Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Overweight Epidemic Requires Community Solutions

By Laurie Iscaro

Our hurried lifestyles lead us toward sedentary recreation. Our children “play” with the computer, I-Pods and Gameboys, and our teens spend many idle hours on MySpace and Facebook. Our schools rarely provide recess or physical education any more, and our kids are rushed through 20-minute lunches in a cafeteria where chicken fingers, pizza and ice cream are more common than a salad bar. Once home, kids who are alone without supervision often opt for sugary or salty treats and TV instead of outdoor play and a nutritious snack.

It’s little wonder we’re having issues with being overweight and obese. Yet schools alone cannot meet the needs of the healthy child for physical, artistic, social and emotional expression.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Women Make History Today on the New York Times Op-Ed Pages

As part of National Women's Editorial Forum's project to monitor Op-Ed pages of newspapers across the country, I have been reading the opinion section the New York Times for several months and have been very discouraged by the lack of women authors. The names of women rarely appear as bylines, and when they do, there is usually only one, most often one of the Times’ two female staff columnists. So, imagine how ecstatic I was to see that all of the four op-eds posted in today’s New York Times featured women authors. Then I discovered the topic to which the entire page was devoted: the Elliot Spitzer sex scandal.

One author is a woman who sympathizes with Spitzer’s wife, Silda, having gone through a similar predicament herself. The second author wrote with a male author to explore the myth of the victimless crime, discussing the consequences of the sex-for-hire industry and publicity faced by the prostitutes themselves. The third author is a former sex worker, and the fourth author is a syndicated columnist uses Elliot Spitzer’s poor choices as evidence as to why America should elect a woman president, as if that would eliminate infidelity among male politicians.

Not to discredit the voices of these women, but I find it interesting that the only time I’ve ever seen women dominate the commentary section in the nation’s paper of record is when the topic is sex, prostitution, and dishonorable conduct by a married male politician.

This is why it is so critical to monitor women in the media. Tracking the behaviors of local, state, and national publications allows us make valid plausible arguments in defense of the absence of women in the commentary continuum. You can help us by letting us know what’s on the op-ed page of your local newspaper. It’s easy to do through our Web-based form.

Sign up for Women’s Monitor today!

--Sui Lang Panoke

Friday, March 07, 2008

Join The Women’s Monitor Project

Following on the heels of the discussion of The Washington Post’s editorial judgment in selecting guest columns, this is a good time to reintroduce the National Women’s Editorial Forum’s “Women’s Monitor” project. We are currently looking at Opinion pages across the country to see how many feature women’s voices and how often.

We need your help to know who’s there and who’s not -- so we can begin to make change, one paper at a time. We’re looking for volunteers who don’t mind reading their own daily newspaper (or any one accessible on the web) and providing a report of the day of how many of the opinion columns (not unsigned editorials) are written by women.

For example, a sample report from the Los Angeles Times on March 7, 2008 shows the paper printed five columns, all by men. We’re looking for readers across the country to track their paper (or papers) and submit similar daily reports. (Looking at papers online is fine). The more reports, and the more consistent the data, the more we can take the numbers to the papers and demand they provide a forum for women’s voices. Women shouldn’t be regulated to the token voices, representing only one-fourth or less of the paper’s columnists….or less. As Katha Pollitt recently pointed out at the Washington Post the “current roster of op-ed columnists: 16 men, two women.”

That’s unacceptable and it’s time to get the data to show the editors they are excluding women’s voices from the debate.

Click here to apply for a password to the Monitor and afterwards you’ll be able to submit a report of your paper’s Opinion page breakdown.

If anyone has questions feel free to email us at nwef (at) mediaforum dot org.

We’re looking forward to hearing about how well papers across the country represent (or don’t) women’s voices.

---Rachel Joy Larris

Farm Bill Reforms Must Be Permanently Funded

By Kathryn Sherlock

It's stunning that in a country with such abundant resources, know-how and advanced technology, we can’t seem to figure out how to end hunger.

Second Harvest reported in 2006 that 35.5 million people, 12.6 million of whom were children, experienced food insecurity (the government’s more palatable term for people who are hungry). Households with children reported food insecurity at almost double the rate of households without children. New Mexico ranked second in the nation behind Mississippi in food insecurity between 2004 and 2006.

Congress has an opportunity to do something significant toward ending hunger as they make their final decisions on the Farm Bill. What gets included (or not) will set U.S. agricultural policy for the next five years or more. This impacts everyone in New Mexico.


Where Are the Women?

After the fracas over the characterization of women in the Sunday opinion section of an important newspaper, a prominent feminist calls for a drastic increase in women editors and columnists.

On Sunday, the Washington Post offered, on the front page of its opinion section, two featured essays under a shared headline, “Women vs. Women.” One of those essays was penned by Charlotte Allen, a well-known opponent of feminism, who proclaimed that women were essentially inferior to men in nearly all categories she deemed meaningful, which include driving skills, spatial relations and math (and did not include verbal skills or multitasking).

The torrent of anger that answered the Post’s publication of Allen’s piece was predictable, and perhaps even welcomed by a Web site looking to up its page views. Into this fray stepped Katha Pollitt, the resident feminist columnist at The Nation, who, in her rebuttal today on the Post’s Web site, asked the question we have been begging for some time: If women were more equitably represented on the opinion page editorial staffs of major papers, and as columnists within those pages, would a piece like the Allen essay ever had seen the light of day. From Pollitt’s rebuttal:
Here's a thought. Maybe there's another thing women can do besides fluff up their husbands' pillows: Fill more important jobs at The Washington Post. We should be half the assigning editors, half the writers, and half the regular columnists too (current roster of op-ed columnists: 16 men, two women). We've got those superior verbal skills, remember? Drastically increasing the presence of women isn't a foolproof recipe for gender fairness -- Allen is far from alone in her dislike of her sex -- but I have to believe a gender-balanced paper would reflect a broader view of women than The Post does at present.
In addition, Laura Rozen offers this savvy take on her blog, War and Piece, and Ann Friedman puts forth an excellent send-up at Feministing.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

From Prison to Work and Not Back Again

By Rep. Helen Miller and Roger L. Baysden

There are over 2 million people behind bars in America and the numbers continue to grow. That’s more than the entire populations of Vermont, North Dakota and Alaska combined.

While major strides have been made in our country to better understand the needs of offenders, the United States still remains the single largest warehouser of inmates in the world. Far too little discussion is occurring on how to best address the needs of the 1.8 million offenders that will be released from our penal system and return to the communities from which they have come.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Moving Women From Benchwarmers to Captains

By Linda Tarr-Whelan

Sometimes progress is measured by half-court movements. When I was in school, girls played basketball by different rules than the boys. We played on a half-court and could only dribble three times before passing the ball. Girls were regarded as too fragile to run the distance. Now, tell that to the women in the WNBA.

It's good to measure positive change, like women’s full court professional basketball. Recognizing these changes is what we celebrate in March as Women's History Month. But I'm done with simply celebrating where we've been. Instead, it's time to look at March as more a celebration of our future: let’s call it “Women Making History Month.”