Women to be Honored for Efforts to End Gender Inequity and to Promote Civil Rights

Women to be Honored for Efforts to End Gender Inequity and to Promote Civil Rights

 SEATTLECouncilmember Jean Godden and the Seattle Women’s Commission have partnered, for the first time, to honor outstanding women and organizations in our community working to end women’s economic inequality and to champion Civil Rights.

This evening, the Jeanette Williams Award will be presented to Tammy Nguyen, for her work on the Women in the Green Economy program at the Got Green organization; to the YWCA, for its Economic Resilience Initiative; and to Laura Culberg, owner of SweatBox Yoga for strong workplace equity policies.

“I am proud to honor these exceptional women and organizations, which work every day to do all they can to foster the success of women and families in Seattle,” said Councilmember Jean Godden, Chair of the Parks, Libraries and Gender Pay Equity Committee.  “They are our City’s greatest hope of creating a culture where all our residents have an opportunity succeed and thrive.”

The Jeanette Williams Award was established in 2003 to honor individuals who demonstrate significant leadership and service in advancing the cause of women in Seattle.  This year, the award is exclusively focused on honoring those making strides to end women’s economic inequality.

Since the 2013 report stating that Seattle has one of the widest wage gaps in the nation, Councilmember Godden and the Women’s Commission have worked to establish programs and policies to reach pay parity between men and women in the City of Seattle.

“All the honorees being recognized this evening are fantastic examples of Jeanette Williams’ legacy of service and leadership. Their commitment to women’s and civil rights in our community should be celebrated.  We appreciate their dedication and leadership here in Seattle and are grateful to Councilmember Jean Godden for her support of this event,” said representatives of the Seattle Women’s Commission.

The Civil Rights Awards will be given to Estela Ortega for her long history of community organizing and work with El Centro de la Raza, and to Nicole Vallestero Keenan for her community leadership with Puget Sound Sage.

“Estela has worked tirelessly in helping our community for more than 40 years and Nicole’s work and advocacy for low-wage workers during the minimum wage legislation was tremendous,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell regarding the Civil Rights Award.

The awards will be presented tonight, Wednesday, September 24, at a celebration in the Bertha Knight Landes Room in Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Avenue at 6 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public.

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Council Passes Women’s Reproductive Health Rights Resolution

Council Passes Women’s Reproductive Health Rights Resolution

SeattleThe Seattle City Council today unanimously approved Resolution 31541, calling on the United States Congress and President Obama to repeal all federal bans on public coverage of abortion and supporting efforts to improve access to public and private insurance coverage for comprehensive reproductive health care.

“Every woman who enrolls in public government insurance should have the right to make their personal reproductive choices and receive coverage based on those choices, regardless of income or financial status,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee.

The Hyde Amendment, a rider attached to the federal spending budget each year and first passed by Congress in 1976, bans Medicaid coverage of abortion. Federal law also prohibits insurance coverage of abortion for women and their dependents who receive federally sponsored health care.

Rachel Berkson, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, said, “Given that there are over 4,000 women in Seattle are insured through the federal government and subject to these restrictions on abortion coverage, we commend Bruce Harrell and the Seattle City Council for taking a strong stand against the Hyde Amendment. For far too long, coverage bans like the Hyde Amendment have disproportionately limited access to abortion care for low-income women and women of color. Seattle is a pro-choice city and Washington is a state with a pro-choice majority—it’s time we embraced an agenda that reflects this, and identifies reproductive rights not just as an issue of gender equality, but one of economic and racial justice.”

Lisa Stone, Executive Director of Legal Voice, said, “Every woman should be able to make decisions based on what is best for herself and her family instead of based on what she can afford. The Hyde Amendment and other federal bans of abortion coverage affect Seattle women in a very real way. It’s time to tell Congress that when access to abortion is determined by the type of insurance a woman has, reproductive choice is meaningless.”

Andrea Miller, President of National Institute for Reproductive Health, said, “By withholding abortion coverage from women utilizing federal insurance plans, our nation has effectively created a class-based system for access to abortion care. But today Seattle joined the ranks of cities across the country—including Cambridge, New York City, Oakland and Philadelphia – that are leading the national movement to strike down the unjust bans that deny too many women access to abortion care. The National Institute for Reproductive Health is proud to support these efforts, and congratulates the women and men of Seattle.”

Councilmember Jean Godden, who chairs the committee overseeing the City’s efforts to eliminate gender inequity in the workplace, agreed.  “Each of us should have the right to make reproductive health choices, based on what’s best for oneself and for one’s family.”

Seattle joins a grass-roots movement to repeal the Hyde amendment and becomes the first jurisdiction in the Northwest—and the sixth nationally—to declare its support for overturning the Hyde Amendment.

According to the most recent U.S. Census, over 311,650 women live in Seattle. 67,824 women in Seattle are enrolled in public insurance and over 4,000 women of reproductive age are insured through the federal government and are therefore subject to federal restrictions on abortion coverage.

 

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Council Passes Women’s Reproductive Health Rights Resolution

Council Passes Women’s Reproductive Health Rights Resolution

SeattleThe Seattle City Council today unanimously approved Resolution 31541, calling on the United States Congress and President Obama to repeal all federal bans on public coverage of abortion and supporting efforts to improve access to public and private insurance coverage for comprehensive reproductive health care.

“Every woman who enrolls in public government insurance should have the right to make their personal reproductive choices and receive coverage based on those choices, regardless of income or financial status,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee.

The Hyde Amendment, a rider attached to the federal spending budget each year and first passed by Congress in 1976, bans Medicaid coverage of abortion. Federal law also prohibits insurance coverage of abortion for women and their dependents who receive federally sponsored health care.

Rachel Berkson, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, said, “Given that there are over 4,000 women in Seattle are insured through the federal government and subject to these restrictions on abortion coverage, we commend Bruce Harrell and the Seattle City Council for taking a strong stand against the Hyde Amendment. For far too long, coverage bans like the Hyde Amendment have disproportionately limited access to abortion care for low-income women and women of color. Seattle is a pro-choice city and Washington is a state with a pro-choice majority—it’s time we embraced an agenda that reflects this, and identifies reproductive rights not just as an issue of gender equality, but one of economic and racial justice.”

Lisa Stone, Executive Director of Legal Voice, said, “Every woman should be able to make decisions based on what is best for herself and her family instead of based on what she can afford. The Hyde Amendment and other federal bans of abortion coverage affect Seattle women in a very real way. It’s time to tell Congress that when access to abortion is determined by the type of insurance a woman has, reproductive choice is meaningless.”

Andrea Miller, President of National Institute for Reproductive Health, said, “By withholding abortion coverage from women utilizing federal insurance plans, our nation has effectively created a class-based system for access to abortion care. But today Seattle joined the ranks of cities across the country—including Cambridge, New York City, Oakland and Philadelphia – that are leading the national movement to strike down the unjust bans that deny too many women access to abortion care. The National Institute for Reproductive Health is proud to support these efforts, and congratulates the women and men of Seattle.”

Councilmember Jean Godden, who chairs the committee overseeing the City’s efforts to eliminate gender inequity in the workplace, agreed.  “Each of us should have the right to make reproductive health choices, based on what’s best for oneself and for one’s family.”

Seattle joins a grass-roots movement to repeal the Hyde amendment and becomes the first jurisdiction in the Northwest—and the sixth nationally—to declare its support for overturning the Hyde Amendment.

According to the most recent U.S. Census, over 311,650 women live in Seattle. 67,824 women in Seattle are enrolled in public insurance and over 4,000 women of reproductive age are insured through the federal government and are therefore subject to federal restrictions on abortion coverage.

 

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Seafair Princesses at Council Today, Addressing Gender Pay Gap


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 7/21/2014

Councilmember Jean Godden
Councilmember Sally J. Clark

Seafair Princesses at Council Today, Addressing Gender Pay Gap

SeattleCouncilmembers Jean Godden and Sally J. Clark welcomed the Seafair Princesses to City Council today to discuss gender pay disparity in Seattle and how the Seafair Foundation’s Scholarship Program for Women participants can help take action to address the problem.  Councilmembers engaged with the young women, who agreed to become "Gender Pay Ambassadors," bringing awareness of the pay disparity to their respective communities.  The young women then visited Full Council, where Councilmembers proclaimed July 21, "Seafair Foundation Day."

"These young women are our future leaders, and I’m thrilled to have them engage in the issues of equal pay and gender equity," said Councilmember Jean Godden. "I’m thankful for Seafair Foundation’s Scholarship Program for Women which provides more than $20,000 in scholarship assistance to young women seeking academic scholarships and leadership development."

Councilmembers discussed the recent study which found that, on average, women in the Puget Sound region are paid $0.73 relative to every dollar a man earned.  Among City employees, women were found to have earned $0.90 for every dollar a man earned and comprise only 1/3 of the City workforce.  Between 2013 and 2014, Councilmember Godden spearheaded an effort with former Mayor Mike McGinn and current Mayor Ed Murray to identify solutions to end the disparity.  Work to address the disparity is currently underway.

"The Scholarship Program for Women empowers young women to reach their personal and professional goals by showcasing their academic abilities, community service, and public speaking skills," said Beth Knox, Seafair President and CEO. "Visiting City Hall and meeting female civic leaders is an important addition to their experience with Seafair and the community."

With a mission to promote philanthropy, diversity and community involvement, participants/princesses represent Seafair at nearly 20 community events and parades. Participants are also paired with respected local female professionals in a Mentorship Program. This program provides the opportunity for participants to gain professional experience through networking and exposure to the business world.

The Seafair Foundation, the 501(c)(3) charitable partner of the Seafair Festival, was established to create and build opportunities for Seafair’s youth education, cultural and community engagement programs. Their mission is to empower our future leaders and connect Greater Puget Sound through unique experiences. The Seafair Foundation is passionate about celebrating the culture and unique assets of your community, which contributes to the quality of life for those who live, work and play here.

[View in Council Newsroom]

City Council Approves $15/hour Minimum Wage in Seattle


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 6/2/2014

Councilmember Sally J. Clark
Council President Tim Burgess
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw
Councilmember Jean Godden
Councilmember Bruce Harrell
Councilmember Nick Licata
Councilmember Mike O’Brien
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen
Councilmember Kshama Sawant

City Council Approves $15/hour Minimum Wage in Seattle
Historic vote addresses income inequality

SEATTLESeattle City Council unanimously approved the adoption of a $15 per hour minimum wage today, making Seattle the first major city in America to take such an action to address income inequality. Beginning April 1, 2015, the legislation will phase-in a $15 per hour minimum wage annually over 3 to 7 years, depending on employer size.

“Today we answer President Obama’s call and the moral call to address the plight of low wage workers,” said Councilmember Sally J. Clark, chair of the City Council’s Select Committee on the Minimum Wage and Income Inequality. “Seattle’s new law puts low wage workers on a path to $15 and does it in a way that respects Seattle’s love for local businesses and world-leading innovation.”

Twenty-four percent of Seattle workers earn hourly wages of $15 per hour or less, and approximately 13.6 percent of the Seattle community lives below the federal poverty level, according to a University of Washington study. Washington State’s minimum wage is currently $9.32 per hour. Effective April 1, 2015, the minimum wage in Seattle will be $10.00 or $11.00 per hour depending on employer size. A chart illustrating the subsequent annual minimum wage increase based on employer size is available here.

“With inaction at the state and national levels, it’s time for cities to demonstrate bold and necessary leadership to address income inequality,” said Council President Tim Burgess. “Seattle has found a workable and careful compromise that recognizes both the harm caused by stagnant wages and the harm to local businesses should we move forward too quickly.”

Mayor Ed Murray forwarded a proposal to the City Council after it had been developed by a stakeholder group, which included representatives of Seattle’s business, labor and non-profit communities and three councilmembers. The Seattle City Council, reviewed relevant studies, held public forums for feedback, hosted industry-specific discussions, considered the Mayor’s proposal and heard thousands of community comments over the first half of 2014.

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw said, “In the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, ‘The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.’ Today, we have made true progress so people can work and live in our city.”

“Today is an unprecedented step forward for working families in Seattle,” said Councilmember Jean Godden. “Especially for women who tend to make up more than half of low wage workers, a higher minimum wage is a powerful tool to reduce income inequality based on gender.”

“This is a historic moment: the culmination of workers banding together over a year ago to raise the national debate on income inequality. Seattle listened and today, we are acting to help workers earn a living wage,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell. “This is one of the most important race and social justice-related legislation enacted, most positively impacting people of color, women and immigrants. We must continue working with small businesses and the ethnic minority community to support their growth and help them succeed.”

“Council’s next critical step is to legislate the enforcement of this new law with the creation of an Office of Labor Standards Enforcement,” said Councilmember Nick Licata. “Responsible businesses who follow the law must not be at a competitive disadvantage with those businesses not administering fair labor practices.”

“I am honored to cast my vote today in support of the tens of thousands of working people in Seattle who are about to get a much needed raise,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “Almost a year ago to the day, I escorted fast food workers back to their jobs to ensure they would not face retaliation for striking for better pay, and thanks to the movement they started we are making history today.”

“This legislation sends a message heard around the world: Seattle wants to stop the race to the bottom in wages and that we deplore the growth in income inequality and the widening gap between the rich and the poor,” said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen.

“This is a victory for our movement – it shows the power of working people when we organize and fight for our rights,” said Councilmember Kshama Sawant. “It will inspire millions of people all over the nation to build on this historic step forward. Fifteen in Seattle is just the beginning.”

The legislation will take effect thirty days after Mayor Ed Murray signs the legislation into law. Seattle has a population of approximately 634,535 in 2012, according to the United States Census and is approximately 84 square miles in land area.

[View in Council Newsroom]