Sheila Bapat is an attorney and writer covering economic and gender justice. Her work has appeared in Jacobin, Salon, Reuters, Slate, Alternet, Truthout, the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Labor and Employment Law, PolicyMatters, and the Center for Women Policy Studies’ series, “Reproductive Laws for the 21st Century.” Sheila holds a JD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.
Cecily McMillan is now on trial for defending herself at an Occupy Wall Street protest after she felt someone grab her breast. McMillan's decision to fight back—both immediately after she was groped and now, in court—is brave, and sends a powerful message that women should not be blamed for defending themselves.
The Congressional Budget Office's new report found the Affordable Care Act could result in a reduction in workforce participation by approximately two million full-time workers in 2017. Conservative columnists are freaking out, but, even if the right is right, that may not be a bad thing at all.
Slowly, real efforts to transform the false work-family dichotomy are emerging, both through legislation as well as through employer initiatives. Programs like paid family leave and on-site child care can help working families over the long haul—yet it is rare to find either offered to low-wage workers in this country.
The philosophy underlying the policy is one that recognizes the importance of parenting and other caregiving roles—which women are still disproportionately saddled with. But even as San Francisco sets trends, the city’s policy could improve, especially with respect to low-wage positions, which also tend to be dominated by women.
As part of the government shutdown, some 800,000 government workers are furloughed and another million are working without pay. Many of these workers identify as middle-class but risk falling into hard times because of this loss of income; others are already struggling, earning a meager $8.25 to $9.00 per hour.
While Thursday's Republican-led bill to slash food stamps is highly unlikely to pass the Senate, it shows the influence of the Tea Party as the ideological foundation for House Republican leadership—an ideology blind to the role food stamps play in the economy.
On Tuesday, the White House approved regulations extending basic labor protections for domestic workers. A confluence of events enabled these regulations to come about—some political, but more movement-driven.
Jodi Kantor’s recent front-page New York Times story describes an experiment by the Harvard Business School to transform its deeply sexist culture and “foster women’s success.” But the gender problem in our economy runs much deeper than that.
Along with the enactment of welfare reform 17 years ago this August came tougher practices in debt enforcement—which, in many cases, lands the poor behind bars, leads to suspensions in drivers' licenses, and other practices that make finding work much harder.
Currently, far fewer women than men are pursuing PhD programs in economics or policy-making positions in general—gaps that dilute or completely exclude women’s experiences in economic policy-making debates.
In an economy rife with low-wage jobs and long-term unemployment for women, the need for reproductive freedom is even more critical. Yet, Ohio’s budget achieves exactly the opposite, as if to mock the state's women.
New York has been on the forefront of some of the most cutting-edge labor movements, but when it comes to child models, New York is behind more than 20 states that include child models in their state labor codes. That may soon change.
Aggressive attempts to restrict women's health-care options, which range from shutting down abortion clinics to coercing women inmates to become sterilized, reveal the long, seemingly unattainable arc toward reproductive justice for women of color.
Part of the problem in Oregon was that the push for domestic workers' legislation did not include enough grassroots mobilization by the state’s estimated 10,000 domestic workers who are currently excluded from overtime and other protections.
Commerce secretary nominee Penny Pritzker has been a consistent supporter of reproductive rights organizations, but she's also a director and part-owner of Hyatt hotels, which has recently been the target of many workers' rights protests.
According to earnings statistics, women get far less bang for their buck out of higher education. Recent proposals to reduce student debt could benefit women over the course of their lives—but they may not go far enough.
California has plans to experiment with a retirement program that could cost the state nothing in taxes but could greatly help many of individuals who rely heavily on Social Security. Unfortunately, it may not cover the growing ranks of freelance workers.
“I thought the sick day ordinance could become an excuse for my servers or other employees to call in sick at the last minute and leave shifts unstaffed,” said a San Francisco restaurant owner. “Turns out, that hasn’t been a problem at all.”
This Women's History Month, it's important to recognize thought leadership from feminists like Gloria Steinem, Audre Lorde, and Selma James that has demonstrably influenced current feminist policy efforts.
Restaurant workers, half of whom are women, are among the lowest earning workers in the United States. But one Michigan company, Zingerman's, is moving toward a “thriveable wage” for its restaurant workers.
This week nearly 100 domestic workers traveled to Washington, DC to meet with legislators about why immigration reform matters for their lives, and why they ought to be part of the immigration reform agenda.
The narrative of the American worker, and by extension women’s economic status, continues to take a troubling turn in the United States, with the decline of stable public-sector positions as well as weakening labor unions.
Feminists need to pay more attention to domestic workers' rights, especially in light of how hard domestic workers toil not just in their jobs, but also to advocate for their own basic workplace protections.
Housekeeping—a job predominantly held by women—can cause a good deal of physical pain due the repetitive nature of the work. To help improve conditions for housekeepers and all workers, organizers seek to reform Hyatt's corporate board.
In the first eight days of fiscal cliff negotiations, both sides almost seem to have resigned themselves to stalemate. But a possible austerity crisis could cripple already feeble programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.
Legal protections for domestic workers have historically been weak. But despite a major loss in California at the hands of Governor Jerry Brown, the domestic workers' rights movement and its supporters feel the tide may be turning in their favor.
There is clear evidence that party affiliation, not just gender, are the driving forces behind whether a legislator supports tougher policy to ensure fair pay. However, some Republican women in the Senate have broken with their party in support of some pay equity legislation.
While Elizabeth Warren is viewed as a threat to the banks, she is just one Senator. Congress is still rife with members, both Republican and Democrat, who rely heavily on the banks for their campaigns.
In a move that stunned activists, California's domestic workers bill of rights was vetoed Sunday. But this will not deter the tenacious organizers at NDWA who are both motivated by love and armed with a multifaceted strategy.
In the decade since the original Wal-Mart v. Dukes suit began, the national gender wage gap has remained steady at 77 cents to the dollar. This case is just one example that there is much, much more work to be done to improve women’s economic status in the US.
A recent study revealed that when women pitch their companies as part of a competition in which the prize is a $100,000 check, they perform as well as or better than their male competitors. It’s an encouraging conclusion given that, overall, far less venture capital flows to companies with women founders.
While laws may not be sufficient on their own -- laws never mean much without the advocates who ensure their enforcement -- they are a necessary step in improving the labor conditions of domestic workers.
A few small public programs throughout the country are helping poor fathers who are interested in achieving financial independence and, at last, crawling out from under the albatross of child support arrears.
A new Treasury Department rule brings to light the tension between helping single mothers support their children while also ensuring poor debtors are not rendered economically helpless by enforcement provisions.
Trends connecting income, education spending, and achievement send troubling signals about how economic class affects the educational achievement of children—and what it means for your child's life if you simply can’t afford what the Joneses have.
Few will ever hear of Amber Reeves, a pregnant truck driver who was fired after requesting accommodations in her work duties. She couldn’t perform her regular duties, so her employer terminated her. Unglamorous and unprotected by the law, pregnant women in labor-intensive jobs often find themselves in this kind of predicament.
A woman is publicly executed in Afghanistan to settle a "dispute" between two Taliban officials. This gross demonstration of the everyday violence faced by women in Afghanistan comes just days after the U.S. declared the country as a major non-NATO U.S. ally and 70 countries pledged to provide aid.
Until just a few weeks ago, new mothers who were applying to law school were in a pretty unforgiving situation while taking the LSAT: they were not allowed any extra breaks during the lengthy exam so that they could pump breast milk or nurse their babies.
The Obama administration has powerful new statistics in its corner: the National Center for Health Statistics released a report on Wednesday finding that both pregnancy and abortion rates have dropped for women in their 20s since 1990. An author of the study attributes both these trends to effective use of birth control methods.
On Saturday June 16, the US Conference of Mayors, a nonpartisan organization representing about 1,300 cities, passed a resolution in support of comprehensive reproductive health for women – from contraception to abortion care.
The victory against Colorado's personhood amendment last fall was due in part to messaging that resonated with two voting blocs not often identified as dependable pro-choice voters - Latinos and labor union members.
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