Archive for the ‘Women's Rights’ Category

Countries Manipulated by the Media

In Abortion, UFI, UN, Women's Rights on March 21, 2013 at 4:47 pm

CSW 2013Carol Soelberg

Late on Friday, the UN negotiating room erupted in cheers as anti-family activists welcomed the adoption of the “Agreed Conclusions” for the Commission on Status of Women (CSW) 57th session.  Two weeks of intense negotiations had produced a document that was less than favorable to the cause of family and of life.  United Families representatives, along with other members of the pro-family/pro-life coalition, had gone late into the night monitoring negotiations, providing options for language, and working to shore up the family-friendly delegations.  In the end, however, it became clear that one of our biggest opponents had been the media.

Before CSW even began, media was circulating the meme that the delegations of Russia, Iran, the Holy See, Pakistan, were going to work to stymie negotiations.  The articles (examples here and here) implied that nations that are conservative in worldview and adhere to religion and traditional cultural values were complicit in promoting violence against women.  (Eliminating Violence against Women and Girls” was the theme of the two-week gathering.)  The news articles made it clear that if the outcome document failed (as it did last year) that it would be the fault of these nations and their delegations.

At about 5:30 pm on the final day, the negotiation’s facilitator announced that a “Chairman’s text” was now going to be used as the final version.  There was no word as to who had actually been involved in compiling the text. It was a stunning turn of events because the Chairman’s text retained much of the language that pro-family countries had opposed for weeks and yet the compilers of the text had simply dropped many of the pro-life/pro-family phrases and paragraphs.  In the end, few delegations spoke out against the Chairman’s text or registered reservations and it was adopted.

The anti-family contingents at CSW were not going to let this document fail and it appeared that the media campaign against the pro-family position had done its job.  The voices of our usually out-spoken and assertive pro-family delegations had been tempered.  Long-time UN watchers observed that if the text had gone to an actual counted vote, pro-family delegations did not have sufficient enough numbers to defeat the Chairman’s text so why should they risk the wrath of the media and the liberal delegations, when opposing the draft in the final moments would not have affected the outcome anyway.  “It was a done deal from the beginning,” one observer noted.

Specific Outcomes of CSW 57 “Agreed Conclusions”

Some of the troubling language:

  • Multiple references to “sexual and reproductive” health care/services/rights (used to promote abortion).
  •   “gender-related crimes” in the context of the International Criminal Court; “gender-based violence” causing “…psychological harm or suffering…”  (“Gender” is often used in the context of acknowledging and promoting homosexual behaviors.)
  • Deletion of the paragraph supporting a nation’s sovereign rights, “…with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people, and conformity with universally recognized international human rights.”

Some successes:

  • Gone from text are references to “sexual or gender orientation” or “gender-identity”  (The opposition was saddened by its loss, noting that it referred to “women who love other women”.)  References to “intimate partner” “intimate relationships” were also removed.  (This is language intended to normalize out-of-wedlock sexual relations.)
  • An inclusion of the troubling language of “comprehensive sexuality education” but qualified with this important phrase: “…with the appropriate direction and guidance from parents and legal guardians…”
  • Inclusions of need to eliminate “prenatal sex selection,” “forced hysterectomy,” forced sterilization,” forced use of contraceptives”

A Bad Document, but a Great Education!  

Students at UNUnited Families International conducted a parallel event called:  “Eliminating Violence against Women and Girls: What does the research say?”  To a packed room, we presented a wealth of evidence that the safest place for women and children is in a stabled, married, heterosexual household.   Included in the event was a short presentation on the horrific practice of sex-selective abortion (the systematic termination of unborn females).   At the completion of the presentation, a young Hungarian woman approached one of the college students who was part of the UFI team and mentioned that prior to our presentation she “had never before considered how women, and human beings in general, have rights before they are born.”

The UFI team was pleased to recognize once again that the real win is in the heart and mind of each individual.   We came away with a long list of individuals from around the world who requested a copy of the power point so they could share the research with others.  Every individual who becomes convinced of the necessity of the family in providing a safe place for women, adds one more powerful voice in defense of the family.

The UFI team, which consisted of six college students, their two professors, and UFI’s other volunteers, were able to visit twelve UN Missions.  They delivered UFI’s Negotiating Guide and the book on the importance of Family Capital in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.  Mission visits are a wonderful way to become acquainted with the delegates, offer support and encouragement for their difficult task of standing firm against the huge wall of opposition, and to spread a pro-family/pro-life message.

Lastly, we were also supported by a group of dedicated students from Patrick Henry College.  We thank them for their work.  Please take a minute to check out some of their blog posts (below).  You’ll gain some interesting insights into the Commission on the Status of Women.

It does not surprise us that the UN commissions become increasingly resistant to family-friendly documents.  But we will not give up!  We will continue to work with the International pro-family coalition to discover ways to protect the family and stop the progress of the opposition.  We learned this time the power the media can play in the UN and we will be prepared to fight that battle in the future.  We know that those of our team who experienced the UN for the first time have seen another side of the opposition and they left more empowered to defend the family on all levels.

We wish you could all have that experience and hope that our report lights a fire in your hearts to continue the critical work of protecting and strengthening the family.

Carol2Carol Soelberg
President, United Families International


Remembering CSW

In Child Development, Education, Families, father, Health Care, Human Rights, Marriage, motherhood, Parental Rights, Parenting, Population Control, Sanctity of Life, Schools, The Family, UFI, UN, Values, Women's Rights on March 12, 2013 at 2:03 pm


Rachel Allison

This week is the final week of the “Commission on the Status of Women,” a conference being held at the United Nations in New York City.  United Families International has several volunteers at the UN working to influence pro-life and pro-family language into the outcome documents that will soon become International Law.

As important as this lobbying is, those in our delegation also have opportunity to support women who have come from all over the world to speak to UN delegations concerning their difficult situations at home. Until we hear their stories many of us cannot fathom the situations these good women are experiencing.  In past years I have heard women speak about human slave and sex trafficking.  Their laws and police force do not protect them or their children from such atrocities.   I have heard women talk about watching other women stoned to death without trial or jury.  I have heard women talk about laws that do not protect their 10, 11, and 12 year-old daughters from being bought and subjected to marriage and pregnancy…pregnancy that often causes the unborn baby to die within the womb of the child bride because her body is not mature enough to give birth.

I’m not at CSW (Commission on the Status of Women) this year, but I am trying to read as much as I can about what is happening as they try to direct this year’s focus on eliminating violence against women. I just read an article by someone who is at the conference.  His words brought back vivid memories of needs and concerns that are too often sidelined.

“During the waning days of the conference’s first week and well into this most recent weekend,  I watched and listened as African women discussed and debated the all-important Outcome Document amongst themselves.  Luckily for me, English is their common language and as I sat beside them in the Business Center of our clean but quite modest hotel late into the night on Saturday AND Sunday, I heard their concerns.”

“They are worried about their daughter’s AND son’s education; they want access to potable water in the more remote regions of their respective countries; more doctors, and in keeping with          this year’s conference theme, they want real life-and-death protection for their daughters.”

As I read his article, I was taken back to the years when I attended CSW, and my heart went out to these women who are desperate for help.  I have personally seen women who have to walk miles for potable water.  I have seen the small dark tents where 15+ children huddle to be taught reading and simple arithmetic. I have seen villages whose only “doctor” is a witch doctor who uses the same needle on his patients until it is too dull to be used again.  I have seen mother’s grieve over the loss of a child to dehydration, snakebite, and disease when there was no medicine or help to save.

We who can’t imagine raising a family in such living conditions should count our blessings, and determine that we will give selflessly to strengthen our families, and then support causes that can lift and help the struggling.

Because I have seen what I have seen, and experienced what I have experienced, I cannot, without guilt, spend time on the trivial.  I’m grateful for that guilt.  There are causes too vital not to get involved.  I try to examine my priorities every day. And then I pray like the dickens that my efforts will make a difference.

Women: Career or Home and Family…

In Child Development, Families, Feminism, Marriage, Media, motherhood, Parenting, stay-at-home mom, The Family, Values, Women's Rights, working mothers on May 29, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Rachel Allison

What has our society done to us?

Has Hollywood and advertising caused us to focus on looks rather than depth, and instant gratification rather than virtue and self-control?  Have we become caught up with priorities that may bring status and recognition while true and lasting fulfillment are eluded because we have not focused on selfless service?  If only we could place our causes and priorities under a type of magnifying glass that could clearly project the future outcome of our time and efforts.  We could then examine whether our time commitments are helping us reach the top of the mountain we are really wanting to reach.

Recently I read an article entitled “The Bride Who was Groomed for a Career” by Lea Singh.  What an interesting viewpoint on feminism.  In years past I have rubbed shoulders with many women who believe that first and foremost they should prepare for a fulfilling career.  These women eventually want marriage and family too, but they have been so focused on priorities dictated by secularism and feminism that other concerns are given only a side-glance.

Several years ago my husband and I became good friends with a fortyish-age woman who had made quite a career for herself in the fashion world.  Her name and photo were regulars in some of the more exclusive New York magazines. She once told us that she lived the life of “The Devil Wears Prada.” In fact she had worked closely with the woman who inspired the above-mentioned movie.  She said that her schedule required that a sleeping bag be kept in one of her office drawers, and evening gowns were kept in her office closet.  There were many weeks where her office WAS her home, and she loved the excitement and lure of all the glitz and recognition!  That is she loved it until she realized that with this kind of pace she would never find serious prospects for marriage. As she neared her 40th birthday, she made a courageous decision.  She actually quit her job and began writing a book.  Her time became her own, and amazingly she was married within a year. The last I heard she had two small children, and she was finally living the life she really wanted all along.

I’m not at all implying that women should not attend college and get a degree. Any and all education received gives confidence and perspective.  It can inspire and empower….making any woman a better companion and mother.

I found Lea Singh’s viewpoint extremely interesting. The following is taken from Ms. Singh’s article:

I wish that as I was growing up, the role of wife and mother had been more fully present as a respectable and important option that also needs time and training, not just an afterthought that automatically tacks on to a career. Much of the skill set I acquired in university is not very useful in the home. Although I know how to write legal briefs, I wish I knew how to sew, play family songs on the piano and cook without a cookbook, and even that I was more familiar with caring for little ones and for a busy household. All the chores I was protected from in order to enable me to study as I was growing up – maybe I should have done them after all, including some babysitting. I want to give these experiences to my daughter, so that she will be better equipped not just for a career, but also for motherhood.

I even wish – and this is sure to get some hair frizzed – that it had been explained to me that a high-flying career does not go well with family life. Men and women really are different. When the man gets married, it is just a sweet step in the direction of all his life dreams. He can climb up the career ladder and still be a good father to his nine kids. He will get a deep sense of meaning and fulfillment from providing for his family.

But where feminism has confused women, it has made us dream that we are the same as men. Men are not mothers, and children don’t need them in the same way as they will inevitably need us. So if we want to have children, we can’t pretend to be men in our career plans and aspirations. Do we really want to have someone else caring for our homes and our children? It does not have to be that way. We need to embrace a model of life success that is less career-oriented and more family-centered. Giving of oneself to others, while it comes without diplomas, year-end bonuses and frequent-flyer miles, is just as worthy and important as building up one’s own career.






A Cause You Can Believe In

In Abortion, Child Development, Constitution, Education, Environmentalism, Families, Human Rights, Pedophilia, Prostitution, Sanctity of Life, The Family, UN, Values, Women's Rights on March 27, 2012 at 11:12 am


Rachel Allison

There are many causes in the world:  “Save the whales;” “Save the forests;” ”Save our environment;” “Preserve Freedom.;” and, of course, “Save the Family.” It’s important for people to have a cause.  It keeps us focused during our discretionary time on bettering our neighborhoods, community, society, and world.  Because of our potential to make a marked difference we should consider our causes carefully.

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s cause parade, but let’s compare a few causes.

Squirrels or freedom?

Forests or family?

Whales or the birth of a child?

There are many others…and honestly, I’m not trying to discredit anyone’s cause.  I just think we all need to recognize that we have a certain amount of time on this earth, and prioritizing that time is pretty significant. When we meet our Maker, as many believe we will, I can imagine we’ll be making a report of the causes for which we actively advocated.

In my humble opinion Family and Freedom should take precedence on anyone’s list.  However I was just reminded of a cause that I learned about several years ago at the UN.  A film was shown at one of the side events during a major UN Conference.  The film took us to the Brothels of Calcutta where children had been trafficked and sold as sex slaves.  I was appalled!  And the subject of the film literally gave me nightmares.  And then I left NYC and over the months and years I have forgotten that child sex slavery still exists.  Well it does.

This is a cause that every decent man and woman in the world should embrace. Demanding that this type of abuse must stop should be paramount, until pressure is so great that governments have to address the issue and stop the practice.  Information in the film strongly suggests that local governments are compliant with this practice.  Financially there are a lot of people who are benefiting from the trafficking of these young boys and girls… including government leaders and policemen.

If enough people made it their cause, and our voices were united around the world, the lives of these sweet innocent children will be saved.  Go to  LOVE146  to learn more.  Warning:  It’s going to break your heart!

Week-long Sex Strike? Really?

In Abortion, Abstinence, Birth Rate, Family Planning, Feminism, Health Care, motherhood, Population Control, Values, Women's Rights on March 13, 2012 at 9:03 am

woman alone

Rachel Allison

Townhall’s political editor, Guy Benson’s article caught my attention with the shocking title:  Liberal Women Plan “Sex Strike” to Protest Nonexistent Contraception Ban.

“Liberal Ladies Who Lunch” is the organization who is calling for the “Sex Strike.”

Quotes by “Liberal Ladies Who Lunch:”

“If our reproductive rights are denied, so are yours.”

“…if we lose our hard won rights to medical care, birth control and pregnancy choice, it won’t only affect women. Men will have to…go back to the days when they waited for or paid for sex.”

There are several things that bother me about the statements made by Liberal Ladies.

1.  A “Sex Strike” for a week?  Seven days without sex makes a statement?   It’s almost laughable.  Are these women afraid of losing their significant other if they hold out longer than a week?

2.  I would hope that there are women in the world who recognize the personal responsibility that accompanies adult decisions.  And unless a woman is raped, there is a decision involved when it comes to sex.

3.  “The health of the woman” is the statement we hear over and over and over again.  True Statement: “A healthy woman is able to conceive and bear children.”

Contraceptives and abortifacents prevent normal fertility of the woman and continued existence of newly conceived life in the womb.  Contraceptives and abortifacents are not designed to promote health.  They are designed to take consequences out of the decision to engage in sex.

4.  Sandra Fluke’s testimony doesn’t make sense to those of us who have used or are using contraceptives.  They just aren’t that expensive. And it’s all a matter of priority.  If there is very little money and if sex is a priority don’t stop at the neighborhood Starbucks. Pay for your own contraception. This entitlement mentality needs to change.  “I want ______ so you pay for it.  Where did that thinking come from?

5. With all the real heartbreak and need in the world why are we focusing our time and attention on sex? Has our society become so sex driven and self absorbed that we can’t seem to focus on loftier causes? I am a woman.  I enjoy sex with my husband. But sex is a balanced part of my life. I have books to read, projects to finish, travels to enjoy, service to give, beauty to experience, babies to hold, friends to help.  In other words, my life is rich and full and wonderful. I make it that way.

My advice to “Liberal Ladies Who Lunch:” Focus on loftier causes.  Your lives and those you love will become so much more rewarding.

The Face of Modern Slavery

In Pedophilia, Prostitution, UN, Women's Rights on November 22, 2011 at 5:19 pm

by Rachel Allison

When I read last week from United Families Weekly News Feed about The Face of Modern Slavery By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF I was reminded of what I had seen and felt years ago at the UN Conferences when desperate men and women would come to plead their frustration and helplessness in regards to the sex trafficking they saw and experienced in their native countries.

I was shocked to see live footage of courageous men who, with video cameras in hand, took the viewer through the narrow winding crowded paths that led to a brothel in Calcutta, India.  The keeper of the gate did her best to shut out the cameras, but without men to help, she was helpless.  We saw 5 young girls caged like animals in a prison the size of a washing machine or clothes dryer box.  We saw the blank stares from these young girls, as well as those assigned to small rooms where men came hour after hour to satisfy their sexual cravings.

Shortly after arriving at the brothel, men did come to kick out the intruders, but it was too late.  The images were recorded.  The men didn’t confiscate the camera nor the film.  They just shoved and man-handled the camera man and narrator until they were forced to leave.

The documentary told of taking the footage to the local police who did nothing, even when they were told that the girls in the brothels were being held captive against their will, and that they were all minors.

We learned that the police are part of the problem.  In essence they feel that these young girls are providing an important service to the men of the city.  There was nothing wrong with what was going on…it is an age-old tradition that is part of their culture, and they didn’t want to be bothered by these men and their high-minded ideas.  In fact at the end of the video, we learned that the narrator of the film was killed two weeks after taking the film to the local police. His murderer was never caught.

At this same UN side event we learned that women go to the rural areas where poverty is rampant and ask parents to allow their daughters to break out of their situation by working in the homes of good people needing domestic help.  These trusting parents turn their young daughters over to these women, and when they don’t hear from their daughters, they are told they ran away from their employment and cannot be found.

One such situation involved the young daughter of the villages’ local policeman.  When his daughter was not heard from he went to find her.  After weeks of searching he found her in one of these disgusting brothels.  She was pregnant, but she didn’t have any of the life-threatening diseases that so many of these young girls contract. She was one of the lucky ones to have been found and brought home.

Some of these girls are taken to other countries where they can’t communicate.  They are helpless in their quest to escape.  After months of being raped over and over again, all eventually contract tuberculosis, venereal disease, or other life-threatening illnesses or they become pregnant.  What happens to them at that point?  They are thrown out into the streets to wander and fend for themselves in a foreign and adverse environment.

We shudder, but it happens every day.  How depraved the societies of the world have become!  Would the reader be surprised to learn that there is sex-trafficking taking place right here in the United States?  There is.  We heard the testimony of one young woman from New York City, who after being raped repeatedly by an uncle, left home because there was no one there that would protect her. Pimps picked up on her situation the minute they found her roaming the streets.  She was used and abused for months before she found shelter and people who helped her escape her desperate situation.

Have things changed?  Apparently, it is still taking place.  We can do all that we can to protect and educate, but we should also search the internet to learn if there are groups fighting this tragic abuse of young boys and girls.  If any find such groups please let UFI know, and we will publish and disseminate the information.  If Kristof is right  in his calculations,that at least 10 times as many girls are now trafficked into brothels annually as African slaves were transported to the New World in the peak years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, then this is a cause every person should become aware of and the outcry should be heard around the world.




Punching Back at Pro-Abortion Advocates

In Abortion, Family Planning, Human Rights, UN, Women's Rights on October 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm

UN Logo“If you tell a lie loud enough, long enough, people will believe it.” 

So goes the adage that exemplifies the approach that the pro-abortion and anti-family advocates at the UN and in the international arena are using to promote worldwide abortion.  The notion that “Abortion is an International Human Right!” is continually advanced by individuals, non-governmental groups, and UN agencies who wish to deceive, manipulate, and coerce countries to legalize abortion and alter their laws to reflect this false understanding.

In an effort designed to inject the truth back into the dialogue and to give support to diplomats and policy makers from countries that are being bullied with this misinformation, the San Jose Articles have been introduced.    Crafted in Costa Rica last March by legal professionals, doctors, scholars, public health officials, and experts in international policy from around the globe, these articles lay out some basic principles and understandings:

*    From conception each unborn life is a human being and is entitled to recognition of their inherent dignity and protection of their inalienable human rights.

*    There is no right to abortion, either by way of treaty obligation or under customary international law.

*    In fact, under basic principles of treaty interpretation, the state has a responsibility to protect the unborn child from abortion.
To see a complete list of the articles, go here and for accompanying notes and clarifications, here.

Why is this document important?

As Robert P. George, distinguished law professor at Princeton University and member of the drafting committee states:

“It is simply not true that international instruments or international human rights law includes, contains, sanctions or in any way condones the idea that there is an international right to abortion.  That is sheer manipulation.”  He continues that “it is a partisan desire to advance the belief in the justifiability of killing the unborn.”

During the UN press conference releasing the San Jose Articles, George made it clear that this is also an effort to maintain the integrity of all international law by not allowing it to be misused in such a fashion.

We, at United Families International, can personally attest to the fact that policy makers of countries, particularly developing countries, are regularly being told that legalizing abortion is inevitable because the international legal instruments that their country has signed on to demand it.  There is an attempt to infuse the idea that “abortion is a right” in to every UN dialogue, document negotiation, and non-UN gathering that is even remotely related to social policy – most especially into the reduction of maternal mortality discussions.

The release of the San Jose Articles is particularly timely as the “abortion as a right” meme has been ramped up in recent weeks as two major UN pro-abortion reports were issued recently, one in Geneva and one in New York.   Both reports received wide support from the UN Secretary General.  The Report of the High Commissioner of Human Rights falsely claimed that States have an obligation to address “unsafe abortion:  – the implication being that states have an obligation to legalize abortion.  Among other untrue statements related to abortion, the author of the Report of Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the highest attainable standard of health, states:

“Criminal laws penalizing and restricting induced abortion are the paradigmatic examples of impermissible barriers to the realization of women’s right to health and must be eliminated.”


“States must take measures to ensure that legal and safe abortion services are available, accessible, and of good quality.”

Sounds like this Special Rapporteur not only wants governments to legalize abortion, but have taxpayers pay for them too!

According to the pro-abortion organization Human Rights Watch, the UN treaty known as CEDAW (The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) has directed 93 countries to legalize abortion.   The CEDAW compliance committee who issues these edicts has no power to do so, but it doesn’t stop them from trying to bully countries that don’t feel they have the clout or the tools to stand against this form of coercion.

Giving countries the tools to stop this type of misinformation and harassment is what the San Jose Articles are all about.  Now a public policy official or UN diplomat who is told “your country must legalize abortion” can, with authority,  reply: “That is incorrect and here is why.”  They will not be misled.  They will not only be knowledgeable of the fact that there is no right to abortion contained in any international documents, but will have the voice of over 30 highly-regarded international experts in law, medicine, and public policy behind them.

We at United Families International join with those who crafted the San Jose Articles in working to stop this type of falsehood from gaining further traction.  We are grateful to those who are willing to step forward and state the facts so clearly and compellingly.  We believe that the San Jose Articles are a “game changer” and we are thrilled to be part of the pro-family coalition that is promoting them.  To see the impact that is already occurring from the San Jose Articles go here:

Queen’s cousin campaigns to block ‘human right’ to abortion

The world doesn’t have a right to abortion

United Families International is dedicated to protecting unborn children and it is a battle that we engage in virtually every day.  We will continue to raise awareness on this issue and invite you to share this very important development with others.  Spread the good news.


Carol Soelberg
President, United Families International

Are Working Moms Happier?

In Families, Feminism, motherhood, Values, Women's Rights on September 26, 2011 at 5:43 pm

by Rachel Allison

The title “Why Working Moms Are Happier” was a taunt that caught my attention.  The article by Laurie Tarkan first suggests that “women who believe they can do it all—the successful career, the clean house, a home-cooked meal every night—may be more unhappy than working women who assume that they can’t be a supermom, according to a new study.”

This “study” found that “those who as young adults consistently agreed with the notion that women could successfully combine employment and family care—were at a higher risk for depression compared with working moms who felt it would be difficult for women to raise a family while working.

I don’t have a problem with these findings.  My husband reminds me periodically that “the discontent we feel comes when our expectations are too high and as a result, are not realized. This “study” states the obvious. Working women who have faced reality by recognizing the time and energy commitment a career takes from home and family are simply being realistic.

Several years ago my sister-in-law asked that I substitute for her at the local high school while she attended to some serious family matters.  My children were all in school and so I agreed to help her out.  I would be working 29 hours a week. My first thoughts were, (just like the young adults in the study,) “I can keep up with everything and everybody and still work 29 hours at the local high school.”  I quickly recognized that I was wrong.  And do you know what hurt most?  Not my home.  I was determined to keep it clean and orderly.  Not my meals.  I became a “crock-pot diva.”  What hurt was my one on one time with my children.  It was the precious reading time we had spent together around the breakfast table…So after several months of this time commitment, I was thrilled to return to full-time mom and homemaker.

The section of the “study” I take issue with? “ Working moms had lower levels of depression than stay-at-home moms, but Ms. Tarkan’s silence on the “why” is what concerned me…and so I read other studies on this topic.

The why? One study suggests, “Women who stay at home are more isolated.  They don’t have the adult stimulation they would at the workplace.  They don’t have to get dressed and get out of the house.  Being confined to the same four walls day in and day out can have negative effects”…the key to beating the doldrums in this second study is that we all need “BALANCE.”  This balance is certainly attainable for those who choose to be stay-at-home moms.  In fact, balance may be more easily reached because stay-at-home moms set their own schedule.  It takes self-discipline and planning, but as we rise to the level of “Home and Family CEO” the challenges and rewards are exciting and innumerable.  Children make demands of our time, but so do bosses. Housework can be time consuming, but so can work projects.

No matter what course a woman chooses, we would do well to remember the importance of creativity and the need for growth.  Because stay-at-home Moms have more flexibility with their schedules, they may have more opportunity to pursue personal interests. They can take a class at the local community college.  They can get involved in politics, PTA, local charities, and musical presentations.  I have seen young stay-at-home moms organize and orchestrate neighborhood theatrical productions for the children who are out of school for summer break.  The possibilities are endless…and the rewards are invaluable.

All three of my daughters are stay-at-home moms.  One has taught herself photography, and has built up a little part-time business. It doesn’t take up much of her time, and she loves it.  Another daughter played college volleyball. She organizes volleyball clinics once or twice a year for the young girls in her neighborhood.  She looks forward to sharing her passion with these athlete wannabes. The third is actively involved in her neighborhood homeowner’s association and has made friends with most of the homeowners in her neighborhood. Plus she’s very involved in local politics.  Are they depressed?   They don’t have time to be depressed.

Ms. Tarkan states, “One heartening piece of news is that no matter how guilty you feel or how insurmountable your tasks seem, working is good for your mental health.” I agree!  But the work that I consider good for mental health is cleaning and organizing a closet, painting an old piece of furniture, sewing a costume, or planting a garden…and guess what?  No guilt!

Hollywood wrong…again

In adoption, father, motherhood, Women's Rights on May 19, 2011 at 10:12 pm

By Carol Soelberg

Remember last summer and the controversy surrounding actress Jennifer Aniston?  While promoting her new movie “The Switch,” Aniston had commented: 

“Women are realizing it more and more that you don’t have to settle.  They don’t have to fiddle with a man to have that child.” 

Bill O’Reilly, Fox News commentator, thought that it was an ill-considered comment and chastised her with:

“She’s throwing her message out to 12 year-olds and 13 year-olds that ‘Hey you don’t need a guy.  You don’t need a dad.'”

 O’Reilly finished by calling the actress’ message “destructive to our society.”

Celebrity feud aside, I found it reassuring and encouraging that a large share of the general public agreed with O’Reilly.  Family breakdown is not something to be encouraged or celebrated.  I thought of that little brouhaha as I read through two newly released reports discussing family breakdown and poverty.

What’s happening internationally?

 A recent report authored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an alliance of richer countries, released its “first ever report on family well-being” on April 27, 2011.

According to the report, one in four children in the United States is being raised by a single parent.  This is a percentage that has been on the rise and is higher than other developed countries, according to the report.  Of the 27 industrialized countries studied by the OECD, the U.S. had 25.8 percent of children being raised by a single parent, compared with an average of 14.9 percent across the other countries.

Ireland was second (24.3 percent), followed by New Zealand (23.7 percent). Greece, Spain, Italy and Luxemburg had among the lowest percentages of children in single-parent homes.  Experts point to a variety of factors to explain the high U.S. figure, including a cultural shift toward greater acceptance of single-parent child rearing, but all seem to be derived from familial breakdown, drug use, crime, domestic violence, fatherlessness, just to name a few..

The first chapter of the report is titled “Families are Changing” and contains material on family structure and child poverty. It notes as “a particular worry that in most OECD countries, poverty risks have shifted over the past 20 years towards families with children…” A major reason for this is the steady increase in single parent households.

“The economic vulnerability of families is linked to parents’ incapacity to reconcile employment and parenthood,” says the report. That joblessness is the main cause of poverty should not come as a shock to anyone.  However, joblessness is more likely where there is only one parent, usually the mother. The report does acknowledge does acknowledge that two parents are better than one:

“Given that joblessness greatly increases the chances of a household being poor, couple households can act as a protection for children against poverty as such households are less likely to be jobless.”

 Unfortunately, projections up to 2025-2030 suggest that in almost all countries single parent households will continue to increase both in absolute numbers and as a proportion of all households with children.

Hopefully, this report from the OECD will inspire policy makers to value cultural norms, traditions and laws that re-enforce the family while realizing that a sound economy depends ultimately on the health of the family unit. Policymakers can advance an anti-poverty framework that allows civil society to flourish and individuals to thrive.

More support for strong traditional families

In a recent report issued by the Heritage Foundation,  Heritage Fellow Ryan Messmore states:

“The goal of overcoming poverty is not simply to eliminate need, but to enable people to thrive – that is, to empower them to live meaningful lives and contribute to society. Thriving is much more than a full stomach and a place to sleep. People tend to flourish in the context of healthy relationships with their families and communities. Suffering and breakdown often result when those relationships are absent or unhealthy.”

In contrast to the OECD study that calls for more socialized welfare programs and spending to replace the absence of solid families, such programs do not work and actually are counter productive. Further citing Heritage Foundation,

“Despite spending more than $16 trillion on means-tested welfare since the War on Poverty began in 1964, the official U.S. poverty rate has remained largely unchanged. During the same period, the nation’s unwed birth rate increased from 7 percent to 41 percent.”

 With more than half of all households in poverty led by single mothers, the breakdown in marriage and family over the past 40 years has devastated the well-being of thousands of women and their children and significantly hindered their chances of escaping poverty.

Government handouts can never replace the broad array of benefits derived from maintaining a cohesive family unit.  Effective responses to poverty must recognize the importance of foundational relationships like marriage, family, community, and work.

Any cultural message communicating that “marriage is optional” needs to be corrected.   If we ignore this obvious misinformation, we do so at the peril of our children and our society’s future.  Please join us as we strengthen our own families and help us to spread the message  that marriage matters!

UFI Reader Poll: Do men earn more than women for equal work?

In Families, Feminism, motherhood, Polls, Women's Rights on April 28, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Here’s the question:

“Do you believe the statement “women earn only 77 percent of what men earn for equal work?”

Here is how UFI readers responded:

15 percent       Yes, and things need to change!

19 percent       Yes, but there’s more to this story.

63 percent       No, that’s baloney!

 3 percent        Don’t know

April 12th was noted as “Equal Pay Day” by the National Committee for Pay Equity.  According to the National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority and other feminist groups this is the day is noteworthy because women have to work that far into a calendar year before they are able to earn what men already earned the year before.

But the vast majority of UFI readers aren’t buying it – including the folks who said “no, that’s baloney” and those who voted for “Yes, but there’s more to this story.”  There is definitely a lot more to the story and we’re going to be covering some of the factors that go into the calculation of the male/female wage gap.  But you’ll have to check back with us on Monday for our Myth Buster series where we’re going to address this topic at length.

Here are just a few factors:

  • Women on average work fewer hours
  • Women choose different professions
  • Men are more willing to relocate and travel, in addition to willingness to work more dangerous and dirty jobs.

Come back on Monday to see more!


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