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Implementing the contract with Women of the USA -- Women state legislators lead the way.

principle #1: Empowerment of Women

We pledge to work for empowerment of women in all their diversity through equal participation in decision making and equal access to shared power in government, in all spheres and at every level of society.

* According to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), 67 women serve in the United States Congress in 2000 -- nine women in the Senate and 58 in the House of Representatives -- representing only 12 percent of the 535 elected members. Of these, only 20 are women of color -- representing 3 percent of the Congress. Of the 20 women of color, 14 are women of African descent, five are Latinas, one is Asian American/Pacific Islander, and none are Native American women. Two of the women of African descent serve as non-voting Delegates to the House -- representing Washington, DC and the Virgin Islands.

* This pattern of underrepresentation of women is repeated at the state level. Women represent 30 percent or more of state legislators in only eight of the 50 states (40.8 percent in Washington, 36.5 percent in Nevada, 35.6 percent in Arizona, 34 percent in Colorado, 33.3 percent in Kansas, 31.8 percent in New Hampshire, 31.7 percent in Vermont, and 30 percent in Oregon). In 2000, women are only 22.5 percent (1,669) of all state legislators (7,424) in the United States. Women of color are especially underrepresented; only 251 women of color serve in state legislatures -- comprising only 3.4 percent of the total and only 15 percent of all women legislators.

principle #2: Sharing Family Responsibilities

We pledge to work for equal sharing of family responsibilities, recognition and respect for the diversity of families, and for practices and policies that enhance the multiple roles, security and well-being of women and girls, men and boys.

FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE

* California Assemblymember Wally Knox, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, sponsored A.B. 109, to allow working people to use some of their personal paid sick leave to care for a sick child, parent or spouse. Signed into law, the act permits employees to use up to the amount of personal paid sick leave accrued in six months during any calendar year for care of sick family members.

* Vermont Senator Jan Backus introduced S. 179, to authorize unemployment compensation for employees who otherwise could not afford to take unpaid family or parental leave.

* Maryland Delegate Michael Dobson introduced H.B. 1124, to expand eligibility for unemployment benefits for employees who voluntarily leave work immediately following the birth or adoption of a child. The parent must be the primary provider of care for the child and may not be receiving any wages from her/his employer.

* California Senator Hilda Solis, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 165, to provide unemployment compensation for victims of domestic violence. Signed into law, the act specifically provides that for purposes of unemployment compensation, individuals may be deemed to have left their job with "good cause" if they left to protect themselves or their children from domestic violence.

CHILD CARE

* Virginia Senator Yvonne Miller, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 629, to require the state to provide child day care services for all welfare recipients, participants in the Virginia Initiative for Employment Not Welfare (VIEW) work training program, and former VIEW participants. Senator Miller also introduced a companion bill, S.B. 236, to increase the number of child day care providers through a tax credit and incentive program.

* Virginia Senator Janet Howell, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 491, to provide a tax credit for child care expenditures for taxpayers with incomes under $150,000; the maximum amount of the credit is $600 for one child and $1,200 for two or more children.

* Texas Representative Dawnna Dukes, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introuced H.B. 512, to create a state program of loan guarantees to promote child care services. The "Texas Child Care Guarantee Fund" would guarantee a low interest loan to a child care provider by a private lender for certain eligible activities -- including improving the child-to-staff ratio, improving training and salaries of child care staff, and making child care more affordable for low income families.

* Washington Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 5277, to create a grant program to enable Washington's colleges and universities to provide child care services on campus. Signed into law, the act would require institutions and their student governments to provide matching funds. The legislature appropriated $250,000 for the new grants program. Senator Kohl-Welles also introduced S.B. 5069, to extend subsidized child care benefits to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients enrolled in a technical or community college program.

* New York Assemblymember Joan Christensen, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 1026, the "Quality Day Care Assurance Act of 1998," to streamline and strengthen the process for becoming a child day care operator, expand support for individuals and entities that provide child day care, ensure minimum safety requirements, and increase the frequency of inspections.

SUPPORT FOR CAREGIVERS OF ELDERLY AND DEPENDENT ADULTS

* Illinois Representative Shirley Jones, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 2203, to establish a comprehensive caregiver program that would coordinate and maximize available resources and services for caregivers of chronically dependent adults -- most often women. Representative Jones also introduced a companion bill, H.B. 2146, to require the State Department of Health to publish a consumer report on nursing homes in the state.

* New Jersey Assemblymember Nia Gill, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 284, to provide a $3,000 state income tax deduction for individuals who earn under $35,000 a year (or a deduction of up to $5,000 per couple) who provide home care for an elderly relative.

* North Carolina Representative Beverly Earle, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 59, to create an adult special assistance demonstration project that would test the feasibility and cost of giving elderly and disabled adults the option to stay at home rather than enter an adult care facility, while remaining eligible for income supplements.

principle #3: Ending the Burden of Poverty

We pledge to work for economic justice and to end the increasing burden of poverty on women and their children, who are a majority of the poor Recognizing the value of women's unpaid and underpaid labor to our families, communities and economy we support a living wage for all workers and adequate funding for welfare and other social safety nets, child care, education and lob training, and access to collateral-free credit for women-owned small businesses.

LIVING WAGE

* Members of the Honor Roll of State Legislators are promoting the use of a "SelfSufficiency Standard" (developed by Diana M. Pearce of the University of Washington School of Social Work) to calculate a living wage -- that covers the cost of basic housing, food, health insurance, child care, transportation, and other essential expenses to enable working parents to support themselves and their families without public or private subsidies. Legislators and advocates have used this new wage goal to evaluate the adequacy of economic development proposals in Iowa, child care subsidies in Pennsylvania, child care workers' salaries in California, and as a tool to advocate for increases in the legal minimum wage at the federal level.

* Virginia Delegate Viola Baskerville, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 1383, which was signed into law, to redefine the state's 'Economic and Employment Improvement Program for Disadvantaged Persons" to provide services to assist welfare recipients, former welfare recipients, and persons returning to the community from correctional facilities to move from minimum wage jobs to college and to employment that allows for career development and economic independence. Delegate Baskerville also introduced H.B. 1381, to require that state contractors pay employees a living wage, defined as a wage equal to 125 percent of the federal poverty level or 100 percent of the federal poverty level if paid family and medical coverage is provided to employees.

* North Carolina Representative Alma Adams, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced three bills: H.B. 1230, to raise the state minimum wage to a livable wage ($8.50 an hour); H.B. 1450, to expand the school breakfast program; and, H.B. 1408, to establish an Emergency Cash Assistance Program for low income families.

* Connecticut Senator Toni Harp, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 5305, to appropriate $3.5 million to provide customized job training to low income and part time workers to help them secure employment in industries that offer livable wages and benefits.

WELFARE REFORM AND FOOD ASSISTANCE

* Virginia Delegate Viola Baskerville, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced a resolution developed by the Center expressing support for postsecondary education opportunities for women TANF recipients at the 1999 annual conference of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL). The conference adopted the resolution.

* Members of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators placed an op-ed in their local newspapers on the importance of postsecondary education opportunities for women on welfare, co-signed by the Center's president and House Minority Leader Kitty Piercy in Oregon, Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles in Washington, Representative Laura Hall in Alabama, and Delegate Viola Baskerville in Virginia.

* Women state legislators submitted comments to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on proposed regulations to implement the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. In part because of their efforts, the final regulations give states more flexibility to offer postsecondary education to women TANF recipients and to offer exemptions to time limits and work requirements for women TANF recipients confronting domestic violence.

* Washington Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced five bills to provide college opportunities for women on welfare: SB. 6296, to allow 600 parents receiving TANF to continue to receive benefits while attending college; S.B. 5655, to create a program of financial assistance to TANF recipients to allow them to pursue up to two years of postsecondary education; S.B. 5310, to create a scholarship program for vocational-technical training students and set aside 30 percent of scholarships for TANF recipients; S.B. 5522, to place Washington's employability screening at the beginning of a TANF recipient's WorkFirst participation and screen for barriers to self-sufficiency; and, S.B. 5626, to amend Washington's TANF program by exempting from time limits and work activities victims of domestic violence, incapacitated persons or persons caring for an incapacitated child, or non-parent relatives who are caring for a child on welfare.

* North Carolina Representative Alma Adams, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 1243, an omnibus welfare program improvement bill that would allow postsecondary education to count as a required 'work activity" for the state's welfare program and would suspend the two year time limit for receipt of benefits for up to three years for TANF recipients enrolled at least part time in a postsecondary education program while maintaining a 2.5 grade point average.

* Massachusetts Representative Gloria Fox, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 4519, to allow TANF recipients to count participation in a recognized education program -- including postsecondary education -- as 50 percent of their TANF work requirement.

* New Hampshire Senator Katherine Wells Wheeler, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 208, to establish a program to provide financial aid and living assistance to 500 TANF recipients who are pursuing vocational or postsecondary education programs up to and including an associate's degree.

* South Dakota Representative Clarence Kooistra introduced H.B. 1132, to use state Maintenance of Effort (MOE) funds to provide family subsistence grants to TANF recipients enrolled in postsecondary education programs.

* Delaware Senator Patricia Blevins, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 101, to allow TANF recipients who do not already have a bachelor's degree to enroll in a postsecondary education program. Signed into law, the act allows TANF recipients to combine postsecondary education and work for at least 20 hours per week to fulfill their TANF work requirement.

* Maine Senator Chellie Pingree, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced S. 339, the 'Parents as Scholars Program," to create a separate state welfare program funded exclusively with state Maintenance of Effort (MOE) funds. Signed into law, the act protects some women TANF recipients from strict federal time limits and from narrowly defined work requirements so that they can pursue postsecondary education.

* Texas Representative Doro Olivo introduced H.B. 3470, to create a program of financial assistance to TANF recipients to allow them to pursue a college degree or certificate. Signed into law, the act is modeled after Maine's "Parents as Scholars" program.

* New Mexico Representative Paul Taylor introduced H.B. 93, to provide cash assistance to student TANF recipients who are pursuing two- or four-year postsecondary education programs. Although the bill passed the state legislature, Governor Gary Johnson vetoed the bill.

* Pennsylvania Representative Connie Williams, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 736, to add four allowable work activities under the state welfare program: a postsecondary education degree program; a certificate-granting program; work-study or community service through the AmenCorps program; and any other college or university program or internship, paid or unpaid.

* California Assemblymember Antonio Villaraigosa, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 873, to expand the California Food Assistance Program to include as eligible all immigrants who are not eligible for the federal or state food stamp program.

REWARDING INVESTMENT IN LOW INCOME COMMUNITIES

* South Carolina Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 3126, to create a commission to promote community development corporations and financial institutions in low income communities by creating a state tax credit equal to 50 percent of a taxpayer's investment in a community development corporation or financial institution, up to a maximum of $10 million for all taxpayers for all taxable years.

principle #4: High Quality, Affordable Health Care

We pledge to work to reaffirm the rights of women and girls, regardless of income or where they live, to high quality, accessible, affordable and respectful physical and mental health care, based an sound women-focused research.

ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE

* Members of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators are working with their attorneys general and other state regulatory bodies to ensure that low income women do not lose critical health services -- such as family planning clinics, HIV and STD clinics, and substance abuse clinics -- as not-for-profit hospitals are converted to for-profit status.

* In response to calls far action in the Center's newsletter, the State Legislative Report, members of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators are working with state administrators to ensure that low income women leaving welfare, either far jabs or because of time restrictions and work requirements, continue to receive federally guaranteed Medicaid benefits.

* Maryland Delegates Elizabeth Bobo, Marilyn Goldwater, Sue Hecht, Sheila Hixson, Carolyn Howard, Nancy Kopp, Adrienne Mandel, Salima Siler Marriott, Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, Shane Pendergrass, and Joan Pitkin, members of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, sponsored H.B. 4, to require nonprofit hospitals to perform an annual community needs assessment to identify unmet community health care needs, in consultation with community leaders and local health care providers. Based an this assessment, each nonprofit hospital would be required to develop a written plan stating how it will address these needs and report to the state's health services cast review commission an the community benefits provided.

* New York Assemblymembers Deborah Glick, Joan Christensen, Vivian Cook, Gloria Davis, Richard Gottfried, and Susan John, members of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 5457, the Women's Health and Wellness Act," to require health insurance policies to cover bane density measurement and drug therapy, to remove deductibles from coverage far cervical cytological screenings and mammograms, to extend mammogram eligibility to women 40 and older, to include contraceptives in prescription drug coverage, and to give enrollees notice of availability of obstetrical and gynecological services.

* Virginia Delegate Viola Baskerville, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 390, to require that health insurance benefits be provided far all state employees who are paid an on hourly basis and who have been employed far at least six months and for all employees who are paid an a salaried basis and who work at least 20 hours per week.

* Connecticut Senator Toni Harp, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 5305, to provide self-employed persons who do not have health insurance the right to purchase health insurance coverage under the reduced group plan rates for state employees (if their income is above 300 percent of the federal poverty level) or through the state's health insurance program for low income people (if their income is below 300 percent).

* New Hampshire Senator Katherine Wells Wheeler, a member of the National Honor Rolf of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 444, to allow the only clinic in the state providing methadone treatment for heroin addiction to offer long-term treatment. Senator Wheeler also introduced a companion bill, S.B. 445, to end New Hampshire's statutory prohibition of methadone maintenance treatment and require the Department of Health and Human Services to issue rules regarding approval of participating providers and operation of programs.

* New York Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 8071, to create a health and wellness education and outreach program targeting consumers, patients and health providers that emphasizes gender and age appropriate testing and screening exams. The new program, within the New York Department of Health, would develop media education materials and establish a toll-free telephone hotline and an e-mail information service.

* Virginia Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, a member of the National Honor Rolf of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 1272, to require all health insurers to allow covered individuals to designate a specialist as their primary care provider if the individual has a "special condition" -- a condition or disease that is life-threatening, degenerative, or disabling and requires specialized medical care over a prolonged period of time -- that would most appropriately be coordinated by such a specialist.

* New Jersey Assemblymember Loretta Weinberg, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 1774, to prohibit health insurance companies from classifying domestic abuse as a pre-existing condition and to impose a $1 ,000 penalty on insurance companies that violate this provision. Signed into law, the act forbids insurers from refusing to issue policies, restricting or limiting benefits, or adding premium differentials to insurance policies if the insured or prospective insured is a victim of domestic violence.

* Hawaii Senator Suzanne Chun Qakland, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 844, to require health insurance plans to provide benefits for mental illness and for alcohol and drug dependence under the same circumstances and conditions as for all other diagnoses, illnesses, or accidents. Signed into law, the act addresses only three specific mental illnesses -- schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and bipolar disorder. The act established a Mental Health Insurance Task Force to study the financial and social implications of mandated equal coverage for mental illness and substance abuse in Hawaii and to report to the legislature before the 2001 session.

* Virginia Delegate Karen Darner, a member of the National Honor Rolf of State Legislators, co-sponsored A.B. 1052, the mental health parity bill. Signed into law, the act requires group health insurance plans for employers with more than 25 employees to provide coverage for "biologically-based mental illness" that is equivalent to coverage for other illnesses or conditions.

* Montana Representative Carol Williams, a member of the National Honor Rolf of State Legislators, co-sponsored S.B. 219, to require group health insurance plans to "provide a level of benefits for the necessary care and treatment of severe mental illness that is no less favorable than the level provided for other physical illnesses."

* California Assemblymember Carole Migden, a member of the National Honor Rolf of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 20, to exempt up to $2,500 in monthly income for the first six months after a disabled person returns to work when calculating Medicaid eligibility. Earnings of up to $1,500 for the second six months are exempted and participants must pay 10 percent of their income for the Medicaid coverage.

* North Carolina Representative Beverly Earle, a member of the National Honor Rolf of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 1253, to expand eligibility for Medicaid benefits from 12 to 24 months for women leaving welfare.

PATIENTS' RIGHTS

* Illinois Representatives Barbara Flynn Currie, Julie Curry, Sara Feigenholtz, Mary Flowers, Susan Garrett, Lauren Beth Gash, Lovana Jones, Shirley Jones, Carol Ronen, and Sonia Silva, members of the National Honor Rolf of State Legislators, sponsored H.B. 626, the "Managed Care Reform Act." Signed into law, the act bans "gag clauses" that limit a doctor's ability to discuss treatment options, guarantees coverage for emergency care, expands access to medical specialists, establishes an independent appeal process for denials of coverage, and authorizes a private right of action for harm caused to an insured person if a health insurance carrier, health care plan, or any other managed care entity fails to exercise "ordinary care" when making health care treatment decisions.

* Michigan Senator Alma Wheeler Smith, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 42, to make Health Maintenance Organizations (HMCs) and their agents liable for damages for harm to an enrollee caused by the HMO's failure to exercise "ordinary care" in deciding whether to provide treatment.

* Georgia Senator Nadine Thomas, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 2, to make insurers liable for failure to provide and reimburse doctor-recommended medically necessary items or services, to give insured persons the right to choose their own health care providers, and to create tax incentives for individuals and employers who obtain or provide indemnity or nonmanaged care health insurance. Senator Thomas also introduced a companion bill, S.B. 475, to prohibit managed health care plans from creating incentives for physicians to limit covered in-patient services at a participating hospital or other facility.

* Georgia Senator Connie Stokes, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 361, to prohibit all health insurance plans in the state from denying coverage of routine patient care costs for any insurance plan enrollee who participates in a clinical trial for treatment of cancer.

* California Assemblymember Liz Figueroa, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 332, to require any Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) employee who overturns a doctor's decision to be at least as qualified as the original treating physician. The bill would also require HMOs to disclose to the public the criteria they use to deny care.

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE SERVICES

* California Assemblymember Susan Davis, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 12, to grant women discretion to include obstetrician/gynecologists as their primary care physicians. Signed into law, the act ensures that women enrolled in health plans can make appointments directly with their obstetrician/gynecologist without having to obtain a referral from their primary care physician.

* California Assemblymember Sheila Kuehl, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 525, to require all health plans to guarantee that patients have access to a full range of reproductive health services.

* Virginia Delegate Viola Baskerville, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 2717, to provide Medicaid coverage of family planning services for 24 months after giving birth to women who were eligible for prenatal and delivery services under Medicaid.

* Maryland Delegate Sharon Grosfeld, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 457, "Health Benefit Plans -- Coverage for Prescription Contraceptive Drugs or Devices." Signed into law, the act requires insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations that cover prescription drugs to provide the same coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices. The law includes an exception for religious organizations.

* Illinois Representative Mary Flowers, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 1453, to require insurance companies that pay for potency drugs such as Viagra or for other pregnancy-related services to also cover contraceptive services and contraceptive prescription drugs.

* South Carolina Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.R. 3149, to require insurance companies that cover outpatient prescription drugs, devices, and services to cover contraceptive services, drugs, and devices.

* Washington Senators Jeri Costa, Georgia Gardner, Mary Margaret Haugen, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Margarita Prentice and Lorraine Wojahn, members of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 5512, to require that when an employer is exempted from Washington's contraceptive coverage requirement on religious grounds, its employees are entitled to purchase coverage directly from the plan or from a qualified provider within the local community at no greater cost than they would have incurred if the employer had not been exempted. Exempted employers are required to notify employees of this option in writing.

* Georgia Representative Nan Grogan Orrock, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 1565, to require insurance policies and managed care plans to cover chlamydia screening tests. Signed into law, the act also secured funding for screening and treating chlamydia in women who use public health clinics and/or are covered by Medicaid.

WOMEN LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS

* Members of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators placed op-eds prepared by the Center in their local newspapers on World AIDS Day, December 1, 1998, to bring attention to the growing AIDS epidemic among young women in the United States and in their own states. The op-eds appeared in newspapers in Alabama by Representative Laura Hall, Arizona by Representative Herschella Horton, Georgia by Senator Nadine Thomas, Louisiana by Senator Paulette Irons, Maryland by Delegates Sheila Hixson and Carol Petzold, Missouri by Senator Betty Simms, Tennessee by Representative Kathyrn Bowers, and Washington by Representative Velma Veloria.

* California Assemblymember Kerry Mazzoni, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 136, which was signed into law, to authorize needle exchange programs through the adoption of emergency ordinances, with the stipulation that programs must be reauthorized every 14 to 21 days. Assemblymember Mazzoni also introduced A.B. 518, to legalize needle exchange programs in the state based on the overwhelming scientific evidence of such programs' benefits as an HIV prevention strategy.

* Arizona Representatives Herschella Horton and Rebecca Rios, members of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 2106, to establish a $1,150,000 statewide HIV/AIDS education pilot program for children in grades seven through twelve.

* California Assemblymember Carole Migden, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 103, to create a state registry to track HIV infections using codes rather than names, to protect people with HIV from discrimination.

principle #5: Sexual and Reproductive Rights

We pledge to work to reaffirm and uphold the sexual and reproductive tights of all women, including their right to control their own reproductive lives free of coercion, violence and harassment,

* Tennessee Representatives Mary Ann Eckles, Lois DeBerry and Henri Brooks, members of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 685, to provide abortion clinics the "same protections from arson and vandalism as churches." The bill raises the penalty for damaging an abortion clinic from a Class C felony to Class B and increases the maximum fine from $10,000 to $25,000.

* Missouri Senator Ted House introduced S.B. 163, to mandate that public schools' sex education programs provide "the latest medical information" on sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, and the health benefits of all contraceptives as well as accurate information regarding the consequences of adolescent sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy.

* Arizona Representative Herschella Horton, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 2115, a state-funded teenage pregnancy prevention pilot program that would require recipients to discuss contraception for teenagers who are sexually active, their risk for HIM and healthy sexual activity - as well as respect for abstinence. The pilot program also will include components that promote girls' self-esteem and teach girls how to handle peer pressure. For teen girls who are pregnant, the pilot program will provide counseling, parenting skills classes, and ongoing support.

* California Assemblymember Carole Migden, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 26, to provide for the establishment of domestic partnerships between two adults of the same sex who meet eligibility requirements, such as sharing a common residence. Signed into law, the act provides a registry of domestic partnerships, establishes procedures for terminating domestic partnerships, requires a health facility to allow a patient's domestic partner to visit a patient, and authorizes state and local employers to offer health care coverage and other benefits to domestic partners.

principle #6: Workplace Rights

We pledge to work for guarantees 0/ equal pay for work of comparable value and an end to discriminatory hiring and sexual harassment. We support family-friendly workplace practices, job training and opportunities programs, strengthening of affirmative action, employees' rights to organize unions and to work in safe, healthy working environments.

PAY EQUITY

* Ohio Senator C.J. Prentiss, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 133, to eliminate wage discrimination based on sex, race, or national origin for jobs of comparable worth. The bill also would make it unlawful for employers to take any adverse action or discriminate against any employee who seeks to enforce her rights under this legislation.

* Massachusetts Representative Alice K. Wolf introduced H.B. 1697, to ensure that women and men are paid equally for comparable work and to require that the comparability of two positions is based solely on comparable skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions.

* Michigan Senator Alma Wheeler Smith, a member of the National Honor Rolf of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 389, to make it a violation of the state Civil Rights Act to fail or refuse to provide equal compensation for comparable work because of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, or marital status.

SEX DISCRIMINATION AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT

* New Jersey Assemblymember Nia Gill, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced AB. 287, to strengthen the New Jersey law prohibiting sex discrimination by clarifying that "discrimination because of sex' includes sexual harassment, defined es unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature.

* Virginia Delegate Viola Baskerville, a member of the National Honor Rolf of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 1380, to prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY WORKPLACE PRACTICES

* New York Senator Catherine M. Abate, a member of the National Honor Rolf of State Legislators, introduced S. 7282, the "New Mothers Breastfeeding Promotion and Protection Act of 1998," to provide a tax break to employers who set up safe, private end senitery environments for women to express milk and allow a working mother up to one hour per work day for one year after the birth of her child for breast milk breaks.

* California Assemblymember Carole Migden, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 155, to allow disabled Medi-Cal (California Medicaid) recipients who return to work to be eligible for Medi-Cal as long as their income does not exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty level.

principle #7: Educational Equity

We pledge to work for educational equity for women and girls, including creation and strengthening of gender-fair multicultural curricula and teaching techniques, equal opportunities and access for girls and women throughout their lives to education, career development, training and scholarships, educational administration and policy making.

* California Assemblymember Sheila Kuehl, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 537, the "California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000." Signed into law, the act affords all persons, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, equal rights and opportunities in state educational institutions.

* Responding to a State Legislators Action Alert from the Center, state legislators contacted members of their Congressional delegations to express support for the repeal of a provision of the Higher Education Act of 1998 that delays or denies federal financial aid eligibility to any individual convicted of a state or federal drug offense, no matter how minor. This penalty would have a disproportionate impact on low income students who rely heavily on student financial aid.

principle #8: Ending Violence Against Women

We pledge to work for policies and programs to end violence against women and children in every form and to ensure that violence against women and children is understood as a violation of their human rights and civil fights.

* State legislators participated in local Stop the Hate vigils across the country on October 7,1999 to speak out against hate violence based on race, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, gender and disability.

* New Jersey Assemblymember Loretta Weinberg, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, sponsored A.B. 691, to expand New Jersey bias-motivated hate crimes laws. Signed into law, the act created a state Human Relations Council to address incidents of bias and violent acts and to provide training to state, county, and local governmental agencies to promote cultural diversity and prevent and combat racism, sexism, intolerance, and bigotry.

* Maryland Senators Barbara Hoffman, Paula Hollinger, Delores Kelley, and Gloria Lawlah, members of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 139, to add gender and sexual orientation to the list of prejudices considered to be elements of a hate crime under the Maryland hate crimes statute.

* Florida Representative Suzanne Jacobs, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 459, to add gender to the list of prejudices considered to be an element of a hate crime under the Florida hate crimes statute.

* Missouri Representative Vicky Riback Wilson, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 1779, which was signed into law, to enhance sentences for drug-facilitated rape by defining forcible rape and sodomy to include non-consensual use of a substance that makes informed consent impossible; the redefinition allows for increased penalties for rapes in which the assailant uses drugs to incapacitate the victim.

* Georgia Senator Connie Stokes, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 464, to prohibit discrimination against victims of domestic violence in the sale or issuance of all forms of insurance plans operating in the state.

* Texas Senator Jane Nelson introduced S.B. 461, to allow judges to require a defendant convicted of certain family violence offenses to make a one time payment of no more than $100 to a family violence shelter or center. Signed into law, the act only permits defendants sentenced to community supervision to be required to make payment.

* Alabama Representatives Yvonne Kennedy, Laura Hall and Barbara Boyd, members of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 708, to expand the state's definition of abuse to include acts committed by boyfriends and any household members, to strengthen the confidentiality and privacy protections of clients of domestic violence service providers, to require that police tell victims of domestic violence about available services, and to increase the marriage license fee by $15 to support funding for domestic violence shelters.

* Illinois Representatives Sonia Silva and Judy Erwin, members of the Center's National Honor Roll of State Legislators, sponsored the House companion bill to 5.8. 80 (Public Act 91-0262), to require people convicted of domestic violence to pay for their children's counseling, if their children witnessed the abuse. When Governor George Ryan signed the bill into law, he called on the Illinois General Assembly to expand the measure to force batterers to pay for the counseling of anyone who witnesses the abuse.

* Illinois Representative Shirley Jones, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 2310, to expand the definition of criminal stalking to include harassment and threats to family members of stalking victims.

* Delaware Senator Patricia Blevins, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, sponsored H.R. 161/S.A., to prohibit people subject to Protection From Abuse orders from possessing firearms while the order is in effect. Signed into law, the act also prohibits people convicted of most domestic violence misdemeanors from possessing firearms for five years.

* South Carolina Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 3131, to require colleges and universities to develop, publish, and implement policies and practices to promote prevention, awareness, and remedies for sexual assault on campus.

* Georgia Senator Donzella James, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced S.B. 326, to increase the criminal penalties for pimping and pandering to a felony from a misdemeanor for a third or subsequent conviction and to require a minimum one year prison sentence.

* Maryland Delegate Sharon Grosfeld, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 393, to make it a first-degree murder offense to cause death under certain circumstances while the perpetrator commits domestic abuse; the bill also provides for a sentence of life imprisonment without parole.

* New York Assemblymember Audrey Hochberg, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 3859, to amend the criminal mischief statute to make it a crime to destroy marital property during a domestic violence incident.

* New Jersey Assemblymember Nia Gill, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, co-sponsored A.B. 1340, to ensure that the location of domestic violence shelters is kept confidential and may not be disclosed, unless required by law. Current New Jersey law provides only for the confidentiality of the identity or location of a person seeking domestic violence shelter services, but not the confidentiality of the shelter location itself.

* California Assembly member Sheila Kuehl, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced A.B. 200, to require judges in domestic violence cases to state a reason on the official record if they decide to give custody or visitation to a parent who is alleged to have committed child abuse or domestic violence or who habitually or continually uses alcohol or illegal drugs. Signed into law, the act also requires that the order must specifically state the time, day, place, and manner of transfer of the child.

* Assemblymember Kuehl also introduced A.B. 714, to create an exception to mandatory reporting requirements of domestic violence when patients refuse -- in writing -- to give their consent. The bill also would give health care providers immunity if they refrain from reporting a domestic violence injury based on a patient's written refusal.

* Florida Respresentative Beryl Roberts, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced H.B. 1111, to strengthen the prohibitions and penalties for sexual misconduct and sexual violence by any employee or private state contractor of any Florida jail or prison, to require all correctional officers to take a course on sexual assault and prevention, to require reporting of all sexual assaults in these facilities, and to require the state Department of Corrections to conduct a study and report to the legislature on the treatment of inmates by employees of the opposite sex in jails and prisons in Florida.

principle #9: Protecting a Healthy Environment

We pledge to work to end environmental degradation and eliminate toxic chemicals, nuclear wastes, and other pollutants that threaten our health, our communities, country, and planet. we uphold active roles by government at all levels and public and private sectors to continue and expand environmental protection programs.

* The Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), the Center's Contract with Women of the USA partner, takes the lead on incorporating a gender perspective in environmental policies and programs and establishing mechanisms to assess the impact of environmental policies on women's health (see WEDO, Women's Equality: An Unfinished Agenda, 2000).

principle #10: Women as Peace Makers

We salute women's leading roles in peace movements and conflict resolution and pledge to work for their inclusion in policy making at all levels aimed at preventing wars, halting the international arms trade and eliminating all nuclear testing. We seek reductions in military spending and conversion of military facilities to socially productive purposes.

* Members of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators who also belong to the Women Legislators' Lobby of Women's Action for New Directions (WiLL/WAND) participated in the successful WiLL/WAND effort to redirect state and federal budget priorities by introducing the "Better Budget Resolution" in their states in 1998-- to urge the federal government to reduce military spending and redirect those funds to the states to meet increased domestic needs. In Georgia, Senators June Hegstrom, Barbara Mobley, and Nan Grogan Orrock introduced the 'Better Budget Resolution," as did Representative Carol Donovan in Massachusetts, Representative Patricia Godchaux in Michigan, and Senator Sandra Pappas in Minnesota. The 'Better Budget Resolution" was passed by the Massachusetts and Vermont state legislatures and by the Michigan House of Representatives, according to WiLL/WAND.

principle #11: Honor International Commitments and Ratify CEDAW

We pledge to support the commitments made by the United States government to implement the UN Platform for Action, which constitutes a contract with the world's women. We call on the United States Senate to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which the United States has signed.

* Members of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators are placing the Center's model op-ed, "The U.S. Senate Must Ratify CEDAW: Call for An End to Discrimination Against Women," in their local newspapers. During the first several months of 2000, the op-ed was published in Hawaii by Representative Marilyn Lee and in New Hampshire by Representative Terie Norelli.

* North Carolina Representative Alma Adams, a member of the National Honor Roll of State Legislators, introduced a resolution urging the United States Senate to adopt the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The resolution was adopted by the North Carolina House of Representatives on June 29,1999. Similar resolutions were adopted in California, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, South Dakota, and Vermont and in several municipalities.

principle #12: A Long-Term National Plan to Achieve Equality

We who are state and federal policy makers pledge to work in partnership with women's organizations to develop and enforce a long-term plan to achieve our goals of equality and empowerment for women. We support the re-establishment of a national Advisory Panel on Women and the creation or strengthening of similar panels or commissions in each state, to ensure that governments at every level take the necessary steps to implement this Contract.

* The Center urges the President's Interagency Council on Women, established in 1995 to coordinate U.S. efforts to implement the Beijing Platform for Action, to increase its efforts to ensure that federal policy reflects the principles of the Beijing Platform and of the Contract with Women of the USA.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We express our deepest gratitude to Marcia Smith of the Ford Foundation for her consistent support and enthusiasm for the Contract with Women of the USA. As our initial funder, she made it possible for the Center to bring this program into being and her visionary commitment to our mission has made an enormous contribution to the success of the Contract State Legislators Initiative.

We also are grateful to our sister and colleague Mim Kelber of WEDO who worked with us to write the Contract with Women of the USA and whose creativity and talent made its words sing.

RELATED ARTICLE: LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

With our colleagues in the Contract with Women of the USA State Legislators Initiative, the Center continues to pursue the legacy of Beijing -- which inspires our continued policy leadership into the 21st century. In the post-Beijing era in the United States, the powerful message that 'women's rights are human rights" and the leadership of activist women policy makers at both the state and federal levels gives us hope that our forward march into an egalitarian future will not be halted.

Much remains to be done. For example, the historical and continuing state government jurisdiction in criminal law requires state legislatures to make ending violence against women and girls a top state priority. Further, the devolution of control of health, reproductive rights, welfare, and social safety net policies and programs from the federal government to the individual states that emerged in the 1990s demands our increased state legislative response.

Indeed, the United States Congress, to a greater extent than ever before in history, has relegated the planning, implementation, and financing of services for low income women and families to state legislatures and state budgets. As a result, during the Contract's first four years, the attention and focus for many state legislators has been on the creation and expansion of state programs to ensure that low income women are not deprived of basic services that allow them to work and support themselves and their families -- health care, family planning services, protection from domestic violence, affordable child care, education, and the right to family and medical leave, for example.

It is likely that these federal trends will continue, requiring the Center to redouble our efforts to give voice to the Contract's 12 principles for women's equality and human rights -- in partnership with our colleagues in state legislatures in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the other U.S. territories. These legislators are an invaluable group of leaders who have a major impact on state policy affecting women, who are the most likely to understand the need for programs that explicitly address women's needs, who see themselves as advocates for women, and who are able to persuade their colleagues to stand with them. Together, we will make a difference for the women and girls of our nation.

We conclude this report, therefore, as we began -- with the words of Bella Abzug: "Women came to Beijing in unprecedented numbers because we believe we do make a difference. I believe each of us can and does make a difference. Here today it is important to know that the global women's movement is alive and well... Never underestimate the importance of what we are doing here. Never hesitate to tell the truth. And never, ever give in or give up."

ABOUT THE CENTER FOR WOMEN POLICY STUDIES

Since its founding in 1972 as the nation's first feminist policy research organization, the Center for Women Policy Studies has been an the front lines of efforts to promote justice and equality for women.

The Center's multiethnic and multicultrual feminist research, policy analysis and advocacy bring women's diverse voices to important debates -- an women and ALOS, violence against women and girls, welfare reform, access to health care, educational equity, employers work/family and workplace diversity policies, reproductive rights and health, and much mare.

The Center is a unique resource far policy makers, advocates and community leaders.

We...

IDENTIFY cutting edge issues and trends and shape multiethnic feminist responses.

ADDRESS the combined impact of gender, race/ethnicity and economic status an issues affecting women and girls.

ENSURE that our staff, Board and programs reflect women's diversity -- by race and ethnicity, economic status, disability, sexual orientation and age.

GROUND our work in the belief that all issues affecting women are interrelated.

The Center...

CONDUCTS RESEARCH

We conduct qualitative and quantitative research, using focus groups, in-depth interviews, surveys and secondary data analysis.

ANALYZES POLICY AND LEGISLATION

We analyze federal and state policies and legislative initiatives and develop policy options.

CONVENES LEADERS

By sponsoring seminars, symposia, conferences and think tanks, we bring together creative thinkers and experts to address cutting edge issues and trends.

PUBLISHES REPORTS

We publish reports, newsletters, policy papers, research papers, action alerts, press releases and op-eds to bring our research findings and policy analyses to wide and diverse audiences.

CONDUCTS ADVOCACY

Ta influence policy change, we share our work with policy makers and advocates, participate in coalitions, and conduct public education and media outreach programs.

APPENDIX

Summary of United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women Declaration and Platform for Action (*)

Since the United Nations held the first world conference on women 20 years ago (Mexico City, 1975), important progress has been made towards achieving equality between women and men. Women's access to education and proper health care has increased, their participation in the paid labor force has grown and legislation that promises equal opportunities for women and respect for their human rights has been adopted in more countries. As a result, important changes have occurred in the relationship between women and men.

Yet discrimination against women is still widespread. Violence against women remains a global phenomenon. Women's equal access to resources is still restricted and their opportunities for higher education and training are concentrated in limited fields. A "glass ceiling" continues to bar women's advancement in business, government and politics. Women are an overwhelming majority of the 1 billion people living in abject poverty and among illiterates. Decisions that affect women continue to be made largely by men.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted unanimously at the Fourth World Conference on Women (4-15 September 1995) by representatives from 189 countries, reflect a new international commitment to the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere.

The Platform, divided into six chapters, identifies 12 "critical areas of concern" considered to represent the main obstacles to women's advancement. It defines strategic objectives and spells out actions to be taken over the next five years by Governments, the international community, non-governmental organizations and the private sector for the removal of the existing obstacles.

The Platform was further reinforced in the Beijing Declaration. It reaffirmed the commitment of Governments to eliminate discrimination against women and to remove all obstacles to equality. Governments also recognized the need to ensure a gender perspective in their policies and programmes.

MISSION STATEMENT & GLOBAL FRAMEWORK

Since the 1985 Nairobi Conference on Women, the world has experienced profound changes, with both positive and negative effects on women. A worldwide movement towards democratization has opened up the political process in many nations. The growing strength of women's organizations and feminist groups has become a driving force for change.

At the same time, widespread economic recession, political instability, heavy military spending, poorly designed structural adjustment programs, the servicing of the external debt burden and continuing environmental degradation have had a disproportionately negative impact on women.

The Platform for Action, an agenda for women's empowerment, seeks to reverse this trend. It seeks to promote and protect the full enjoyment of all human rights and the fundamental freedoms of all women throughout their life cycle. It also calls for establishing the principle of shared power and responsibility between women and men at home, in the workplace and in the wider national and international communities.

The success of the Platform for Action will require a strong commitment on the part of Governments, international organizations and institutions at all levels. It will also require adequate mobilization of resources at all levels as well as new and additional resources for the developing countries.

POVERTY

Today, more than 1 billion people live in extreme poverty; the overwhelming majority of them are women. In the past decade the number of women living in poverty has increased disproportionately to the number of men, and the risk for falling into poverty is higher for women than for men. Poverty is particularly acute among women living in rural households.

Women are poorer because they have fewer economic opportunities and less autonomy than men. Their access to economic resources, education and training, and support services is limited. They also have very little participation in the way decisions are made. The rigidity of socially prescribed roles for women and the tendency to scale back social services have increased the burden of poverty on women.

the Platform recommends actions to

* Review, adopt and maintain macroeconomic policies and development strategies that address the needs and efforts of women in poverty;

* Revise laws and administrative practices in order to ensure women's equal rights and access to economic resources;

* Provide women with access to savings and credit mechanisms and institutions;

* Develop gender-based methodologies and conduct research to address the feminization of poverty.

EDUCATION & TRAINING

Education is a human right and an essential tool for achieving equality, development and peace. Though overall progress has been achieved in girls' enrollment at primary and secondary levels, girls in many countries still face discrimination due to customary attitudes, early marriages and pregnancies, lack of accessible schools, and inadequate and gender-biased teaching and educational materials. Girls continue to be denied quality education, especially at higher levels and in science and technology.

Investing in formal and non-formal education and training for girls and women has proved to be one of the best means of achieving sustainable development and economic growth.

the Platform recommends actions to

* Ensure equal access to education. Governments are to commit themselves, by the year 2000, to universal access to basic education and completion of primary education by at least 80 percent of primary-school-age children;

* They also agree to close the gender gap in primary and secondary-school education by the year 2000, and to achieve universal education in all countries before the year 2015;

* Eradicate illiteracy among women. Governments are to reduce the female illiteracy rate at least to half its 1990 level;

* Improve women's access to vocational training, science and technology, and continuing education;

* Develop non-discriminatory education and training;

* Allocate sufficient resources for and monitor the implementation of educational reforms;

* Promote lifelong education and training for girls and women.

HEALTH

Women's health involves their emotional, social and physical well-being. It is determined by the social, political and economic context of their lives, as well as by biology. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health is vital for the life and well-being of women. It is also crucial to their ability to participate in all areas of public and private life. This right must be secured throughout their whole life cycle in equality with men.

The Platform defines reproductive health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and sexual health whose purpose is the enhancement of life and personal relations. Equal relationships between men and women in matters of sexual relations and reproduction require mutual respect, consent and shared responsibility. The Platform recognizes that reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic human rights of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly how many children they want to have, and when. They also have the right to obtain information and make decisions on reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence.

the Platform recommends actions to

* Increase women's access throughout the life cycle to appropriate, affordable and quality health care, information and related services;

* Reduce maternal mortality by at least 50 per cent of the 1990 levels by the year 2000 and a further one half by the year 2015;

* Encourage both women and men to take responsibility for their sexual and reproductive behavior;

* Undertake gender-sensitive initiatives that address sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health issues;

* Increase resources and monitor follow-up for women's health.

VIOLENCE

In all societies, to a greater or lesser degree, women and girls are subject to physical, sexual and psychological abuse that cuts across lines of income, class and culture, in both public and private life. They often face rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation in the workplace. They are particularly vulnerable to systematic violence during war. Sexual slavery, forced pregnancy, sterilization and forced abortion, prenatal sex selection and female infanticide are also acts of violence. All such acts of violence violate and impair or nullify women's enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Such groups of women as migrant workers require special attention because they are particularly vulnerable to violence.

Lack of preventive and protective laws, and lack of access or ineffective enforcement by public authorities of such laws where they exist, only perpetuate and increase violence against women.

the Platform recommends actions to

* Adopt and implement legislation to end violence against women;

* Work actively to ratify and implement all international agreements related to violence against women, including the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women;

* Adopt new laws and enforce existing ones to punish members of security forces and police or any other State agents for acts of violence against women;

* Set up shelters, provide legal aid and other services for girls and women at risk, and provide counseling and rehabilitation for perpetrators of violence against women;

* Step up national and international cooperation to dismantle networks engaged in trafficking in women.

ARMED CONFLICT

Peace is a prerequisite for the attainment of equality between women and men. Unfortunately, armed and other types of conflict still persist in many parts of the world. Aggression, foreign occupation and ethnic and other conflicts are an ongoing reality affecting women and men in nearly every region, aided by excessive military expenditures and the arms trade.

Though women rarely have any role in the decisions leading to armed conflicts, they work to preserve social order in the midst of the conflicts. They also make an important contribution as peace educators and resolvers of conflicts.

The Plafform recognizes that rape, which is common during armed conflicts, is a crime, and under certain circumstances is an act of genocide. It condemns "ethnic cleansing" as a strategy of war and rape as one of its consequences. Such practices must be stopped and their perpetrators punished, it asserts.

the Platform recommends actions to

* Increase the participation of women in conflict resolution at decision-making levels;

* Reduce excessive military expenditures and control the availability of armaments;

* Work towards the universal ratification of the anti-mine Convention and Protocol by the year 2000;

* Recognize the important roles and contributions of women in peace movements throughout the world;

* Recognize the need to protect women living in situations of armed and other conflict or under foreign occupation, or who have become refugees or displaced.

ECONOMY

Women contribute significantly to economic life everywhere. Their share in the labour force continues to rise, they are becoming more involved in micro-, small and medium enterprises and their income is becoming increasingly necessary to all households.

However, women are largely excluded from economic decision-making. They face low wages, poor working conditions and limited employment and professional opportunities. Though women contribute to development through paid as well as unpaid work, their unpaid work, such as domestic and community work, is not measured in quantitative terms and not valued in national accounts.

Discrimination in education and training, hiring, and remuneration and promotion, as well as inflexible working conditions, lack of access to productive resources and inadequate sharing of family responsibilities, contribute to restricted employment, economic and professional opportunities for women.

the Platform recommends actions to

* Promote women's economic rights and independence, including access to employment and appropriate working conditions and control over economic resources;

* Facilitate women's equal access to resources, employment, markets and trade;

* Provide business services, training and access to markets, information and technology, particularly to low-income women;

* Strengthen women's economic capacity and commercial networks;

* Eliminate occupational segregation and all forms of employment discrimination;

* Promote harmonization of work and family responsibilities for women and men.

DECISION-MAKING

Women's equal participation in decision-making is not only a demand for simple social justice or democracy. It is essential for achieving transparent and accountable government. It will also provide a balance that more accurately reflects the composition of society.

Despite the widespread movement towards democratization in most countries, women remain largely underrepresented at most levels of government, especially in ministerial and other executive bodies or in reaching the target of having 30 per cent of decision-making positions held by women by 1995, as endorsed by the UN Economic and Social Council. They have achieved little progress in attaining political power in legislative bodies. Globally, only 10 per cent of legislative positions, and a lower percentage of ministerial positions, are held by women.

Similarly, the underrepresentation of women in decision-making positions in the arts, culture, sports, the media, education, religion and law have prevented women from having a significant impact on many key institutions and policies.

the Platform recommends actions to

* Ensure women's equal access to and full participation in power structures and decision-making in governmental bodies and public administration entities, including the judiciary, international and non-governmental organizations, political parties and trade unions;

* Increase women's capacity to participate in decision-making and leadership positions.

INSTITUTIONAL MECHANISMS

Most countries have established institutions for the advancement of women. These are diverse in form and uneven in their effectiveness. They are often marginalized in national government structures, without a clear mandate, and lack adequate staff and resources as well as support from national political leadership. At the regional and international levels, mechanisms and institutions for the advancement of women encounter similar problems.

Many organizations have developed methodologies for gender-based policy analysis. Unfortunately, they are applied either sporadically or not at all.

the Platform recommends actions to

* Create or strengthen national machineries and other governmental bodies; ensure that responsibility for the advancement of women is vested in the highest possible level of Government;

* Integrate gender perspectives in legislation, public policies, programs and projects; ensure that before policy decisions are taken, an analysis of their impact on women and men is carried out;

* Generate and disseminate gender-disaggregated data and information for planning and evaluation; measure, in quantitative terms, unremunerated work that is outside national accounts.

HUMAN RIGHTS

All human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. Their full and equal enjoyment by women and girls is a priority for Governments and the United Nations and is essential for the advancement of women. Governments must not only refrain from violating the human rights of all women but work actively to promote and protect these rights.

Recognition of the importance of women's human rights is reflected in the fact that three quarters of the UN Member States have become parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. However, the gap between the existence of rights and their effective enjoyment derives from a lack of commitment by Governments in promoting and protecting those rights and the failure of Governments to inform women and men alike about them.

the Platform recommends actions to

* Promote and protect the human rights of women by fully implementing all human rights instruments, especially the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;

* Review national laws to ensure implementation of all international human rights agreements;

* Ensure equality and non-discrimination under the law and in practice;

* Achieve legal literacy.

MEDIA

Today, many women work in the media, but few have reached positions at decision-making levels. In most countries, the media continue to project a negative and degrading image of women and do not reflect women's diverse lives and contributions to society. Violent and degrading or pornographic media products in particular affect women negatively.

Everywhere the media have the potential to make a far greater contribution to the advancement of women. They can create self-regulatory mechanisms that can help eliminate gender-biased programming. Women can also be empowered by having greater skills, knowledge and access to information technology.

the Platform recommends actions to

* Increase women's participation in and access to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication; Governments should aim at gender balance through the appointment of women and men to all advisory, management, regulatory or monitoring bodies;

* Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media. The media organizations, NGOs and the private sector should promote the equal sharing of family responsibility and produce materials that portray diverse roles of women leaders;

* Develop within mass media and advertising organizations professional guidelines and codes of conduct and other forms of self-regulation to promote the presentation of non-stereotyped images of women, consistent with freedom of expression.

ENVIRONMENT

Through their management and use of natural resources, women provide sustenance to their families and communities. As consumers and producers, caretakers of their families and educators, women play an important role in promoting sustainable development.

The deterioration of natural resources results in negative effects on the health, well-being and quality of life of the population at large, especially girls and women of all ages.

However, women, who are rarely formally trained as natural-resource managers, remain largely absent from decision-making and have their experience and skills too often marginalized. Despite the leadership role played by women's organizations, institutional coordination with national bodies is very weak.

the Platform recommends actions to

* Involve women actively in environmental decision-making at all levels, including as managers, designers and planners, and as implementers and evaluators of environmental projects;

* Integrate gender concerns and perspectives in policies and programs for sustainable development;

* Strengthen or establish mechanisms at the national, regional and international levels to assess the impact of development and environment policies on women.

THE GIRL-CHILD

In many countries, the girl-child faces discrimination from the earliest stages of life, through childhood and into adulthood. Due to harmful attitudes and practices, such as female genital mutilation, son preference, early marriage, sexual exploitation and practices related to health and food allocation, fewer girls than boys survive into adulthood in some areas of the world. Due to lack of protective laws, or failure to enforce such laws, girls are more vulnerable to all kinds of violence, particularly sexual violence. In many regions, girls face discrimination in access to education and specialized training.

More than 15 million girls aged 15 to 19 each year give birth and face pregnancy-related complications. Girls are also more vulnerable than boys to the consequences of unprotected and premature sexual relations, including HIV/AIDS.

the Platform recommends actions to

* Eliminate all forms of discrimination against the girl-child; enact and enforce appropriate legislation that guarantees equal right to succession and ensures equal right to inherit, regardless of the sex of the child;

* Eliminate negative cultural attitudes and practices against girls;

* Eliminate discrimination against girls in education, skills development and training;

* Eliminate discrimination against girls in health and nutrition;

* Eliminate the economic exploitation of child labor and protect young girls at work;

* Strengthen the role of the family in improving the status of the girl-child.

INSTITUTIONAL & FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS

The Platform for Action establishes a set of actions that should lead to fundamental change. Immediate action and accountability are essential if the targets are to be met by the year 2000.

Governments are primarily responsible for their implementation. However, success depends also on various national, regional and international institutions, public and private, which require clear and strong mandates, authority and resources.

At the national level, commitment at the highest political level is essential for the successful implementation of the Platform. By the end of 1996, all Governments should have their own national strategies or plans of action. Governments should establish or improve effectiveness of national machineries for the advancement of women, and seek the active support of a broad range of other actors.

At the regional and sub-regional levels, the regional commissions of the United Nations should promote and assist national institutions. Regional institutions should develop and publicize regional plans of action for implementing the Platform within given time-frames and resources.

At the international level, all entities of the United Nations system should have the necessary resources and support to carry out follow-up activities. International financial institutions are encouraged to review and revise policies to ensure that their investments and programs benefit women.

To ensure system-wide implementation of the Platform and to advise on gender issues, the Secretary-General of the United Nations is invited to establish a high-level post in his office. The Platform also calls for committing adequate financial resources from all sources and across all sectors.

Contract with Women of the USA

As public officials, advocates for women's rights, policy makers, organizations and individuals, we sign this Contract with Women of the USA to implement the Platform for Action adopted September 1995 at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women by consensus of 189 governments, including the United States of America.

We pledge our mutual commitment to the goal of equality and empowerment for American women, who are the continuing majority of our nation and states.

We pledge to work together to overcome discrimination based on sex, race, class, age, immigration status, sexual orientation, religion, and disability. We seek to end social, economic and political inequities, violence and the human rights abuses that still confront millions of women and girls in our country.

Looking to the 21st century, we enter into this Contract with Women of the USA for ourselves and for future generations to achieve our vision of a healthy planet and healthy nations, states and communities, with peace, equality, and justice for all.

1. Empowerment of Women

We pledge to work for empowerment of women in all their diversity through equal participation in decision making and equal access to shared power in government, in all spheres and at every level of society.

2. Sharing Family Responsibilities

We pledge to work for equal sharing of family responsibilities, recognition and respect for the diversity of families, and for practices and polices that enhance the multiple roles, security and well-being of women and girls, men and boys.

3. Ending the Burden of Poverty

We pledge to work for economic justice and to end the increasing burden of poverty on women and their children, who are a majority of the poor. Recognizing the value of women's unpaid and underpaid labor to our families, communities and economy, we support a living wage for all workers and adequate funding for welfare and other social safely nets, child care, education and job training, and access to collateral-free credit for women-owned small businesses.

4. High Quality, Affordable Heath Care

We pledge to work to reaffirm the rights of women and girls, regardless of income or where they live, to high quality, accessible, affordable and respectful physical and mental health care, based on sound women-focused research.

5. Sexual and Reproductive Rights

We pledge to work to reaffirm and uphold the sexual and reproductive rights of all women, including their right to control their own reproductive lives free of coercion, violence and harassment.

6. Workplace Rights

We pledge to work for guarantees of equal pay for work of comparable value and an end to discriminatory hiring and sexual harassment. We support family-friendly workplace practices, job training and opportunities programs, strengthening of affirmative action, employees' rights to organize unions and to work in safe, healthy working environments.

7. Educational Equity

We pledge to work for educational equity for women and girls, including creation and strengthening of gender-fair multicultural curricula and teaching techniques, equal opportunities and access for girls and women throughout their lives to education, career development, training and scholarships, educational administration and policy making.

8. Ending Violence Against Women

We pledge to work for policies and programs to end violence against women and children in every form and to ensure that violence against women and children is understood as a violation of their human rights and civil rights.

9. Protecting a Healthy Environment

We pledge to work to end environmental degradation and eliminate toxic chemicals, nuclear wastes and other pollutants that threaten our health, our communities, country and planet. We uphold active roles by government at all levels and public and private sectors to continue and expand environmental protection programs.

10. Women as Peace Makers

We salute women's leading roles in peace movements and conflict resolution and pledge to work for their inclusion in policy making at all levels aimed at preventing wars, halting the international arms trade and eliminating all nuclear testing. We seek reductions in military spending and conversion of military facilities to socially productive purposes.

11. Honor International Commitments and Ratify CEDAW

We pledge to support the commitments made by the United States government to implement the UN Platform for Action, which constitutes a contract with the world's women. We call on the United States Senate to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which the United States has signed.

12. A Long-Term National Plan to Achieve Equality

We who are state and federal policy makers pledge to work in partnership with women's organizations to develop and enforce a long-term plan to achieve our goals of equality and empowerment for women. We support the re-establishment of a national Advisory Panel on Women and the creation or strengthening of similar panels or commissions in each state, to ensure that governments at every level take the necessary steps to implement this Contract.

(*.) document is part of a brochure published by the united Nations Department of Public Information. Document code: DPI/1762/Wom -- November 1995 -- 50m and is available at the Division for the Advancement of women's World Wide Web site at: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/.
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Publication:Bringing Beijing Home
Article Type:Topic Overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2000
Words:12313
Previous Article:Preface.
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