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THE VERMONT COMMISSION ON WOMEN (VCW)
Acts as advisor and information source for legislative and executive branches and other policy makers on issues affecting women
Serves as an educational resource by conducting research, producing publications, and coordinating conferences and workshops
Brings together diverse groups and engages in partnerships to consider issues of interest to women and take action
Provides the most local and most appropriate information and referrals to the public on matters related to women and families
Selected by multiple appointing authorities, Commissioners come from all parts of the state and across the political spectrum. Commissioners bring multiple perspectives to decision-making: as women with family responsibilities, as workers often in the lowest paying jobs, as employers and business owners. The Commission is a deliberative body, and decisions are adopted by majority vote. Learn more about what we do, our work and who we are.
NEW: Workplace Laws Employees and Employers Need To Know
These flyers are part of a public information campaign to educate both employers and workers in Vermont about their rights and responsibilities under the new equal pay law.
Starting in January 2014, workers in Vermont will have the right to request flexible working arrangements without fear of retaliation. Those intermediate or long-term changes might include working from home, changes in the number of days or hours worked, changes in work arrival or departure times or job-sharing. Employers must discuss and consider such requests at least twice per calendar year. Other information incorporated includes current equal pay laws, how to handle suspected pay discrimination, wage disclosure laws, pregnant worker’s rights, lactation accommodations, anti-retaliation protection, and information concerning family and medical leave. Additionally, the flyer targeted to employers features an equal pay audit - a checklist to help employers review fair pay policy and procedures, and also case studies illustrating how Vermont businesses implement flexible working arrangements. The flyer targeted to workers includes a section on what to do if you suspect pay discrimination. Each flyer includes additional resources to learn more or get help.
JOIN our Vermont Information Exchange for Women (VIEW) network, a community calendar for women. Read the lastest VIEW messages:
November 22nd (PDF file, 35 KB)
November 6th (PDF file, 63 KB)
October 31st (PDF file, 75 KB)
October 25th (PDF file, 75 KB)
October 16th (PDF file, 76 KB)
October 1st (PDF file, 73 KB)
September 27th (PDF file, 52 KB)
September 20th (PDF file, 23 KB)
September 9th (PDF file, 79 KB)
September 5th (PDF file, 15 KB)
September 3rd (PDF file, 32 KB)
August 22nd (PDF file, 80 KB)
August 9th (PDF file, 64 KB)
July 25th (PDF file, 39 KB)
July 1st (PDF file, 63 KB)
June 25th (PDF file, 17 KB)
June 20th (PDF file, 39 KB)
June 10th (PDF file, 17 KB)
June 5th (PDF file, 39 KB)
May 24th (PDF file, 48 KB)
May 16 (PDF file, 57 KB)
May 3 (PDF file, 71 KB)
April 24 (PDF file, 25 KB)
Since 1977, The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont has been a “go to” source of information for Vermont women, their families, and the professionals that serve them. This handbook, written in plain language covers issues affecting all Vermonters, such as marriage and divorce, adoption, wills and probate, women’s health, employment and education, housing and public accommodations, violence, public assistance and government benefits, insurance, as well as others. New features of our latest update (January ‘12) include information on human trafficking, same sex marriage, and immigration, as well as links to our online resource directory and to federal and state statute websites. The result is a reader-friendly document with easy-access reference links. Listen to our radio public service announcement, check out the handbook and let us know what you think! Thanks to students at Vermont Law School, Spanish language editions of many chapters of the newly updated Legal Rights of Women in Vermont handbook are now available!
On Tuesday May 14th Governor Shumlin signed into law a bill strengthening protections for Vermont workers around a number of issues, most notably for equal pay. The law includes provisions for equal pay; protections for employees who ask coworkers what they are paid; certification of compliance of government contractors with Vermont’s equal pay laws; protections for new mothers who must express breast milk for their babies at work; protections for employees to request flexible work arrangements; and establishment of a study committee looking at the mechanics of a paid family leave law in Vermont. Cary Brown, VCW's Executive Director and member of the diverse coalition of groups that worked together on this legislation observed, “This law provides a wealth of tools for addressing inequities in pay and working conditions, and is a huge benefit to working families in Vermont. It strengthens and clarifies existing laws ensuring equal pay for equal work, increases the accountability of state contractors, and creates new protections for workers who discuss wages. This law makes Vermont the first state in the country to guarantee employees’ right to request flexible working arrangements, supporting both men’s and women’s participation in work and family responsibilities.” State agencies, including the Attorney General’s office, the Human Rights Commission and the Vermont Commission on Women, will be working together on a public information campaign targeted at workers and employers to let them know about the new law’s provisions. Read VCW's press release (PDF file, 55 KB). Read the fact sheet about Act 31, An Act Relating to Equal Pay (PDF file, 139 KB)
The first of its kind in the nation, the Governor's Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force was created in 2011 to evaluate Vermont’s domestic and sexual violence prevention resources and programs, identify gaps in services, identify ways to increase coordination of prevention efforts around the state, and make recommendations to enhance and improve prevention efforts in Vermont.
Task Force membership included appointees from business, law enforcement, corrections, health, the LGBTQ community, women’s rights (a staffer from the Vermont Commission on Women), the disability community, and experts in the field of child abuse and neglect and domestic and sexual violence. The group was chaired by Bethany Pombar, Prevention Specialist at the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the umbrella organization for Vermont’s domestic violence and rape crisis shelters and centers. The Task Force was diverse in expertise and perspective but all members had in common real world contact with violence survivors and a commitment to exploring what might help reduce violence in Vermont.
Workgroups of the taskforce examined data collection, college campus prevention efforts, workplace approaches, men’s attitudes, military practices, effective social change campaigns and prevention practices currently in place. The report features 7 recommendations:
1. Support the creation and implementation of a comprehensive statewide plan to prevent domestic and sexual violence
2. Support and help develop a statewide, multipronged prevention campaign
3. Build capacity for bystander engagement strategies for all ages
4. Increase the engagement of men in domestic and sexual violence prevention
5. Strengthen Vermont college campuses’ response to prevention of domestic and sexual violence
6. Enhance data collection and accessibility
7. Establish a Violence Prevention Program Coordinator at the State level
View the Governor’s press release about the report.
View the report. (PDF 3.17 MB) Note – the table of contents on page 2 allows viewers to link to specific sections.
Watch news story about the report on ABC 22/FOX 44 News
Equal Pay Act Case Decision
Press Release: (MONTPELIER, June 13, 2013) – Federal District Court Judge William Sessions has issued a decision in Dreves v. Hudson News late yesterday, the first case implicating Vermont's Equal Pay law… (PDF file, 32 KB)
Read the Court's Decision (PDF file, 87 KB)
Background: On March 19th a hearing took place in US District Court in the first case interpreting the Vermont Equal Pay Act of 2002. The Vermont Commission on Women was joined by numerous national and state organizations and public policy leaders in educating the court on the enduring problem of gender based wage discrimination and urging it to interpret Vermont's law to provide broad remedy to victims of such discrimination. Vermont Law School students lead by professor Cheryl Hanna crafted this amicus brief (PDF file, 316 KB) which explains why Vermont’s Equal Pay Act is important, why and how wage discrimination continues to take place, and how this legal remedy should function for Vermont women.
VCW In the News - Equal Pay
In NY Times: The Unspoken Stigma of Workplace Flexibility
On Vermont Public Radio: New Law Addresses Equal Pay For Women
In Times Argus: Vermont takes lead in closing wage gap
On CBS: Cary Brown on WCAX’s The :30 on Monday 6/17: http://www.wcax.com/story/22614653/vt-commission-on-women-explains-equal-pay-battles
Bill Dolye on Vermont Issues via Orca Media: http://vp.telvue.com/preview?id=T01221&video=158416
On Mark Johnson Show: May 17th show on equal pay is now in podcast at: http://blog.markjohnsonshow.net/2013/06/10/51713-comedy-festequal-pay-law.aspx
Vermont Woman features VCW's legislative wrap up piece (in this month’s edition): http://vermontwoman.com/articles/2013/0613/equalpaylaw/eyesofceres.html
In Rutland Herald: http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20130614/THISJUSTIN/130619949
VCW in partnership with the University of Vermont Women's and Gender Studies program, gathered a diverse group of professionals for a panel discussion concerning paid sick days for Vermont workers at UVM on April 22nd. A broad conversation took place about Vermont’s current labor practices around paid time off policies, the dynamics of Vermont’s employers and labor force, and the issue of paid sick and safe days from a policy perspective. Kristin Carlson of WCAX TV facilitated the discussion. Welcome was provided by Cary Brown the Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women. An introduction to the topic was provided by UVM’s Dr. Felicia Kornbluh, Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program, Associate Professor of History and also a VCW Commissioner. Panelists included: Representative Johannah Donovan of Burlington, Chair of the Vermont House Committee on Education; Dr. Elaine McCrate Associate Professor of Economics and Women’s and Gender Studies at UVM, Ellen Bravo Executive Director of the national Family Values at Work Coalition, Dan Barlow of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Lindsay DesLauriers of the Vermont Paid Sick Days Coalition. The Commission is grateful to our host for this event, the UVM Women's and Gender Studies Program. Learn more. (PDF file, 43 KB)
VCW’s Advisory Council member Vermont Works for Women’s (VWW) "Enough Said” report revealed that many young women across our state consider themselves ill-equipped and under-prepared for the challenges of school, work, career, economic independence, and adulthood - absolutes that await them in the not-to-distant future. "Enough Said - Young Women Talk about School, Work and Becoming Adults: Why We Should Listen and What We Can Do" incorporates national research and references best practices. It is the result of in-depth interviews, surveys, and listening to more than 210 young women and girls, ages 15-25, from 28 communities, Brattleboro to St. Johnsbury, the majority from families of limited financial means. VCW is a member of VWW’s Taskforce on Young Women and the Economy and looks forward to making positive change for Vermont’s girls.
VCW and the Vermont Historical Society's Vermont Women’s History Project team up every year to mark March as Women’s History Month.
The next Women’s History Month event will take place at noon, Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 in the auditorium of the Pavilion building on State Street in Montpelier, with reception to follow in the Snelling room of the history museum, on the first floor. Again, we’re teaming up with the Vermont Historical Society's Vermont Women’s History Project, this time presenting a panel discussion on women artists and artisans which corresponds with the History Expo 2014 theme.
Vermont Women in Journalism took place March 26th at the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier. A wall-to-wall crowd, including journalism students, enjoyed the lively, humorous and sometimes poignant panel discussion, which included Anne Galloway of Vermont Digger, Nina Keck of Vermont Public Radio, Kristin Carlson of WCAX – Channel 3, and Terri Hallenbeck of the Burlington Free Press, along with dynamic moderator Rickey Gard Diamond of Vermont Woman. Historian Marilyn Blackwell provided context and set the stage with detailed stories of women who blazed this trail. Panelists responded to questions like: What inspired you to go into journalism? Were there any female role models that paved the way? Do you see more women rising to leadership roles than you did when starting out? Have you ever felt the glass ceiling in journalism, and if so, do you think that’s changed during your time in the profession? Special thanks to event sponsors and to all who attended! ORCA Media, Montpelier area’s community access television station filmed the event . Vermont Public Radio runs a commentary series in conjunction with the women's history month theme, spearheaded by historian and writer Cyndy Bittinger. Stay tune for news on next year's event - taking place March 12th in Montpelier.
Last year's event focused on women in the field of law and featured a panel discussion, Women of Change: Making Strides in Women’s Legal Rights in the 70s and 80s, led by Vermont Law School Professor Cheryl Hanna. The expert panel included Sandy Baird, Esquire; Senator Peg Flory; the Honorable Denise Johnson; and Mary Just Skinner, Esquire. The audience learned about how the battle for women’s names to appear in the phonebook was won; what it was like to be one of the first 100 female lawyers in practice; what influenced decisions to run for public office; and what it’s like to serve and represent women, particularly survivors of domestic violence. This event coincided with the release of the VCW’s 6th edition of The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont, a handbook to help the layperson understand legal rights and responsibilities under state and federal law. VCW would like to thank the Action Circles team for capturing this discussion in a video. Vermont Public Radio presented a week-long commentary series in collaboration with the Commission and the Project – link and listen here.
2011's event Honored and Acknowledged the Military Service of Vermont Women from World War II to Present and shared the stories of Vermont women veterans from WWII to Afghanistan.
Equal Pay Day was Tuesday April 9th - the symbolic day when women's earnings catch up to men's from the previous year. It takes an extra three months thanks to the 23-percent wage gap in the U.S. Vermont does a bit better, but our wage gap is still about 16-percent. VCW and Business and Professional Women joined legislators and a huge group of Girls on the Run girls at the signing of the 2013 Equal Pay Day proclamation. Legislators received Equal Pay Buttons attached to a coupon for 16% off all goods and services for working Vermont women. The other side of the coupon reads: "April 9, 2013 symbolizes how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned the previous year. In Vermont, women earn 84 cents for every man’s dollar. Equal pay can make a difference in whether families can afford healthcare, child care, higher education, and a secure retirement." What can you do about the wage gap? Read our Equal Pay Brochure (PDF file, 65 KB)
Our Women in Public Life Report features a historical look at women lawmakers in Vermont and also women serving on state Boards and Commissions. Vermont currently ranks second in the nation for the percentage of women serving in the legislature, with a total of 40.6%. Colorado is first at 42%. Serving on a boards or commissions is often a stepping stone to elected office, and where many Vermonters first learn about running and participating in public meetings. Currently, of Vermont’s 227 boards and commissions, 95 (or 42%) are gender balanced. Read Vermont Women in Public Life (PDF file, 317 KB)
We've recently updated Vermont Workplaces Support Nursing Moms (PDF file, 1.17 MB), information for women returning to the workforce after having a baby and for their employers. In addition, VCW partnered with Vermont's Breastfeeding Network and the Department of Health to offer free help to all Vermont businesses welcoming back their new working moms. Vermont workplaces need lower health care costs, lower turnover rates, lower absenteeism rates, and higher employee productivity and morale. How to get them? Lactation support!
VCW presented a listening forum focused on issues affecting teen girls in Bennington County in partnership with Bennington County Maternal Child Health Coalition in late 2012. Participants included young women, parents and community members working in the fields of medicine, social services, education, law enforcement and public policy. VCW uses the information gathered at Listening Forums to inform our work on behalf of women and families in Vermont and to share with policy makers and various state and community organizations to strengthen and inform programming and services. Read notes from the Bennington listening forum. (PDF file, 78 KB)
Read the white paper, Reclaiming Lost Ground for Vermont's Incarcerated Women. VCW took part in this collaborative effort to improve conditions for women inmates at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility.
The Vermont Commission on Women is part of the state's Human Trafficking Taskforce which has worked on several meaningful projects over the last few years, including in 2011, legislation (Title 13, Chapter 60: Human Trafficking), and most recently a Crisis Response Protocol, just released this month. The document, the Vermont Human Trafficking Crisis Response Protocol, provides instructions and information for anyone in Vermont that may have contact with potential victims of sex or labor trafficking. This would be Vermonters working in law enforcement, medicine, social services, education and clergy, but also neighbors, friends and concerned citizens. Find the Vermont Human Trafficking Crisis Response Protocol here.
View VCW's Budget for Fical Year (FY) 2014 (PDF file, 399 KB)
Domestic violence doesn't stay home when victims go to work. It can impact productivity, increase absentee rates, and increase the chance of violence in the workplace. VCW worked with the Vermont Attorney General's office, the Vermont Council on Domestic Violence and other advocates to address domestic violence as a public health and safety issue in the workplace.
Domestic Violence: A Workplace Issue (Brochure, PDF file, 77 KB)
Full Report of 2011 Study: How Does Domestic Violence Affect the Vermont Workplace? A survey of male offenders enrolled in batterer intervention programs in Vermont
(Study, PDF file, 1.2 MB) Schmidt, M.C. & Barnett, A. M.C. & Barnett, A. (2011). Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Center for Rural Studies
Executive Summary of Study
(PDF file, 58 KB) Schmidt, M.C. & Barnett, A. M.C. & Barnett, A. (2011). Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Center for Rural Studies
Model Workplace Policy (PDF file, 41 KB)
Vermont Girls Collaborative Forums -Moderated by Vermont Public Radio’s Jane Lindholm, these forums presented ideas for how to responsibly address racial equality, socioeconomic differences, gender identity and harassment when working with young Vermonters.
The Vermont Girls’ Collaborative is a network of programs for girls in grades K-12 across the state that works together to: leverage the power of girls’ programs through sharing resources, ideas, and relationships; promote girls’ well-being and social equity; expand the capacity of girls’ programs to meet the needs of Vermont girls. Collaborative members include: Vermont Commission on Women, AAUW-National Girls’ Collaborative Project, American Association of University Women, American Legion Auxiliary (Girls State), Burlington Boys and Girls Club, Center for Technology Essex, DREAM, Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, Girls Move Mountains, Girls on the Run, IBM-Women in Technology, Rosie’s Girls Bennington, Rosie’s Girls Rutland, Tech Savvy Girls, Vermont Equity Training & Consulting, The Vermont Women’s Fund, VINS, Kids-A-Part, Vermont Works for Women, Women Writing for (a) Change and YWCA Vermont.
Got questions about equal pay, legal rights, starting a new business, sexual harassment, planning for maternity leave? Our publications address topics like these and many more!
Read VCW's agency brochure
The Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity produces this helpful guide: "What Should Happen When Your Child Reports Harassment"
Don’t know where to go for help? Try our resource directory, from aging and elder issues to legal support to transportation – over 200 pages of Vermont-based organizations.
Did you know Vermont men with just a high school degree make about the same as Vermont women with a Bachelor’s degree? Learn more facts in our status report (PDF file, 735 KB)
Child Support in Vermont: A Handbook for Parents. Vermont’s Office of Child Support recently produced this informative handbook covering most aspects of child and medical support in Vermont. It includes chapters on establishing parentage, establishing support, modifying support, paying support, enforcing support orders, and getting support while receiving public assistance.
The Vermont Council on Domestic Violence’s Biennial Report (PDF file, 1.31 MB) provides an overview of the routine functions, special projects, and ongoing collaborations of the Council and its members. In addition, the report highlights the State’s adoption of a Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Policy, important data and information related to Vermont’s response to domestic violence, and recommendations related to protection orders, firearm relinquishment, homicide reduction efforts, intervention programs related to fathering, supervised visitation services, community task force support, workplace policies, and more.
Read the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission Report 2013. The Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission collects data and conducts in-depth reviews of domestic violence related fatalities in Vermont with the goal of making policy recommendations to prevent future tragedies. This is the 11th commission report and includes data regarding fatalities for 2012 and updates the statistical information that dates back to 1994.
Starting or expanding your Vermont business? Ask us for our business resource listing.
The Vermont Historical Society now provides a permanent home for the Vermont Women's History Project Started by the Vermont Commission on Women (VCW) in 2004, the site is a database of individual women searchable by geographical area, time period, area of significance or influence, etc. In addition, the site features historical background information and links to places in Vermont where users can find additional information about the particular woman or topic.
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