More than 500 women from across California converged on the Sacramento Convention Center this week to participate in the California Women’s Policy Summit, sponsored by the California Center for Research on Women and Families (CCRWF). This year’s Summit “Advancing Women’s Health, Wealth & Power, sought to educate women on measures to:
- Decrease women’s poverty and promote economic opportunity
- Help working parents and other caregivers balance work and personal obligations
- Prevent human trafficking and violence against women and girls.
The day featured several panels of influential women (and men) working to achieve the conference visions and legislative leaders such as Sen. Holly Mitchell, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins who served as keynote speaker for the summit.
I think the most impressive thing about the day’s panels was the way panelists looped back to draw for listeners how each individual issue really overlapped to a greater challenge for women and children. It helped me understand that as advocates, we must work collectively on these issues so we can help lift up and bolster each other to achieve success.
For example, the first panel began with Jessica Bartholow of the Western Center on Law and Poverty, discussing Sen. Holly Mitchell’s legislation which would rescind the Maximum Family Grant (MFG) policy which denies CalWORKS assistance grants for new children born into families who have been receiving benefits in the 10 months before the baby is born. In essence, the MFG penalizes California’s babies for being born poor.
The second speaker, Mary Ignatius of Parent Voices, advocated for childcare subsidies, who was followed by Judy Patrick of the Women’s Foundation who spoke to raising the minimum wage. The panel ended with Ronald Coleman of the California Immigrant Policy who spoke to the misuse of the e-verify system.
In the wrap-up of this panel, speakers tied it all together:
- “These are the same women facing the same slap in the face at every door.”
- “Poverty is not a single issue and we need to stand together against it.”
Another major endeavor of the summit was promoting a new paid family leave awareness campaign with the hashtag #HowICare. While our state has one of the country’s few programs offering employees paid time off to have a baby, adopt or foster a new child or take care of sick family member, MOST CALIFORNIAS HAVE NO IDEA THESE BENEFITS ARE AVAILABLE TO THEM.
To educate folks on their rights, CCRWF and the California Work and Family Coalition, an alliance of community organization, unions and non-profits, has started the #HowICare campaign. A key Coalition resource is the the website http://paidfamilyleave.org/ to help educate workers understand the rights and benefits available to them.
Policy Speed Dating
A definite highlight of the Summit was a “speed dating” session with non-profits at the event! By speed dating, I mean all summit participants were invited to visit with 25 non-profit orgs (including PPAC!) to learn about the groups’ major policy initiatives for 2015. Each group had 10 minutes to give a quick presentation and at the sound of the gong, you changed tables for a new presentation.
PPAC's Presentation was about the importance of fully funding Medi-Cal - including restoring money cut in 2011 making up for federal money California lost when Congress stopped funding an enhanced primary care rate contained in the Affordable Care Act. By fully funding Medi-Cal, California can achieve the #HealthiestGeneration!
In action for California women,
Ana Sandoval at PPAC