Advancing justice for women and girls and promoting their spiritual growth

Rev. Marti Keller

What If?

everyone deserves access to high quality health careLast week I scheduled two of my fall preventive health appointments: an all over skin cancer checkup and a flu shot. While I was stripped down to a thin blue paper cover-up, awaiting the dermatologist, I decided to skim through whatever magazine was lying around the exam room.

Given the choice between thumbing through “Seventeen” and the September issue of “Women’s Health,” I chose the latter,  figuring that I could waste a few idle ( and nearly naked ) moments, reading up yet again about how to achieve sexy abs, drop a size, sleep well, and slay stress. Instead, I came across a well-researched, thoughtful article titled “What If…” an investigative piece on what is at stake for women on November 9th, the end of this long Presidential election season.  It was researched and then written by four journalists, experts, we are told, in health care, abortion, immigration and gun control. They were asked to answer the question: Based on past research and the experience of other countries, what would be the possible consequences of the choices we make in the voting booth? 

The facts about policies under fire and at risk were provided by 32 thought leaders from schools of public health, think tanks, foundations, and other institutions.

I confess that when my visit was over and I was left to get dressed, the magazine left the cubicle along with me (and a prescription for face cream). There was too much relevant and sometimes surprising information crammed in that issue for me to read and digest in the short time I waited for my health care provider. I knew I wanted to share it in this blog.

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Missing from the Presidential Debate, Missing from the National Conversation

debateI had, obviously mistakenly, anticipated that the 2016 election season would offer an opportunity, especially during the presidential primary and general election debates, to both name and dive deeply into public policy matters of consequence to women. Not just because of the presence of the first female nominated candidate by a major political party, but because of the enormous sway held by women voters in determining the winner of this contest. Continue reading

No Bingo Win for First Presidential Debate

debate-bingo-thumbnail-card2Just before the first Presidential Debate 2016 on Monday night, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) produced a bingo card to fill out over the 90-minute program. This is something they have done previously in advance of major public forums or policy addresses such as the State of the Union.

For this occasion, the center of the playing card was the word “women,” surrounded by key gender justice issues such as violence against women, harassment, the equal rights amendment, and campus sexual assault. The object, as in all bingo games, was to score by filling a line down, across, or vertically—the prize being the satisfaction of attention being paid to the concerns of women-identified voters and their allies.

What little attention was paid to any of these concerns happened in the first moments of the debate during the segment on prosperity. In this context one of the candidates mentioned, in cursory order: equal pay, affordable childcare, and family leave, with no follow up conversation or questions from the moderator. There were not enough squares filled in to come close to being able to call “bingo,” or to come away with any sense that other significant issues, like access to affordable birth control and abortion, received or will receive airtime at all. If so, this will follow the pattern of the primary debates for both major political parties. Continue reading

Remembering the Rosies

rosieA story first posted last week on, shared at last count by more than 58,000 readers, reported the rediscovery after seven decades of the real life inspiration of what the article called the “iconic” Rosie the Riveter poster. The image of a muscular female factory worker, blue-shirted, with a red bandana covering her permed hair, captured a whole cohort of women who entered the work force and took on traditional men’s jobs during World War II, especially in the defense industry and other essential trades. Continue reading

Advocacy Update

advocacy1As we move into the fall and the end of the 2016 election season, there will be new opportunities for UUWF public policy witness and education around justice for women:

The spread of the Zika virus this summer into the continental United States (it had already hit Puerto Rica) has brought even more urgency to the need to pressure Congress when it returns to session on September 6. They must provide the funding necessary to abate this mosquito born disease and provide the necessary range of reproductive health protections and interventions for impacted women. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that there have already been more than 500 cases of Zika in pregnant people in the U.S. and at least 15 children have been born with Zika-related neurological damage. Now concentrated in Florida, health officials are predicting a spread to other Gulf Coast states over the next two years.

In the face of this, the majority party congressional leaders have stalled efforts to allocate adequate funds, and to use these funds effectively, by including restrictions in using these monies for contraception and by excluding Planned Parenthood from receiving any.

UUWF will be partnering with other religious and secular advocacy groups in asking Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to do what is required to combat Zika and protect the health of women and children.

Hyde Amendment Anniversary
On the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits funding abortions, to the annual federal budget, there have been briefings scheduled by two congresswomen on the proposed “Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance(EACH) Woman Act.” This proposed national legislation would once again ensure that — no matter her income, zip code, or insurance provider — every woman should have access to pregnancy-related care, including abortion.

As part of the All Above All campaign to restore and sustain abortion coverage for low-income women, UUWF will be participating in a week of action in late September, including Facebook and Twitter events.

Paid Family & Medical Leave Bill
We will be supporting the National Partnership for Women & Families in their “Expecting Better” initiative to adopt a federal paid family leave and medical leave bill, which would augment the Family and Medical Leave Act. This landmark legislation has been used more than 200 million times since its passage in 1993 to provide workers with unpaid time off to care for a new child, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to address one’s own serious health condition.

Look for a UUWF fact sheet and possible webinar on the Democratic and Republican platforms on women’s justice issues — and what is at stake in the 2016 election. Coming in the next few weeks.

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