The other day I mentioned that I wanted more secular orgs to speak out on women’s rights, and I called on a few of the biggies like CFI to do more in that regard. I really love CFI and I think they already do a lot of good and still have so much potential. In fact, I gave a talk there back in April called Women’s Intuition and Other Fairytales, in which I talk about the specific kinds of pseudoscience aimed at us. I’ve embedded the video after the jump and also posted a comment from Lauren Becker, which I didn’t want to get lost in all the responses to my previous post:
I agree that organizations promoting science and secular values should be very vocal when it comes to women’s rights – and I’m happy to say that CFI has been doing this for years.
Sometimes the work is done in the form of blog posts and commentary:
But the real work has been done by our CFI Office of Public Policy. For years they have issued White Papers/Position Papers on numerous issues important to science and secularism, including public health and contraception, and the importance of appropriate sexuality education. These papers are distributed to decision-makers and legislators, and they are also a resource for our CFI branch leaders who engage in state and local advocacy work.
CFI’s OPP has also lobbied extensively:
* for the protection of reproductive rights and accurate sex education
* for increased funding for sex education and prevention of HIV/AIDS, other STI’s, and unintended pregnancies
* for H.R. 1144, the “Fullfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Act”
* for the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, to ban pay discrimination and discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability in the workplace
* AGAINST unjust bans on abortion coverage
* AGAINST the “provider refusal” regulation that would permit reproductive health professionals to refust their services on religious/ideological grounds
Sometimes this lobbying was done in person on Capital Hill, sometimes it was through “Action Alerts” to our members, and sometimes it was both. It was also often done in conjunction with other organizations, which not only advanced the specific cause, but also increased awareness of our cause for science and secularism among those other groups.
We have also responded to amendments on the stimulus bill, the appropriations bill, and the budget that would affect women’s reproductive freedom.
I am particularly proud of the work some of our CFI branch leaders have done to advance women’s rights, especially people like Reba Boyd Wooden, the executive director of CFI-Indiana. During this recent string of attacks on women, Reba attended many of the state legislative session about these bills, she spoke out against them, she kept her CFI people informed, and, perhaps most importantly, she added CFI-Indiana’s “heft” to a network of Indiana groups who were advocating against the terrible legislation, a network she is well-tapped-into because she also serves on the board of the Indiana ACLU.
Other branch leaders are similarly plugged into their local ACLU’s, AU’s, and other orgs in order to amplify the science and secular viewpoint in public policy discussions. They also work hard to create relationships with their local representatives. For example, CFI-Southern Arizona recently presented an award to Senator Krysten Sinema, in part for her work in support of women and women’s health issues (but also for a lot of very sound science votes). This follows a series of similar awards granted to federal legislators by the CFI OPP over the past few years. Many recipients have been women and many were cited for the support they give to women and women’s issues – and now they all know about the huge block of constituents who support policy based on science and secular values.
Of course there is always more that needs to be done – there are so many ways to impact public policy – but it’s impossible to ignore the costs of all this work. CFI has had to cut back on its lobbying work due to lack of funds, but we continue to do as much as we can because, like you, we DO think it is important.
(We’ve also done good work for LGBT rights, but that’s a whole other post…)
Keep up the good work,