This year marks 100 years since women won the right to vote in California. It was a long, arduous battle culminating after decades of work by fiercely industrious women. While the battle for suffrage is over – threats to women's rights continue. Here in California, the Legislative Women's Caucus remains committed to providing the leadership necessary to maintain the rights and responsibilities of women to have a full and equal role in all segments of society.
- In meetings with both Senate President Pro Tem Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Pérez, Women's Caucus members discussed our policy priorities, including the budget, women in the workplace, paid family leave, military families, aging women, and women in the media.
- The Centennial celebration of Women's Suffrage in California on March 7 was a great success. The event included an exhibition in the Capitol's second floor rotunda. An estimated 200 guests joined LWC Members at a reception honoring the following recipients of "Women of Distinction" awards: California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Attorney General Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, Adjutant General Mary Kight, Board of Equalization Members Betty Yee and Michelle Steel, First Lady Anne Gust Brown and Second Lady Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
- The seventh annual Alumnae Dinner was a great success with fantastic attendance. This year the dinner was held at the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts in the Remarkable Women's Exhibit. As with years past each Member, past and present, introduced herself and shared a personal story about her time as a legislator or an adventure on the campaign trail. The bi-partisan and collegial atmosphere of this dinner makes it both unique and impressive.
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One of the priorities of the 2011 Legislative Women's Caucus is women in the media. "Miss Representation," directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, explores the under-representation of women in positions of power and often disparaging portrayals in the popular media. Through personal stories and provocative interviews, this film crystallizes the relevance of the media and its portrayal of women in today's society and takes a stand that the media is portraying women's primary values as youth, beauty and sexuality rather than their capacity as leaders.
"Miss Representation" brings together many of America's most influential women in politics, news and entertainment including, Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem to give audiences an inside look at the media's message and depiction of women.
The Women's Caucus is working with the director (and 2011 Woman of Distinction) Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and the Commission on the Status of Women to put together a screening of this documentary for members (past and present) of the Women's Caucus, the Legislature at-large and the entire Capitol community.
Blood Minerals - by Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett
As members of the Women's Caucus, we are all fierce advocates for the rights and concerns of women throughout California. However, there are sometimes circumstances that happen around the world so striking that they command our attention, and we learn we can help here in California to better the lives of women across the globe.
The devastating war in the Congo has drawn international condemnation. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said, "The United States is deeply concerned by reports of the mass rape of women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ... this horrific attack is yet another example of how sexual violence undermines efforts to achieve and maintain stability in areas torn by conflict but striving for peace."
The war in Congo is fueled by a multi-million dollar trade in illegally extracted minerals that end up in thousands of products, most notably electronics products. The conflict in Congo is the deadliest since World War II, claiming more than 5.4 million lives since 1998, and it is especially difficult for women and children.
My bill, Senate Bill 861, would incentivize compliance with federal regulations on conflict minerals. California has the opportunity to once again show it is a leader in fighting violence against women by encouraging the development of verifiably conflict-free products. I hope you will join me in this effort.
California State Assembly Celebrates Woman of the Year
by Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal
The Woman of the Year Celebration, March 21, 2011 , included a Brunch Reception hosted by the Legislative Women's Caucus, First Lady Anne Gust Brown, Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Attorney General Kamala Harris. The Brunch was well attended by Constitutional Officers, Members of the Assembly, Woman of the Year honorees and their guests. The Assembly set aside their regular business for a Special Session to recognize the accomplishments of women representing every Assembly District in California. Speakers during the Special Session included a prayer by Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, welcoming remarks from Attorney General Kamala Harris and a keynote address from Secretary of State Debra Bowen.
Chair: Sen. Noreen Evans
Vice Chair: Asm. Bonnie Lowenthal
"There are many more (women) behind me. It's hard sometimes to…reach back and pull them forward; but if we all do that one at a time, there's somebody out there that we can touch, that we can bring forward, so that they, too, can realize some of the achievements that we have."
-Major General Mary Kight, The Adjutant General of the California National Guard – said during Woman of Distinction acceptance speech
- DENIM DAY - April 27th, 10am – 1pm, West Steps of Capitol. Contact Bryn.Sullivan@sen.ca.gov for more details.
- Viewing of Tapestries of Hope and roundtable with the filmmaker -
April 27, 2011, 12 - 1:30pm,
Eureka Room. To RSVP, contact Elizabeth.Fuller@asm.ca.gov
- Legislative Women's Caucus Meeting with Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye - May 26, 2011
Details TBD - For more details contact Bobbie.Sardo@sen.ca.gov
Denim Day 2011
Denim Day will be observed on April 27th to protest the 1998 Italian Supreme Court's overturning the conviction of a man who sexually assaulted a young woman. The court stated that, "because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex."
Within hours of the verdict, women in the Italian Parliament, angered by the court's decision, launched into protested by wearing jeans to work. Thus "Denim Day" was born and continues to raise public awareness about rape and sexual assault.
The U.S. Department of Justice has found that approximately 60% of all sexual assaults go unreported. Senate Concurrent Resolution 15, authored by Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), declares April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and April 27th as Denim Day. Legislators will be asked to sign the pledge to end sexual assault at a rally on the West Steps of the Capitol from 10am to 1pm.