Welcome to the Reading (PA) Branch of AAUW

AAUW MISSION STATEMENT

AAUW promotes equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and research.

DIVERSITY STATEMENT

AAUW values and seeks a diverse membership. There shall be no barriers to full participation in this organization on the basis of gender, race, creed, age, or sexual orientation.

AAUW provides many opportunities for women to explore their interests.  Books, foods, the arts, trips, whatever, but always with a focus on the role of women.  Our goal is to foster and encourage women “to stand up and be counted”

Click here to download the current issue of our local newsletter  BRANCHLINES

          Click here to download the latest issue of The Keystoner

The Keystoner is published four times a year, this newsletter shares information about our work across the state.  We invite you to be a part of the exciting things happening across the state and to participate in AAUW Pennsylvania activities.  The Keystoner will keep you informed.

LATEST PRESS RELEASES AND STATEMENTS

On July 15th, the Pennsylvania legislature recessed until September after voting on a constitutional amendment package that would dramatically shift the balance of government power in Pennsylvania and call multiple rights into question, including the right to abortion healthcare. You can read our statement from last week here.The League strongly opposes this bill package (SB106) and is disappointed at the misuse of legislative power coming from Harrisburg. We are in the process of identifying different options for opposition, including speaking with lawmakers and coalition partners to develop a strategy to protect the rights of Pennsylvania citizens. As an organization founded to defend democracy, we will bring the strength of our network, power, and resources to this fight.Here’s what you need to know:The bill (SB106) contained FIVE proposed constitutional amendments which would greatly impact Pennsylvania citizens.These amendments would:

  1. Declare that the state constitution does not grant any right relating to abortion, including no right to public funding for the procedure. Currently in PA, public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest. This amendment not only adds a funding ban to the state constitution, but removes the right to abortion altogether. The Pennsylvania constitution is meant to grant rights, rather than explicitly remove them for over half of the population. The League will continue to advocate for those who can become pregnant to access abortion healthcare.
  2. Give the legislature more power, including the right to disregard the Governor’s veto. This is a partisan response to the current legislature’s dissatisfaction with Governor Wolf’s veto record. The legislature is in effect granting itself more power than the executive by saying they can reject the veto power of the Governor. This upsets the longstanding system of checks and balances which define U.S. and PA governmental systems.
  3. Create additional voter ID requirements in a state with already strict voter ID law: Pennsylvanians must currently present a government-issued or student ID when they register to vote, or vote at a new location. As such, there is already a system in place to confirm voter identity. The justification for tightening voter ID rules is to prevent fraud. But significant voter fraud, especially voter impersonation, is virtually nonexistent. Furthermore, requiring voter ID does not require a constitutional amendment. Voter ID can – and should be – a change that is legislatively enacted by amending the Election Code.
  4. Impose stricter residency  requirements on new voters: The latest version of SB106 requires a 90-day residency within the Commonwealth (changed from 30 days) to vote. This means anyone who moves to Pennsylvania between August and November of an election year is denied their right to vote in a general election. It also bizarrely restates an old provision of PA law, which set the voting age at 21, which is out of date, as the 26th Amendment of the U.S. constitution sets the voting age at 18.
  5. Require that elections be audited by the PA Auditor General: The Pennsylvania Department of State is the office with election oversight. They already conduct risk-limiting audits to help affirm the integrity of the process. This amendment reinforces a lack of trust in election administration at both the county and state levels, and aims to shift power away from actual election officials and place it under the authority of another agency.
  6. Change the structure and powers of the Lieutenant Governor: This amendment would do two things: change the powers of the Lieutenant Governor, by eliminating their authority to break tie votes on final passage of a bill, and make the Lt. Governor a position that is not elected.

SB106 represents an attack on many of the issues the League has advocated for over the years, including the right to safely and easily vote and the right to bodily autonomy, and a fair and responsive government held accountable to checks and balances.

Furthermore, the passage of Senate Bill 106 is emblematic of how broken the legislative process in Harrisburg is. Legislative leaders manipulated long standing procedural rules to ram through a bill with multiple contentious topics AFTER 11 pm at night, late in the day, just before summer recess, with no public hearings, no genuine minority party input, and little opportunity for the public to engage or even see what was taking place.

Here’s what happens next:

  • The General Assembly returns on September 12th for the House and September 19th for the Senate. In order for the bill to be implemented, it must pass again in the upcoming session of the General Assembly.
  • The amendment will then be placed on the ballot for Pennsylvanians to vote on. If the bill passes early in the next legislative session, these amendment questions could be on the May 2023 primary ballot.
  • Constitutional amendments like SB106 do not need the Governor’s signature to be signed, and the Governor cannot veto these amendments if they are approved by the voters.
  • It’s been decades since Pennsylvania voters rejected a ballot question. If these amendments make it to the ballot, there is a high likelihood that they would be approved.

What League members and supporters can do:It’s time to turn our anger into activism. The November election is just around the corner, and it’s our responsibility to speak up in the meantime. We need your voice to hold our legislators accountable for their actions.

  • Write a letter to the editor expressing your concern and advocating for a fair process. Find more tips for letters to the editor and op-eds here. While this may seem small, sharing your thoughts with your community can have a positive impact in inspiring others to do the same.
  • Sign and share the Fix Harrisburg petition: The closed-door process that allowed this bill to pass is a clear example of the broken lawmaking process in Pennsylvania.
  • Sign one of the League’s active petitions or letter campaigns and tell your legislators that it’s time to advocate for voting rights, fair elections, and reproductive choice.
  • Subscribe to League emails so you never miss out on crucial updates on this issue.
  • Donate to the League to help us continue our mission of empowering voters and defending democracy. We will need a wide berth of resources to fight on all fronts, and your support is greatly appreciated.
  • Join your local League and lend your talents to our statewide grassroots network of advocates. If you’re already a member, consider joining a statewide committee to advocate for the democracy issues you care about. We will be actively working on this issue – join us!

AAUW Statement Strongly Condemning the U.S. Supreme Court’s Opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The following is a statement from Gloria L. Blackwell, AAUW Chief Executive Officer:

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) strongly condemns the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The decision overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that established abortion as a constitutionally protected right nearly 50 years ago and ignores the will of the American people, 80% of whom support legal abortion.

AAUW believes everyone has the right to make decisions about their own reproductive lives without government interference. Abortion access is vital to women’s ability to control their lives, bodies and futures. Without reproductive freedom, there can be no equity.

Being able to choose whether and when to become a parent improves women’s well-being and fosters economic security—a crucial component of AAUW’s mission. This is particularly important in a country that lacks accessible maternal health care, paid caregiving leave and workplace protections for pregnant workers.

The Court’s decision hurts all of us, but it will do the most harm to low-income people, women of color, immigrants, people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ people, because these groups already face substantial barriers to accessing reproductive services and health care.

While the Court’s decision is a major setback for all Americans, AAUW remains steadfast in our commitment to protecting reproductive rights, a vital component of gender equity.

If this ongoing struggle is important to you please consider becoming a member of our local Reading branch AAUW

2022-2023 Membership Form

It’s Personal

By Judith Kraines, Public Policy Chair

AAUW adopts public policy at the state and national levels.  At our state convention June 3 – 5 in Harrisburg, we will be voting on the policy below.  Please let Karen or me know how you feel about these issues.  Thanks.

Proposed Public Policy Priorities 2022-2024

AAUW PA’s public policy goals are to educate citizens about the impact of public policies on women and girls and to advocate for policies that will advance equity for women and girls. In Pennsylvania, AAUW actively endorses the national AAUW Public Policy Program. AAUW Pennsylvania supports good governance, an informed citizenry, and community dialogue on critical issues. Biennial priorities are intended to complement national priorities and to be a focus for active educational and advocacy efforts by members in the state.

To enable members and all citizens to participate fully in a representative democracy and self-governance, AAUW PA advocates

  • Awareness of issues so that members may be fully informed and empowered voters

  • Opposition to measures likely to suppress voting rights

  • Support for efforts to increase civil discourse and compromise between those with opposing views

  • Efforts to Get Out the Vote, including voter registration and use of social media to promote voting

To support a quality system of public education, AAUW PA advocates

  • Opposition to the diversion of public funds to non-public elementary and secondary education, charter and cyber charter schools

  • Support for a fair and adequately funded system of public education

  • Strengthening secondary and post-secondary programs that provide women with education, vocational training, and support for success in the workforce, including non-traditional occupations

  • Polices promoting inclusion, diversity, equity and justice in our schools

To improve the economic self-sufficiency of all women, AAUW PA advocates

  • Pay equity and fairness in compensation and benefits

  • Raising the minimum wage and tipped minimum wage to an amount that would provide a meaningful boost to family incomes in Pennsylvania and help grow the state’s economy

  • Vigorous enforcement of employment anti-discrimination statutes

  • Creating family-friendly workplace environments, including flexible workplace policies, paid leave for personal and family illness, and quality child-care facilities available to all parents regardless of their circumstances

  • Improving retirement security

  • Reducing the unprecedented level of student debt and the record high cost of college

To improve the operation and transparency of government, AAUW PA advocates

  • Measures to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government that can improve the well-being of women

  • Efforts to end the practice of partisan redistricting, gerrymandering in Pennsylvania

LUNAFEST: We are planning another LUNAFEST  in conjunction with the Reading FilmFest this October.  Lunafest will be held October 30, 2022. If members would like to help plan this event, please contact Carol Toomey.

AAUW Reading will be celebrating our 100th anniversary in 2023.

Stay tuned for news of upcoming festivities.

Book Bonanza Update

If anyone has not yet heard the news, Book Bonanza has been cancelled for 2022 due to lack of a suitable location. We hope to see you in 2023. Stay tuned.

We expect to be located in the county building in Mohnton after renovations are completed.

AAUW in Action, where we are with Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, protecting staff and students in any educational institution or program that receives federal funds.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for the implementation and enforcement of Title IX, its regulations, and its guidance. AAUW believes OCR must receive adequate funding to strengthen its Title IX enforcement efforts, and advocates thorough investigation of complaints and proactive compliance review.

All AAUW public policy actions take direction from the AAUW Public Policy Priorities, voted on by members every two years. AAUW is a nonpartisan organization—but nonpartisan does not mean “non-political.” Since its first meeting in 1881, AAUW has been a catalyst for change. Together, through our coordinated and strategic advocacy, we’ve enacted invaluable legislation at the federal, state, and local levels. The 2021-2023 Public Policy priorities directly identify strengthening and vigorously enforcing Title IX.

Title IX’s Work Is Not Done

Title IX has advanced gender equity in schools since 1972. The law not only impacted athletics, it impacts all educational programs and provided for opportunity for all females.
With 37 words, Congress changed the face of education. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

AAUW has always been a proponent of Title IX. “Title IX of the Education Amendments was enacted into law on June 23, 1972. It took another three years to develop sufficient regulations to enforce the law, leading AAUW to establish a coalition of 15 women’s and educational organizations. The National Coalition of Women and Girls Education (NCWGE) is still in operation today, providing Title IX guidance and enforcement recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education.”

but much work remains:

  • AAUW’s own research revealed that two-thirds of college students experience sexual harassment. Studies have also found that approximately 26% of all female undergraduate students and nearly 7% of all male undergraduate students have experienced sexual assault. Additionally, AAUW research found that 56% of girls and 40% of boys in grades 7-12 face sexual harassment.
  • Girls have 1.2 million fewer chances to play sports in high school than boys. Less than two-thirds of African American and Hispanic girls play sports, while more than three-quarters of white girls do.
  • Only 21% of engineering majors and 19% of computer science majors are women.
  • Pregnant and parenting students are often steered toward separate, less rigorous schools.
  • The rate of women’s enrollment in certain nontraditional careers remains at low levels, with some fields well below 25% in women’s representation.

For more information https://www.aauw.org/resources/policy/position-title-ix/

PA State AAUW | National AAUW
Educational Foundation | Legal Advocacy Fund

AAUW Action Fund
Congressional Voting Record 116th Congress (January 2019-September 2020)

Click here to download the current issue of our local newsletter  BRANCHLINES

          Click here to download the latest issue of The Keystoner

The Keystoner is published four times a year, this newsletter shares information about our work across the state.  We invite you to be a part of the exciting things happening across the state and to participate in AAUW Pennsylvania activities.  The Keystoner will keep you informed.