Global IT Team Chair; DA Germany Voting Rep; Global Women's Caucus Steering Team; ERA Project Coordinator

  • published Women in the US Military in State of American Women 2019-11-10 05:45:26 -0500

    Women in the US Military

    110215-F-9876P-001.JPG

    Women in the US Military: Trends and Challenges in 2019

    Ramya Prabhakar

     

    FOR eight years, Brig. Gen. Laura Yeager flew Black Hawk helicopters in Iraq, conducting aeromedical evacuations of injured troops. A graduated of the Reserve Officer Training Corps at California State University, Long Beach, she began serving in 1986 as a second lieutenant. After leaving active duty following the birth of her son, she redeployed to Iraq as the deputy commander of the California National Guard’s 40th Combat Aviation Brigade, steadily rising through the ranks and eventually leading Joint Task Force North with Northern Command at Fort Bliss, Texas.[i]

    This past June, Yeager became the first woman in history to lead a US Army infantry division, assuming control of the 40th Infantry Division of the California National Guard.

    Yeager’s career is inspiringly barrier-busting, but it is also a hard reminder of the relative recency of female advancement in the US Armed Forces. As of 2017, women made up only 16% of active-duty personnel across all branches of the military, which represents less than a 2% increase from 2007.[ii] Moreover, the Department of Defense only opened all combat jobs to women in 2015.

    This statistic is shocking when one considers how long women have been involved in the military. During the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, women served as cooks and nurses – and some even disguised themselves as men to fight on the front lines and deliver covert information past British troops. During World War I, women began working as phone operators, architects, secretaries, and administrative assistants. During World War II, as part of FDR’s Women’s Army Corps (WAC), women worked with Air, Ground, and Service Forces as radio technicians, doctors, surgeons, and cryptographers. The 1970s finally saw women fully included into the service, with military service academies starting to accept women in 1976 and forces officially integrated in 1978.[iii]

    Since 2015, more and more women have enlisted across every branch of the military, but despite their growing representation, they still face severe challenges before and after service. Female soldiers are often unable to access adequate healthcare, bring charges against sexual offenders, or advance in their careers. Female veterans often feel unsupported in the reintegration process as they deal with mental illness, physical disabilities, and difficulty finding sustained employment.

    A healthcare system geared towards men

    Healthcare is one of the biggest areas where women face more challenges than men—mostly due to limited research focused on women’s healthcare. Pentagon-contracted researchers are preparing to conduct an in-depth study of women’s health services only this year, the first since 1989.

    The data available paints a lackluster picture. A 2006 military survey of female soldiers who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom found that 22% of respondents had not received a gynecological examination, including a Pap smear or other cytologic study, and 44% could not access gynecological care once they enlisted. Almost a quarter of women surveyed reported having to change contraceptive methods due to unavailability, and more than a fifth experienced gynecologic problem.[iv]

    Even more recently, in a 2018 survey by the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), 41% of veterans surveyed said that they were unable to access birth control after deploying. These barriers to contraceptive care were usually caused by limited prescriptions that did not cover the full deployment, inadequate storage options, and physician refusal to prescribe birth control.[v]

    The SWAN study also highlighted the lack of support for women seeking an abortion following an unintended pregnancy. Among these women, half were denied medical advice by military health care providers while the other half did not even seek their advice. All defaulted to off-base abortion services, which cost $300-600; none received follow-up care from the military.

    Per Tricare, the military’s health and insurance provider, abortion on military bases is only covered in cases of danger to the mother’s life, incest, and rape – and certain countries in which the military operates ban the procedure altogether.[vi]

    Sexual assault: increasing despite public attention

    Sexual assault is arguably the most publicized issue facing service women. A 2019 report on sexual assault in the military showed almost 21,000 instances of unwanted sexual contact—a 38% increase from 2016.[vii] Though women make up less than 20% of service members, they are the targets of 63% of assaults, and one out of every sixteen women has reported being groped during their service.[viii]

    The effects of such sexual assault are evident after service – and disproportionally affect women. Nearly 25% of women veterans who seek health care services from the Department of Veterans Affairs report experiencing at least one sexual assault while in the military compared to slightly more than 1% of male veterans.[ix]

    In addition to the obvious effects on mental and physical health, sexual assault and harassment impact career development for women, even if indirectly. Women report hesitation from their male superiors to interact or mentor them due to fears of sexual harassment allegations. Women service members report sexism and targeted harassment and physical tests, and they often feel that their male superiors do not have a clear vision for women’s roles in the military. These superiors often have lowered expectations for women and refuse to promote women due to ingrained biases, for instance relating to family responsibilities, which are often exacerbated by shortsighted military policies.[x]

    Far from receding, sexual violence against women has increased even at military academies, where sexual assault has trended upward over the past decade despite prevention programs. An anonymous 2017 survey found that instances of unwanted sexual contact had increased 50% compared to two years prior, with many victims choosing not to make reports.[xi]

    Female veterans in search of community

    Even after they leave the military, women often face more acute challenges than men. Because there are so few women in the armed forces, female veterans often struggle to find a community that truly understands the reintegration process. Many report that they do not feel accepted by civilian women, and they struggle to find groups or friends that can discuss female-specific challenges with reintegration. Some veterans also report a reluctance to self-identify as a veteran because civilians do not readily accept female soldiers.[xii]

    Economically, employment is a major challenge for women in particular. Over 33% of female veterans report lost income as a problem after leaving service, and women take three months longer on average to find jobs. Women are also more likely to be single parents than men, which then adds on the challenges of finding affordable childcare and keeping medical appointments at the Veterans Association.[xiii]

    Finally, women often face greater medical challenges than men. Because women are more likely than men to have experienced sexual trauma during their service, they are more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder – not only from combat experiences but also from harassment and assault. As of 2017, women were 20.6% more likely to have a disability from service, creating physical challenges and compounding employment difficulties.[xiv]

    Women encounter major difficulties in the armed forces today, but these problems are far from novel. Neither Democratic nor Republican administrations have pressured the military into focusing on women’s issues, from healthcare to sexual assault to post-service employment. As we begin Military Appreciation Month, it is our hope here at Democrats Abroad that more candidates will highlight the challenges faced by our brave women in uniform—and thank them by providing them with basic services and support.

    ________________________________________________________

    [i] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/06/09/first-female-brig-gen-laura-yeager-lead-army-infantry-division/1401950001/

    [ii] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/08/magazine/women-military-stories.html?module=inline

    [iii] https://www.insider.com/women-in-us-military-history-2019-2

    [iv] https://academic.oup.com/milmed/article/171/3/216/4577762

    [v] https://www.servicewomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/2018ReproReport_SWAN-2.pdf

    [vi] https://rewire.news/article/2016/08/02/double-standard-military-pregnancy-what-contraceptive-access-wont-fix/

    [vii] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/02/us/military-sexual-assault.html

    [viii] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/02/us/military-sexual-assault.html

    [ix] https://www.bwjp.org/our-work/topics/military-sexual-assult.html

    [x] https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1184/MR1184.ch5.pdf

    [xi] https://www.npr.org/2019/02/14/694597943/despite-prevention-programs-sexual-assaults-rise-at-military-academies

    [xii] https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/09/27/women-veterans-have-unique-transition-problems-we-dont-see-them.html

    [xiii] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/02/magazine/women-veterans-network.html

    [xiv] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0095327X15610743


  • published State of American Women in Issues and Actions 2019-11-10 05:40:24 -0500

    State of American Women

    The Global Women's Caucus will be writing articles about the State of the American Women.  New ones will be posted on a periodic basis.

    Click on the links to read the articles:

    Women in the US Military

    Party call: Gender parity in politics

    Women in US Politics: Looking back to look ahead


  • rsvped for 2020 DA Germany Annual General Meeting 2019-10-28 06:07:20 -0400

    2020 DA Germany Annual General Meeting

    **Registration has been extended until January 19, 2020**

    2020 is going to be a pivotal year for the future of American democracy. At Democrats Abroad Germany, we remain committed to mobilizing the over 100,000 Americans in Germany to restore respect, dignity, and integrity to our nation’s highest offices.

    Getting Republicans out and Democrats in next year, however, is going to be a collective effort. It’s going to require us to work together nationwide like never before, keeping our eyes set on one main goal: getting each and every American in Germany to vote.

    As 2020 approaches, we would thus like to cordially invite you to join us in our efforts by attending the 2020 Annual General Meeting of Democrats Abroad Germany focusing on "Getting Out the Vote - At Home and Abroad" from Friday, January 24 to Sunday, January 26 at the Literaturhaus München (Salvatorplatz 1, 80333 Munich).

    Register here

    A great series of events are planned to help us – Democrats across Germany – connect and discuss our voter outreach efforts in 2020. These events are outlined in our tentative

    Schedule - Full agenda here (updated January 13)

    • On Friday, January 24, we’ll hear from the Women’s Caucus, which has put together a fantastic panel and performance centered around the topic “Don’t Get Mad, Get Even – Electing People Who Will Create Balance” (17:00-19:30). The first evening will come to a close with a welcome cocktail reception where we can connect with each other over drinks (starting at 19:00).
    • On Saturday, January 25, the main meeting focused on “Getting Out the Vote – At Home and Abroad” will be held (9:00-18:00). We will begin with an introduction to our organization and briefly highlight our activities across Germany over the past year. Our full attention will then be directed at how we can work together nationwide to get out the vote in 2020. In the afternoon, we'll hear from our caucuses as well as several presidential campaigns about why we need to vote in 2020. Representatives from the Biden, Buttigieg, Patrick, Sanders, and Steyer campaigns are expected, and we are awaiting confirmation from other presidential campaigns in the coming week. As we are committed to neutrality throughout the primaries, all Democratic presidential candidates' campaigns have been invited to join. We will round off the main meeting by reviewing our organization’s bylaws as well as vote on any suggested changes to them (for more on submitted suggested amendments, please scroll to the end of the page). Following the meeting, we’ll gather for a three-course gala dinner at the nearby restaurant Zum Franziskaner and hear from David Shor, an Obama-campaign-trained data analyst who is heavily involved in the stats behind the 2020 election (19:30-22:00).

    Guest speaker bio: David Shor is responsible for research and development of political consulting practices at Civis Analytics. He is often described as the Nate Silver of the Democratic National Committee. Civis Analytics was founded by alumni of Obama's 2012 re-election campaign's analytics department, which was pioneering in their use of analytics and statistical modeling in winning elections. Civis's political practice works with political clients ranging from large scale political committees to advocacy groups to nearly every major Democratic 2020 presidential campaign, helping decision makers answer strategic questions around messaging and resource allocation. Prior to being part of the founding team at Civis, David worked on the Obama 2012 campaign, specializing in survey methodology and time series modeling.

    • On Sunday, January 26, we want to make sure that those from out of town have some time to see the city and have scheduled a walking tour of Munich (11:00-12:30). Following the tour, everyone is welcome to join us at the tasty restaurant CADU for a farewell luncheon that will leave us invigorated for the election season ahead (13:00-15:00).

    Register today for this exciting weekend with passionate and inspiring Democrats from across Germany!

    Registration has been extended until January 19, 2020. Payment must be received by January 21, 2020.

    Cost

    To attend the meeting, we are asking for a donation of 10€ for the Women’s Caucus event and 35€ for the main meeting on Saturday. The cost for meals and coffee breaks are as follows:

    • Saturday lunch: 20€
    • Saturday coffee breaks (includes two): 10€
    • Saturday gala dinner (three-course meal): 40€ 

    Under the rules of the Democratic Party and Democrats Abroad, a fee for attending the meeting is not allowed. However, we kindly ask for a donation to cover use of the Literaturhaus München, technical equipment, copies, and supplies. We ask that you donate this amount to cover the expenses of hosting the meeting and avoid drawing down the DA Germany treasury, which is devoted to getting out the vote. Participants do have to pay for meals and coffee breaks.

    Stipends for Attending

    DA Germany understands the accompanying financial cost of attending the Annual General Meeting. To ensure as many members are able to attend as possible, DA Germany offered eight stipends. The deadline to apply was Saturday, November 30, and applications are no longer being accepted. Applicants have been notified about the status of their application. 

    Accommodation

    Homestays will be available thanks to DA Germany members in the Munich area. If you are interested in having a homestay, please complete the following survey so that we can make sure you are matched with an appropriate host: “need a homestay” survey. As soon as a homestay has been found, you will be contacted via email.

    For those in Munich who would be willing to host another member of DA Germany, please fill out this survey to sign up as a host: “homestay host” survey.

    If you would prefer to stay in a hotel, the Munich Chapter has compiled a list of hotels, which include several hotels offering us a discounted rate.

    We hope that you will join us for this weekend geared at bringing Democrats together and energizing us for the momentous 2020 election season. On behalf of the entire volunteer team already at work planning the meeting, we say:

     

    Suggested Changes to DA Germany Bylaws 

    The following suggested changes were submitted by the December 31, 2019, deadline, and are currently up for review by all members of DA Germany. Changed text has been italicized. A vote on these changes will be held on Saturday, January 25, 2020, at the AGM in Munich. The current DA Germany bylaws, which were last amended in 2018, can be accessed here

    Section 3.4

    Proposed by Quaide Williams

    Discrimination in the conduct of the affairs of DA Germany on the basis of race, sex, age, color, creed, national origin, religion, ethnic identity, sexual orientation, gender identity, economic status, philosophical persuasion, or physical disability shall be prohibited. 

    Section 4.4

    Proposed by Quaide Williams (as to bring DA Germany bylaws into compliance with the Democratic Party Committee Abroad's bylaws, which were amended in May 2019 in Washington, D.C.)

    No Officer or elected member of the Executive Committee may serve three full terms in an office consecutively unless there are no other candidates, except for the position of DPCA Voting Representative for which no term limits shall apply as per the DPCA Charter.

    WHEN
    January 24, 2020 at 12pm - January 26, 2020 at 12pm
    WHERE
    Literaturhaus München
    Salvatorplatz 1
    Munich 80333
    Germany
    Google map and directions
    166 rsvps rsvp

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    The Democrats Abroad LGBT Caucus is the constituency group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex members and any Democrat abroad who supports them.

    The goals of the LGBT Caucus reflect the mission of Democrats Abroad to:

    • engage and empower LGBTI Americans living abroad to vote in US elections;
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    • support Democrats Abroad’s members in issues they face living abroad as LGBTI Americans, such as access to government services and benefits for same-sex spouses and family members, the legacy resulting from past discrimination and Defense of Marriage Act.

    The LGBT Caucus: 

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