2021 was all about radical rebuilding and joining forces to create concrete change. We focused on helping low-paid women essential workers, Black and Latinx moms, and student survivors of sexual violence to advance gender, racial, and economic justice in our workplaces and schools.
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ERA’s Top 10 Gender Justice Moments of 2021
1. Essential women workers build power at Virtual Summit
Our Oct. 21 Latina Equal Pay Day & Essential Women Workers Virtual Summit gathered hundreds of low-paid essential women workers from across the country to share experiences, ideas, and strategies. The Summit was co-hosted by Justice for Migrant Women and Parent Voices, and included notable speakers Dolores Huerta, CA First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, White House Gender Policy Counsel Co-Chair Julissa Reynoso, and more. The Summit also launched our Year of Action for Essential Women Workers, which will feature worker-led learning labs, a unique action hub, and deep collaboration with partner organizations for groundbreaking workplace reform.
2. Federal lawsuit against Dept. of Education ends cross-examination of student survivors
Our federal lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s Dept. of Education resulted in a big win for student survivors of sexual violence. We sued over Title IX regulations set by Betsy DeVos, which let sexual assailants off the hook by creating new processes meant to deter survivors from reporting. Our lawsuit outlawed one of those processes, the direct cross-examination (interrogation) of survivors at Title IX hearings by an advisor of the assailant’s choice—anyone from a paid attorney to the assailant’s parent or friend. After the judge’s ruling, the Dept. of Education officially directed U.S. schools to stop the harmful practice.
3. Justice for women janitors and airport security workers
We successfully settled two major lawsuits on behalf of essential women workers this year. In the first, we represented airport security workers who were forced into early unpaid pregnancy leave after requesting reasonable doctor-recommended accommodations such as access to a water bottle or a stool for short sitting breaks. The $450,000 settlement also required the company to make sweeping changes to its pregnancy policies and practices.
In the second, we represented women janitors who were sexually assaulted by their supervisors while working the night shift. In addition to large payouts for our clients, the settlement requires a long list of mandated changes to company policies, practices, and trainings to end a pervasive culture of sexual misconduct, including many changes created by our clients based on first-hand experience.
4. Four new laws for California women and families
Our 2021 Stronger California legislative agenda resulted in 4 new groundbreaking laws, ending corporate gag orders against victims of workplace racism and other discrimination; requiring free menstrual products in public school bathrooms; outlawing the pay-per-piece system to help end wage theft in the garment manufacturing industry; and advancing health and safety protections for domestic workers. Read more.
5. New American Majority Initiative launches to support Black & Latinx moms
We launched the New American Majority Initiative to learn directly from Black and Latinx moms how to best support them in the wake of the pandemic’s economic crisis, starting with a survey in 16 cities, with a forthcoming report to inform policy makers and other advocates. Focus groups called Kitchen Table Conversations will collect first-hand stories and experiences to ensure Black and Latinx moms are prioritized as we rebuild a safer, more secure, and more prosperous country for all. Read more.
6. Student Survivor Toolkit empowers students with advice from other survivors
This first-of-its-kind free toolkit, co-created by ERA’s student survivor clients, gives students the information they need to decide their path forward after sexual assault. The toolkit includes a comprehensive yet accessible guide to the Title IX process; survivor-centric self-care tips; a list of students’ rights and what to do if they’re violated; advice specific to Muslim and LGBTQ+ survivors; and ways to connect with other survivors through advocacy. Check out the Toolkit.
7. Pride Week of Action fights for trans kids in sports, and LGBTQ+ equal pay
During our first Pride Week of Action, hundreds of supporters and partner advocates joined us to raise awareness on social media and contact lawmakers about multiple federal and state bills advancing LGBTQ+ rights. Each day had a different focus, including a day of solidarity with trans kids in sports; expanding protections for LGBTQ+ workers; equal pay for LGBTQ+ people; rights for chosen families; and an Equality Act Day of Action.
8. Gender Justice Honorees steal the show at ERA Gala
Our 2021 Virtual Gala hosted well-known speakers Rosario Dawson, Dolores Huerta, Maria Hinojosa, and musical guest Madame Gandhi. But it was our honorees who stole the show: Emerging Leader Valerie Butterbredt, who is fighting pregnancy discrimination and systemic racism in her graduate school program; Ifeoma Ozoma, who led advocacy on the Silenced No More Act after experiencing racism, sexism, pay discrimination, and a subsequent corporate gag order; and Elizabeth Cabraser, an iconic civil rights attorney, exemplary philanthropist, and unparalleled soldier for gender justice.
9. 50+ women’s groups state solidarity for LGBTQ+ protections in Equality Act
A nationwide coalition of women’s rights and gender justice organizations signed onto our Solidarity Statement, which expresses unequivocal support of LGBTQ+ inclusion in the federal Equality Act. The Statement dispels false claims made by legislative opponents that women’s rights groups are divided on the Equality Act’s inclusion of LGBTQ+ rights instead of just focusing on women’s rights. Read the statement and see signing organizations.
10. 50,000 sign “Ed Act Now” Petition
On Oct. 6, we and partner organizations delivered a petition to the White House with more than 50,000 signatures, demanding that the Biden Administration’s Dept. of Education take immediate action to rescind the Trump Administration’s Title IX regulations, which are harm student survivors of sexual violence. Those regulations, aimed at letting sexual assailants off the hook, stack the odds against survivors, require a nearly impossible level of proof, forbid schools from investigating most off-campus incidents, and more.
Thank you for being part of this movement and making this work possible!
The ERA Team