In 2019, IANGEL’s advocacy accelerated the movement toward transformative gender justice. While 2019 saw powerful forces fighting against gender equality, IANGEL proudly pushed forward on important initiatives to protect and advance the rights of women and girls, in state and federal legislation, and in the courts. IANGEL’s advocacy included writing to lawmakers, signing onto coalition letters and joining briefs.
In particular, California passed many bills for which we advocated, promoting gender justice, and assisting survivors of human trafficking. While important human rights legislation is often stalled in the federal government, IANGEL continued to amplify voices of coalition partners, including opposing federal appointments, supporting bills and resolutions, and signing civil society letters to lawmakers. IANGEL also signed on to three amicus briefs on issues of importance to gender equity in health and employment. Below is a review of our key advocacy efforts of 2019.
In 2019, the California Legislature passed significant pieces of legislation that furthered gender equality and protected the human rights of women and girls. Below is a review of key legislation that IANGEL supported, concerning human trafficking, abortion rights, and sex workers’ rights. These five new laws will take effect on January 1, 2020.
AB 629: This act will ensure that survivors of human trafficking, like the victims of other violent crimes, can seek economic redress through California’s Victim Compensation Board. Read more about AB 629 and SB 630 in our Network News.
SB 630: The bill will strengthen enforcement provisions relating to an earlier (2012) bill that requires specific businesses to post information about human trafficking including hotline numbers victims can call or text for help. This legislation expands access to information related to human trafficking to those who are most at risk.
AB 1735: Human Trafficking caseworkers will be able to claim the human trafficking caseworker privilege even if the caseworker was not the victim’s caseworker at the time of the confidential communication. AB 1735 also expands the caseworker privilege by adjusting the definitions of “holder of the privilege” and “human trafficking caseworker” to be more inclusive of those working with victims of trafficking. The expansion of privileges will provide trafficking survivors with greater protection under the law. Read more in our Network News article on AB 1735.
SB 24: This bill ensures student access to the abortion pill, a safe and effective abortion method, at public postsecondary educational institutions in California. This bill allows students to obtain the healthcare they need without having to miss class, take time off from part-time jobs, or shoulder the burdens of more invasive and expensive procedures.
SB 233: The act will prohibit the arrest of a person for certain misdemeanor violations under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act or specified sex work crimes if the person reports that they are a victim of, or a witness to, specified crimes. The bill also prohibits the introduction of evidence of the possession of a condom in the prosecution of certain sex work crimes. This bill will help protect sex workers when they contact police to report violent crimes.
2019 has been a busy year for IANGEL advocacy on the federal level. IANGEL lent support to many national legislative efforts to further the fight for gender justice. IANGEL commends the federal lawmakers that have introduced and passed important bills for gender equality in the face of the current administration’s obstructive position on many gender equity issues.
Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019: The House passed this bill in April of 2019. The VAWRA expands protections for women facing violence under federal law. It limits spouses convicted of abuse from purchasing firearms, promotes trauma-informed training for law enforcement, expands the definition of domestic violence and authorizes programs to increase data collection. The bill has not yet passed the Senate.
Equality Act of 2019: The House passed the act to amend the Civil Rights Act to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition of an individual, as well as because of sex-based stereotypes.” The Senate received the bill in May.
Equal Rights Amendment: When Democrats won control of the Virginia legislature in November of 2019, many gender justice advocates heralded the impending ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, since Virginia could soon be the 38th state to ratify. Before the ERA can be ratified, the expired deadline for ratification needs to be removed. Two resolutions introduced in Congress this year, one in the House and one in the Senate, aim to do just that. Senate Joint Resolution 5 and House Joint Resolution 38 both provide for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment whenever ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states.
Reproductive Rights are Human Rights Act: IANGEL endorsed this act which would require the State Department to include comprehensive reproductive rights in all future Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The bill is currently referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act: IANGEL endorsed this act that would permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule. The Global Gag Rule currently disqualifies foreign nongovernmental organizations from receiving certain U.S. international development assistance if they provide certain medical services, namely abortion care. This bill would allow aid organizations to continue their work while providing essential medical services to women around the world. The bill is currently referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Letter to US Agency for International Development: IANGEL signed on to a letter to USAID advocating recommendations for promoting gender equality and girls empowerment through an update of the USAID Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy.
NGO letter to the U.S. Government: IANGEL, as part of a group of NGOs, signed on to a letter demanding the U.S. Government comply with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Obligations regarding proper human rights reporting.
House Resolution to End Sexual Violence Against Girls: IANGEL endorsed this Resolution that encourages all nations to end sexual violence against girls through in-country, data-driven reforms. The resolution encourages the commitment of all nations to address the related United Nations Sustainable Development Goals including goal 16.2, “End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children”; goal 5, “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”; and goal 5.3, “Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilations”.
The International Violence Against Women Act: IANGEL endorsed the re-introduction of ths Act which will make specific strides toward addressing gender-based violence (GBV) globally, including requiring a U.S. Government strategy to prevent and respond to GBV and codifying the positon of the Global Women’s Issues Ambassador at the State Department to lead this effort.
IANGEL signed on to three important amicus briefs this year. All three cases will set precedent on issues relating to gender equality.
Freyd v. University of Oregon:
Professor Freyd challenged unequal pay and gender based pay discrimination at the University of Oregon. The brief, filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, focused on errors of law in interpreting the Equal Pay Act and Title VII disparate impact claims. If the district court decision is not reversed, it will be harder to argue for equitable compensation. Read more in our Network News on this important amicus brief to support equal pay.
June Medical v. Gee:
IANGEL signed on to this brief to the U.S. Supreme Court that highlights how restrictions on abortion in Louisiana infringe on women’s right to liberty and limit their ability to participate equally in society. Louisiana Act 620 requires physicians providing abortions to hold “active admitting privileges” at a hospital located within thirty miles from where the abortion is provided. Should the law be found constitutional (the same law in Texas was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2016) it would impose substantial financial, social and medical costs on women seeking abortions, especially women of color and low-income women.
Moussouris v. Microsoft:
IANGEL signed on to an amicus brief to support plaintiffs/ petitioners appeal of the denial of class certification. Allowing a class action is essential for women to challenge systemic gender discrimination without suing their employers individually. The brief, submitted to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, argues that the district court applied an artificial legal standard and made analytical errors when it decided not to certify a class of 8,600 women engineers and IT specialists at Microsoft.