News and Events

WOMEN AND 1970'S COUNTERCULTURE

Counterculture event

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 on 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.

 

PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE INSURANCE BILL

Pictures of Bill intro. with Cary Brown, Rep. Copeland-HanzasVCW's Cary Brown spoke at the introduction of H.196, bill proposing to create a Family Leave Insurance Program within the Department of Labor that will provide employees with 12 weeks of paid family leave and that will be funded by contributions from employers and employees. Cary's comments included findings from VCW's feasibility study:  “Women in Vermont are already lagging behind men in their earnings, part of the reason why this is true is because there’s a disproportionate expectation that women will be the ones who’ll take time off from work, take time out of the workforce in order to care for babies, children, aging parents, other family members. Just in general, women are taking on more of those responsibilities. Paid family and medical leave insurance is one way to help offset that disproportionality. This was why VCW sought and received a grant from US DOL to conduct a feasibility study. We came up with some interesting findings:  new moms with access to paid family leave work more hours, and return to work…They are 39 % less likely to rely on public assistance.  That would translate to up to $271,000 savings to Vermonters. Additionally, in Vermont we’d see a $277,000 savings in costs due to infants being born healthy…and if we had a program, between 2 and 3.4 million dollars Vermont families would save, due to reduced child care costs. We could see an estimated 1800 Vermonters elevated above the poverty threshold, who would otherwise be below.”

 

 

TAXATION OF FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS IN VT

Grocery store receiptIn the U.S., 47 states have a sales tax, and most of those apply the tax to the sale of feminine hygiene products.  Some states apply a luxury tax to these products.  Taxation of feminine hygiene products has garnered international attention in recent years, and Connecticut, New York, Illinois, and Canada passed legislation to exclude feminine hygiene products from tax in 2016.  In 2017, a number of states are considering bills that would do the same.  In Vermont, a bill (H.43) has been introduced that would add feminine hygiene products to the list of items excluded from sales tax.  Read VCW's fact sheet for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MINIMUM WAGE TESTIMONY

VCW was asked to testify on H.63 and H.93, bills address raising the minimum wage.  VCW's Executive Director Cary Brown provided information about how this legislation might impact women.  Read her testimony here.  A few data highlights from the testimony:
•  In Vermont, women working full-time are 1.3 times as likely as men to earn less than $10.10 an hour
•  Women in Vermont are over twice as likely as men to work in part-time jobs which are more likely to pay minimum wage.
•  A higher minimum wage is linked to smaller pay gaps between men and women.

In our February 8th meeting, VCW voted to become a member of the Vermont Raise the Wage Coalition.

 

 

COMMISSION ON WOMEN CELEBRATES 100TH SIGNER TO VERMONT EQUAL PAY COMPACT

Image with Sparkler to celebrate 100th signer

The Vermont Commission on Women’s Equal Pay Compact, a voluntary online pledge enabling Vermont-based employers to learn more about and to indicate a commitment to closing the gender wage gap, just celebrated an important milestone: the 100th employer to sign on.

“This project launched on Equal Pay Day 2015 to inform employers about practical steps they can take to eliminate the wage gap in their business and across Vermont.”  says Cary Brown, Vermont Commission on Women’s Executive Director.  “Legislation alone can’t fix this: employers are the key.  We provide consultation and a list of strategies employers can draw on, anything from quick and easy fixes, like enlisting diverse evaluators in the hiring process, to more complex ones, like creating flex time, job sharing, and telecommuting programs. The idea is to inspire positive change in employer practices.”

Seth Leonard, the Mayor of the City of Winooski, explains why they signed on to the Equal Pay Compact. "A commitment to equal pay policies makes us more competitive, allowing us to recruit and retain qualified people to government work. This is a process that requires a long-term commitment to both creating and maintaining a just compensation system. We are pleased to join in the Compact and work toward our goal of recognizing and rewarding all of our employees."

Kelly Walsh, advisor and recruiter to the project, continues.  “Vermont is chock full of socially responsible employers working hard to do all the right things for their employees, and this is a great way to spotlight and acknowledge those businesses.   For employers who want to attract and retain female employees, being listed on the Vermont Equal Pay Compact’s site is a public expression of support.”

The Equal Pay Compact is one way in which the Vermont Commission on Women works as a partner in Change The Story Vermont, along with Vermont Works for Women and the Vermont Women’s Fund. Change The Story is an initiative to align policy, program, and philanthropy to significantly improve women’s economic status in our state. For more information and to sign up for the Compact, please visit women.vermont.gov.

 

ACCOMMODATIONS FOR PREGNANT WORKERS

Pregnancy Accomodations ComixUnder current state and federal law, employees who are experiencing healthy, uncomplicated pregnancies are not entitled to receive workplace accommodations such as having access to water, access to a stool or a chair, longer or more frequent restroom breaks, or avoiding heavy lifting.  In January, 2017, a bill (H. 136) was introduced in the Vermont Legislature that would ensure healthy pregnant workers in Vermont receive reasonable workplace accommodations during their pregnancies. Since 2001, fifteen states have passed similar legislation and currently, more than ten states have similar bills pending. Read VCW's fact sheet for more information.

 

LELGISLATIVE LUNCH

Sneak Preview Previewed at our lunch!

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 participants brought up 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.

 

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 surprise personal appearance 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

 

REPORT: WOMEN'S BUSINESS OWNERSHIP AND THE VERMONT ECONOMY, FROM CHANGE THE STORY

Report # 3 from Change the Story - women's Business Ownership

Change The Story VT (CTS) revealed findings on the status of women-­owned businesses in Vermont in a keynote address to Women Business Owners Network fall conference participants October 19th. CTS Director Tiffany Bluemle, with Pat Heffernan and Laura Lind‐Blum of Research Partners, and Vermont Commission on Women’s Cary Brown unveiled Women's Business Ownership and the Vermont Economy. This report details both exciting opportunities and great success that owning a business holds for women, as well as barriers and challenges faced, with focus on latent potential.  Like CTS’s other reports, this one closes with questions, rather than recommendations in order to generate statewide conversations and deepen understanding.  Link here to read the report.

 

VERMONT FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE INSURANCE (FAMLI) COALITION LAUNCHES

The Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FaMLI) Coalition launched their campaign to establish a statewide family and medical leave insurance program October 19th at the Family Center of Washington County in Montpelier.

This program would allow Vermonters to have access to paid, job-protected leave.  This leave would cover time to bond with or care for a newborn, recover from a serious long-term illness or injury, or care for a family member with a serious long-term illness or injury. 

Speakers at the launch included:
Cary Brown, Vermont Commission on Women
Former Governor Madeleine Kunin
Sascha Mayer, Owner of Mamava
Claire Kendall, Co-Executive Director of the Family Center
Tara Hodgkins, Mother and Caregiver
Read more about the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FaMLI) Coalition here.
View a photo slideshow of the Coalition's launch on the Facebook page of the Family Center of Washington County or read press covereage of the launch here

 

BURLINGTON WOMEN’S FORUM LUNCH TIME PANEL - WOMEN IN POLITICS: AT THE PODIUM & BEHIND THE SCENES

October 14th was the date for a multi-partisan panel discussion about some of the different ways women decide to step into leadership. Panelists Addressed the Question, "What does it take to prepare, sustain and succeed on the campaign trail and in office?" Moderated by Cary Brown, Executive Director, Vermont Commission on Women.

 

VERMONT GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE FORUM ON WOMEN’S ISSUES

Vermont Commission on Women, the League of Women Voters of Vermont, and Vermont Federation of Business and Professional Women  hosted a Gubernatorial Candidate Forum on Women's Issues Forum moderated by Anne Galloway of VTDigger.org. Candidates attending were: Bill Lee, Liberty Union Party; Sue Minter, Democratic Party; and Phil Scott, Republican Party. Forum held at the Vermont State House, Montpelier, VT on Thursday, September 22, 2016. Link to forum press coverage here.  Watch the full event video above, from Vermont In Person. Link to the Forum's Facebook Event Page for more information. VIew the slideshow we developed for the event with candidate questions here.

Forum image

 

 

 

SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY'S 20TH ANNUAL WOMEN’S ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY CONFERENCE  

Always fabulous and always free, this day of inspiration for women of all ages and stages took place on Saturday, June 4th at Vermont Tech in Randolph. Keynote speaker this year was United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch.  Read her remarks here.  Sen. Leahy's remarks featured our Change The Story initiative (see video below) - read them here.  VCW's Cary Brown co-presented the workshop: Your Legal Rights in the Workplace with Julio Thompson of the Vermont Attorney General's Civil Rights Division, and Karen L. Richards of the Vermont Human Rights Commission, pictured below.

Julio, Cary and Karen

 

 

GOT 2 MINUTES? LEARN ABOUT CHANGE THE STORY VERMONT - WATCH THIS:

 

 

VERMONT WOMAN ARTICLE: CHANGING THE ECONOMIC STORY FOR VERMONT WOMEN

 Susan Ritz/Vermont Woman
Photo Credit: Susan Ritz

Read Susan Ritz's piece Changing the Economic Story for Vermont Women in the April/May edition of Vermont Woman.

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO KALI ADAMS

Link here to homeschooled student Kali Adams’ Dorothy Thompson: Finding the Truth.  This website, created by Miss Adams, won the Deborah Pickman Clifford Vermont Women’s History prize at this year’s Vermont History Day.  The prize, awarded through VCW's Education and Research Foundation, goes to the best project related to Vermont women in history at this annual event sponsored by the Vermont Historical Society.  Miss Adam's thesis statement begins:  "Journalist Dorothy Thompson wasn't afraid to write words she believed in. She was called the "First Lady of American Journalism" and the second most influential woman in America..." Dorothy Thompson: Finding the Truth also placed first in the senior individual website category and qualified for the National History Day competition.

 

 

EQUAL PAY DAY, TUESDAY, APRIL 12TH

Throughout the U.S., women's organizations observe Equal Pay Day each April, symbolizing how far into the new year the average American woman would have to work to earn what the average American man did in the previous year, due to the gender wage gap. Median annual income for women working full-time year-round in Vermont is $37,000.  That's $7,000 less than the median annual salary earned by men. This translates to a 16% wage gap in Vermont.
VCW, BPW, League members observe as House passes Equal Pay Day resolution
VCW, BPW, League members observe as House passes Equal Pay Day resolution

Upon opening of the day’s legislative session, House concurrent resolution 338 designating April 12, 2016 as Equal Pay Day in Vermont was read.   Lead sponsors were Representatives Burke, Gonzalez and Morris, and Senator Bray, and the reading was observed by advocates for equal pay dressed in red, symbolizing women being “in the red” due to the gender wage gap. Read the resolution here.  

(L to R) Cary Brown, Governor Shumlin, Tiffany Bluemle, Desiree Cerretani, Meg Smith
(L to R) Cary Brown, Governor Shumlin, Tiffany Bluemle, Desiree Cerretani, Meg Smith

At 11:00 a.m. Governor Peter Shumlin signed the Equal Pay Day proclamation in his ceremonial office. Read the proclmation here. This event included the presentation of a new report examining occupational segregation, the uneven distribution of labor across and within employment sectors by gender, its impact on women’s wages, and the link to Vermont’s economic vitality.  This new report, “Where Vermont Women Work…and Why It Matters” was developed by Change The Story VT, an initiative of three statewide organizations with longstanding focus on women’s economic well-being: the Vermont Commission on Women, the Vermont Women’s Fund and Vermont Works for Women.  Equal Pay Day speakers at the proclamation event wereTiffany Bluemle of Change The Story VT, Cary Brown of the Vermont Commission on Women, Desiree Cerretani, a young mechanical engineer at UTC Aerospace Systems, and Meg Smith of the Vermont Women’s Fund.  

report from Change The Story on occupational segregation in Vermont

Read Senator Sanders' Equal Pay Day statement here.  Read Senator Leahy's Equal Pay Day Statement here.

 

 

Flyer for salary negotiation workshop

VCW & NORWICH PRESENT AAUW'S START SMART SALARY NEGOTIATION WORKSHOP

In late April, the Vermont Commission on Women in collaboration with Norwich University’s Career and Internship Center presented  American Association of University Women’s Start Smart salary negotiation workshop to students. The Start Smart Facilitator was Lindsey Lathrop-Ryan of Change The Story Vermont. Student participant seating is limited. Learn more about the Start Smart program here.  This program was made possible by a grant from the New England Women's Policy Initiative through the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studeies at University of Massachusetts, Boston.

 

 

SEX, RACE & EMPOWERMENT IN THE 21st CENTURY CONFERENCE

This day-long conference on Friday, April 15th was hosted by Vermont Law School's Women's Law Group, Law Students for Reproductive Justice and the Vermont Commission on Women.  Sex, Race & Empowerment in the 21st Century offered an opportunity for participants to understand the impact of violence and the importance of providing legal and advocacy services to all survivors; and the importance of ensuring women's access to affordable and safe reproductive healthcare.  Presenters included Cary Brown of the VCW,  students and professors from VLS, staff from the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, The Pride Center of Vermont, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and many others! 

 

 

WOMEN OF THE LONG TRAIL: OUR 2016 WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH EVENT

Another standing room only women’s history month event, this time at the Green Mountain Club!  The pairing of Reidun Nuquist’s archival photos and stories brought to life the lives of women who hiked, built and now maintain the Long Trail.  Very special thanks Vermont Historical Society, our history month event collaborative partner for many years, and to Vermont Public Radio, for offering a corresponding themed commentary series for history month for many years - links to the history month commentaries:

Reidun Nuquist: Women of The Green Mt. Club for Women's History Month

Cara Clifford Nelson: Catherine Robbins Clifford for Women's History Month

Jeanie McIntyre: Sylvia Appleton for Women's History Month

Cyndy Bittinger: Caroline Crane Marsh for Women's History Month

Kathryn Stearns: Mary Lincoln Beckwith for Women's History Month

 

 VHS
Photo: From September 1927. Taken by Will D. Chandler of St. Albans. 3 Musketeers Hikers: Catherine Robbins, Hilda M. Kurth, and Kathleen Norris. Courtesy: VHS.

Kathleen Norris, Catherine Robbins and Hilda M. Kurth, also known as “The Three Musketeers” were the first women to hike the Long Trail end-to-end in 1927.  They became a national sensation and the most famous of many who have completed the country’s oldest long-distance footpath.  "Women of the Long Trail" was FREE thanks to co-sponsors Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Denis, Ricker & Brown, and Vermont Mutual Insurance, and made extra special by a donation of ice cream from Ben and Jerry's.  Read more about this event:
…from Vermont Historical Society
…from Green Mountain Club
…from Vermont Commission on Women
…from Seven Days

 

 

VCW Commissioners, Advisors and Staff Observe Signing of Paid Sick Days Bill 8/9/16

NEW LAW: PAID SICK DAYS

VCW's Commissioners, Advisors and staff watched from the House galley as Governor Shumlin signs into law Paid Sick Days on Wednesday, March 9th 2016.  VCW  provided testimony (see below) and support as a member of Vermont's Paid Sick Days Coalition.

 

 

VCW IN THE LEGISLATURE

Since our inception in 1964, the Commission has been called upon to provide information to the legislative and executive branches of state government on issues affecting women.  VCW testified on these bills in the 2016 session: 

S.15/ H.187 - AN ACT RELATING TO ABSENCE FROM WORK FOR HEALTH CARE AND SAFETY (Paid Sick Days).  Link to testimony in Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs here, and 2015 session testimony in the House here and Senate here.

H.808 - AN ACT RELATING TO ACCOMMODATIONS FOR PREGNANT EMPLOYEES.  Link to VCW testimony in House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs here.

H.620 - AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH INSURANCE AND MEDICAID COVERAGE FOR CONTRACEPTIVES. Link to VCW testimony in House Committee on Health Care here.

H.773 - AN ACT RELATING TO CLASSIFICATION OF EMPLOYEES AND INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS. House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development link to bill here.

FY2017 GOVERNOR'S PROPOSED STATE BUDGET.  Link to VCW testimony in House Appropriations Committee here.

 

 


WOMEN, POVERTY & JUSTICE: ADDRESSING HOMELESSNESS AND PROMOTING FINANCIAL SECURITY FOR WOMEN IN VERMONT

This standing room only event took place Monday, March 7th and featured Dolly Fleming, Executive Director of Mercy Connections, moderating a panel of experts speaking on the unique challenges of homelessness to women in Vermont:

Jan Demers, Executive Director, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity
Kirby Dunn, Executive Director, HomeShare Vermont
Rita Markley, Executive Director, Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS)
Karen Richards, Executive Director, Vermont Human Rights Commission
Jean Wolfe, Customer Service Associate, Dot's Market

Hosted by: Main Street Landing

Sponsored by: Vermont Commission on Women. In Partnership with: Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, Change The Story VT, Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS), Hunger Free Vermont, Main Street Alliance, Mercy Connections, Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, Vermont Legal Aid, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Vermont Women’s Fund, Vermont Works for Women, Vermont Human Rights Commission, and Voices for Vermont’s Children. 

Link here for more info. 

 

 

CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT SYMPOSIUM

VCW staff enjoyed participating as a resource fair presenter at this exciting second annual event.  The Symposium was presented by the College's Women's Empowerment Initiative, which aims to cultivate confidence and courage by fostering the achievements of women. It strives to empower current and future leaders, and to provide learning, networking, and recognition opportunities for students, staff and faculty. Keynote speaker was Moni Basu, CNN Senior Reporter, preceded by an inspiring panel discussion and breakout sessions with Vermont women leaders, Rachael Arnold, Kate Wiliams, Rep. Diana Gonzalez, Christine Hallquist, and Linda Tarr-Whelan.  Learn more here.

 

Change the Story Vermont logo

PODCAST: CHANGE THE STORY ON OPEN MIKE

Click here for the podcast of "Open Mike," WDEV AM/FM's public affairs program featuring VCW's Executive Director, Cary Brown and Change The Story VT Director Tiffany Bluemle explaining what this project means for Vermont women and girls!

WATCH WCAX'S TV'S THE :30: SALARY NEGOTIATION

Click to view Women, Work and Unequal Wages in Vermont with VCW's Cary Brown addressing salary negotiation and Change the Story's Women, Work and Wages report (below) on WCAX/Ch. 3’s The :30. February 9th.

 

 

cover of Change the Story Report

CHANGE THE STORY'S NEW REPORT: WOMEN WORK AND WAGES IN VERMONT

Change The Story VT (CTS), a multi-year initiative fueled by the Vermont Women’s Fund, the Vermont Commission on Women, and Vermont Works for Women, released the first of a series of briefs called Women, Work and Wages in Vermont in January.  Much of this data is not regularly collected or published. All of it is specific to Vermont, and all is critical - not just in what it reflects about women, but in its  implications for Vermont’s economic future.

“The objective of Change The Story is to move the needle of women’s economic  security - faster. This initial compilation of information focuses on demographic data and represents months of diving deep into state and national data, reports, and other ancillary resources to create an accurate snapshot of the state of women in Vermont when it comes to work and wages,” shared Tiffany Bluemle, Director of CTS.

Cary Brown, Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women and Bluemle presented the brief’s findings to members of the Vermont State Legislature. Among the brief’s highlights:
- Women are significantly more likely than men to live in poverty or economic insecurity – in large part because of the disproportionate rates at which they have primary responsibility for the care of minor children.
- 43% of VT women who work full-time do not make enough to cover basic living expenses as defined by VT’s Joint Fiscal Office.

“This brief and the overall CTS initiative is a prime example of how organizations can come together to leverage their impact in the state, as well as build a data-driven case for this important work,” shared Brown.

Additional findings include:
- The poverty rate for families headed by single women is 37.5% - nine times the poverty rate of married couples.
- Women who work full-time are disproportionately employed in low-wage jobs - across every age group, at every level of education.
- VT women are especially vulnerable in their senior years, when their median annual income from Social Security ($10,000) is half that of men ($20,000).

Read the report at www.changethestoryvt.org.

 

 

VCW'S CARY BROWN ON COMCAST NEWSMAKERS SHOW

 

 

Hannah Elle Myers

VCW WELCOMES HANNAH ELLE MYERS OF NORWICH AS EXECUTIVE STAFF ASSISTANT

Hannah spent several years as Staff Attorney serving clients in the Northeast Kingdom for Have Justice – Will Travel (HJWT), an amazing Vermont non-profit providing holistic pro-bono representation to low-income victims of domestic and sexual violence.  Hannah provided direct free legal services to hundreds of Vermont women and families for matters such as obtaining Relief from Abuse Orders (RFA’s), divorce, child custody, and child support by providing both full representation as well as legal guidance and direction for pro-se clients, as part of HJWT’s Legal Empowerment Assistance Program.  Prior to her work at HJWT, Hannah performed a broad range of legal activities at the South Royalton Legal Clinic, working with supervising attorneys on divorce, consumer debt, bankruptcy, foreclosure and juvenile cases.  Hannah also worked with wonderful Vermont Law School Constitutional Law Professor Cheryl Hanna and Michelle Olvera of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence to research the ability of minors in Vermont to obtain Relief From Abuse Orders when a parent is unable/unwilling to file on their behalf.  The research compared Vermont law with that of other states.  Best practices for responding to minors requesting RFA’s were drafted for judicial community use, as well as model statutory language to provide better access to protective orders for minors.  Hannah holds an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts from Greenfield Community College, a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, in Political Science from the University of New Mexico, and a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Vermont Law School. 

 

 

Dad with baby picture

VERMONT COMMISSION ON WOMEN AWARDED $173,794 FEDERAL DOL GRANT TO STUDY FEASIBILITY OF A STATEWIDE PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE PROGRAM

(From press release - issued 9/29) The Vermont Commission on Women will receive a $173,794 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau to study the feasibility of developing a statewide paid family and medical leave program. Such a program would ensure all Vermont workers have access to paid time off to care for themselves, a new child, or a seriously ill family member, the Department of Labor announced today.

These funds are to be used for planning purposes, including research and analysis, examining program design and eligibility guidelines. In addition to Vermont, the grants—totaling $1.55 million—were awarded to five other states: California, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Rhode Island and Washington; and to two municipalities: New York City and Montgomery County in Maryland.  Read the US DOL Women’s Bureau press release for more information.

“I congratulate the Vermont Commission on Women on receiving this well-deserved grant,” Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, D-VT., remarked.  “As more states move forward on paid family and medical leave, it is clear that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. This grant will help ensure that Vermont, led by the Commission’s efforts, will formulate a strategy that meets the needs of our working families and businesses alike.”

“When you look at what other wealthy countries are doing, what you find is that the United States of America is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers some form of paid family leave, paid sick time or paid vacation time,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders. “This federal grant to the Vermont Commission on Women is a good first step to help develop a statewide, paid family and medical leave policy that would allow working families to have paid time off to care for a newborn child or a sick family member.”

“Most Vermonters agree that if you’re sick you shouldn’t be faced with the decision to either go to work and put others at risk or miss work, sacrifice your paycheck, and potentially lose your job,” Governor Peter Shumlin stated.  “That’s why this study is vital in allowing us to better recognize needs of families, as well as costs and burdens to businesses so that we may move forward in a balanced and thoughtful way to bring this important benefit to working Vermonters. I am so proud of the good work being done by the Vermont Commission on Women and congratulate them on their successful application for a Paid Leave Analysis grant by the Department of Labor.”

Responding to the grant announcement, Cary Brown, Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women, said, “This money comes at an opportune time, as public conversation, political will and legislative momentum in support of paid leave have intensified in Vermont. People are recognizing the reality that in 2015, most families have both parents in the workforce, and supporting working families is not only the right thing to do, it supports business and the state economy.  We want to applaud the Department of Labor for prioritizing the needs of all workers, and for investing in Vermont. The Commission has been working for 51 years to expand opportunities for women in the workforce and we look forward to exploring solutions that suit the needs of both employers and workers.” 

"This is an exciting opportunity to explore how we can better support Vermont families.” remarked State Representative Jill Krowinski, Co-Chair of the Women's Caucus,  “I thank the Vermont Commission on Women for their leadership on this grant.  We know that access to paid family and medical leave can improve economic security for women.  On October 8th, the Commission and the Vermont Women's Legislative Caucus will be hosting a Women's Economic Security Summit at the State House and are thrilled to host Latifa Lyles, the Director of the Women’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor, as our guest speaker."

The Vermont Commission on Women’s grant work will consist of analysis of potential administrative structures, including both public and private insurance models.  Grant work will also examine costs of a program: both employee-funded and combination employer/employee funded models; implementation costs; usage, cost and coverage for both male and female workers; and a cost-benefit analysis.  The study also will collect and analyze data regarding current practices of employers and employees; public opinion; the practical impact on employers; the need for access by both men and women; and the impact on children and families. 

 

 

Button for new statewide event calendar

VCW LAUNCHES STATEWIDE EVENT CALENDAR

Learn about conferences, meetings and workshops for women and girls by using this new tool.  Easy to use, easy to add events to and mobile-friendly this new calendar feature is an extension of VCW’s efforts to facilitate collaboration between Vermont organizations doing work with women and girls, and to increase public awareness and participation of these activities.   

 

 

Economic Summit Word Cloud

VERMONT WOMEN’S ECONOMIC SECURITY SUMMIT
Presented by: The Vermont Commission on Women & the Vermont Women’s Legislative Caucus

Special thanks to all 158 of you who attended this FREE event at the Vermont State House in Montpelier
Thursday October 8, 2015, from 8:30-3:30

Latifa Lyles addresses Summit participants

Latifa Lyles, (pictured above) Director of the Women's Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor was the keynote speaker for this event.  Ms. Lyles is responsible for shaping the federal agency’s research agenda, and has directed focus on women in high-growth occupations, as older workers, and in non-traditional jobs. She oversaw last year’s White House Summit on Working Families, and prior to current position, serving as Deputy Director, she managed the National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility, a nationwide event series. She provided insight and data on issues around women and work.

DOL's Latifa Lyles and VCW's Cary Brown

Latifa Lyles,Director of the Women's Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor and VCW's Executive Director, Cary Brown. (Photo Credit: Susan Ritz)

Morning panel discussions titled “Getting Women to Work” and “Keeping Women at Work” featured Vermont experts and policy leaders. Participants fostered understanding of specific issues and had rich and real conversations in afternoon small group sessions. Offerings include citizen advocacy trainings, as well as issues like women in corrections and women’s health. Review the agenda here. Check out the presenter organizations and breakout session descriptions here.

 

Getting Women to Work
 
The Summit's "Getting Women to Work" Panel – (L to R) Tiffany Bluemle - Director of Change the Story, Sue Ryan - Director of Programs at VT Child Care Industry and Careers Council, and Sheila Reed - former Associate Director, Voices for Vermont's Children. (Photo Credit: Susan Ritz)

 

Keeping Women at work panel

The Summit's "Keeping Women at Work" Panel – (L to R) moderated by Rep. Helen Head, with Sarah Phillips - Chief Administrator of the Office of Economic Opportunity. Beth Sachs - Founder of the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, and Ashley Moore - Outreach Coordinator of Main Street Alliance of Vermont (Photo Credit: Susan Ritz)

 

 Imacts of Incarceration

The Summit's Afternoon Breakout Session, "Impacts of Incarceration" Featuring (L to R) Suzi Wizowaty - Executive Director of Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform, Jill Evans - Director of the Essex Community Justice Center,  Trine Bech - Executive Director of the Vermont Parent Representation Center, and Traci Sawyers - Early Childhood Health Expert and Grant Manager at Building Bright Futures.  (Photo Credit: Susan Ritz)

Read (and watch) news coverage of the Summit here.

 

 

St. A forum Sept 2015

FORUMS EXPLORING PAID FAMILY & MEDICAL LEAVE

Vermont Commission on Women and Main Street Alliance of Vermont hosted a series of free community forums across the state this fall focusing on long-term paid family and medical leave. These forums examined the possibility of developing and implementing a state-run Temporary Disability and Caregiver Insurance (TDCI) Program in our state as a funding mechanism for leave. Participants explored the need for a TDCI program; how similar programs have been implemented in other states; and what a successful TDCI program could look like for Vermont. The forums consisted of a brief presentation followed by a discussion with business owners and community members. The Vermont Community Foundation provided financial support to facilitate the coordination of these forums around the state. The Vermont Community Foundation’s Innovations and Collaborations grant program supports projects that help nonprofits collaborate across issues and sectors to develop common solutions to community needs. Events  took place in Brattleboro, Manchester, St. Albans, Burlington and Rutland.  In addition to the Vermont Commission on Women and Main Street Alliance Vermont, an Oversight Committee will review findings and provide guidance. Oversight Committee participants represent a variety of constituencies and expertise related to the topic, and include a UVM labor economist and specializing in the political economy of low-wage labor market, as well as representatives from: the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce & Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation; the Vermont Attorney General’s Office; Vermont Department of Health’s Division of Maternal and Child Health, AARP; Governor Shumlin's office; the Vermont Department of Labor; and Change the Story Vermont, a multi-year strategy to align philanthropy, policy, and programs to significantly advance women’s economic security in Vermont. Read the press release.  Find news coverage here.

 

 

Historical photo - Vermont Women Fight for Right to Vote

 

CELEBRATING WOMEN'S EQUALITY DAY 2015

August 26, 2015, marks the 95th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - an important milestone in women's equality. The significance of this victory cannot be understated, as the movement for women's suffrage was a nonviolent and long-lasting civil rights effort. Despite harassment and sometimes violent attacks, the suffragists remained committed to nonviolence and to their right to vote.

Today, women have the right to vote, yet they still face many issues that stand between themselves and their right to good health and to care for their children. Policymakers, business owners and advocates gathered at a press conference in Burlington to mark this anniversary, and celebrate both progress for women in our state and milestones yet to be won. VCW Executive Director, Cary Brown (pictured below) opened the event and served as emcee, explaining the significance of Women’s Equality Day and providing context for how paid sick days plays a role in women’s economic security.
Cary Brown at podium

Link here for press coverage from the event, featuring speakers: Governor Shumlin, House Speaker Smith, Senator Baruth, host of the event, Eric Warnstedt, Chef Owner, Hen of the Wood, and Stephanie Hainley, Chief Operating Officer, White + Burke Real Estate Investment Advisors.

 

 

Learn more about the new VT Equal Pay Compact

THE VERMONT EQUAL PAY COMPACT

This Equal Pay Day (April 12th) marks the first anniversary of the Vermont Equal Pay Compact.  Employers need to attract and retain women workers, but that's not the only reason to sign on!  Why did the City of Winooski sign on to the Vermont Equal Pay Compact?

Mayor Seth Leonard

"A commitment to equal pay policies makes us more competitive, allowing us to recruit and retain qualified people to government work. This is a process that requires a long term commitment to both creating and maintaining a just compensation system. We are pleased to join in the Compact and work toward our goal of recognizing and rewarding all of our employees." -- City of Winooski Mayor, Seth Leonard

 

 

 

 Equal Pay case
Prof. Cheryl Hanna addresses media outside Burlington's federal building, re: landmark Equal Pay case

VERMONT LAW SCHOOL STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN CHERYL HANNA LEGAL RIGHTS OF WOMEN INTERNSHIP

We’ve welcomed two Vermont Law School students as interns to assist with updating our handbook, “The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont,” during a summer internship program in the late Professor Cheryl Hanna’s memory.  As part of the internship, VLS students Maeve Callaghan ’16 and Arden Florian ’16 will write, research state and federal statutes, and work with experts in the field to update the handbook with recently passed laws. Hanna, who passed away in July 2014, worked with VLS students to update this publication in 2011. We’ve named the internship after her in tribute.  Read more here.  Take a look at the Legal Rights of Women in Vermont  handbook here.

 

 

CTS logo

CHANGE THE STORY VERMONT

Working in coalition with powerful partners Vermont Women’s Fund and Vermont Works for Women, we launched Change The Story Vermont, a multi-year strategy to align philanthropy, policy, and program to significantly improve women’s economic status in Vermont.  Check CTS out on the web and Facebook too.

 

 

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Learn about (and plan) conferences, meetings and workshops for women and girls by using our event calendar tool.
 Button for new statewide event calendar
Easy to use, easy to add events to, and super mobile-friendly, this new calendar feature is an extension of VCW’s efforts to facilitate collaboration between Vermont organizations doing work with women and girls, and to increase public awareness and participation of these activities.