To mobilize, energize and inspire ourselves and others to action
To work as individuals and in community for social justice
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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, March 13, 2014
From Abuse to Independence
Michelle Schiller-Baker, St. Martha's Hall
Bridget McDermott Flood, Incarnate Word Foundation
6:30 for coffee, 7:00 program
Ethical Society of St. Louis - 9001 Clayton Rd, 63117 (Directions)
Major Forum On Gun Violence
To Feature Speaker, Panelists
February 11, 2014
A major forum on gun violence as a public health problem affecting children will be sponsored by Women's Voices on Wednesday, April 9.
"Safe and Sound: Smart Strategies to Protect Children from Gun Violence" will be held at the JC Penney Conference Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis from 8:30 a.m. until noon. The event, co-sponsored by Vision for Children at Risk, will be open to the public, free of charge.
James A. Mercy, PhD Distinguished Consultant Division of Violence Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Keynote speaker will be James A. Mercy, PhD, distinguished consultant in the Division of Violence Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Dr. Mercy has spent 30 years studying violence as a public health problem. A frequently published author with more than 200 publications, his work has spanned the areas of child abuse, youth and intimate partner violence, homicide, suicide, and firearm injuries. He will speak on "A Public Health Vision for Preventing Firearm Injuries."
The forum also will include a panel of St. Louis area experts, who will provide practical ways to address gun violence against children in our community. Speakers will be David M. Jaffe, M.D., medical director of emergency services at St. Louis Children's Hospital and president of the Academic Pediatric Assn.; Lt. Janice Bockstruck, who works in the juvenile division at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department; Tiffany Anderson, Ed.D., superintendent of schools in the Jennings School District, and Saaid Khojasteh, M.D., a specialist in adolescent psychiatry who directs the department of psychiatry at St. Joseph Health Centers in St. Charles and Wentzville.
Charles Jaco, noted journalist and TV reporter, will serve as moderator.
James Clark, vice president at Better Family Life in St. Louis,will conduct a conversation with family members who have lost children to gun violence. Clark is in charge of a local violence prevention effort called "Put Down The Pistol."
Funding for the forum is provided by The Deaconess Foundation, the Incarnate Word Foundation, and the Des Lee Collaborative Vision Partnership at UMSL. Women's Voices member Carol Wofsey is chair of the event. Register atsafesound.eventbrite.com. CEUs for social workers are pending.
According to a recent report commissioned by the American Psychological Assn., the most effective way to reduce gun violence without significantly curtailing Second Amendment rights is to treat the problem as a public health issue, like smoking or drunken driving. The group reviewed evidence on a wide variety of interventions intended to reduce violence, and concluded that trying to predict who will act out by profiling was unreliable, and that more systemic preventive policies were more effective.
Educators believe that in order to have a real impact, there needs to be a broad focus on preventing violence rather than simply responding to it after it occurs.
More information about the April 9 event will be posted on our Safe and Sound page regularly. Check back for details. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
Be Prepared ...
How to talk to legislators about Medicaid Expansion
February 15, 2014
Women's Voices and more than 300 organizations in the Missouri Medicaid Coalition support expanding Medicaid, but key elected officials in Missouri have refused. Our legislators need to hear from us, and the coalition has prepared two documents to help us advocate for expansion.
Ruth Ann Cioci, one of the founders of Women's Voices who has been involved in the organization and a mentor to its members for the past nine years, was saluted at the February meeting for her many contributions to the group. She and her husband, Pat, are moving to Minneapolis this spring to be closer to family.
In brief remarks at the meeting, Cioci was commended for her many efforts on behalf of Women's Voices. She was responsible for naming the organization and for overseeing graphic design. She also was the first chair of the Environment focus group, and has spearheaded numerous programs and partnerships that dealt with the environment.
At the conclusion of brief remarks by co-founder Barbara Finch, President Mary Clemons presented Cioci with a resolution commending her for her "dedication, commitment and service." We are grateful to her for all her work, and she will be greatly missed.
Setting the Record Straight ...
February 10, 2014
The Congressional Budget Office did NOT say that the Affordable Care Act will kill 2 Million Jobs!
The Congressional Budget Office estimated on 2/4 that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will reduce the number of full-time workers by 2.5 million over the next decade.
Misleading headlines and tweets abound:
"Obamacare will push 2 million workers out of the labor market."
"Obamacare is hurting the economy, will cost 2.5 million jobs."
Fact: The CBO is not predicting any increase in unemployment or underemployment.
The CBO report states, "The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a new drop in businesses' demand for labor.
This is not about jobs offered by employers, It's about workers and the choices they will be able to make.
2.5 million people will no longer be tethered to a job in order to have health benefits. They will be able to change jobs, work fewer hours, and retire when they want.
This is due to the increase in insurance coverage and the subsidies to help pay premiums made possible by the Affordable Care Act.
Workers with pre-existing conditions will also be freer to change or leave jobs because the ACA requires insurers to accept all applicants regardless of their health status.
In 2008, members of Women's Voices voted to support an initiative that would permit early voting in Missouri. Now, six years later, we have an opportunity to help make this a reality.
We are joining other organizations to gather signatures on an initiative petition to permit a vote for a constitutional amendment that would give all voters an opportunity to vote six weeks prior to election day.
Why Early Voting?
Early voting gives eligible voters the opportunity to cast their ballots in person or by mail as many as six weeks before Election Day. The proposal also calls for voting on weekends three weeks before Election Day.
In 2012, more than one-third of registered voters failed to cast a ballot in Missouri. Early voting can increase turnout among people who otherwise might have a hard time getting to the polls - single parents, working people, the elderly, and individuals without reliable transportation.
Early voting is a critical tool to reduce wait times on Election Day. Overcrowded polling places often result in clerical issues that prevent voters from casting a ballot, as well as disgruntled voters.
Early voting is in effect in 30 states and the District of Columbia.
Members of Women's Voices will be gathering signatures on the early voting petition throughout February and March. If you would like to help gather signatures, or if you would like to sign a petition, email advocacy @ womensvoicesraised.org and someone will contact you.
January 22, 2014
WV Member Explores The Issue of Hunger
Women's Voices member Geri Redden understands the way that poverty results in hunger, and how hunger impacts every facet of a person's life. Following is a commentary that she wrote about the subject, printed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Jan. 21.
Ravages of hunger extend throughout society by Geri Redden
This year is the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty instituted by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. That war is not yet won.
According to the latest study, 32 percent of St. Louisans live in poverty. For African-Americans, the rate is 40 percent. For a couple of years when I was married to a very sick man and had three young children to support on “women’s wages,” I lived in poverty. I later started an agency and located it in the poorest part of the city. So I know about poverty, personally and professionally.
There is one aspect of poverty that is never adequately explained, perhaps because it is impossible to understand unless one has experienced it, and that is hunger. If an average of 36 percent of our population is living in poverty, you can bet there are a lot of hungry people in our community.
Hunger is compelling. The dynamics of hunger are such that when it is present, nothing else exists. No other aspect of the hungry person’s life gets any attention. Hunger is all there is. It is all-consuming. To not eat is to starve and so when one is hungry, the survival part of the brain kicks in. I remember back in Catholic elementary school having a classroom debate about whether stealing bread to feed one’s family was a sin. At the time, it was a theoretical conversation. Now that I’ve experienced hunger, I believe the answer is no because as human beings we have the right to survive.
A hungry child cannot study, cannot focus, cannot learn, cannot build friendships. All he can experience is hunger. A hungry child thinks no one else has this problem because no one else talks about it. He cannot know that their shame, like his, keeps them silent. No one can know the truth. Therefore, to grow up hungry is to grow up shamed and alone.
Poverty impacts a person’s life at every level: physically, mentally, legally and socially. But hunger ramps up that impact another notch. Like physical pain, it is present in the body, experienced as part one’s very being. It is personal. Hunger is experienced as an intimate curse.
The damage hunger does to a person, particularly during the formative years, is usually invisible and often permanent. It results in medical, but more often mental, conditions, which leave the person at risk for addiction, unable to work, unable to take responsibility for themselves and their family. It often results in crime, which costs our country billions of dollars a year. The ravages of chronic hunger are dysfunction on many levels.
One in five children in our country is hungry, and yet 40 percent of restaurant meals go uneaten. This speaks to the fact that hunger is not necessary. This problem is not caused by a lack of resources, but rather by a lack of concern, a lack of education, a lack of motivation to solve the problem. Or, perhaps, just a lack of awareness on the part of caring people.
Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt and Rep. William Lacy Clay need to be urged to keep food stamps at a level that will feed hungry Americans. Congress is indebted to the rich for their financial contributions but since the poor can’t make contributions, nor even do they very often vote, there is no such obligation to their poor constituents. And why do the poor not vote? If I am burdened with two or three part-time jobs, taking public transportation, worrying about food and the heating bill, worrying about my children’s safety in a dangerous neighborhood and their lack of education in a dangerous school, voting is not really high on my agenda.
Visit a website such as stlfoodbank.org, and while you’re there, sign up to make a small donation each month. Every dollar you contribute will translate into $22 in food and services for a hungry person. That’s because the staff people in poverty agencies know how to get food at a discount, how to buy not-perfect but very edible food, how to access dented cans that contain perfectly good food and how to use your donation to approach an individual or corporation for a matching grant.
It is said that grateful people live happier lives. Therefore, let’s be grateful for what we have and show it by giving our share. There is a prayer that goes, in part, "Thank you for food in a world where there is hunger." Instead, let’s pray "Thank you for ending hunger in our community." Then, let’s do it.
As fast-food employees and workers in the retail sector began to call for higher wages and better working conditions during the summer of 2013, members of Women's Voices paid attention. After a great deal of research on both issues, WV member Judy Arnold authored a position paper that was overwhelming approved by our membership. We believe that changes in government economic policies are needed to stop the erosion of the middle class and to provide all citizens the opportunity to work and to earn a living wage that allows them to meet basic needs for food, housing, education, and health care. For several decades government policies have disproportionately benefited the wealthy and powerful while reducing middle-class families' income.
The strikes and demonstrations that occurred this summer, plus President Obama's call for a raise in the federal minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to about $9.00, have highlighted the income disparity between the highest paid Americans and the rest of us. Two policy changes in particular can begin to correct this disparity and help all Americans: raising the minimum wage and protecting workers' right to organize and bargain collectively. Click here to read the rest of our position on economic justice.
March 27 - 7:00 p.m.
Three Counties Out: Guns and the Heartland Movie and panel discussion
Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar
Sponsored by Moms Demand Action
Expect to find more fellow travelers packing more than bags for the airport this year, as more guns than ever are turning up at T.S.A. checkpoints. In 2013, we had another record year. Last year, 1,813 firearms (1,477 of them loaded) were found in passengers' carry-on bags at T.S.A. checkpoints."
Joe Sharkey, The New York Times, 1.28.14
Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down Awards
to the state of Texas, where overly-strict new regulations on abortion clinics have made legal abortion unavailable in the poorest part of the state.
to Facebook, which has agreed to delete posts from users who are seeking to buy or sell guns illegally or without a background check.
to Kwame Mensah, who teaches life skills and GED classes in the Bridges to Success program in the St. Louis County jail. Mensah was profiled in an article in the Feb. 26 issue of the St. Louis American.
to the Missouri Catholic Conference, whose members have endorsed Medicaid expansion in Missouri.
to the Governor of Washington state, who has suspended the use of the death penalty in the state in an effort to "join a growing national conversation about capital punishment."
to municipal and state officials throughout the country who are attempting to enact progressive reforms as a way to bypass the gridlocked Congress.
on Missouri HB 1099, which, if passed, would make Missouri a "right to work" state and result in stripping workers of their rights.
to Missourians to End Poverty, a new statewide coalition of more than 20 organizations that are working to reduce poverty in the Show-Me state.
to hundreds of gun owners in Connecticut, who registered their assault rifles and high-capacity magazines with state authorities before the Jan. 1 deadline.
to Federal Judge William M. Skretny, who ruled that New York's strict new gun laws, including an expanded ban on assault weapons, were constitutional.
to Kirkwood resident Dick Reeves, who saluted Women's Voices as a group of "brave and good women who speak out for decency, kindness and wisdom" in the Readers' edition of Fair or Foul in the Jan. 1 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
to the Newtown Action Alliance and supporters, who are planning to honor victims of gun violence by performing acts of kindness and service in the days prior to the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings.
to thousands of fast-food workers and their supporters across the country, who went on strike on Dec. 5 to call for fair wages for their work.
to the state of Vermont for approving a statewide single payer healthcare system.
to the U. S. Senate for changing its rules to allow nominations to go forward on a majority vote.
to St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Beacon, who will be combining their newsrooms to improve the delivery of independent local news in the St. Louis area.
to Gov. Jay Nixon, who issued an executive order granting all legally married couples who live in Missouri the ability to file joint state taxes.
to the League of Women Voters, whose members are speaking out to protect the health and safety of citizens by limiting the availability and regulating the ownership of handguns and semi-automatic weapons.
to new Federal regulations that will require health insurance companies to cover mental illness and substance abuse just as they cover physical diseases.
to voters in Sunnyvale, CA, who approved four city ordinances related to gun safety and controls on ammunition sales.
to the Missouri Supreme Court, which has denied survivor benefits to the same-sex partner of a highway patrolman who was killed while on duty.
to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who is proposing to rescind the waiver Missouri currently receives that provides SNAP benefits to more than 58,000 low-income Missourians.
to Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, who has gone on record as saying that it was a mistake for House Republicans to have forced a government shutdown unless the health insurance program was repealed.
to everyone in Washington, DC, who is responsible for the government shutdown.
to Missouri State Representative Brian Nieves, who plans to raffle off an assault rifle at a fund-raising event.
to the Circuit Court judges, who voted to reject an innovative proposal that would establish a gun-crime court in St. Louis
to Moms Demand Action, whose members launched a successful campaign which forced Starbucks to announce that they will no longer allow guns in their stores or on their property.
to voters in Colorado, who recalled two state senators because of their votes on common-sense gun control measures in the state.
to members of the Missouri legislature, who sustained the Governor's veto of a tax bill which would have resulted in severe cuts to education and social services.
to members of the Missouri Senate, who refused to override the Governor's veto of a gun bill that was described as "the worst gun bill in the country".
President Barack Obama, who has removed a 17-year ban on funding for research on gun violence by instructing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to step up its support for research into the causes of gun violence and ways to prevent it.
to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has ordered a new approach in the federal prosecution of many low-level drug offenders, which will greatly reduce the nation's prison population.
to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which has published a series of articles and editorials about the economic and political evils of the payday loan industry.
to Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban, who addressed the United Nations and called for peace, tolerance and compulsory education for all children.
to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who vetoed HB 436, which has been called "the worst gun bill in the country."
to the St. Louis American newspaper, which was recognized as the 2013 Publication of the Year for the largest newspaper class by the National Newspaper Publishers Assn.
to Gov. Jay Nixon for vetoing SB 29, which was seen as a precursor to making Missouri a "right-to-work" state by hindering public employees' efforts to organize and bargain collectively.
to the U.S. Supreme Court for striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and for dismissing California's Prop 8, which means gay marriage will continue to be legal in California.
to the U.S. Supreme Court for declaring unconstitutional Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, a provision that has been a key protection against racial discrimination in voting.
to Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, who filibustered for 13 hours to stop a bill that would have dramatically restricted women's access to abortion services in Texas.
to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who has vetoed HB 253, a massive tax cut scheme that would jeopardize funding for education and social services in the state.
to a new law in California, which requires all semi-automatic handguns to be equipped with technology that stamps its identifying information on bullet casings. Read more here.
to Kirkwood Mayor Art McDonnell, who, after prompting by members of Women's Voices, signed on to Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
to the state of Minnesota, which became the third state in the month of May to legalize same-sex marriage.
to the brave low-wage workers who went on strike in St. Louis May 9 to demand a living wage, and to the advocates for economic justice who supported them.
to the state of California, which enacted a law to speed up the confiscation of firearms from people who bought them legally but were later disqualified because of a conviction for a violent crime, a finding of mental illness, or a restraining order for domestic violence.
to the state of Maryland where lawmakers repealed the death penalty, making it the sixth state in six years to abolish capital punishment.