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 RSShttp://iwf.org/images/email-logo.pnghttp://www.iwf.org33968New 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="https://twitter.com/senorrinhatch?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SenOrrinHatch</a>include my&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PaidFamilyLeave?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PaidFamilyLeave</a>&nbsp;plan in the&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GOPSenFinance?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GOPSenFinance</a>&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TaxReform?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TaxReform</a>&nbsp;mark. This is a big step towards the first nationwide&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PaidFamilyLeave?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PaidFamilyLeave</a>&nbsp;policy!&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StrongFamilies?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StrongFamilies</a>&nbsp;<a href="https://t.co/cpKwKQnIjL">https://t.co/cpKwKQnIjL</a></em></strong></p> <p align="center"> <strong><em>&mdash; Senator Deb Fischer (@SenatorFischer)&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/SenatorFischer/status/930847643919667206?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 15, 2017</a></em></strong></p> <p> A&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/03/23/americans-widely-support-paid-family-and-medical-leave-but-differ-over-specific-policies/" target="_blank" title="http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/03/23/americans-widely-support-paid-family-and-medical-leave-but-differ-over-specific-policies/">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="https://www.americanactionforum.org/insight/pews-report-paid-leave-preferences-mean-policy/" target="_blank" title="https://www.americanactionforum.org/insight/pews-report-paid-leave-preferences-mean-policy/">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> http://iwf.org/media/2805191/Carrie 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="http://nypost.com/2017/11/03/glamours-unworthy-women-of-the-year/"><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> http://iwf.org/media/2805192/Carrie 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="http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/09/politics/roy-moore-senate/index.html" target="_blank">another revelation</a>&nbsp;about a man who abused women (and&nbsp;<a href="http://people.com/sports/aly-raisman-claims-she-was-abused-by-larry-nassar/amp/" target="_blank">girls</a>, and&nbsp;<a href="http://abcnews.go.com/amp/Entertainment/kevin-spacey-accused-groping-son-tv-news-anchor/story?id=51021671" 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="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=6&amp;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="https://www.thedailybeast.com/snl-star-calls-ann-coulter-a-racist-cnt" 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="https://twitchy.com/jennqpublic-3135/2012/06/28/left-attacks-sarah-palins-slut-daughters-and-retard-son-after-she-tweets-about-scotus-ruling/" target="_blank">Sarah Palin</a>&nbsp;(and her family) and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2017/10/15/saturday_night_live_visits_kellyanne_conway_in_the_sewers.html" target="_blank">Kellyanne Conway</a>, and even&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ibtimes.com/sarah-huckabee-sanders-called-slightly-chunky-soccer-mom-writer-backlash-ensues-2610252" target="_blank">Sarah Huckabee Sanders</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://ijr.com/2017/05/866124-bill-maher-is-known-for-crude-humor-but-his-latest-incest-joke-about-ivanka-goes-too-far/" 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> http://iwf.org/news/2805171/Carrie L. LukasMon, 13 Nov 2017 13:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumChanging The Culture & Election 2017 • PBS To The Contraryhttp://iwf.org/media/2805170/Carrie 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 Showhttp://iwf.org/media/2805143/Carrie 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="https://www.glamour.com/inspired/women-of-the-year">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="https://www.glamour.com/story/women-of-the-year-2017-winners#the-womens-march-organizers">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="https://www.glamour.com/story/women-of-the-year-2017-winners#congresswoman-maxine-waters">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="https://www.citizensforethics.org/press-release/maxine-waters-named-most-corrupt-member-of-congress/">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="https://www.glamour.com/story/women-of-the-year-2017-winners#samantha-bee">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="https://www.glamour.com/story/women-of-the-year-2017-winners#peggy-whitson">like NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.glamour.com/story/women-of-the-year-2017-winners#muzoon-almellehan">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> http://iwf.org/news/2805123/Carrie 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="http://crr.bc.edu/working-papers/how-much-does-motherhood-cost-women-in-social-security-benefits/" 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="http://www.iwf.org/" 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> http://iwf.org/media/2805136/Carrie 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="http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/19/us/beyonce-police-boycott/index.html" target="_blank">controversial</a>, but her&nbsp;<a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/watch-beyonces-female-empowering-freedom-video-w508397" 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="http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/678098.pdf" 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="https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Humanitarian/Special%20Situations/fgmutilation.pdf" 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> http://iwf.org/news/2805084/Carrie 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="https://www.womensmarch.com/mission" href="https://www.womensmarch.com/mission" title="https://www.womensmarch.com/mission">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="https://acculturated.com/steinem-albright/" href="https://acculturated.com/steinem-albright/" title="https://acculturated.com/steinem-albright/">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="http://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/354099-american-women-have-minds-of-their-own-and-michelle-obama-isnt-happy" href="http://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/354099-american-women-have-minds-of-their-own-and-michelle-obama-isnt-happy" title="http://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/354099-american-women-have-minds-of-their-own-and-michelle-obama-isnt-happy">Michelle Obama</a>&rsquo;s recent statement that &ldquo;Any woman who voted against&nbsp;<a alt="http://thehill.com/people/hillary-clinton" href="http://thehill.com/people/hillary-clinton" title="http://thehill.com/people/hillary-clinton">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> http://iwf.org/news/2805061/Carrie 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="http://www.scarymommy.com/mayim-bialik-ny-times-op-ed/" target="_blank">vitriolic response</a>&nbsp;to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/13/opinion/mayim-bialik-feminist-harvey-weinstein.html?_r=0" 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> http://iwf.org/news/2805045/Carrie L. LukasWed, 25 Oct 2017 12:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhat Real Resistance Looks Like: A Lesson from Malta<p> While the self-styled &ldquo;Resist&rdquo; movement in the United States is fond of declaring Donald Trump is <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtUf2ecORUc">&ldquo;literally Hitler&rdquo;</a> and fancies itself as taking a brave stance against looming oppression, it&rsquo;s clear the outspoken critics of the president aren&rsquo;t actually worried about consequences&ndash;which is a very good thing.&nbsp; After all, how would an actual tyrant react to Web pages like <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DonaldIstheNewAdolf/">this one</a>?&nbsp; Or<a href="http://www.tmz.com/2017/05/31/kathy-griffin-secret-service-investigation-beheading-donald-trump/"> this</a>? In reality, and on balance, Trump seems to be more interested in <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/article/452660/obamacare-subsidy-payments%3A-trump-illegal-subsidies">restoring</a> constitutional limits on the executive than dismantling them, which was more a specialty of his predecessor.&nbsp;</p> <p> But amidst the overheated rhetoric among the President&rsquo;s critics here, it&rsquo;s worth remembering what actual bravery looks like.</p> <p> Earlier this week, in European Union state member Malta, investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered by car bomb as she was leaving her home. &nbsp;&nbsp;Caruana Galizia was one of the Maltese government&rsquo;s most outspoken critics, regularly lambasting corruption and malfeasance among senior officials and highlighting their connections to shady businessmen.&nbsp; This was a political assassination intended to silence that critical voice.&nbsp; The U.K.&rsquo;s Guardian newspaper wrote a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/19/daphne-caruana-galizia-establishment-was-out-to-get-her-says-family?CMP=share_btn_fb">good background piece</a> on the killing. (Full disclosure:&nbsp; I&rsquo;ve met Daphne, though I didn&rsquo;t know her well.)<br /> <br /> To their great credit, Caruana Galizia&rsquo;s family is refusing to be intimidated by the attack.&nbsp; Her three sons have released the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/andrewcg/posts/10155407400208101?pnref=story">following statement</a> &ndash; a slap in the face to the politicians now trying to score PR points off the murder of their mother:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> After a day of unrelenting pressure from the President and Prime Minister of Malta for what&rsquo;s left of our family to endorse a million-euro reward for evidence leading to the conviction of our mother&rsquo;s assassins, this is what we are compelled to say.<br /> <br /> We are not interested in justice without change. We are not interested in a criminal conviction only for the people in government who stood to gain from our mother&rsquo;s murder to turn around and say that justice has been served. Justice, beyond criminal liability, will only be served when everything that our mother fought for &ndash; political accountability, integrity in public life and an open and free society &ndash; replaces the desperate situation we are in.<br /> <br /> The government is interested in only one thing: its reputation and the need to hide the gaping hole where our institutions once were. This interest is not ours. Neither was it our mother&rsquo;s. A government and a police force that failed our mother in life will also fail her in death. The people who for as long as we can remember sought to silence our mother cannot now be the ones to deliver justice.<br /> <br /> The police may or may not find out who ordered the assassination of our mother but as long as those who led the country to this point remain in place, none of it will matter &ndash; the name of the person who did this will remain a footnote in the history of how our state was dismantled, taken apart piece by piece and devoured by the criminal and the corrupt.<br /> <br /> The Prime Minister asked for our endorsement. This is how he can get it: show political responsibility and resign. Resign for failing to uphold our fundamental freedoms. Resign for watching over the birth of a society dominated by fear, mistrust, crime and corruption. Resign for working to cripple our mother financially and dehumanise her so brutally and effectively that she no longer felt safe walking down the street. And before resigning he can make his last act in government the replacement of the Police Commissioner and Attorney General with public servants who won&rsquo;t be afraid to act on evidence against him and those he protects.<br /> <br /> Then we won&rsquo;t need a million-euro reward and our mother wouldn&rsquo;t have died in vain.</p> <p> When your mother has just been assassinated by car bomb, this is a brave statement to make.&nbsp; And it&rsquo;s a reminder what real government intimidation and the silencing of critics looks like.<br /> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/news/2805024/Carrie L. LukasSat, 21 Oct 2017 09:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPoll: Big partisan gap in views on gender equality in the US<p> NEW YORK (AP) &mdash; Does the United States still have hard work ahead of it in enabling women to attain equality with men? The answer, according to a new large-scale survey, may depend on whether it&#39;s coming from a Democrat or a Republican.</p> <p> The survey, released Wednesday by the <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/">Pew Research Center</a> , found a sharp partisan divide on several questions related to gender equality.</p> <p> According to Pew, Democrats are largely dissatisfied with the nation&#39;s progress on this issue &mdash; 69 percent say the U.S. hasn&#39;t gone far enough when it comes to giving women equal rights. Among Republicans, 54 percent say things are about right; only 26 percent say the country has more work to do.</p> <p> Do American men have easier lives than women? Another big partisan gap: 49 percent of Democrats say this is true, compared to 19 percent of Republicans.</p> <p> Among Democrats, those with a college education are far more likely than those with no college experience to express dissatisfaction with the current state of gender equality. While 81 percent of Democrats with at least a bachelor&#39;s degree said the U.S. hasn&#39;t gone far enough in giving women equal rights, that view was shared by only 55 percent of Democrats with a high school diploma or less. There were no significant education gaps among Republicans in views of the state of gender equality.</p> <p> Pew&#39;s researchers also inquired about personal experiences with gender discrimination.</p> <p> Overall, 43 percent of women said they have experienced discrimination or been treated unfairly because of their gender, compared to 18 percent of men.</p> <p> Democratic women were more likely than GOP women to say they experienced such discrimination &mdash; 51 percent versus 34 percent. Among men, it&#39;s Republicans who more often say they suffered gender discrimination &mdash; 20 percent compared to 14 percent of Democratic men.</p> <p> Large majorities in both parties &mdash; 89 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Republicans &mdash; said it&#39;s very important for women to have equal rights with men in the U.S. The perceptions differed on where the country is in achieving that goal.</p> <p> The Pew report did not seek to analyze reasons for the partisan gap. Christina Hoff Sommers, a former philosophy professor who is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, suggested the reasons were complex, but added this observation:</p> <p> &quot;The Republican Party is the daddy party; the Democratic Party, the mommy party. And now mom&#39;s a Feminist,&quot; she wrote in an email.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Carrie Lukas, president of conservative Independent Women&#39;s Forum, said Pew&#39;s findings supported her view that conservatives are focused on creating equal opportunities, not mandating outcomes.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;When they look at society &mdash; at how women are outperforming men at every level of education and are increasingly entering and succeeding in new professions and in the public sphere &mdash; they think that we are doing tremendously well in moving toward that goal,&quot; she said in an email.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;On the other hand, liberals are focused on equal outcomes: they define success as men and women being equally represented in all walks of life,&quot; she added. &quot;They are frustrated that we are falling short on this measure, and want government to step in and do something to change those outcomes.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women&#39;s Law Center, said Pew&#39;s findings &quot;reflect the current polarized public debate that has only been inflamed by the Trump administration.&quot;</p> <p> &quot;In reality, there isn&#39;t a partisan divide for women who experience harassment at work or in school, women who are harmed by the wage gap, or families who are struggling because they don&#39;t have affordable child care,&quot; Goss Graves said in an email. &quot;And the solutions to these problems shouldn&#39;t be partisan either.&quot;</p> <p> The nationally representative survey of 4,573 adults was conducted online Aug. 8-21 and Sept. 14-28, concluding before the national furor over sex harassment allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein. Participants were recruited via random telephone calls, and those without internet access were provided with it.</p> <p> Pew said the margin of error for the full sample of responders was plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.</p> http://iwf.org/media/2805004/Carrie L. LukasWed, 18 Oct 2017 07:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumA modern leave policy both employers, employees could love<p> Ivanka Trump is currently making the case for how tax reform can benefit families and women. &nbsp;That&rsquo;s an important point, and tax-reform certainly can help by letting people keep more of their hard-earned money and creating better job opportunities for all Americans. &nbsp;</p> <p> But policymakers should also consider other ways that they help families by modernizing our labor policies, such as by creating a system of Universal Leave Accounts (ULA). &nbsp;It&#39;s a simple idea: &nbsp;Just as people are encouraged to save for retirement and education expenses, they should be encouraged to save for time that they cannot work. &nbsp;Workers would put pre-tax earnings, up to a maximum, into their accounts, and then those funds could be used to &ldquo;pay&rdquo; for their leave time when it&#39;s needed.</p> <p> The government could match contributions to encourage participation and provide loans for those who require leave before they have accumulated sufficient funds on their own. &nbsp;Employers would likely contribute to these accounts just as they do with 401Ks. &nbsp;Charities could donate to workers&#39; ULAs, Employees could even charitably contribute to other workers accounts to help someone in dire need of paid of leave. Importantly, the ULA could allow &ldquo;gig&rdquo; employees to have paid leave time, even when they are not officially employees.</p> <p> This approach would avoid the biggest problem with traditional government mandates and benefit programs: their one-size-fits-all approach. For example, a typical government leave program will provide a specified number of weeks of paid leave at the time of a family medical emergency &mdash; take it or leave it.</p> <p> That approach may work for some. Others might want to work part time and spread the leave allowance over a year or more. Some may have the help of a parent when a baby is an infant, and need their paid leave when the child is 6 months or older. Or some work shifts, and be able to schedule work time for when their partner can be at home caring for the baby, but need a few hours of leave each day.</p> <p> Nobody &mdash; certainly no bureaucracy &mdash; can conjure up the infinite number of scenarios of how approximately 150 million working Americans might best use paid leave.</p> <p> With ULA, by contrast, the government would only specify under what conditions funds could be tapped. Employers along with their employees would confirm that a leave request complies with the law. &nbsp;The employer would be obligated to allow the leave. &nbsp;If there is fraud on either part, fines would be imposed.</p> <p> Universal Leave Accounts would also allow employees to use leave judiciously: &nbsp;Unlike many paid leave benefits that are &ldquo;use it or lose it&rdquo;, encouraging workers to needlessly take time off, the unused money in the accounts would be there for the future. &nbsp;If a worker retires with money remaining in his or her ULA, that could be used for retirement. &nbsp;This would encourage more workers to consider alternatives to taking time off. &nbsp;</p> <p> The point is that employees should be free to structure leave to suit themselves, while also considering the needs of their employers and coworkers. No government-run program could match the flexibility of a ULA. &nbsp;Our modern workforce needs modern laws and benefit systems that recognize that workers aren&rsquo;t drones, but unique individuals.</p> <p> <em>Frayda Levin is a former small business owner, Carrie Lukas is the president of </em><a href="http://www.iwf.org/"><em>Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</em></a><em>, and Christina Sandefur is the executive vice president of the <a href="http://goldwaterinstitute.org/">Goldwater Institute</a>.</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2804976/Carrie L. LukasMon, 16 Oct 2017 12:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWill dispute with Senator Corker affect tax reform? • Coast To Coasthttp://iwf.org/media/2804934/Carrie L. LukasTue, 10 Oct 2017 13:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWas Ivana Trump joking with "First Lady" comments? • Don Lemon Tonighthttp://iwf.org/media/2804921/Carrie L. LukasMon, 9 Oct 2017 09:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum