Advancing justice for women and girls and promoting their spiritual growth

Rev. Marti Keller

Firsts

I am not and never have been a Time Magazine subscriber.

At one time in my much younger life someone paid for a year’s worth of Newsweek, which I enjoyed, but not enough to continue. But when I caught a morning talk show interview with editor-in-chief Nancy Gibbs previewing and promoting a Time special project— Firsts-women who are changing the world, I went in determined search of the September 18 issue.

I learned that if you are not a signed up paid reader, it was not easy to score a copy, at least not in a timely manner. It took several return trips to the Barnes and Noble periodical section, and an expedited delivery purchase on ebay (mailed carefully in do-not-bend packaging). I tore it open, eager to read about what Gibbs had described as the “experiences of women who were pioneers in their field,” hopefully in a positive way. The venture had taken more than a year, after having been proposed by Kira Pollack, the magazine’s director of photography and visual enterprise. What began as a series of portraits, in the words of the editor-in-chief, quickly evolved into a multimedia project including dozens of interviews and a book.

What were the “striking themes”? Continue reading

A Moral Economic System: Beyond Labor Day 2017

Labor Day has come and gone in 2017. What began as a nationwide day to recognize the contributions and trials of American workers has become, in most ways, the last three-day summer weekend consisting of cookouts and festivals and trips to school supply stores to fill carts with pencils, notebooks, and lunch boxes.

This year, Labor Day was also shadowed by the damage inflicted by Hurricane Harvey and the threat of an even more devastating category five storm making its way from Africa across the Atlantic, heading for the Caribbean, most likely Florida, and beyond. These climatic weather events — along with the news of a looming presidential announcement about the insecure future of thousands of young people in the DACA program — focused attention away from issues like the gender pay gap, family leave, and affordable childcare.

In the midst of the always-hyperactive news cycle there were, however, timely articles and op-ed pieces — notably in the New York Times — that lifted up the status of working women in this country. And the news is not favorable. Continue reading

All* Above All

A few years back, it was my privilege and pleasure to visit Washington D.C. during a stop on what All* Above All, a group of abortion rights advocates, called a Be Bold Road Trip. These advocates covered nearly 10,000 miles and 12 cities, taking their message across the country. They wanted legislators to lift bans on abortion coverage for low income women. Additionally, they would be asking members of Congress and others to sign a Be Bold Declaration in support of finally including insurance coverage for this legal medical procedure under Medicaid and other federal plans. Continue reading

UUA Celebrates First Elected Woman President

As my colleague in ministry, Rev. Meg Barnhouse, declared last week, “Let the celebrations begin! We’re embarked on a chapter with our first elected woman president of the UUA.”

Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, minister of the Phoenix, Arizona congregation, will be our 9th president since the Unitarians and the Universalists joined together. She will serve as the leader of a progressive faith movement encompassing 1,000 congregations with 200,000 adults and children in the United States.

Immediately following the announcement of her victory on June 24, the last evening of our General Assembly in New Orleans, the UUWF posted on Facebook that “history was made tonight within Unitarian Universalism.”

As reported by the UU World, after having been named winner in a three-way race of woman-identified candidates Frederick-Gray said, “I want to be clear, right up front, I am not the first female president of the UUA.” She then turned to applaud the Rev. Sofia Betancourt, who had served three months as one of three co-presidents appointed to complete the term of President Peter Morales.

The UUWF conducted interviews with the presidential candidates and published the transcripts on our website prior to the election. Here are a few of the highlights of the conversation with Frederick-Gray:

How do you see the relationship between the UUA and the UUWF currently?
“I think the UUWF as a source of growing women’s leadership for the larger movement is really important … I think that one of the ways the Associate organizations can be in a stronger relationship with the UUA is through collaborative conversations about the future of our faith … How we imagine the next 25 years of Unitarian Universalism … needs to be informed by women’s voices. It needs to be informed by people of color. I think that’s a key thing.”

What do you feel is the most pressing issue for women within our denomination?
“I think we still have a lot of work to do in overcoming patriarchal structures. Overcoming patriarchy even in our own faith … [O]ne of the challenges is feeling like a perception (which has truth in it) … that half our ministry currently is women. That we have a long history of women’s leadership in our faith. But we haven’t really overcome all the obstacles to women and women’s voices shaping how we run our association. How we lead as a spiritual and moral faith community, and so probably one of the challenges is figuring out how to continue to move forward, to continue to encourage and push our association forward in collaborative and non-oppressive ways of being and leading.”

What are your pet projects or personal passions on behalf of UU women and girls?
“Healthcare for women and girls. Healthcare for mothers … [T]his is an issue where, across the board, whether it’s cuts to childcare stipends, cuts to food stamps, cuts to women’s health and reproductive care. These are all going to be incredibly damaging to families, to women, to their children.”

For our new president’s responses to questions about where gender fits within intersectionality within Unitarian Universalism; how she sees the UUA currently addressing issues surrounding women and girls and her leadership around them; the role of our movement in the future of trans women’s rights and safety, especially trans women of color; and how the UUA and UU congregations can improve the health and lives of women they employ; and more, see the entire interview on our website.

 

Paychecks and Protections Get Less Fair

As UUs, we rightly focused inward last week (and moving forward) on our own associational practices of inequity and grievous lack of parity. At the same time, Trump is – in the words of Associated Press reporter Darlene Superville – steadily plugging away at a major piece of his agenda: undoing Obama and the progressive policies and reforms he put in place during his presidency.

Yesterday was Equal Pay Day – the day that marks how far into 2017 women employed full time, year-round in the U.S. have to work in order to catch up with what men were paid in 2016. At the start of April, sometimes also called the cruelest month, please pay attention to a cruel move Trump made on March 27 when he revoked the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Order, which ensured that companies with federal contacts comply with 14 labor and civil rights laws and which also rolled back protections and actions against contractors who were found guilty of wage discrimination and sexual harassment. Continue reading

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Leaping From Our Spheres

Rev. Marti KellerDon’t miss the “little gems full of both passion and facts” in the Blog of UUWF’s Affiliated Minister, Rev. Marti Keller.

UUWF’s Affiliated Ministry