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January 30, 2017

counterculture poster

The 1970s saw incredible advancements in public engagement with, and recognition of, women’s rights. This flowering of second-wave feminism had a far-reaching impact on American society. What was it like for women who participated in the counterculture during that time? What challenges did they face, and what opportunities did they find? How was women’s experience in Vermont unique, and what did it share with the rest of the country?  How does it relate to the current generation of young women?  Bring your ideas, questions, and thoughts for a far-reaching roundtable conversation reflecting on the past and its connections to the present.

In our annual partnership with the Vermont Historical Society (VHS) to honor Women's History Month (March), Vermont Commission on Women will present this free evening roundtable discussion, "Women of the Counterculture Movement in 1970’s Vermont" at Goddard College’s Haybarn Theater.  Wednesday, March 15 at 7:00 pm.

This event will be moderated by director of the VT Commission on Women, Cary Brown and will feature Bridget Downey-Meyer, Louise Andrews, Melinda Moulton and Verandah Porche, reflecting on what brought them into this movement, what their experience was like, and what lasting impact it’s had on their own lives and on Vermont society.  Enjoy stories of this time, and learn through the lens of these women who took part.

Bridget Downey-Meyer – was a member of the Mount Philo Inn from 1969 to 1973, a collective in Charlotte, VT.  Her experience includes working with draft resisters to cross into Canada, the establishment of the People's Free Clinic, and alternative schooling with an emphasis on experiential learning for children.

Louise Andrews – was a member of Earthworks, a commune in Franklin, VT and worked on their alternative newspaper.  She participated in women’s conferences and consciousness-raising during this time, and grew as a femininist.  She learned about working with animals and growing, producing and eating healthy food while at Earthworks, as well as participating in Unity Players, a political street theatre group.

Melinda Moulton – while working at Harvard with Dr. James Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA helix and father of the Human Genome Project, Melinda joined in the antiwar and civil rights protests of the time.  She met her future husband and eventually moved into a tent in Huntington, Vermont in 1972, and lived with her infant and partner with no running water, no phone, no TV until they built their own stone house, inspired by Helen and Scott Nearing.  She collected 36 truckloads of stone with a baby on her back.  Fast forward to the early 80’s:  She provided the leadership to produce a 25-year incremental redevelopment project for Burlington’s waterfront and pioneered new concepts in environmental and socially conscious redevelopment.

Verandah Porche - after graduating from Boston University in 1968 she founded a commune in Guilford Vermont called Total Loss Farm with friends, where she still lives.  She’s published three books of poetry, The Body's Symmetry, Glancing Off, and Sudden Eden.  Maintaining a focus on conversation and exchange of ideas, it’s now called Monteverdi Artists and is a haven and home for artists and writers, as well as exhibition and event spaces for writers, visual artists, theatrical productions, and readings.

Plan to join us that evening, and in the meantime, check out VHS’ multi-year research project on this influential decade in Vermont: http://vermonthistory.org/research/vermont-1970s.

January 30, 2017

View highlights from the study here.
View the full study here.
The Vermont Commission on Women received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau to study the feasibility of a paid family and medical leave program in Vermont. This study was conducted by IMPAQ International, in partnership with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the UVM’s Center for Rural Studies, and Lake Research Partners and completed in 2016.  Elements of the study included: a cost-benefit analysis; financing, eligibility, and benefit modeling; an implementation feasibility analysis and public opinion surveying; an economic-impact analysis and profiles of families; and both a survey and focus groups of Vermont employers.  We hope the findings enrich and inform policy conversations.

January 13, 2017

Sneak preview of leadership report from Change The Story

Our 8th biennial legislative lunch took place at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Montpelier on Wednesday, January 11th, 2017.  This event is sponsored by donations to the Vermont Commission on Women Education and Research Foundation.

This year’s event featured an address by newly-elected Vermont Governor Phil Scott.  Governor Scott thanked VCW, “…for the great work they’re doing to educate us on the status of women in our state and push for changes in how we think and act in our own daily lives.”  He spoke about the need to close the gender wage gap, “I’m proud that here in Vermont gender inequality and the wage gap is not as extreme as it is throughout the rest of the country, but inequality, and any gap at all, is unacceptable. This is an issue of fairness that must be addressed by leaders at all levels in business and in government.”  Governor Scott went on to focus on supports for our state’s working women, “Supporting women in the workforce is about more than equal pay.  Policymakers and businesses in general should also identify other ways to make it easier for women to join the workforce: flexible work schedules, telecommuting, and more accessible affordable quality child care.  And I understand this last point (child care) is a major barrier, sometimes affecting decisions about leadership roles and work schedules, while ultimately results in lower pay.”

VCW’s Chair, Marcia Merrill welcomed attendees, introducing the Commission to new policy makers and elected officials, and reminding those who were re-elected of our resources and focus. Marcia stated, “While women’s participation in the economy is strong, there are improvements yet-to-be made and barriers yet-to-be removed to facilitate full and equal access to economic security in our state.  We are very much looking forward to collaborating with you in this effort.”

VCW Executive Director Cary Brown highlighted a “sneak preview” of data on Vermont women in leadership from research currently being conducted through Change The Story VT, a multi-year initiative by the Commission, the Vermont Women’s Fund, and Vermont Works for Women.  The “sneak preview” heralds Vermont as a national leader in gender parity among state legislatures, with the highest percentage of women legislators, as well as women in many leadership positions.  Read the sneak preview here The document includes the unfortunate fact that just one woman currently holds statewide elective office, and that Vermont is one of only two states that have never sent a woman to serve in the U.S. Congress.  

Commissioner and pediatric nurse, Danielle Martel, closed the event by leading an interactive dialog about the women’s issues policymakers hearing about from constituents.  The subjects brought up by participants included equal pay for comparable work, salary negotiation, cultural repression of girls, women running for boards and commissions, improving revenues in VT by decreasing the wage gap, the need for state agencies and departments to collect gender disaggregated data, adequate and reliable retirement income, aging demographics increasing the numbers of women as unpaid caregivers, and the gender wage gap.

December 23, 2016

Mark your calendars: Wednesday evening, March 15th 7 pm at Goddard College in Plainfield

In our annual partnership with the Vermont Historical Society (VHS) to honor Women's History Month (March), we'll present this free evening roundtable discussion, "Women of the Counterculture Movement in 1970’s Vermont".  Many of the features that are today considered quintessentially Vermont – politics,  local food movements, offbeat culture – have origins in this period. Plan to join us that evening, and in the meantime, check out VHS’ multi-year research project on this influential decade in Vermont: http://vermonthistory.org/research/vermont-1970s.

October 28, 2016

Nearly 400 women from across New England attended this biennial gathering to discuss policy solutions that address inequality and help to close the wealth gap.

Participants learned about state and regional strategies to advance policies that can increase economic security for all women and their families, with a particular focus on low-wage workers and other vulnerable groups, as per the conference theme: “Expanding Opportunity and Building Equality for Women and Girls of Color.” 

Participants were treated to a keynote by historian, professor and former Chair of the U.S Commission on Civil Rights, Dr. Mary Frances Berry.  Featured speakers included Alison Quirk, the Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources and Citizenship Officer of State Street Corp., and a suprise personal appearence by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. 

Afternoon breakout sessions focused on research, policy and legislative approaches to five different issue areas identified by the Call to Action document created at the last conference:
Pay Equity
Workforce Development
Paid Family and Medical Leave
the Early Care and Education Workforce
the Elder Care Workforce

Recovery for All?  A Snapshot of Women’s Economic Status in New England:  Released at the Conference, this report compares and contrasts earnings data and explores policy solutions in VT and neighboring states.

The New England Women’s Policy Conference was hosted by: the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, in conjunction with Planning Committee members:
Vermont Commission on Women
Connecticut Commission on Women, Children and Seniors
Maine’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women
Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women
New Hampshire Women’s Foundation
Rhode Island Commission on the Status of Women
Women’s Fund of Rhode Island
Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts

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