AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. Founded in 1881, AAUW is open to graduates with an associate or higher degree from an accredited college or university, as well as students currently enrolled in college. Dues support the operations of the Dearborn-Michigan branch, founded in 1933, as well as the state and national organizations.
In 2012, Mariam Jalloul was the Marge Powell Leadership Award Winner from Fordson High School. That was during the second year of our initiative to recognize high-school seniors who had demonstrated exemplary integrity and determination in leadership. Four years later, Mariam is graduating from Harvard and will speak at the 365th commencement on May 25, 2016. Needless to say, AAUW-Dearborn sends Mariam and her family hearty congratulations.
Mariam spoke at the Fordson High School graduation ceremony in 2012.
This spring at the Harvard Commencement, she will address 32,000 students, faculty, parents, alumni, and guests amidst ritualized protocols!
As soon as the first anthem concludes, one senior strides to the microphone and announces, “Salvete omnes!” (Clearly, “Hello, everybody” sounds a lot more regal in Latin than in English.) Then follows one of the oldest Harvard traditions – a short speech in Latin.
Upon completion of that ritual, a graduating senior delivers a short speech in English. Mariam’s speech has already endured a substantial winnowing process among the many submitted by applicants. Her speech has been judged for intelligence, wit, originality and significance. Her topic may address significant societal issues, current events, or lessons learned from personal experiences at Harvard or in the wider world. At this point, the content of the speech has not been publicized; but the title is “Ode to Harry.” The mystery, for now, is who is Harry? Potter? Winston? Connick? Truman? Henry? Or is it a verb instead of a noun?
After graduation, Mariam will return to Dearborn. She plans to go to graduate school in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan, where she will be harried by more academic demands. She has already brought fresh pride and restored luster to the Dearborn Public Schools. Edsel Ford High School senior, Ali Nasser Shafal, is following in Mariam Jalloul’s footsteps. He will begin his college career at Harvard this fall. Brava and bravo to both of these disciplined, daring, and determined role models!
The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team won the World Cup recently. Close to a 23 million viewers watched the final game making it the most-watched soccer game in USA television history. Sadly, the game was full of fouled-up salaries. Whether playing matches, or qualifying for and actually competing in the world cup, women are paid far less than men. However, women and men work equally hard on the field at all levels of play! But in no way are the playing fields level!
Several members of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team have filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) because the U.S. Soccer Federation pays the reigning World Cup champions far less than their male counterparts.
For years, soccer officials have brushed off this pay disparity, saying that there were not enough viewers of women’s soccer. With 20-plus million viewers, their argument has collapsed in heap of deceit. For years, soccer officials have argued that women’s soccer doesn’t generate revenue. Last year, the women’s team generated nearly $20 million MORE revenue than garnered by the U.S. men’s team! Yet the women are paid about a quarter of what the men earn!
Pay equity should matter on each and every field, and what happens on the sports playing field directly impacts the corporate field. The correlation between women’s success on sports playing fields and their success in the workplace is indisputable. According to Fortune Magazine, “Girls who play sports have greater social and economic mobility, grow up healthy and confident, and perform better in school. In fact, 74% of executive women agreed that a background in sports can help accelerate a woman’s leadership and career potential.”
Studies prove that when there are more women in leadership, and on the field, profits rise. All is connected. So fighting for fair pay in any capacity has the potential to ripple and reverberate in good ways into other fieldsl.
Sadly, the United States of America is still not about fairness and equality when it comes to genders.
Today, Marge Powell resides alongside many other retirees at Henry Ford Village. With the passing of time, many in Dearborn may have forgotten what an extraordinary community leader she was and how many glass ceilings she shattered. Members of the Dearborn branch of the American Association of University Women are determined to see her legacy continue. So in 2011 the branch established an annual leadership award for seniors from each of the three public high schools in Dearborn. The sixth award ceremony occurred Tuesday evening, March 22, 2016, in the Mackinac Room at Henry Ford Village.
“Marge Powell exemplifies personal qualities that are important to successful leadership: compassion, patience, and courage. We are pleased to celebrate these qualities in future leaders,” affirmed Valerie Murphy-Goodrich, President of AAUW-Dearborn. She explained to the audience that when she worked in human resources for the City of Dearborn, “Marge was my boss. At the time, she was a member of the Civil Service Commission. She was always judicious, impartial, fair and even courageous at times.”
The three recipients, for 2016, are Aliah Sareini, Dearborn High School; Miriam Marini, Edsel Ford High School; and Fatima Obeid, Fordson High School.
Aliah Sareini serves as senior-class president at Dearborn High School after having participated in student council all four years of her high school career. In addition, she is member of the National Honor Society. She also serves as president of a club called Discover Islam. While enrolled at DHS she co-founded an organization called Gift of Education designed to provide tutoring and mentorship for youths in the community. She wants all, “kids to receive the extra ‘push’ they need to reach their fullest potential.” On the board of the Dearborn Youth Affairs Commission, she serves as a voice for her school peers. The DYAC promotes unity among the three public high schools and strives to achieve positive changes in the city. Future plans include earning a degree in biochemistry from University of Michigan-Dearborn. She would like to conduct research on nutrition with its effects upon human anatomy. Ultimately, she would like to attend medical school at the University of Michigan. While always striving to better herself, she credits determination for her success. Aliah Sareini believes that everyone is an “exceptional human being with a purpose. We become successful when we live meaningful lives and serve those around us.” Her goal is to make the world ultimately a better place. Aliah says she is, “honored and inspired by this award and I thank the women of the American Association of University Women-Dearborn for their hard work and dedication.”
Miriam Marini is a member of National Honor Society and an Advanced Placement scholar at Edsel Ford High School. Key Club, Link Crew and Social Justice Club are organizations to which she has committed time and energy. Also, Miriam has been active in peer-tutoring programs where she has worked with both elementary and high school students. Link Crew is designed to assist students in making a successful adjustment from middle school to high school expectations. Miriam organized and ran several events including pep rallies, a tailgate party, and weekly small group meetings. Via the Social Justice Club, Miriam organized efforts to promote inclusion among the student population and to defeat negative stereotypes. She also implemented a Social Justice Course in the school by creating curriculum in conjunction with other officers and their advisor. In her sophomore year, she began working on the yearbook, rising to become editor-in-chief in both her junior and senior years. In that capacity she designed, edited and supervised the creation of the yearbook while working closely with the publishing company. She was a member of the field hockey team and was honored to be Coach’s Award Winner for two years. In addition, she played varsity tennis. Title IX will serve her well in college! Miriam plans to attend Wayne State University where she will major in journalism or computer science and minor in women’ s studies.
Fatima Obeid, from Fordson High School, has been a member of the National Honor Society, an AP scholar, on Key Club, Link Crew, co- founder and vice-president of the Joyful Heart Foundation. Community service has included volunteering at the VA Hospital, Oakwood Hospital and Gleaners Food Bank. She also has served as a member of the Dearborn Youth Commission. Active in the peer tutoring program, Fatima has also been a mediator in the peer-mediation program. hopes. She plans to become a pediatrician.
Each Marge Powell Award honoree, all eighteen of them now, has demonstrated exceptional leadership potential, a commitment to service, and, above all, exemplary integrity over the four years spent in high school. This year’s three winners have met these criteria and then some. Marge Powell declared, “No other award could mean more to me because this one recognizes students for their goals, their school activities and community service. It’s really a citizenship award!”
The award is given in honor of member AAUW-Dearborn member, Marge Powell, who has served as an educational, political and civic leader in Dearborn for decades. The recipients of the award are selected each spring by staff members, principals and counselors who are asked to identify students who have demonstrated exemplary leadership and integrity. There is no application process. Each recipient receives a framed certificate and a stipend. Their names are added to the AAUW-Dearborn Marge Powell Leadership Award plaque on display in each school. Recipients are honored at an AAUW-Dearborn event.
Marge Powell spent thirty-five years breaking barriers for all women who live in our community as a leader in our branch as well as in our city. A brief overview of her contributions includes having been:
*President of the Dearborn PTA Council *Elected to City Council as highest vote getter in 1977, the 1st woman in over 20 years at that time! *Mayoral candidate in 1985; Marge lost to Mike Guido by fewer than 100 votes *Candidate for State Representative in 1986 *Member of UM-D Citizens-Advisory Council *Member of the Governor’s Energy-Awareness-Advisory Committee in 1979 long before it was “cool” to be energy conscious. *Member of the Dearborn Civil-Service Commission *One of the first female members allowed to join Dearborn Rotary in 1988
Winner of numerous awards, including: o Ruth Heston Whipple Award (Mich. Fed. Of Business & Prof. Women) o Citizen of the Year (Metro Detroit Boys & Girls Club) o Paul Harris Fellowship Award (Rotary Club) o Inter-Service Club Council Person of the Year Oh yes, and in her spare time she has served as co-chair of AAUW-Dearborn’s annual book sale and handled publicity for the branch.
Following the ceremony, some AAUW-Dearborn members shared woman-to-woman advice with the award recipients. Sarah Lebrell, branch secretary, cited the animated film, “Finding Nemo.” Her sound advice was that when things get rough and tough, one should sing the lyric to Dory’s signature song. “Just keep swimming.” Valerie Murphy-Goodrich, branch president, said quietly and firmly, “Have the courage of your convictions.” Ellen Judge-Gonzalez, program vice-president, ended the evening with an apt toast: “Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”
by Karen Monroe
Christ Episcopal Church of Dearborn honored Victoria Bell, daughter of Dearborn Branch treasurer Carolyn Blackmore, at a dinner where guests learned about Bell’s opportunity to represent the church as part of a delegation to the United Nations this March 14-24, 2016. Bell, a life-long member of Christ Episcopal Church, graduated from Dearborn High School in 2011. Her commitment to her faith followed her to University of Michigan where she became involved with Canterbury House, the Episcopal Student Center on campus. In 2015, she graduated from University of Michigan with dual degrees in Women’s Studies and Asian Languages and Cultures with a concentration in Mandarin Chinese. She then spent time in China where her passion for understanding how cultural, spiritual, and intellectual beliefs impact women in society grew. She hopes to effect positive change for women by helping women gain empowerment and gender equality. As a member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Bell embraces the mission of advocacy, education, research and philanthropy.
In her last year at University of Michigan, Bell interned at Safe House Center while she wrote her thesis on violence against women and girls. She currently works as a Shelter Advocate and Case Manager, counseling and supporting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. She helps victims empower themselves as they work to ensure a safe, secure, and productive life that is free of violence.
Bell was selected, to be one-of-eighteen delegates representing the North American Episcopal Church, to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The Episcopalian organization is part of the Ecumenical Women at the United Nations, a non-governmental coalition that supports women across the world. Chaplain Reid Hamilton at Canterbury House encouraged Bell to apply, which included writing an essay of purpose and receiving a recommendation from Bishop Wendell Gibbs of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan.
In 2015, the General Assembly at the UN adopted goals established by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals committee. Seventeen areas were designated for improvement by the year 2030. The broader goals focus upon improving the standard of living, equality, climate change and peaceful resolution of conflict globally. The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church chose to support the goals both financially and through their concerted effort. Furthermore, through the Statement issued by the Church prior to the session, they have recognized the stand-alone Goal 5 on gender equality and empowerment as the one goal that impacts all the other goals. This year the UN focuses on global progress in women’s empowerment and its impact on sustainable development, as well as the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women.
The Episcopal delegation will spend two weeks in New York. They have met via phone conferences to discuss issues, share experiences and set objectives. Upon arrival in New York, Bell will meet with her delegation to adopt items consistent with the United States Episcopal Church’s stance on gender equality and empowerment. She will attend General Assembly sessions with her fellow delegates regarding these issues and review the advancement towards these goals among the 193 member nations. As a delegate, she will have an opportunity to lobby representatives of the member nations to discuss their progress and offer solutions. Lectures and workshops on topics impacting women’s rights and equality will be offered for attendees.
When Bell returns to Michigan, she will speak about her experience at the Diocesan Convention and Ministry Fair. She also intends to plan a forum for discussion of women’s issues at member churches throughout the area. Bell declares, “This year’s review theme covering violence against women and girls is close to my heart in my personal and professional life. It is an incredible honor and a fabulous opportunity for learning, sharing and advocacy.”
More information about the UN Commission on the Status of Women can be found at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw60-2016
Claude McKay, a significant figure in the Harlem Renaissance, wrote this touching poem about one neighborhood; but it vividly captures the universality of human trafficking throughout our world today. Consider using the second stanza to focus your mind and to engage others in discussing this sordid issue which violates our most basic human rights.
I hear the halting footsteps of a lass
In Negro Harlem when the night lets fall
Its veil. I see the shapes of girls who pass
To bend and barter at desire’s call.
Ah, little dark girls who in slippered feet
Go prowling through the night from street to street!
Through the long night until the silver break
Of day the little gray feet know no rest;
Through the lone night until the last snow-flake
Has dropped from heaven upon the earth’s white breast,
The dusky, half-clad girls of tired feet
Are trudging, thinly shod, from street to street.
Ah, stern harsh world, that in the wretched way
Of poverty, dishonor and disgrace,
Has pushed the timid little feet of clay,
The sacred brown feet of my fallen race!
Ah, heart of me, the weary, weary feet
In Harlem wandering from street to street.
I was born and raised in Maryland, not too far from D.C. Growing up, I played basketball, loved traveling and hanging with my family and friends, just like any other kid. But after the heinous attacks on 9/11, being a head-covering 8th grader would no longer be the same. There were days when my identity as a Muslim American became a struggle – I was glared at, cursed and spit at in public and in school. It was the tenets of my faith, the ideals of this country, the encouragement of those around me, and the determination to have my voice heard that carried me through and gave me the courage to pursue public service. I learned through hardship, that every challenge is in fact an opportunity to become stronger. Never would I have imagined as a young girl who was once mocked and called names that I’d end up working at the White House wearing a hijab in the West Wing.
That kind of ability to overcome any challenge is the attitude I take toward the level of anti-Muslim rhetoric we’re seeing today. This country has overcome and continues to strive to overcome every challenge, no matter how long it takes. The Civil Rights movement proves that. People had to struggle and suffer to work together and raise their voices to bring about change. Hearing the political discourse and hateful language certainly has negative consequences, but it is also the spark that has empowered me and others like me to speak up and work together in ways we may not have before. My passion has always been in global social entrepreneurship and empowerment of women and their voices and I am proud to have been able to work on these issues here at the White House. It was the President’s message of hope and change that inspired me to pursue an internship at the White House, and it was interning in Correspondence and reading letters that made me realize how important every voice was, including those of Muslim Americans.
I believe if you work hard and if you play by the rules, you can make it if you try in America — no matter who you are or how you pray. It’s how a young girl — once mocked and called names — can pursue her dream and proudly serve her country as a head-covering Bengali Muslim American woman in the White House.
Seven years ago, a newly elected President Obama signed his first legislation, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to help employees seek redress for pay inequity.
On its seventh anniversary, he pushed ahead on requiring companies to report what they pay employees by gender, race and ethnicity. The President declared: “Women are not getting the fair shot that we believe every single American deserves. What kind of example does paying women less set for our sons and daughters?”
Since Congress has resisted acting upon the issue, the President is using his executive authority to mandate that companies with one hundred or more employees add salary information to a form being submitted already that reports gender, age and job classifications. Two years ago, the President issued a similar order to federal contractors to submit salary information by gender. Those rules have yet to be completed! It is anticipated the first reports will be due in September 2017.
Jenny Yang, chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, adds: “Too often, pay discrimination goes undetected because of a lack of accurate information about what people are paid.” President Obama’s new requirement is intended to assist the government in penalizing corporations that use discrimination in pay practices. Ideally, businesses will begin to check themselves and correct disparities.
Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the President, stated that, “Bridging the stubborn pay gap between men and women in the work force has proven to be very challenging.”
President Obama wants Congress to pass legislation that will allow women to sue for damages for having endured pay discrimination. Republicans argue that such a law would lead to frivolous lawsuits. They feel gender discrimination is illegal now and that the President’s additional steps toward pay equity are superfluous.
Sometimes members grouse about why they have to pay dues to the national organization. It’s worth remembering how effective the national organization is in coalescing the efforts of members nationwide to effect changes in legislation. Advocacy is one of the four goals in our mission. (The others are research, education and philanthropy.) So here is a brief summary of some of the national organization’s accomplishments in advocacy this past year. Visit the national website for more detailed information.
- Our Action Network members sent over a quarter-million emails to legislators.
2. Our Capitol Hill Lobby Corps made over 1,300 visits to senators and members of Congress.
3. The U.S. Department of Education published a guidance letter and manual to reinforce the authority of Title IX coordinators.
4. Lisa Maatz, AAUW’s top policy adviser, testified at the House Education and Workforce Higher Education Subcommittee Hearing on “Preventing and Responding to Sexual Assault on College Campuses.”
5. The U.S. Department of Justice released guidance to identify and prevent gender bias in response to sexual assault and domestic violence.
6. AAUW released the Fall, 2015, edition of The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap.
7. AAUW released Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s’ Success in Engineering and Computing.
8. President Barack Obama supported policies including 1) Healthy Families Act, to allow working Americans to earn up to seven days a year of paid sick time; 2) help for states to create paid leave programs; 3) a memorandum to ensure federal employees access to six weeks of paid sick leave when a child is born.
9. The U.S. Department of Labor prohibited federal contractors from retaliating against employees who ask about or share salary information.
10. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 includes safety provisions which are now supported by regulations that require colleges and universities to take new steps to end sexual violence.
11. AAUW’s annual Title IX anniversary celebration on Capitol Hill exceeded expectations as a bi-partisan event attended by 45 congressional and committee offices, 25 advocacy and civil rights organizations, and AAUW members.
12. AAUW public policy priorities were included in the 2015 State of Union Address.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research has calibrated that women in Michigan have made considerable advances in recent years but still face inequities that often prevent them from reaching their full potential.
In the last decade, the gender wage gap in Michigan has narrowed. A higher percentage of women have bachelor’s degrees, and women are more likely to work in managerial or professional occupations. Yet, as in all other states, women in Michigan are less likely than men to be in the labor force and more likely to live in poverty.
Women continue to be underrepresented in the state legislature.
If current trends continue, women in Michigan will not see equal pay until the year 2086.
Women hold 20.9% of seats in the state legislature.
Michigan women who work full-time, year-round earn 77 cents on the dollar compared with similarly employed men.
Approximately 26.5 percent of those working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in Michigan are women, compared with 28.8 percent nationwide.
There are no women of color in statewide elective executive office and only one woman of color from the state in the U.S. Congress.
Women who are unionized earn $219 more per week, on average, than those who are not represented by a union.
Approximately 26.9 percent of women in Michigan have a bachelor’s degree or higher, an increase of about 7 percentage points since 2000.
In 2012–2013, 35.5 percent of Michigan’s four-year-olds were enrolled in state pre-K, preschool special education, or state and federal Head Start.
Heart disease is the biggest killer of women in the United States. Michigan ranks 42 of 51 with a mortality rate of 160.4 per 100,000.
REPORT CARD ON THE QUALITY OF
WOMEN’S LIVES IN MICHIGAN
C for political participation
C- for employment & earnings
D- for work & family
C- for poverty and opportunity
D for reproductive rights
D+ for health & well being
Three human rights experts from Costa Rica, Poland, and the United Kingdom recently toured the United States to prepare a report on the quality of women’s lives here. Simply stated
the delegation was shocked by how we lag behind international human-rights standards in:
1. our 23% gender pay gap
2. maternity leave
3. affordable child care
4. abortion treatment and
5. violence toward women.
The U.S. is one-of-three countries in the world that does not guarantee women paid maternity leave, according to the U.N. International Labour Organization. The U.N. suggests that countries guarantee at least 14 weeks of paid parental leave. The delegates suggested that the lack of accommodation in the workplace to accommodate women’s pregnancy, birth and post-natal needs is unthinkable in one of the richest societies in the world. The general lack of affordable child care shocked them as well.
In most European countries, abortions are performed at doctors’ offices and hospitals that offer all kinds of other health services; so protesters do not heckle the women who enter.
The final concern was violence against women — particularly gun violence. Women are eleven times more likely to be killed by a gun in the United States than in other high-income countries! Ironically, most of these murders are perpetrated by an intimate partner. Although some states have introduced gun control laws that deny perpetrators of domestic violence the right to possess firearms, it should be consistent national policy!
Federal law does prohibit those convicted of misdemeanor, domestic abuse from purchasing a gun, but the law does not require surrender of guns already owned. Also, domestic abusers who are not married to their victims are exempt from the law! Finally, people with temporary restraining orders issued against them for domestic violence are not included in the law!
The delegates suggested needed legal reforms:
- Campaign finance reforms could assist more women to be elected to office, because the networks that raise money for political candidates in this country are mostly dominated by men.
- Raising the minimum wage, which disproportionately affects women, could help ameliorate some of the wage gap.
- Passing federal law to stop new abortion restrictions could prevent, particularly Southern, states from shutting down women’s health clinics.
- Introducing Federal gun-control laws to deny perpetrators of domestic violence the right to possess firearms.
- The U.N. experts met with the White House and the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Justice, to share their recommendations. The full report is scheduled to be shared with the U.N. Human Rights Council in June 2016.
Information source: Laura Bassett,The Huffington Post