WOMEN IN ACTION
SPRING | SUMMER 2020
CAPITAL IMPACT PUBLISHED BY THE JUNIOR LEAGUE OF TOPEKA
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CAPITAL IMPACT PUBLISHED BY THE JUNIOR LEAGUE OF TOPEKA
JOIN THE TRADITION
RENAE CARSTEN AND LACEY BISNETT
JLT IN ACTION: #ENDPERIODPOVERTY CAPITAL IMPACT LEADERSHIP SUMMIT: 2020 STUDENT LEADERS
TAX-FREE. PERIOD. The Campaign to Eliminate the Tampon Tax
PERIOD TALKS: THE CREATION OF SCENSIBLES
AXING THE PINK TAX
ADVOCACY DAY 2020
WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE
CAPITAL IMPACT PUBLISHED BY THE JUNIOR LEAGUE OF TOPEKA
Contributors Erin Aldridge Alizabeth Ballard Lacey Bisnett Barbara Boudreaux Renae Carsten Chelsea Hopkins Shannon Little Kelsie Nicholson Brie Parks Laura Vaughn Ashley Watson Emily Winsor
Editorial Board Barbara Boudreaux Renae Carsten Chelsea Hopkins Shawna Mitchell Kelly Robbins Tiffany Strohmeyer Laura Vaughn Maddie Williams
Editorial Team VP Communications Bailee Carpenter Copy Editor Vickie Hawver Copy Editor Pam Koupal Design Editor Melina Stewart Advertising Editor Lacee Sandgren Assistant Editor Maddie Williams Editor Barbara Boudreaux
ADVERTISE IN THE FALL 2020 EDITION! Contact Advertising@jltopeka.org for current ad rates and sizes.
FROM THE EDITOR
Welcome to the first alldigital Issue of Capital Impact! At the beginning of March, we were busy preparing a Spring edition focusing on “Women in Action” advocating for change despite challenges. Little did we know then that we would be put to a challenge ourselves when the COVID-19 crisis upended life.
When the call from local healthcare workers came for masks, JLT Members responded with the “Masks on a Mission” project. To keep up spirits for Topeka’s youngest residents during stay at home orders, JLT Members assembled coloring sheets with crayon packs to distribute to blessing boxes. When the Topeka YWCA asked JLT for spray bottles to help distribute hand sanitizer, JLT Members were there. Women in action, women ready to take on any challenge. Junior League women have always tackled difficult times with enthusiasm and sleeves rolled up. In this Issue, we celebrate League members who marched for and won suffrage one hundred years ago this summer. While we have felt a sisterhood every time we cast a ballot, we also now feel an unexpected camaraderie with them as fellow survivors of a pandemic upheaval. We also profile the initiative of JLT to increase awareness of “period poverty” in our community. Women and girls often go without basic health supplies for their menstruation. We celebrate the innovation of our sister League members who have developed female-friendly feminine products and those who have successfully advocated for the removal of sales tax on feminine care products. As in the past and so in the future, JLT Members and Junior League members across the country will continue to make a difference in their communities and globally. After all, we women in action #Allinthistogether and #ProudtobeJLT!
FROM THE PRESIDENT Building up strong women. Behind every strong woman you will most likely find a tribe of other strong women building her up. Offering wise counsel, constructive critiques and, when needed, a strong drink. I canâ€™t help but think of the women who helped me become who I am today. The determined, self-made single mother who raised my grandmother. My grandmother who taught herself accounting, bookkeeping, and computer skills on some of the earliest machines. My mom who taught me to be confident in who I am, never to sacrifice my values for anything, and above all else to trust that God has a plan and a purpose. Women of the Junior League are a legacy of strong women created by strong women. Pushing boundaries and the status quo to do what is right for our community and each other. As I conclude two years serving as President for this amazing and determined organization, I think about all of the women I have come to know through it. I have watched the women of our community grow into the amazing leaders they are meant to be through wise counsel and the occasional strong drink. But even more so, I have watched them build each other up, supporting each other through good times and rough times. I am proud to be part of the legacy of women who are continuing to work to make our community a better place to live, work, play, and make an impact.
Erin Aldridge, 2018-2020 President
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ERIN ALDRIDGE PRESIDENT
SIXKILLER PRESIDENT ELECT
WHY I GIVE BACK Topeka truly is an amazing community with so many good things happening. To continue to move forward, everyone has to do his or her part. Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Getting involved both invests me in my hometown and teaches my daughters the importance of digging in to make a difference. The other amazing bonus of giving back is the amazing people you will befriend and partner with along the way! Kim Sixkiller, President-Elect 6
JOIN IN THE TRADITION
Are you interested in learning more about what it means to be a member of Junior League of Topeka? As an organization committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community, our membership requirements are geared toward achieving that goal! Our members are asked to attend monthly meetings, log volunteers hours in the community, and invest in the organization through annual membership dues. Each of these requirements are focused on furthering the mission of the Junior League in Topeka. Through these commitments, members receive training in leadership, organizational development, community needs assessment, mentoring, advocacy, communications, funding development, strategic planning, negotiation, networking, and more. Training, volunteerism, and social events benefit our members and build life-long friendships with others who share the same passion for community. If you would like to receive more information about membership in the Junior League of Topeka, please email email@example.com. JLTopeka.orgAll women 18 and over are welcome and we are excited to meet you! JLTopeka.org
CONNECT WITH US!
JLTopeka@JLTopeka.org @JLTopeka @JLTopeka Email@JLTopeka.org
SPOTLIGHT 2019-2020 Active Member MVP
By Barbara Boudreaux A native of Hutchinson, Kansas, Renae obtained its challenges. I think my husband and I have found strength her Bachelors in Nursing at Avila University and in each other, to try and make the best of everything over Masters in Nursing at Washburn University. Renae the past two months. Overall, the kids have proved to be so has worked for Stormont Vail Health since coming resilient and we have enjoyed our family time—having very to Topeka in 2009, first as an RN in the Emergency little on the schedule has been refreshing. Department, and currently as an APRN for the Cotton O’Neil Express Care network. She joined JLT in 2017 My idea of self-care has certainly changed recently—simple and currently serves as the Provisional Coordinator things such as going for a walk or a little yoga have been on the Membership Council. Renae and her husband Chad live in Topeka with their three beautiful children, very helpful. My garden has grown significantly this year! Trying to do some fun and special activities at home has Ellie, James, and Ava. At the May GMM, Renae was been great for everyone, such as making our own “spa honored as Active Member MVP for the 2019-2020 day,” having more movie nights, and frequent water balloon League Year. fights. Congratulations on the MVP award! You have done You will be back this year again as Provisional Coordinator. so much this year to welcome and nurture JLT’s Recruitment may look a bit different in this pandemic new members - what drew you to this position? environment. What would you say to women considering joining JLT? Thank you! It was such an honor to be recognized. I remember being drawn to the Membership I’d say this is the perfect time to surround yourself with Council when I was a Provisional Member. I loved amazing women in the Topeka area. The recent support the idea of being so involved with the prospective among JLT Members into our community has been and provisional members, essentially being the incredible. Recruitment will look a little different this “face” of JLT. When the position became available, year, involving both social media and in-person events. I jumped at the chance to take on a larger role, Through social media we will offer facts about JLT, FAQs, interact closely with the provisionals, and develop feature current and sustaining members, and highlight our skills outside my comfort zone. I have truly involvement in the Topeka community. We plan to host at enjoyed my time on the Membership Council, least two virtual information sessions where those who are and I have learned more than I ever could have interested can ask questions and learn more about the JLT anticipated. experience. We still plan to hold two in-person recruitment events, following public health recommendations. The first Our Spring Issue focuses on the strength of at the new downtown Ash Boutique location on July 25 and women rising to meet challenges - you certainly our popular progressive dinner in late August. These are are a model of strength working long hours in the great opportunities to meet other prospective members, respiratory clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic interact with active members, learn about the JLT while managing busy family life. Where do you experience and mission, and decide if joining JLT may be for find your strength? How do you find time to care you. for yourself? I have been very fortunate that I work with an amazing team who has navigated this situation with nothing but positivity and resilience. The camaraderie that has developed has been a strength for us all. Knowing we are fulfilling a significant need and continuing to care for people during this pandemic has been very rewarding. Family life has certainly been stressful at times— my children are young so school at home has had 8
SPOTLIGHT 2019-2020 Provisional Member MVP
Lacey Bisnett By Barbara Boudreaux Lacey grew up on a small family cattle farm outside Topeka and went to school in Rossville. She completed undergraduate studies in Psychology at Washburn University and obtained her MBA from Baker University. She lives in Topeka with Rory, her extroverted nine-year-old tomboy, and DJ, her introverted six-year-old sweet boy. Lacey admits that during the COVID-19 crisis, she has been in hobby overdrive: knitting, sewing, baking, hiking, crafting, reading anything true crime, and completing lots of puzzles and playing board games with the kids. At the May GMM, Lacey was honored with JLT’s 2019-2020 Provisional Member MVP award.
You were a Provisional Member to JLT this year and dove right in assisting on projects like Masks on a Mission. What motivated you to join JLT? What has been your favorite part of this first year? I try to make sure I am a strong supporter of the Topeka community and that I empower women whenever I can. JLT seemed to naturally fit with those two goals and kept me focused by building a community with others who want the same thing. It has been great just getting to know everyone and finding other local women with drive and determination. I don’t miss most in-person things right now (introvert myself), but I do miss getting to be with JLT. You have been involved with not only JLT but Habitat for Humanity builds this year. Any advice for someone who is looking for ways to become more involved in his or her community? The best advice I can give is that you have to do the work to seek out opportunities. Non-profits do not have giant marketing budgets to tell you what options exist. You have to get out there and find the need and then meet it. You proudly support local small businesses, what are some of your favorite local places for food, entertainment, or unique items that we may not know of? Well I make sure to introduce Prize Package to everyone I know! Best cheeseburgers anywhere! I love supporting local farms and there are ton of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs you can buy into and get a share of the produce each week. I use A&H Farms. Lastly, support local with your reading by ordering your books through Round Table Bookstore in NOTO. There are not many independent bookstores left! Any advice for those thinking about joining JLT this Fall? I would tell the new Provisionals to make sure you carve out that extra time after League meetings to stay around and socialize. When I first started meetings, I didn’t book a babysitter for long enough and definitely missed out on getting to know everyone!
JLT Members Gather to #Endperiodpoverty By Ashley Watson
In February, JLT members gathered to assemble 500 period packs for girls in the USD 501 school district. Feminine products were donated by JLT Members and purchased with funds raised from the Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI) that JLT Members coordinated in October 2019. As part of the LBDI, 30 JLT advocates wore the same black dress outfit for five consecutive days to illustrate how limited resources impact an individual’s daily life. What is a period pack? Each pack is a collection of feminine hygiene products which include 5 pads, 4 panty liners, and 2 wipes in a discreet container - a pencil bag - because what preteen or teenage girl wants everyone to know what’s going on? The girls receiving these packs are students who may otherwise not have access to the products needed. Girls who do not have access to necessary supplies may decide to stay home, missing critical days of school or work a year. In a 2018 study, 1 in 5 American girls reported having missed school due to lack of feminine hygiene supplies. “Period poverty can lead to girls and young women making the choice to stay home from school or work if they don’t have access to menstrual supplies. If this becomes a pattern, they can become more vulnerable to social isolation, abuse, and potentially human trafficking in the worst-case scenario,” said Shannon Little, JLT Vice President of Community Impact, the council that led the project. “Girls and young women need to know that there are groups like the Junior League of Topeka who care about them and support them.”
Social isolation can have a huge negative impact on mental health, physical health, and academics. The middle school years in particular are a time when a youth’s self-esteem may be especially fragile and social challenges abound. This environment can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and increased risk of substance abuse and vulnerability to human trafficking. Distribution of the JLT-assembled period packs will be coordinated with nurses at Topeka Public Schools. The district has an existing hygiene pantry that the packs could go toward restocking or they may be handed out equally to each school in USD 501. The USD 501 hygiene pantry is a part of the Community Cupboard. Donations of hygiene products as well as gently used or new youth clothing and canned goods are accepted at the Quinton Heights Education Center at 2331 SW Topeka Boulevard. Please reach out to Fred Willer at 785-274-6026 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in donating, volunteering, or are in need of the Cupboard’s services.
MASKS ON A MISSION In response to a call from the Topeka medical community, JLT launched the Masks on a Mission project. JLT members sewed face masks for the two local hospitals: Stormont Vail Heath and the University of Kansas-St. Francis Campus. More than 50 face masks were donated.
#JLSTRONG The women of JLT joined together to help the Topeka community during the COVID-19 pandemic. • Over 450 period packs were donated to the YWCA. • More than 650 coloring sheets and crayons packs were distributed to blessing boxes and Free Little Libraries throughout Topeka to provide an outlet for homebound children. • A spray bottle collection drive was launched so the YWCA could fill the bottles with hand sanitizer to distribute to the women they serve. • More than 50 face masks were made by JLT Members and donated to local hospitals.
On February 12, JLT hosted over 150 high school students from ten area schools and programs at the inaugural Capital Impact Leadership Summit (CILS). These students were able to experience four different speakers, as well as obtain resources and speak with community organizations at community resource booths. Students and staff enjoyed an amazing lunch and raffle prizes. This invaluable experience for students would not have been possible without sponsorship funding from our JLT Members and a grant sponsored by Stormont Vail Health. Chad Parks, a teacher, coach, and author of Game Changing Moves, addressed the students first. He provided five principles of success and inspired attendees with how they can make a difference today. “I like Chad Parks’ Lessons from a Custodian,” said Anna, a junior. “It really shows how you are not defined by your job and that you can be a good person no matter what you do.” Lindsay Lebahn of Bajillion Agency next spoke to the students on the important lessons of networking and presenting your best self. “Learning about new ways to make and use connections and that they are not just repetitive interactions was important for me,” said Brighton, a sophomore. Annie Diederich, a Seaman Middle School Principal and member of the Shawnee County Suicide Prevention Coalition, addressed a difficult topic in a loving manner. She provided the attendees with the signs to recognize if someone is suicidal and empowered the students by providing them the tools to help someone who may be suicidal. “The suicide awareness presentation hit me hard because I realized I have a friend that I need to help,” said Ty, a freshman. Keynote speaker, Mayor Michelle De La Isla, provided an impactful presentation on how to overcome your obstacles. She outlined the struggles she faced at an early age and how she persevered through her adverse experiences. The presentation was powerful and resonated with many of attendees. De La Isla also spoke to how students have the power to affect change in their community. “My favorite part of today was hearing Mayor Michelle speak because it inspired me to keep going no matter what,” explained Liam, a sophomore. 12
“Hearing the mayor express how much power I have as a young person was inspiring,” agreed Hadley, a senior. JLT Sustaining Member, Stacie Borjon, was in attendance with students from Shawnee Heights. “I was excited to be able to bring my students for this experience. It provided them a great opportunity to learn more leadership skills,” Borjon shared. While the focus of the event was training opportunities for youth, the event was also a training opportunity for the entire CILS committee who organized the event. Lisa Dinkel, the CILS Chair stated, “I learned that being a leader sometimes means knowing that you cannot do it all on your own and that having a strong team to support you and to delegate tasks to is invaluable. I learned a lot about time management and the event planning process. I look forward to seeing CILS grow and impact the youth of our community further.”
Students attending the CILS were encouraged by educators to self-nominate for a CILS Student Leader award. After self-nominating, three were selected by the CILS Committee as students who had demonstrated exemplary leadership in their school and/or their community.
Nathan Basaldua Nathan Basaldua is a senior at Topeka High School and impacts the community by being the best person he can be. He works hard and is a friend to everyone. When tasked with something, he does not turn it down and always gives his best effort. This includes his work with the Boy Scouts. As a Scout, he worked at Camp Jayhawk teaching lessons he planned himself based on the curriculum provided. In the future, Nathan will continue to be his best self while continuing his education at Pittsburgh State University pursuing a Graphics Communication major.
Macy Ziegler Macy Ziegler is a senior at Washburn Rural High School and organized a food drive for BackSnacks, a local organization that feeds children with food insecurities at home. The BackSnacks are sent home with children over weekends and school breaks. In addition, Macy collected food for children and their families for use over Thanksgiving Break. Macy would like to be a physical therapist and hopes to continue to make a difference in the lives of the people in her community.
Bryce Liedtke is a senior at Shawnee Heights High School and has become involved with leadership groups in Topeka that have allowed him to see all Topeka has to offer. Bryce wanted other area youth to love Topeka as he did and change the city for the better so he and four other area students set out to do just that! They created the Topeka Youth Commission through which Bryce engages youth across the community. He has also completed Leadership Greater Topeka and travels throughout the United States with Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla to promote Topeka. Bryce’s plans for the future include pursuing a degree in the medical field. He has already set that plan into motion by seeking opportunities to volunteer in hospitals and learn more from doctors. In the future, Bryce strives to help others through a lifelong commitment to learning and science. Bryce noted that while the title of Doctor will allow him to do that, his main focus will be helping others and continuing to learn.
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Junior League of Topeka
Throughout the Year
The Campaign to Eliminate the Tampon Tax By Barbara Boudreaux
From adolescence to menopause women have a monthly need—products for their period. Tally it up and this time accounts for over 2,200 days of a woman’s life and over $6,000 in feminine hygiene product expenses. In the majority of states, tampons, pads, panty liners, menstrual cups, and other hygiene items are taxable products generating millions in tax revenue for state and local governments. Advocates to remove the so-called “Tampon Tax” argue taxes on these products, a burden borne entirely by women, is inequitable and disregards the medical necessity of the products’ use.
“We were proud to support this common sense legislation and are thrilled that women in Florida will benefit from it, particularly those living paycheck to paycheck or in poverty where every cent counts,” remarked Traci Deen, JLGO’s Public Affairs Chair in a press release. Junior Leagues in Georgia joined the Georgia STOMP—Stop Tax on Menstrual Products—coalition. A bill to eliminate taxes on feminine hygiene products was given a hearing in 2019, however the bill was held-up in committee. Although the 2020 legislative session was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the coalition continues to advocate to end the discriminatory nature of the tax.
Every state has its own list of items deemed “medically necessary” that are exempt from state taxes. These range from lip balms and dandruff shampoos to condoms and sunscreen, but only 20 states have designated feminine hygiene products as medically necessary and removed sales tax on those products. Kansas is not one of these states, nor Missouri or any of the states that surround the Sunflower State. Approximately 1 in 4 women struggle to find the money to pay for feminine care products; additional state and local taxes atop the product cost compound the burden. Tax-Free. Period, a campaign led by the group Period Equality, is campaigning to remove taxes on feminine care products. Organizers point out that in order to have a fully equitable society, law and policies should take into account the reality that half the population menstruates. Junior Leagues Take on the Tampon Tax Junior Leagues across the country have joined with state and national groups to advocate for the removal of taxes on feminine hygiene products. The Junior League of Greater Orlando (JLGO) spearheaded the effort of Florida leagues to successfully campaign for the elimination of the Tampon Tax in Florida. In 2017, HB 7109 was signed into law, including a feminine hygiene sales tax exemption.
WHAT IS A
MENSTRUAL CUP Resistance to Eliminating the Tampon Tax Many lawmakers resist calls to eliminate the Tampon Tax. Missouri House Bill 747 proposed elimination of taxes on feminine products, diapers, and incontinence products; however, the bill died in chamber in April 2019. During a February 2020 debate on whether to include feminine products in Tennessee’s annual threeday state tax holiday, a legislator questioned whether this addition would lead to over-buying of feminine products by women. Economists with the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank, argue that all items should be subject to sales tax and that carving out exemptions is a political, not economic, move. Revenue generated by sales tax funds public programs that can assist those in need. When California phases out its Tampon Tax in 2023, the state will lose an estimated $20 million in revenue annually generated by the taxing feminine products. Period Equality notes that sales tax revenue from the sale of feminine hygiene products, or any products, is not earmarked for women’s health programs. Support can better be given directly to women by easing the financial burden directly. Pandemics Don’t Stop Periods The Tax Free. Period. campaign launched in June 2019 with a goal to remove state sales tax on feminine care products nationwide by April 15th—Tax Day 2020. The campaign successfully formed coalitions of local advocates, state lawmakers, pro bono attorneys, and concerned citizens to bring awareness to menstrual equality. Five states – Ohio, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, and California—removed their Tampon Tax as a result of the campaign while legislators in twenty-one states, including Missouri but not Kansas, introduced bills to remove the tax. Advocacy efforts have paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however Tax Free.Period organizers insist, “Pandemics Don’t Stop Periods.” While their in-person efforts have ceased temporarily, the group has launched an expanded effort to eliminate the Tampon Tax in all states by Tax Day 2021. Learn more about the menstrual equality movement and how you can join in the sales tax protest at taxfreeperiod. com.
Did you know there is an alternative option to tampons and pads that has been around since the 1930s? A menstrual cup replaces the use of a tampon or pad. It is inserted like a tampon, but is reusable. This ecofriendly cup, made from medical grade silicone, can last up to 10 years and costs between $30 and $40. It is dumped and rinsed about every 12 hours in the morning and in the evening. Between cycles, it can be boiled to sterilize it. This option is not for everyone, but for $30 to $40 it can certainly save a ton of money!
TALKS Let’s Talk About Something We Don’t Talk Much About. Period.
Periods—not necessarily something we discuss even with our closest friends. However, the traditionally taboo nature of this topic is changing. One sign of that is the emergence of a global observance called Menstrual Hygiene Day, on May 28. Menstrual Hygiene Day is a global platform that raises awareness of the challenges women and girls face worldwide due to their menstruation and highlights solutions that address these challenges. NPR called 2015, “The Year of the Period.” In July 2016, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a local law providing free tampons for New York’s schools, jails, and shelters. “There should be no stigma around something as fundamental as menstruation,” said de Blasio. Ann Germanow, past President and Sustaining Member of the Junior League of Rochester, has some great stories to tell about how she became a successful cause-minded social entrepreneur. It began 15 years ago, when she was working in the field of gerontology (the study of aging) and entered her workplace restroom. She came upon a sign asking women not to flush tampons— “Ladies: Stop flushing tampons down the toilet- we can’t afford the plumbing bills!” The alternative, a metal receptacle attached to the stall partition was anything but sanitary, and quite lacking in any dignity. With a daughter nearing puberty, Ann decided there had to be a better way. After much market research, Germanow debuted her first product: Scensibles personal disposal bags for feminine care products. The bags are single-use, designed with a contemporary pinkon-pink floral pattern and a delicate scent. The tie handle closure conceals the contents and antimicrobial agents built into the bag inhibit the growth of odor causing bacteria. The product line has since grown to include disposal systems, liners, and larger bags for bladder control products. While Germanow initially thought she would be selling to consumers, her largest market has been installations in public restrooms. Among her clients are the State of Washington ferry system, Disneyland, 18
Wegmans Food Markets, Justice clothing stores, Amazon distributions centers, and numerous colleges and universities. Scensibles can also be purchased in decorative packaging for home/personal use through the company’s website scensiblesbags.com and on Amazon. But to take a step back, before the initial product launch, Germanow’s research found that SNAP benefits (formerly food stamps), and WIC cannot be used to buy any personal care items, including sanitary pads and tampons. Girls and women in the U.S. lose time from work and school because of the cost of access to basic products that are a necessity not a luxury. From the start, Germanow was committed to ensuring that economically disadvantaged teens and women have ready access to feminine care products in a dignified manner and to create awareness around this issue. Shortly after starting Scensibles, Germanow began to field calls asking for contributions of sanitary pads and Scensibles bags for charitable events, schools, and agencies that serve women. She soon discovered that the need in her own community was great— the poverty rate in Rochester was 32.9% In addition to providing over 500 period starter kits per year to the Rochester City School District, Scensibles is the corporate sponsor of the National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Rochester Section’s “P.A.D.” (Privacy, Access, Dignity) Project, which assembles menstruation kits for distribution in the region. In 2012, Ann hosted her first PAD party, a pampering event held at a local spa. For the “entrance fee” of a box of feminine care products, guests received mini manicures, chair and hand massages, enjoyed refreshments, and socialized. The events are fun but also raise awareness of this problem and help women lead healthier lives by having access to feminine hygiene protection products in a dignified manner. This article in its entirety first appeared in the April 21, 2017 edition of 19/01, the online blog for the AJLI, the Association of Junior Leagues International.
PINK TAX By Ashley Watson
The “Pink Tax” – when you hear the term you either know exactly what it is or you have never even heard of it. The pink tax refers to the extra charges placed on products and services directed towards female consumers. Your shaving gel in the white and pink can? $1.39. Your boyfriend or husband’s shaving gel in the black and orange can? $1.19. Perhaps a small increase here or there but once you begin to notice it, the differences add up—and that “small” difference affects half the population! The term “Pink Tax” comes from the often pink hues on packaging targeted towards female consumers. These products tend to cost more than their blue, red, or black “male” counterparts. It is not a tax, it is rather a pricing strategy where products with similar ingredients or made from the same materials are more expensive in the female-marketed version than the male-marketed version. Currently no federal law prevents companies from charging different prices for identical items based on gender. This phenomenon is not limited to products; services are affected as well. Take haircuts for example. Why is a trim for a short-haired woman much more expensive than a trim for a man? Auto care services? A study by the researchers with the Northwestern School of Management across 4,603 auto repair shops found that men were quoted $383 for a radiator repair on a 2003 Toyota Camry; the average quote given to women for the same repair at the same shops-$406. Are you Paying the Pink Tax? I invite you to visit axthepinktax.com. The website’s calculator will tell you approximately how much more you have spent in your lifetime on products and services due to being a woman. I am 29 years old and was shocked to realize I have spent approximately $39,219.00 more than a 29-year-old male. This amounts to $1,351 more per year that female consumers pay for products and services. The disparity is further compounded by the gender-based pay gap in which women make on average $0.79 for every $1 a man makes. Products for women and girls cost approximately 7% more than comparable products for men and boys according to a 2015 study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. The study examined 800 similar products with separate male and female options. Broken down by categories, personal care products were 13% more expensive when designated for females, while children’s clothing was 4% more
expensive when found in the girls’ department. For a detailed analysis by industry and products, the entire report From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer, can be found on axthepinktax.com. Some economists argue that the Pink Tax is not necessarily a bad phenomenon. It may create variety in the market and shows that women when given the choice may choose to pay more for items they feel have more value. Other economists note that advertising and marketing have manipulated female consumers and the pricing strategy needs to be rebalanced. Axing the Pink Tax Thanks to campaigns like Ax the Pink Tax, women have become more aware of gender-based pricing. Some companies too are saying no more. Chieh Huang, CEO of Boxed, an online bulk retailer that describes itself as “Costco for Millennials,” declared that his company has “banned the Pink Tax.” On the initiative of its head of vendor marketing, Nitasha Mehta, Boxed offers rebates on certain products marketed to women to help offset the price disparity. While Boxed executives admit they cannot adjust the cost of products because that is the price given to them from their vendors, they can offer rebates that come out of Boxed’s bottom line. Huang notes that Boxed’s rebate program has saved consumers over $1 million to date. Small businesses and entrepreneurs are helping ax the tax as well. Georgina Gooley and Jason Bravman created a women’s razor subscription service named Billie. Their strategy is to sell women’s razors below the cost of men’s razors. Gooley also seeks to change what she believes is the body hair industry’s antiquated marketing approach to women—shifting ads of the past with hairless goddesses atop clam shells to female-focused ads featuring body hair. How Can I Avoid the Pink Tax? Companies like Boxed and Billie are creating awareness, but you as a consumer can help too! Be aware of what you are buying and check to see if there is a male or unisex-marketed alternative made from the same ingredients or materials. Look for retailers that advertise that they are “Pink Tax Free” or offer unisex services. Finally, next time you are shopping and see side-byside pricing on gender-based products that does not make sense, pick up your ax—your phone—and post the difference to #Axthepinktax. Together we can ax out this tax! 19
Should Women Have the Right to Vote?
Yes. Next question.
The 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920 and officially became the law of the land on August 26, 1920. As we celebrate the anniversary of this milestone in the development of women’s suffrage in the U.S.—which paralleled similar movements in Canada and the United Kingdom— it seems timely to acknowledge the early and important work of the Junior League of St. Louis, the first League to adopt women’s suffrage as a League Issue. If the fight for women’s suffrage seems like ancient history now, it was a burning issue in 1914 when a small group of young women from the St. Louis Junior Suffrage League gathered together to discuss how they could put their “leisure time” to constructive use through volunteer service. They chose the still-young Junior League model used to great success in New York City and a handful of other cities around the country.
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JLSL members walked in local parades, sponsored lectures, wrote letters, held meetings in their homes, and even traveled to Washington, DC to march in national events. One early JLSL First Lady (1925-1926), Mrs. Julius Polk recalled, “My husband was a proper Southern gentleman who believed a wife should be dressed in dignified black silk with a white lace collar, sitting at home with needlework. She definitely should not be in the streets marching for women’s rights or at the polls where some men drank and used vulgar language. When the time came for me and many of my League friends to decide on this issue, we felt that for our nation’s good, women should be permitted to vote. To win our point, we threatened to march in the streets until our husbands promised to vote for suffrage.” St. Louis became a focal point in the suffragists’ national campaign when the city hosted the Democratic National Convention in 1916, and JLSL was at the forefront. Instead of the hunger strikes and sit-downs used elsewhere, JLSL Members joined more than 7,000 of their fellow advocates in a silent protest along the route that convention delegates had to travel to get to the hall. They made their point, and the Democratic Party adopted a plank for women’s suffrage.
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While the Junior League of St. Louis (JLSL) would go on to pursue all of the activities and initiatives of its sister Leagues, its founding members also adopted women’s suffrage as their first outreach project. One close friend of the founding members of JLSL wrote later, “They knew they believed in suffrage for women, they knew that industrial conditions were not as they should be for a great many women and child workers. They wanted to find out how they could best take some intelligent action in these and various other phases about them.”
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Four years later, that right became law. One hundred years later, we honor the women who advocated-in the streets and at home-for women’s right to vote. This article in its entirety first appeard in the August 23, 2013 edition of 19/01, the online blog for AJLI, the Association of Junior Leagues International.
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IN ACTION Advocacy Day 2020
Members from the Junior Leagues of Kansas City, Wichita, and Topeka gathered at the Kansas State Capitol on March 5 for Advocacy Day 2020. JLT Advocacy Chair Sarah Dietz led the Community Impact team in organizing the day’s events. Discussion topics centered upon JLT’s focus area: child welfare as impacted by violence and community instability. Attendees were also encouraged to connect with their legislators and attend a committee meeting or Senate debate. “Advocacy and voting are the best ways you can express your concerns and be a part of the process,” explained Shannon Little, JLT Vice President of Community Impact. Attendees were welcomed by Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab who discussed the 2020 Census and the importance of an accurate count of Kansas residents for future funding and representation apportionment. While initial Census self-response questionnaires were due April 1, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted response rates nationwide. As of late May, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates Kansans have a self-response rate of 64.4%. If you have not done so already, complete your 2020 Census forms at my2020census.gov. Advocacy Day continued with a presentation by State Senator Molly Baumgardner on mental health parity legislation and Senator Tom Holland on suicide prevention. Medicaid expansion was also discussed and the impacts to the whole family when individuals do not receive needed healthcare. A panel of child welfare advocates led a discussion on Advocacy 101: How to Successfully Advocate for Your Organization’s Interests. The group guided attendees on how best to approach legislators. They advised attendees to be prepared with factual information on your concerns, approach the meeting in a respectful manner, build a coalition with other advocates, and find common ground with opponents. Armed with this knowledge, attendees then had the opportunity to visit the offices of their elected officials. A reminder that any day can be Advocacy Day—call or email to schedule an appointment with your legislators and make your concerns heard. You can locate your elected representatives at www.kslegislature. org and use the “Find Your Legislator” tab on the left side of the page to locate contact information.
IN THE WORKPLACE: An Open Letter By Alizabeth Ballard
I want to share something on my heart. This letter is to my sisters starting their careers, trying to move up in the careers, or trying to balance all the things that life has to offer and feels like she isn’t succeeding. This letter doesn’t come from a place of anger, but rather from an offering about my experiences and my plan to make the world a better place for my friends, for my mother, and my future daughter. So, let me tell you about the issue. The Issue Walk into any board room; heck, walk into a dozen board rooms, sister, and you might notice a few similarities. Chances are the room is filled with affluent older, white men. What I don’t see is a reflection of me. I identify as a young, Hispanic woman. The fact of the matter is that often times, I do not see myself reflected back in leadership roles and representation matters. Finding representation, role models, and mentors in the workplace is just one of the issues that affect women in the workplace. I bet this is a phenomenon that you have experienced firsthand. So, maybe we don’t see ourselves in the board room, but what about perusing the professional development aisle at your favorite bookstore? Pick up the latest copy of Harvard Business Review’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership and flip through those pages. What you’ll find, sister, are names like Peter, Paul, Andrew, and Mark. I’m not saying that you won’t learn anything from these pages; these men have great insight and tips about what has worked for them as leaders. What I am saying is that there is an elephant in the room. Can you see it? It is the bias that exists in the workplace. These biases impact women intersectionally through race, age, gender, and countless other ways. I am sure that Peter, Paul, Andrew, and Mark are great, but what do they know about the issues that I have faced in the workplace related to my identity?
Black, American Indian, and Alaskan Native average even less than 79 cents on the dollar compared to males in similar jobs. Women, especially women of color, tend to work in lower level and lower-paid jobs, even when they possess the qualifications to work in better-paid leadership roles. The same opportunities for mentorship and development do not exist for women in the way they exist for men. This is a systematic issue that our workforce faces; until we are able to increase representation, we will continue to miss opportunities to further our careers at a similar pace to our male counterparts. As if it wasn’t enough to worry about making less money than your male peers in the workplace, many women struggle thriving in their work environment. Distress in the workplace can impact any of us, but disproportionately affects women. Some of our sisters work in environments that aren’t inclusive, where harassment is accepted, and discussion about your sensitivity is served with coffee. If this isn’t your experience, I am happy for you. I hope you never have to experience this. I hope I get to raise daughters in a world where this isn’t anyone’s experience. If this is your experience, I see you. I have been you. And I am so sorry that happened to you. The Plan I came up in a competitive workforce where scarcity of success for women was enforced by men and women alike, but the funny thing about that is: success is not limited or finite. Understanding this changed how I felt about the struggles of women in the workplace. It opened my heart to being an advocate for women of all nationalities, backgrounds, and identities. We need to support our sisters as they take on new challenges. We should be the loudest person in the room cheering them on as they succeed. Because, girlfriend, a win for one of our sisters is a win for all of us.
So, if you are still with me, sister, let’s make a plan. The issues are big and they are many. We don’t have time to wait; we need to address the issues What the men of Harvard Business Review don’t that women face in the workplace and smash know is the first-hand struggle of the pay gap that that ceiling. Together, we can bolster women in women experience in the workplace. In fact, most their climb to leadership roles. Malala Yousafzai, people don’t realize that the average woman earns a women’s rights advocate, said it best when she 79 cents for every dollar their male counterpart said, “We cannot succeed when half of us are held earns in the United States (PayScale, 2019). When back.” Until all of our sisters are provided the same we review disaggregated data, we find that my opportunities at the same rate, we won’t succeed as Hispanic sisters and girlfriends who identify as a community. 22
So, I want to take this opportunity to share my action plan to address workplace issues that women face and help you, my sister, succeed.
D I D
Y O U
K N O W . . .
1. Speak up for myself and for others.
2. Call people out when they are perpetuating stereotypes. 3. Have the hard conversations.
4. Become okay with the uncomfortable. 5. Model inclusive behaviors.
Passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 gave U.S. women the right to vote, however it took decades for women to obtain other basic rights and opportunities including:
6. Build my community by supporting other women.
Obtain a “No Fault” Divorce. Prior to California introducing the first “no fault” divorce law, parties could obtain a divorce only on limited grounds of behavior which could be more easily overturned.
7. Offer to mentor women who come behind me. 8. Own my privilege.
9. Use my position of power to advocate for equality.
Run the Boston Marathon. Women runners were first acknowledged in 1972.
10. Cheer on my sisters.
Use Birth Control when Single. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Massachusetts law banning doctors from distributing birth control to single women.
The Resolution So, here is my resolution: I will be here for you. Please know that on every day that you succeed, I see you; and on every day you feel like you aren’t succeeding, I see you. We are in this race together and I will continually be the first on my feet and the loudest in the crowd as you hustle each day. I resolve to support all women in the workplace and in everyday life. I challenge you do to do the same.
1974 Hold a Credit Card in Her Own Name. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act allowed a woman to apply for Credit in her own name without a male cosignor.
1975 Serve on a Jury. In Taylor v. Louisiana, the U.S. Surpreme Court held that states could not systematically exclude women from juries.
1978 Keep Her Job While Pregnant. Until the 1978 passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, a woman could be fired from her workplace for being pregnant.
1979 Become an Astronaut. In 1979, NASA hired female applicants to train as astronauts. Sally Ride became the first female astronaut to explore space in 1983.
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1980 Report Sexual Harassment. Courts first recognized sexual harassment in the workplace in 1977, but it was not until 1980 that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defined sexual harassment.
Wear Pants on the U.S. Senate Floor. Carol Moseley-Braun, a Democratic Senator from Illinois, broke this unwritten rule when she wore a pantsuit, ushering in the “Pantsuit Revolution.”
2013 Serve on the Frontlines in Military Combat Zones. On January, 24, 2013, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta removed the military’s ban on women serving in combat, although to date many women note that not all positions have been opened to women.