Category Archives: Economy

A Tipping Point

A Tipping Point: Raise the Minimum Wage

By Larkin Callaghan

Living Off Tips Graphic

This Valentine’s Day I spent a great evening with two dear friends at a restaurant we had all wanted to try. The food was delicious, the service was on point, and come the end of the night, we all felt pretty pleased with our evening. Then came the bill and the standard dividing and signing happened -

“How much are you guys leaving for tip?”

One of my friends queried, as someone usually does at this point. What usually happens is that 20 – 25% is tallied, we sign, and off we go. Because of the frantic pace of this particular holiday’s dining room, I added a few extra bucks to my total and we slipped away.

This particular Valentine’s Day, no doubt one of the influences for my (and my friends’) bumping up in tip was that the day before – to significantly less….fanfare, shall we say, from most of the media – was the National Day of Action, sponsored by Restaurant Opportunities United, meant to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by workers surviving on hourly wages and tips. This fantastic organization is doing essential work and creating a mobilizing force around the issue of raising the minimum wage.

When you look at the figures – a federally declared amount of $7.25 an hour – it is staggering to think how one might survive on wages of that size, much less in a city like ours, frequently deemed one of the most expensive places in…the…world. And for those serving us in our favorite restaurants, the situation is even direr. With those working in jobs in which a significant amount of their income is garnered from tips, the guaranteed minimum wage is a mind-boggling $2.13 an hour. That is not a typo. $2.13! This limit was set twenty years ago. As in, the ‘90s.

Interested in some other facts? 6 out of ten of the lowest paying jobs in the States are in restaurants. And since Spark members are always interested in the gender disparity – 70 percent of tipped restaurant workers are women.

An argument against raising the minimum wage to a livable standard would seem hard to come by, considering that a full-time hourly worker only rakes in $15,080 a year. Luckily we have a governor who supports raising the wages of our hourly and tipped workers, but this still needs momentum to spread. (Fortunately, it seems that the issue is gaining more national traction – Rolling Stone even delved into it in their latest issue, in a comprehensive article detailing the political warfare around this issue, a piece that I highly recommend.)

So what can we do as consumers? Those few extra dollars I left on Valentine’s Day have a nearly insignificant impact once tips are divided among the staff and it’s likely balanced out by someone under-tipping – so while it’s nice to do, and I certainly applaud it, something needs to change on a much bigger scale.

Luckily, folks in the big house (of Reps) agree! A couple weeks ago, the House of Representatives launched a discharge petitions to force a vote on the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2015. That isn’t even as high as the minimum wage would be today if it had kept up with inflation (it would be $10.74 in that case). Of the 30 million folks who would receive a raise across industries, 56 percent are women, and nearly half are workers of color.

Here are some things we can do to help –

Everyone deserves a fair wage. No one should have to rely on someone’s holiday bump in tips to survive.

 

A Punk Prayer, Facebook Gender Options, and Surfing The Wage Gap

One Billion Rising dances to end violence against women and girls, Pussy Riot Members Arrested in Sochi, Ways To Squash The Wage Gap, and Facebook Expands Gender Options but not Gendered Ad Targeting. This is your Spark News Digest.

Read, Discuss, Share.

By Spark Fellow: Kendra Hyett

*****

pussyriotprotesters

HUMAN RIGHTS: Behind The Music – Pussy Riot’s Fight For Justice

The music must play on. Pussy Riot members recently released from prison forged forward to hold a Pussy Riot action in Sochi, only to be detained repeatedly by police without any excuse at all. While the police action continued, so did the press as the incidents became a media sensation.

READ THE STORY

In an opinion piece, Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina expounds upon the Olympics’ “deceptive face,” and arrests of multiple groups showing support for the L.G.B.T. community.

READ THE STORY

*****

WOMEN’S RIGHTS: Rise Up For One Billion

One Billion Rising is a global campaign started by the V Day Movement demanding an end to violence against women and girls. Why One Billion Rising? Because one in three women in the world will be abused in her lifetime. ONE. BILLION. On February 14th, thousands gathered in cities around the world to dance, share stories, and promote justice for women and girls. Check out the local San Francisco news coverage and coverage of one of the many NYC events.

READ THE STORY

*****

TECHNOLOGY: Cheers for Gender Options or Jeers For Wrinkle Cream Ads?

Facebook expands their gender options from only male and female to include 50+ gender descriptions. Is this the right step toward inclusion, or would it be a better step to remove gender entirely to spare us from sexist gender-target ads like weight loss and wrinkle cream?

READ THE STORY

*****

GLOBAL HEALTH: India’s Next Generation Takes A Stand

A new generation of girls is emerging in India: girls ready to demand safety, education, and their right to the same opportunities as men. While traditions like forced marriage continue, with innovative opportunities and platforms like Pathways, an organization educating youth on basic reproductive and sexual health, girls are finding ways to make change in their lives and communities.

READ THE STORY

*****

ECONOMY: Pay It Forward To Yourself

It’s one thing to be informed by Lean In about the current existence of the gender wage gap. It’s another thing to know what to do about it in your life. Find out what an employment attorney says you can do if you think you’re not being paid fairly.

READ THE STORY

Unraveling the Ribbon: Pinkwashing Away the Real Issues of Breast Cancer

October is colored pink. From football to cosmetics, good intentions get devoured by cause marking. This is your Spark News Digest, this week devoted to the Pink Ribbon and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Read, Discuss, Share.

Pink Ribbon Gun

Authored By Spark Fellow: Linn Hellerstrom

—–

POLITICS: Annual Mammograms & The Feel Good War

True or False: The awareness and availability of annual screenings is a Breast Cancer victory. The truth is unclear. Writer Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter, shares her research and searing insights as a cancer survivor into the limits of screening and the dangers of over treatment.

Read The Story 

—– 

GLOBAL: Breast Cancer – Going Global           

In Uganda, awareness raising begins with vocabulary. Dr.Fred Okuku, a Ugandan oncologist says: “There is no word for cancer in most Ugandan languages. A woman finds a lump in her breast, and cancer doesn’t cross her mind”.  For African women, the fight against breast cancer faces multiple challenges. Not only are resources limited, but corruption and neglect hold women back from accessing timely treatment.

Read The Story 

—–

BUSINESS:  Pink Products – Hurting More Than helping?

Pink Ribbon labeled lipstick that causes cancer?!?! The market for these pink items isn’t all rosy. The industry is growing. Consumers beware.

Read The Story 

—–

WOMENS RIGHTS: In The Shadow of the Pink Ribbon

The overwhelming promotion of October as the Breast Cancer Awareness Month leaves other important issues unnoticed. October is also National Domestic Violence Month. Breast cancer effects 1 in 8 women and as many as 1 in 3 women experience domestic violence.  How did violence get beat by a pink ribbon? The answer: The Pink Industry. The Proof: Smith & Wesson’s Special Edition Pink Gun benefiting Breast Cancer Awareness.

Read The Story

—–

Interested in learning more?

Join SparkSF on Tuesday, October 29th for a special screening  and discussion of Pink Ribbons, Inc.  Tickets available HERE.

Water Empowering Women

Uganda Women's Water Initiative

Post Authored By: Spark Fellow, Linn Hellerstrom

In the district of Gomba in Uganda, access to water is a human rights crisis. Only 58% of residents have access to toilets. Securing clean drinking water is a daily struggle. 50 children, under the age of five die every month as a result of this problematic issue. The Uganda Women’s Water Initiative (UWWI) is standing in front of a big challenge. Spark is honored to partner with these brave women to reverse this crisis.

Mukasa Hajra founded UWWI in 2012. She was inspired by the success of an international NGOs progress in the region. The Global Women’s Water Initiative’s work with “WASH” services (water, sanitation and health) compelled Mukasa to start her own health collaborative. WASH provides women with knowledge and tools to address water sanitation in their own communities. Mukasa wanted to expand their work in Gomba. Thus, UWWI was created.

UWWI provides solutions for water and sanitation problems using locally available materials and technologies. Theirs is a sustainable solution for their women participants and the communities they serve. Not only are they helping villages access clean drinking water, UWWI is also a way for women to earn a living. Training is given in engineering sanitation technologies, as well as the making of brickets and kitchen gardens. The women are then able to trade the goods and services on a market and enabling greater financial independence.

A big part of what makes UWWI such an impressive organization is their scale of impact. Since last year, over 35,000 people have benefited from UWWI’s education and clean water campaigns. Their mission is to more then double their outreach by 2015.

With a grant from Spark, UWWI will work to increase the amount of safe drinking water through the construction of bio-sand filters and water tanks and toilets. We are excited to follow this work and development of Uganda Women’s Water Initiative’s over the coming year.

The Hillary Project, Moonwalking in Pink and a Lemon Heroine

The Hillary Project, Moonwalking in Pink and a Lemon Heroine. This is your Spark News Digest.

Read, Discuss, Share.

Authored By Spark Fellow: Linn Hellerstrom

*****

Vivienne Harr, Make A Stand, Lemon-Aid

 ENTREPRENEURSHIP: When life give you lemons, start a social enterprise. 

9 year-old philanthropist Vivienne Harr, founder of Start A Lemon-Aid Stand, doesn’t wait for summer to change the world. 365 days a year she sits curbside, selling lemonade to raise money to abolish child slavery. In just 6 months of operation, she raised over $100,000. This year she registered as a B Corp.

Read The Full Story

*****

U.S POLITICS: Violence gets political

“The Hillary Project”, a new animated game goading the player to slap the former Secretary of State, is a bad joke – funded by a conservative Super Pac. It also reflects a bigger issue concerning the justification of violence against women. Violence against women is no laughing matter.

Read The Full Story

*****

WOMENS RIGHTS: Gender Equality – the cheapest, fastest way to get food on the table

What’s the most cost-effective way to combat hunger? Gender Equality. Women play a big role in food production and small-scale farming around the world. When obstacles like gender discriminatory land and labor laws make it harder for women to farm, it impacts food security. Equal opportunity will end hunger.

Read The Full Story

*****

BUSINESS: Moonwalking in heels – “Mars Explorer Barbie”

Still pink. Still disproportionate. Check out NASA’s Barbie.

Read The Full Story

*****

GLOBAL: The “Virginity Institute” upholding the purity myth in Georgia  

Recent human rights report reveals that Georgia’s National Forensics Bureau performs as many as 200 “virginity inspections” a year. While some are used for evidence in rape and abuse cases, many families will paid up to $200 for receive a certificate confirming their daughter’s “purity”. Protesters using social media and the streets are demanding the government to end the archaic practice. In response, a member of Georgia’s gender-equality council stated, “If there’s a demand for this service, the government can’t forbid it”. 

Read The Full Story

Avon for Good, Mobile BFF’s & Lady Gaga’s Credo

Avon for Good, Mobile BFF’s, & Lady Gaga’s Credo. This is your Spark News Digest.

Read, Discuss, Share.

Authored By Spark Fellow: Linn Hellerstrom

*****

Anat Binur, co-founder of MEET (Middle East Education Through Technology)

TECH: Can a mobile app help Israelis and Palestinians MEET in the middle?

MEET (Middle East Education Through Technology) – is a mobile app that helps Israeli and Palestinian students break both cultural and physical barriers. Anat Binur, co-founder, aims to help students forge bonds between students by studying programming, marketing, and strategic planning side by side.

Read The Full Story 

*****

BUSINESS:  How do you say Ding Dong in Swahili?

 Avon Products inspires more than good looks. By applying Avon’s renown door-to-door business model, Living Goods, a non-profit, helps thousands of Ugandan micro-entrepreneurs earn an income while saving lives by selling anti-malaria medicine, clean burning stoves, solar-powered lamps, and sanitary supplies.

Read The Full Story 

*****

GLOBAL: What one thing is holding Iranian women back from running for President? A word.

The Iranian constitution says that the president should be from political rejal, a word with adual meaning of politically qualified and men. Iranian Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi sheds light on why women aren’t qualified to run for president in Iran but why they still keep on registering as candidates. You can’t stop, nay, won’t stop the ladies from pursuing what’s right and fair.

Read The Full Story 

*****

 U.S.  NEWSLady Gaga credo, “Baby, You Were Born This Way” Swings legal.

Delaware agrees. Their House recently approved a bill outlawing discrimination against transgender people. Now, the category of gender identity is among race, age, religion, and sexual orientation as protected non-discrimination categories.

Read The Full Story  

#TweetsFromHillary, A Pussy Riot, and Mobile Mobilizing

#TweetsfromHillary, A Pussy Riot, and Mobile Mobilizing. This is your Spark News Digest.

Read, Discuss, Share.

—–

TweetsFromHillary

TECH: With Nod To Texts From Hillary Guys, Clinton Joins Twitter

The madam of memes strikes back. Hillary Clinton joined Twitter hours ago and already has over 170,000 followers. Let’s see if she has anything special to say  about 2016.

Read The Full Story 

—–

MEDIA: Pussy Riot Generates Outrage in Russia, Acclaim in the West

Perspective is a funny thing. The all-female Russian punk band, Pussy Riot, won worldwide notoriety for staging a pro-feminist, anti-Putin performance at an Orthodox cathedral in Moscow. This 40 second long act got two of the performers two years in a Russian labor camp. Out West, their performance got them a standing ovation. This month check out a documentary chronicling their historic trial on HBO.

Read The Full Story 

—–

TECH: Mobilizing A Generation Women With The World At Their Fingertips

Women take talk and text plans seriously. It’s long been thought that men rule technology, but studies show women in Western countries use technology more than men and seem to be the masters of mobile technology. Women are increasingly influential as early adopters worldwide.

Read The Full Story

—–

U.S. NEWS: Equal Pay Act’s 50th Anniversary Brings Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand And Marie Claire EIC Anne Fulenwider To The Table

A very, merry un-anniversary to you. Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, a 1963 law which aimed to eliminate the wage gap between male and female workers. That’s great, but it didn’t work. Women still earn .77 cents to every $1 men earn. While Congress grapples with the Paycheck Fairness Act, Senators Gillibrand and Fulenwider believe women should advocate for themselves. 70% of women don’t negotiate salary and it’s time that they do.

Read The Full Story

Bend It Like Tibet, Real Beauty and There’s An App For That: Spark’s News Digest

Bend It Like Tibet, Real Beauty and There’s An App For That:  Spark’s News Digest

Read, Discuss, Share.

—–

First Tibetan Women’s Soccer Team Blazes a Trail

GLOBAL: Tibetan’s First Women’s Soccer Team Blazes a Trail

Bend It Like Tibetan Women. Last year, Tibet formed their first women’s soccer team, receiving praise and concern from the community. Traditionally, Tibetan women have a very respected role in the house, but not always in society. The team’s coach vision was to create a team who can speak their truth as a tool for peace and equality. David Beckham would be proud.

Read the full story

—–

HUMAN RIGHTS: In Human Rights, What Does ‘Access to Remedy’ Really Mean?

Suing corporations for human rights violations just got harder. The Supreme Court ruled on Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum that cases under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) will now be presumptively dismissed when the alleged human rights abuses occur outside the United StatesTo ensure conflicts don’t escalate, it’s now even more essential that civic organizations like Accountability Counsel and BSR, are brought in to provide non-legal support. Considering the large capacity gap, how will civic groups be able to provide the support needed?

Read the full story

—–

GLOBAL: Inequality in the Pursuit of Feminism

Is being a feminist an elite proposition? While feminist advances are often measured by counting women in senior positions, the shrinking power of women at the other end of the income spectrum is too often ignored, a report says. Leaning In is important, but so is understanding the huge inequalities and increased insecurity at the bottom.

Read the full story

—–

TECHNOLOGYCan An App Stop Rape in India?

Is it possible for an app to save lives? Circle of 6 let’s your friends know when you are in a situation that you want to get out of. It has pre-set messages that go to a pre-selected group of friends in just two taps. The White House recognizes this app as a tool in sexual assault prevention and there has been a surge of uploads in India since the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh. If a legal system is not protecting you, it’s nice to know that your friends and technology can help.

Read the full story

—–

OPINION: The Confidence Questions

Dove’s recent “Real Beauty” campaign has received a lot of press for portraying women’s self-confidence issues. When asked to describe themselves, the self-descriptions are sadder, less attractive and more closed-off than how others perceived them. Dove’s campaign propelled David Brooks to ponder the issues of self-criticism and self-assertion. He wonders if marrying the two stereotypically female and male traits could produce better results.

Read the full story

—–

Spark’s News Digest

The coolness of coding, using contraceptives and men leaning in. This is your Spark news digest.

Read, discuss and SHARE. 

BUSINESS: Opening a Gateway for Girls to Enter the Computer Field

BUSINESSOpening a Gateway for Girls to Enter the Computer Field

The secret’s out, coding is cool. Women earn just 12% of computer science degrees and that needs to change. Girls Who Code and other similarly focused organizations are aiming to increase the amount of girls in tech. These groups open up the gateway for young women by teaching them how to code at a young age.

Read the full story

—–

WORLD REPORT: Contraception is good for the economy, everything else

Janet Jackson is not the only one who thinks control is a positive thing. A new study finds that giving women access to control their own fertility is a really good thing for themselves, their relationships and the economic state of the world.

Read the full story

—–

BUSINESS: Career Advice from Sheryl Sandberg and Amex CEO Chenault

Work place dilemma’s are not just when someone takes your stapler. 64% of men are afraid to be in a room alone with a female employee. In this video, Amex CEO and Sheryl Sandberg discuss creating informal mentoring programs for male bosses and female employees without feelings of discomfort.

Read the full story

—–

GLOBAL: In country of sustained conflict, two DRC women work toward peace

Spark member’s don’t just show up, they create change. Spark’s own Larkin Callaghan authored a piece about gender justice in the DRC.

Read the full story

—–

GLOBAL: Malawi’s Leader Makes Safe Childbirth Her Mission

1 out of every 36 women are at risk of dying from childbirth in Malawi. Joyce Banda, the country’s new president is out to change that. Despite a national ban on childbirth at home, most Malawians ignore it in favor of customs that have governed their lives for as long as they can remember. In order to shift the norms, Banda is working with the real power brokers of Malawi, the 20,000 village chiefs, explaining the dangers of home births while still respecting tribal traditions.

Read the full story

From Lake Wobegon to Lake Havasu, Donut Security and Progress Made In China: Spark News Digest

From Lake Wobegon to Lake Havasu, donut security and progress Made In China: This is your Spark News Digest.

Read, Discuss, Share.

—–


NATIONAL: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Calls Out Military Leaders For “Good Order And Discipline”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in a word, ROCKS. Our Senator will not accept rhetoric for an answer. Last week Sen. Gillibrand questioned military leaders on sexual assault, demanding zero tolerance in the military justice system.”I appreciate the work you’re doing, but it’s not enough,” Sen. Gillibrand told military officers during a recent Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee. We appreciate your leadership, Senator. Rock on.

Read The Full Story

—–

NEXT GENERATION PHILANTHROPY:  NPR Wants To Click With Those Who Tweet

Pivoting from Lake Wobegon to Lake Havasu, NPR is taking a crack at the under 30 crowd. Their presence at South by Southwest Interactive Conference (SXSW) was part of their Generation Listen campaign. Their aim is to inspire a new generation of listeners to support local stations to keep public programming alive and out of retirement.

Read The Full Story

—–

INTERNATIONAL: Empowering Women To Improve Food Security – What Works and Why

Food security is not just hiding the last donut from your co-workers. In Olivier De Schutter’s report to the UN on Gender and the Right to Food, he notes that one of the most promising approaches to alleviating poverty is to include gender-sensitive elements to existing food security programs.

Read The Full Story 

—–

INTERNATIONAL: China Signals Greater Role For Private Nonprofits

Social progress – Made in China. Last week, China declared  that it will allow nonstate groups to take a bigger role in tackling economic and social issues within the country. This is a big, positive step for a government that has been repressive to social sector actors.

Read The Full Story

—–

WOMEN IN BUSINESS: Speak Up, Believe In Yourself, Take Risks

Lean In closer to the debate. In this opinion piece and video, Sheryl Sandberg takes notice of the conversation swirling around her book and movement, Lean In, explaining that we need a national dialogue in order to break the barriers holding women back from achieving true equality in the workplace. Can Lean In help create a world where passions, interest, and talent are king, and stereotypes take a backseat?

Read The Full Story