AAUW advocates for women and girls, not corporate special interests
Monday, February 20, 2012 - 3:08 pm

To the Editor:

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) Action Fund recently released its annual scorecard of congressional action on issues that will be critical to women and their families when they cast their votes in the upcoming elections.

The Congressional Voting Record, available at www.aauwaction.org, covers the first session of the 112th Congress, outlines how U.S. senators and representatives voted and whether they co-sponsored legislation on priority issues affecting education, economic security, and civil rights.

As in the previous Congress, the story of the 112th Congress has been dominated by the economic recession. But rather than helping women find jobs, Congress spent precious legislative time and effort on damaging austerity measures.

“This voting record shows that Congress is gridlocked on the issues that can make a difference for women and their families,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “This excessive partisanship isn’t just disappointing, it’s discouraging to a nation that expected the new Congress to make economic recovery priority number one.”

“This voting record underscores the lack of action on women’s issues and will be a powerful tool outside the Beltway,” said Lisa Maatz, AAUW director of public policy and government relations. “The AAUW Action Fund’s nationwide voter education program, It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard, will be working to turn out the women’s vote to ensure that elected officials are held accountable for their votes.”

AAUW-St Lawrence County Branch congratulates 23rd Congressional District Rep. Bill Owens on his 100% positive voting record on AAUW key issues, like campus safety, the Paycheck Fairness Act, spending bills and women’s health issues.

On the Senate side, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand had a 100% voting score with AAUW; Sen. Chuck Schumer got 83%. Senate votes included education bills, budget bills, health and the Paycheck fairness Act.

As the 2012 campaign season gets underway, AAUW will be monitoring the candidates and the issues. Look for voter education information as the year progresses. Of particular note, the It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard, a nonpartisan voter education and turnout effort, is aimed at maximizing the electoral power of women in the 2012 election.

As the largest generation since the baby boomers, today’s 18- to 30-year-olds present the strongest opportunity to increase voter turnout among women. Millions of young women will be eligible to vote for the first time this year, and many others have yet to establish the habit of voting.

“AAUW stands on a rich history of civic engagement and voter education,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “We recognize the power of a single vote, and we will do everything we can to encourage all citizens to cast an informed ballot. Women must get involved in the political process to ensure that the issues they care about get the attention they deserve.”

In addition to mobilizing young women, the My Vote campaign will also focus on critical issues that affect women’s everyday lives, such as jobs, college affordability, and health care, including access to birth control.

“This campaign takes an approach that is unique to AAUW,” said Seth Chase, AAUW’s national field director. “We have hundreds of branches across the country with ties to their local communities and college campuses. Our members have the opportunity to establish lasting relationships with young women, to engage them on the issues, and to encourage them to vote and be heard.”

Here in St. Lawrence County, AAUW will focus on educating and motivating the hundreds of young women on four local college campuses to participate in voting, many for the first time in a presidential election. All college students in the county are eligible for a free e-student membership in AAUW because all four institutions are College-University partners of AAUW.

Membership in the St. Lawrence County Branch is open to anyone who supports the mission of AAUW. AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research. AAUW’s commitment to equity is reflected in its public policy advocacy, community programs, leadership development, conventions and conferences, national partnerships, and international connections.

AAUW, with its nationwide network of more than 100,000 members, more than 1,000 branches conducting programs in communities across the country, and 500 college and university partners, has been a leading advocate for equity and education for women and girls since 1881.

For more information about AAUW in St. Lawrence County, contact President Becky Gerber at 268-9957, [email protected] or Public Policy Chair Kathleen Stein at 386-3812, [email protected], or visit the branch website, http://www.northnet.org/stlawrenceaauw/index.html

Donna Seymour