Help support the work of our organization with a tax-deductible donation: Use this button to target your donation to the Common Sense Gun Solutions Fund:
Use this button to target your donation to the Melanie Shouse Memorial Advocacy Fund:
or send a check (made out to Women's Voices) marked "Common Sense Fund" or "Advocacy Fund" (on the memo line) to:
Women's Voices 444 Clemens Ave Kirkwood MO 63122
The Melanie Shouse Memorial Advocacy Fund has been established to honor the memory of one of our most effective members. Melanie was an active participant in Women's Voices' health care and environment focus groups, as well as in many other local, state and national initiatives. Contributions to this fund, which are tax-deductible, will be used to support Women's Voices' advocacy work for social justice.
Who We Are
We are a group of ardent, progressive St. Louis area women who finally got fed up.
We became so concerned about the direction of this country and where its priorities seem to be that we decided we must do something. From our frustration and determination, Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice was born.
We are the only multi-issue social justice organization in St. Louis that is not affiliated with a religious tradition. We partner with many other groups in our work, and we try not to re-invent the wheel. We study many different issues and take action for a variety of causes.
Our members are curious, creative, competent and caring.
We believe in doing something meaningful in support of our values, and we have great fun and camaraderie in doing so. If you would like to add your voice to ours, we welcome you to join us.
Next Meeting: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Eight Months Post-Ferguson: The Journey from Recovery to Rebuilding
Seeking Sustainable Solutions to Economic and Racial Disparities
Rev. Starsky Wilson
President & CEO, Deaconess Foundation Co-chair, Ferguson Commission
Todd Swanstrom, PhD
Des Lee Professor of Community Collaboration and Public Policy, U of MO-St. Louis
Gregory Carr, Sr.
Professor Harris-Stowe State University
Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 Union Hall
2319 Chouteau Ave., 63103
Stolen Childhoods: The Emotional Toll of Gun Violence
March 23, 2015
Speakers: Valerie Carter-Thomas, principal, Northwest Academy of Law
Duru L Sakhrani, MD, Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist, Mercy Children's Hospital
A record audience turned out for this timely program at our March monthly meeting, which was preceded by a reception to launch our Lock It For Love campaign for gun safety.
Perhaps no city in the country is a more tragically appropriate location than St. Louis to focus on the trauma children experience when they're exposed to gun violence. Just 24 hours before the March 12 meeting, six-year-old Marcus Johnson died of gunshot wounds during a traffic dispute at O'Fallon Park in north St. Louis. His teenage brother and an adult family friend also were injured. Three other siblings were not hit by gunfire, but they are victims, too. How will they cope with what they saw happen to their brother? How will it shape the direction of their lives?
The facts are horrific: Children's Defense Fund statistics report that a child or teen dies or is injured from guns every 30 minutes.
Read more ...
We Keep Talking
March 17, 2015
On March 3, 2015 Mary Clemons, past president and chair of the Health Advocacy Committee submitted testimony on behalf of Women's Voices to the Missouri Senate Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee.
We urged support of SB 89, a bill which would protect consumers from excessive, unfair or discriminatory rate increases. The bill would require insurance companies to provide information to the Department of Insurance justifying their rate increases and the Department of Insurance would be given authority to approve or disapprove these increases. Missouri is the only state in the country that does not require health insurance companies to file and justify their rates.
We urged opposition to SB51 which would strip insurance companies of their ability to operate in Missouri if they accept subsidies. Currently 217,000 moderate-income Missourians receive subsides and nearly 70% would lose their health insurance if they lost their discounts. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule this summer on a case regarding whether consumers of the federal health insurance exchanges will be allowed to receive subsidies. This is not an issue that belongs before our state legislature.
"Lock It for Love" Kicks Off: Provides Free Gun Locks to Homes with Children
March 10, 2015
A new program designed to provide free gun locks to households where children live or visit is being initiated by Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice.
"This program, called Lock It For Love, is designed to continue our focus on gun violence as a public health issue," said Lise Bernstein, president of the organization. "It's also an effort to change the conversation from gun rights to gun responsibilities." Read more ...
Hitting the Streets!
February 10, 2015
A number of Women's Voices members recently walked the streets as well as the halls of the Capitol in Jefferson City to let Missouri legislators know that expanding Medicaid is essential. Hundreds of thousands of Missourians earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but they are too poor to receive a subsidy on the insurance marketplace.
Closing this coverage gap is the key message for legislators, according to Mary Clemons, chair of the Women's Voices Health Advocacy efforts.
On Jan. 31 members left flyers at homes in the neighborhoods of key legislators. The flyers summarized stories of several residents who fall into the gap and urged residents to call their legislators. (Mary Clemons and Bunnie Gronborg letters to the editor regarding the gap - read here.)
More than 150 volunteers walked the halls of the Capitol on Feb. 4. They displayed posters, carried signs and went to the House chamber where several Missourians who fall in the coverage gap were introduced. Team members distributed a booklet featuring stories of 52 people who, through no fault of their own, have no health insurance. Most of them are working, responsible parents. As one said, "To be denied health care when I need it most is like getting kicked down when I am most vulnerable." Members of Women's Voices will continue to advocate for expanded Medicaid coverage for needy Missourians.
Members who participated in these recent activities include: Judith Parker, Mary Clemons, Ginger Adkins, Joyce Borgmeyer, Ruth Ehresman, Bunnie Gronborg, Rea Kleeman, Nelda Carlisle-Gray and Barbara Paulus. They were happy to run into our member Mary Ann McGivern at the Capitol, who was there advocating for prison reform.
Bill offers true reform of payday lending practices
February 10, 2015
This letter by Women's Voices Director of Advocacy Barbara Paulus was published February 10 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
In response to the February 3 Editorial: Dismantling financial reform piece by piece, I offer the following regarding Sen. Curls' and Rep. Gosen's so called "reform" of payday lending practices in Missouri. Analysis of HB 91 (Gosen's) shows that the typical 444% APR would still be allowed, the amount of a payday loan would be increased from $500 to $750, and the following false reforms would be made: allowing two renewals instead of six; limit of one outstanding loan at a time (protecting the lender, not the borrower); and allowing a new loan as soon as one day after the previous loan is paid in full.Read more ...
Working for Medicaid Expansion in 2015
December 15, 2014
Medicaid expansion is a matter of fairness, economic growth and community well-being. In this period of unrest we need stability - the stability provided by having insured, healthy individuals who can work and be productive members of their communities.
You can help! Missouri Health Care for All and the Missouri Medicaid Coalition have made plans for lobby days and days of action in Jefferson City. No experience is necessary; all are welcome and invited to join in these group activities.
Dates for upcoming lobby days: Tuesday, January 13; Tuesday February 10 and Wednesday February 25 from 10:00 am-2:30 pm. In-Capitol days of action: Wednesday January 7 and Wednesday February 4. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you, your partner and your friends can join us in any of these group events. Even if you are a "maybe" let us know. We will send further details when available.
"Every year, nearly 40,000 Americans kill themselves. The majority are men, and most of them use guns. In fact, more than half of all gun deaths in the United States are suicides.
Celia Watson Seupel, New York Times, 3.10.15
Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down Awards
to the U.S. House of Representatives for extending the Children's Health Insurance Program which provides coverage to 38,000 Missouri children.
to a bill pending in the Missouri legislature that, if passed, would give certain geriatric prisoners the opportunity for early release if they have served at least 25 years behind bars and have no prior felony convictions.
to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has backed off a plan to block the sale and manufacture of a popular kind of armor-piercing ammunition in the face of intense opposition from Republican lawmakers, some gun enthusiasts, and the NRA. Gun control groups and some law enforcement organizations had hailed the proposed rule, saying that it would help keep police officers safe and that the bullets were not necessary for hunters or target shooters. Gun rights groups reacted angrily to the proposal, accusing the administration of trying to impose new gun control measures by restricting ammunition.
to the Obama administration's proposal to ban the manufacture and sale of one of the most popular bullets used in AR-15 semi-automatic rifles. The bullets, made of a combination of steel and lead, can easily pierce bullet-proof vests and pose great risk to law enforcement officers.
to St. Louis individuals and organizations that have filed federal class-action lawsuits against two suburban cities, alleging that the jails in these communities operate as modern-day debtors' prisons
to the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which has established a new Peace and Justice Commission to address societal issues such as poverty, racial tension and the lack of educational opportunities.
to the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, whose members have put their money toward environmental responsibility by divesting from businesses that rely on fossil fuels and investing in companies that are on the cutting edge of sustainability. The Sisters in St. Louis also conduct regular vigils at the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, where radioactive waste from nuclear weapons production was dumped years ago.
to the organizations below, for their contributions to the Ferguson commission. They believe strongly in being a partner in finding solutions to various community concerns and ongoing problems. The focus is now on shaping our future and being a resource, while moving toward strengthening the region and healing communities:
Missouri Foundation for Health, Deaconess Foundation, Greater Saint Louis Community Foundation, Incarnate Word Foundation, Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis and Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis
to State Representative Rick Bratton who has proposed a bill that would require a woman seeking an abortion to obtain notarized consent from the father. He said the bill would require a woman to be able to prove that a "legitimate rape" happened in order to avoid having to ask for a man's consent for the abortion.
to the US Senate for approving the nomination of Dr. Vivek Murthy as surgeon general. Dr. Vivek has stated that gun violence is a public health issue.
to members of the Kirkwood city council, who formally declared that they are "outraged" at the state legislature's enactment of a law permitting the open carry of firearms throughout Missouri. Kirkwood was forced to repeal its ordinance prohibiting open carry of weapons because local law cannot contradict state law. The city council members said the legislators were forcing them to enact a "dangerous and irresponsible" law that benefits no one in Missouri.
to Emerson, the latest corporation to confirm it has ended funding for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), joining a notable wave of recent corporate defectors (i.e. Microsoft, Google, Facebook). ALEC has been plagued by controversy regarding its role in promoting Voter ID laws, NRA-sponsored lax gun laws, and legislation designed to increase corporate profits by privatizing services and eliminating regulations. Most recently, ALEC has been exposed for teaching state legislators climate change denial at its conferences.
to ArchCity Defenders for receiving the New Leaders in Advocacy Award from the National Legal Aid & Defense Association which honors the accomplishments of rising attorneys who exhibit extraordinary leadership early in their careers as civil legal aid or indigent defense
to St. Louis Judge Rex Burlison who ruled Missouri's marriage ban unconstitutional. St. Louis City is now issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
to voters in Washington state, who overwhelming passed a referendum to require common-sense background checks on those who purchase firearms in the state.