven by a small social media uproar among prospective conference attendees at the idea that a man would headline the so-called &ldquo;Women&rsquo;s Convention.&rdquo;</p> <p> It&rsquo;s a shame Sanders won&rsquo;t be participating: He would have been the ideal headliner since this convention and movement isn&rsquo;t so much about speaking for or about women as it is advancing the far left&rsquo;s political agenda, while using &ldquo;women&rdquo; as a convenient rhetorical device.</p> <p> This became apparent with the Women&rsquo;s March, which took place in Washington D.C., to protest President Trump&rsquo;s inauguration. The march was always political in nature, and anti-Trump at its core, but organizers showed their true purpose when they decided that not all women who want to march were going to be allowed to join. A pro-life group that had planned to participate was barred from the event. Its website proclaimed a commitment to inclusivity &mdash; &ldquo;recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country&rdquo; &mdash; but they weren&rsquo;t so commitment to being inclusive that they would actual abide true diversity of thought.</p> <p> Today, the Women&rsquo;s Convention is building on the march&rsquo;s momentum, and has dropped any pretense of representing all women. Its website now makes explicit that&nbsp;<a alt="" href="" title="">the unifying principles</a>&nbsp;of the movement include a commitment to &ldquo;reproductive rights&rdquo; and &ldquo;worker&rsquo;s rights,&rdquo; which they specify means supporting &ldquo;access to affordable childcare, sick days, healthcare, paid family leave, and healthy work environments&rdquo; and the right to &ldquo;fight for a living minimum wage.&rdquo; In other words, the movement behind this convention in Detroit is unified in their support of the key planks of the Democratic Party platform.</p> <p> There is nothing wrong with a rally bringing left-leaning women together to fight for the public policies that they support. Yet the media ought to recognize that this isn&rsquo;t really a &ldquo;women&rsquo;s convention&rdquo; or a &ldquo;women&rsquo;s march,&rdquo; but a political event that represents the views of a subset of Americans. They certainly don&rsquo;t speak for or represent all women, or even a majority of women. They certainly don&rsquo;t represent women like me.</p> <p> Unfortunately, public discussions of women in politics and policy are often laced with a sexism that seeks to stereotype women as a monolithic group, as if, just because women share a similar biology, we must also share a certain political perspective too. This was the troubling assumption behind too many spokespeople for&nbsp;<a alt="" href="" title="">Hillary Clinton</a>who seemed to take for granted that women ought to support a female candidate just out of solidarity for the shared sex. It also underpinned&nbsp;<a alt="" href="" title="">Michelle Obama</a>&rsquo;s recent statement that &ldquo;Any woman who voted against&nbsp;<a alt="" href="" title="">Hillary Clinton</a>&nbsp;voted against their own voice,&rdquo; and that such women aren&rsquo;t acting based on their own preferences and beliefs but are being controlled by others and just &ldquo;like the thing (they&rsquo;re) told to like.&rdquo;</p> <p> That&rsquo;s an insult to women. Women aren&rsquo;t a political monolith. It may baffle Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and all the women&rsquo;s magazines that were horrified by the thought of a Trump presidency, but 4 in 10 female voters supported Trump in 2016. Many women &mdash; just like men! &mdash; evaluated facts and the arguments they heard and reached the conclusion that they supported the policies Trump promised to advance, over the agenda pushed by Clinton.</p> <p> And today, many women worry that the regulations and policies promoted by women at the convention would backfire on women in terms of leaving many with fewer job opportunities and by dragging down wages. Many women support restrictions on abortion. Many are concerned that our broken immigration system is harming the prospects of Americans, straining community resources, and leaving us vulnerable to attack.</p> <p> This is something the media should keep this in mind when covering the so-called &ldquo;women&rsquo;s&rdquo; convention: Women aren&rsquo;t a special interest with just one agenda. Women are diverse and have varied opinions on matters of politics and public policies. Pretending otherwise and pigeonholing women isn&rsquo;t progress; it&rsquo;s old fashioned stereotyping.</p> L. LukasThu, 26 Oct 2017 08:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAdvice for Young Women about How to Avoid Harassment Should Be Welcomed, Not Silenced<p> Among the biggest questions lingering from the Harvey Weinstein scandal is how this secret&mdash;which apparently wasn&rsquo;t much of a secret at all&mdash;could have been kept for so long. It&rsquo;s especially amazing since keeping this silence involved a lot of talking: Lawyers were talking to and paying off women who had been abused to keep them quiet; Hollywood elites and industry leaders were calling in favors to quash damning stories in the press; and some female actresses were quietly warning each other about how to avoid becoming another Weinstein victim.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s understandable why many of the women who were assaulted or harassed by Weinstein were reluctant to go public: Taking on such a powerful figure in their industry could make enemies and cripple their careers. Moreover, as so many of the women who are now coming forward heartbreakingly explain, they were inevitably second guessing the decisions that they made in the lead up to or the time of the incident. In hindsight, many felt they should have known that it was a mistake to go up for a meeting in a hotel suite or to have not immediately recoiled from the first inappropriate comment or touch. They placed part of the blame on themselves, when the blame should rest solely on the monster who clearly preyed on women.</p> <p> Silence, or failing to publicly out this sexual predator, allowed Weinstein, and others like him, to operate. Stopping future Weinsteins and changing the culture that protected him for decades starts by encouraging women and men to speak out against such predators.</p> <p> Yet changing the culture won&rsquo;t be easy, and unfortunately there will always be men who prey on young women. That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s a shame that some needed discussions are being short-circuited. Take the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">vitriolic response</a>&nbsp;to&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Mayim Bialik&rsquo;s&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;op-ed</a>, which called out Hollywood for a culture that objectifies women and describes how she managed her own journey through the industry:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> I&nbsp;always made conservative choices as a young actress, largely informed by my first-generation American parents who were highly skeptical of this industry in general &mdash; &ldquo;This business will use you up and throw you away like a snotty tissue!&rdquo;&mdash; and of its men in particular: &ldquo;They only want one thing.&rdquo; My mom didn&rsquo;t let me wear makeup or get manicures. She encouraged me to be myself in audition rooms, and I followed my mother&rsquo;s strong example to not put up with anyone calling me &ldquo;baby&rdquo; or demanding hugs on set.</p> <p> Sure, some of Bialik&rsquo;s piece reeks of superiority: She wisely followed guidance that others didn&rsquo;t. After a lifetime of feeling inferior for not being cast as a pretty girl, Bialik seems to revel a bit in the benefits of&nbsp;<em>not&nbsp;</em>having faced this kind of objectification. Bialik should have taken more care to make clear that she wasn&rsquo;t victim-blaming&mdash;that women dressing more provocatively or pursuing sexier roles were in no way &ldquo;asking for it,&rdquo; and that harassment and assault is never justified.</p> <p> Yet the attacks on her also go too far and could backfire in terms of discouraging people from offering sound advice to young women about best practices for staying safe and dealing with men (and women) in workplaces, particularly when the complicated matters of sex become involved.</p> <p> Offering advice about how to protect oneself&mdash;to minimize risks and avoid the worst situations&mdash;is in no way giving a pass to those who would seek to exploit women. It doesn&rsquo;t mean women who don&rsquo;t perfectly follow these guidelines are in some way responsible for becoming the victims of a crime or for being harassed. Rather it is simply an important way to help women navigate our incredibly imperfect world.</p> <p> I wonder if those who publicly slammed Bialik would really hesitate to offer their own daughter or younger sister similar, commonsense advice and warnings about the dangers of predatory men. Just as today I warn my children never to get in the car with a stranger, to stay close to home, particularly after dark, and about what is okay and not okay for a grown up to do or say to them, in the future, I&rsquo;m sure I&rsquo;ll be lecturing my kids&mdash;but particularly my daughters&mdash;about how to handle bosses and colleagues. I&rsquo;ll warn them that, while men can be great mentors, they need to be on the lookout for men who will play the part but have another agenda; to be particularly cautious in outside-of-work situations, especially when alcohol might be involved, which can lead to awkward situations. And yes, I&rsquo;ll lecture them about the messages they might inadvertently send, not because I would blame them if something terrible happened, but because I&rsquo;m old enough to know that you can decrease the risk of bad things happening by taking precautions.</p> <p> It can&rsquo;t just be up to mothers to give such advice to young women, just as mothers alone can&rsquo;t be the only ones instructing their sons on how to always respect and treat women properly. We all know that even mom&rsquo;s best advice can be easily discounted by the young. That&rsquo;s why we should want these messages to be echoed everywhere.</p> <p> Of course, the real responsibility for ending harassment and sexual assault lies with the perpetrators. They alone are responsible for their actions and need to be held to account. But while important steps are underway to prevent serial abusers like Weinstein, we have to live in the world as it is, and make sure that young women are well-informed about the dangers they face and are empowered to protect themselves.</p> L. LukasWed, 25 Oct 2017 12:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum