Maine Women’s Day Held At The State House (VIDEO, PIX)
Members of the Coalition for Maine Women and the Maine Choice Coalition gathered at the State House to outline legislative priorities on January 20th (MORE PHOTOS HERE), as well as conduct a volunteer workshop on reproductive justice and breakout sessions on lobbying legislators, building communication skills and more.
Oamishri Amarasingham (ALCU of Maine)
Claire Berkowitz, Maine Children’s Alliance
Julia Colpitts, Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence
Ruth Lockhart, Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center
Helen Regan, Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights
- Oamshri Amarasingham, public policy counsel, ACLU of Maine: “Women constitute the fastest growing population of incarcerated people, and the number of women in Maine’s prisons has increased six-fold since 2002. Yet while the number of women in our criminal justice system has skyrocketed, our ability to provide them with appropriate conditions has failed to keep up. Ending the shackling of pregnant women will protect the health of women and their pregnancies.”
- Women are 51% of the population, but are underrepresented at every level of government where policy decisions that affect our lives are made.
- On the first day of the new Congressional session, the majority party chose to fight for restrictions on abortion services as its top priority. And once again we need to fight bad bills in the Maine legislature that would restrict access to abortion.
- Last year we helped defeat a dangerous bill that would have allowed people to use their religious beliefs to break laws meant to protect us all. It’s back.
- Nearly 70,000 Maine people still can’t access the health care they need because obstructive politicians chose ideology over good health and economic common sense. But there’s still time for Maine to act.
- Too many politicians and people in the media use stereotypes and anecdotes to talk about policies that affect women and children living in poverty rather than looking at the real people struggling to get by.
- In Maine, more than 6 in 10 minimum wage workers are women and they need a raise.
- More than 80% of low-wage workers can’t earn a single paid sick day – most are women who have frequent public contact in jobs such as food service, child care, elder care, and retail.
- Only 12% of the American workforce has access to paid leave.
- While the data overwhelmingly demonstrates the importance of early childhood programs, more than 11,000 Maine kids do not have access to Head Start due to underfunding.
- Too many women and children still can’t live their lives free from violence.
- Sexual assaults happen every day, and too often our culture blames the victims rather than the perpetrators.
- Maine is the only state in New England that doesn’t have a policy against shackling pregnant inmates.
- Maine women only earn 79 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts.
Claire Berkowitz, executive director, Maine Children’s Alliance: “Child development experts have demonstrated that the most critical development of a child’s brain happens within the first five years of life. We know that our support of strong early childhood programming will not only bolster our state’s economic recovery, but provide economic security for future generations as well. Inadequate or inaccessible child care means that parents cannot obtain or maintain gainful employment, leaving them vulnerable to falling into poverty. Despite the research on its benefits to families and communities, the early childhood programming that would support Maine’s children continues to go underfunded. Today, we are calling on our elected leaders to make early childhood programming a priority this session. The future of our state depends on it.”
Julia Colpitts, executive director, Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence: “Economic reality – having no money or no housing – keeps many victims of violence from leaving their abuser, and can force them to return. Having a job is a first step to independence and safety. A victim’s employment is vital to building economic security and creating safety for them and for their children. Victims who want to work, to create new and sustainable lives don’t want to lose their job or be dependent on social welfare resources. This legislation will help them be successful on that economic path to safety by retaining their right to work through the crisis of violence.”
Ruth Lockhart, executive director, Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center: “Women are vital to our society and economy, and when women thrive, Maine thrives. For those reasons we will oppose wrong-headed bills that take us backwards. As we have for decades, we will oppose any effort to undermine a woman’s autonomy over her own reproduction. Once again this year we will oppose any attempt to abridge our civil rights, including granting exemption from state laws based on religious objection. And we will oppose efforts that demonize people who need our help.”
Helen Regan, Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights: “Why hasn’t Maine taken advantage of an indirect, but proven way to support women in their search for job training and employment? Expansion of access to family planning services to women whose health care does not currently cover contraception will give them the tools they need to avoid unintended pregnancies known to be a huge setback for those seeking to support themselves and their families. Let’s take action that helps women help themselves.”
More from the Maine Women’s Lobby: