Author Archives: waynea

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Anti-violence act crucial for women — Sept. 17, 2017

AAUW Honolulu member and former president Linda Weiland penned this op-ed to recognize the anniversary of the passage of the Violence Against Women Act. Read it here or if you aren’t a subscriber to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, read it below.

Anti-violence act crucial for women
By Linda Weiland

September 17, 2017

The Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, is a reflection of how serious society now views domestic crimes and crimes against females.

In 2017, victims of those offenses have resources, services and laws to fall back on: A federal rape shield law that prohibits the past sexual history of the complainants to be brought up in court. Protections against eviction by women who are being stalked. Funding for prevention programs, rape crisis centers and hotlines. Legal aid, and aid for immigrant women, women with disabilities and who are minorities.

These are programs and protections that various groups — including domestic violence and sexual crimes advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts — advocated for, and are now what we expect.

However, until this month in 1994, VAWA didn’t exist. There was no Office on Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice, and those who wanted to bring charges against their husbands or those who had assaulted them faced a much more difficult path.

AAUW Honolulu has supported, and continues to support VAWA. The reduction of violence against women is one of our primary priorities in public policy. We feel that VAWA addresses freedom from violence and fear of violence in homes, schools, workplaces and communities, and is a very important law.

Locally, VAWA bolstered the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office with efforts in enforcing the law. According to the office, it receives a grant because of VAWA that provides salary support for a deputy prosecuting attorney that handles felony domestic violence cases. This grant has been ongoing for several years.

Subsequent reauthorizations of the act added protections for college students and addressed the rise of campus sexual violence. In 2013, the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act was included with that year’s reauthorization. College disciplinary procedures have become more transparent, educate faculty and staff, and institutions have updated their policies regarding domestic crimes and sexual assault. Colleges are now required to keep data about stalking and dating and domestic violence.

However, Candice Jackson, the U.S. Department of Education’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, remarked to The New York Times on July 14 that she felt investigations into accused rapists went too far and produced an invented, false statistic to justify her claim. She later said she was “flippant.”

AAUW joined with the National Women’s Law Center in its statement that rejected Jackson’s position and her subsequent attempt at walking back the remarks: “But the problem with your remark was not its tone but its substance, which you have yet to disavow. As advocates for student survivors, we are gravely concerned that rape myths like the one you articulated to the Times will motivate your office’s policies. Stereotypes like the one you repeated have long fueled skepticism of rape victims by courts, communities, and, yes, schools.”

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos also weighed in, on Sept. 7 claiming that sexual assault protections instituted under the Obama administration “failed.”

AAUW Chief Executive Officer Kimberly Churches stated, hours after DeVos’ quote was reported, “Secretary Betsy DeVos’ decision to open up Title IX for changes represents a blatant intent to roll back protections for students. It is an action that is at direct odds with upholding the civil rights of all Americans.”

Despite the progress made in raising awareness of domestic and sexual violence, these recent incidents remind us of how far we’ve come, how much more work there is to do and that VAWA is a law worth protecting.

Scholarship Recipient Spotlight: Shaunna Gutina

Shaunna Gutina caught the flying bug long ago, dreaming of being a fighter pilot. At the time, many factors prevented her from entering the military — and many others discouraged her. However, three decades later, she resolved to fulfill her lifelong dream of flying no matter what the obstacles were.

Shaunna learned to fly through classes and lessons she paid for herself.  But flying is expensive and she saved every cent she could. It was not enough to consistently train, which is very important as a flight student. But she applied for and is the recipient of this year’s AAUW Honolulu’s Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship. She said it is an immense help in achieving her dream of being a pilot.

She also saw the scholarship as a way of inspiring other women and girls to take up an interest in aviation and STEM fields.

“This scholarship will help me pay it forward and therefore, the scholarship has a far greater value than its monetary value,” Shaunna wrote. “It will be the spark for others and hopefully, inspire them to fulfill their dreams no matter what obstacles stand in their way.”

As secretary of the Aloha Chapter Ninety-Nines, a female pilot association, Shaunna has created an aviation program for the Girl Scouts of Hawaii in cooperation with the Pacific Aviation Museum. Girl Scouts will be able to learn about flying while earning a badge for their work.

Ultimately, Shaunna hopes to fly for a commercial airline, a cargo carrier, or (because of her medical background) a medical transport organization.

“I want to encourage young ladies to never allow someone to tell them they can’t do something or that their dream is unrealistic or frivolous,” she said.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Hawaii has proud history of women in leadership — Aug. 15, 2016

Bev Munson, AAUW Honolulu member and chair of the advocacy committee, penned a opinion piece about the passage of the 19th Amendment that was published on Aug. 15. Read it here, or if you aren’t a subscriber to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, read it below.

Hawaii has proud history of women in leadership
By Beverly Munson
August 15, 2017

Aug. 18, 2017 — this Friday — marks the 97th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, the “Women’s Right to Vote” amendment. This occasion is the perfect time to recognize the contributions of women in Hawaii’s government and public service.

Throughout Hawaii’s history we have benefited greatly from the involvement of women in governance. From Kaahumanu, the favored wife of King Kamehameha II who used her position to champion for the rights of Native Hawaiian women, to our current congressional delegation and Hawaii State Legislative Women’s Caucus, women in government and public service have been and still are a catalyst for change that has advanced our society. These women have been the “action team” for advocacy, education, community service, collaboration and public policy development. To these women, both past and present, we say mahalo; your contributions are appreciated.

Queen Emma Kalanikaumakaamano Kaleleonalani Naea Rooke (Queen Emma) is known for establishing Queen’s Hospital and St. Andrew’s Priory School. She also was the first woman in Hawaii to run for elected public office, running against David Kalakaua in the Royal Election of 1874.

Following the 19th Amendment’s passage, women’s interest in holding public office and the demand for representation of women in appointed political positions both in Hawaii and nationally followed.

In 1924 Rosalie Eliinoi was the first women elected to the Legislature of the Territory of Hawaii. Elsie Wilcox was elected as Hawaii’s first Territorial Legislature Senator in 1932. Jean Sadako King was the first woman elected to be Hawaii’s lieutenant governor in 1978.

In 2002 Hawaii elected its first woman governor, Linda Lingle: She is noted for developing a strong economy, leaving Hawaii with a very low unemployment rate, and for moving the state from a $250 million budget deficit to creating a surplus of $730 million.

Patsy Mink, Hawaii’s first woman member of Congress, was a champion for civil rights both locally and nationally. She is known as the “Mother of Title IX,” which prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions receiving federal funds.

Locally, Mink helped women in the state Legislature establish the Hawaii Women’s Legislative Caucus, which is comprised of women from both the state House and Senate and includes members from both political parties.

Today Hawaii is represented at the national level by three women, each of whom has an outstanding history of accomplishments: Sen. Mazie Hirono, and Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard.

Despite the increasing role of women in government and public service, women still are vastly underrepresented despite making up 50.8 percent of the U.S. population. Currently only 21 percent of the 100 U.S. senators are female, and only 19 percent of the 435 seats in the U.S. House are held by women. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 49.8 percent of Hawaii’s population is female, but only 27.6 percent of our state legislative positions are held by women.

As history has shown us, the contributions of women in public office are great. These contributions benefit all segments of our society, and are important to the future of our state and country.

In recognition of the 97th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, AAUW Honolulu salutes our women in elected office and encourages more women to run for office or serve in government. What better way to honor our proud history of the contributions made by our predecessors?

NCCWSL Profile: Peggy Liang

A former student-athlete at UH-Manoa originally from the Pacific Northwest, Peggy Liang received her Bachelor of Science in Family Resources two years ago. She worked as an independent living specialist for a non-profit organization that serves the deaf, hard of hearing and deaf blind community for a little over a year.

She decided to further pursue her studies  with a graduate degree in public administration. She hopes to work in the public sector or government and to continue to give back to the community. Liang also attended NCCWSL in June at the University of Maryland, College Park.

“I am thrilled to get the opportunity to attend NCCWSL because I see it as an opportunity to network, build my personal and professional background and new insights. This opportunity would open more doors for me when I graduate with a Master of Public Administration,” she said.

“I am grateful to have this opportunity to attend NCCWSL,” she added after the event. “I had a chance to network, inspire and be inspired by women. I like to see that we are doing something progressive on our part in various communities and even different countries too! At end, we are not just future leaders… We are now leaders!”

AAUW Honolulu Members Turn Out for Women’s Legislative Caucus Signing Ceremony

The Women’s Legislative Caucus capped off this legislative session with a signing ceremony, with Gov. David Ige, of bills
advocated for and by the group on July 3 at the Richards Street YWCA.

The bills signed included:

  • HB674 – Child Care Provider Insurance Requirement — Childcare providers are now required to carry liability insurance as a requirement for licensing, and disclosure to parents and guardians.
  • SB513 – Pharmacist Dispensing Self-Administered Contraceptives — Allows pharmacists to prescribe and dispense “self-administered hormonal” birth control methods, like the pill, regardless of a previous prescription.
  • SB505 – Opioid Therapy/Treatment Bill — Healthcare providers are required to discuss the increased risk of opioid addiction that come with the prescription, establishes limits as to prescriptions and gives the Board of Nursing the authority to enforce the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, which establishes drug policy.

One of the bills, SB514 – Authorizing Pharmacists to Administer HPV & other Vaccines to Minors, was supported by the testimony of AAUW members from branches across the state. This bill allows pharmacists to administer vaccines for Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), meningococcal and influenza vaccine to those 11 to 17 years of age.

It also allows them to give vaccines for HPV, or human papillomavirus, which is the most commonly sexually transmitted infection that can lead to cancer. The Centers for Disease Control recommends 11- to 12-year-olds receive two doses of the vaccine

AAUW Honolulu Participates in Geek Meet!

What do Wonder Woman and stormtroopers from Star Wars’ 501st Legion have in common? They both stopped by AAUW Honolulu’s booth at the 10th annual Geek Meet, held at Magic Island on July 2!

Geek Meet is a meetup organized Ryan Ozawa and Burt Lum, hosts of Hawaii Public Radio‘s Bytemarks Cafe and Hawaii News Now‘s Geek Beat segment. In their own words, “The Hawaii Geek Meet is a fun, casual, family-friendly, grassroots gathering for people who are curious and have a passion that they love to share. And we use a very inclusive, positive definition of the word ‘geek.’ Gadget lovers, coders, designers, makers, artists… and you!”

Hundreds of attendees dressed up as their favorite sci-fi characters, or just came as themselves, and took in the intersection of science fiction and real science.

AAUW Honolulu, with its emphasis in women in STEM education and careers, generated much interest. Many of those who stopped by the booth gave their contact information to be informed of future AAUW Honolulu events.

See you at the next Geek Meet!

Join us for our Annual Scholarship Brunch!

2016 AAUW Honolulu scholarship awardees

Promoting female equity in academics is one of AAUW’s core missions. AAUW Honolulu is proud to present this year’s scholarship recipients at our 2017 Scholarship Brunch!

Please RSVP by Aug. 5.
RSVP now extended to Aug. 13.

Sunday, August 20th
10 am Registration, 10:30 am Program

Outrigger Canoe Club
2909 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815

Scholarship Awardees  (current and former), complimentary
General Members $35, Students $20

  • Price: $35.00 Quantity:
  • Price: $20.00 Quantity:
  • Scholarship Awardees (Current & Former) - $0
  • $0.00

AAUW Op-Ed Highlights the Issue of How Student Debt Impacts Women – June 22, 2017

AAUW NCCWSL scholarship recipient and former AAUW Students of Manoa treasurer Dionne Malia Infiel and Ardis Eschenberg, Ph.D., vice chancellor for academic affairs at Windward Community College, co-signed this Island Voices column in the Honolulu Star Advertiser on June 22, 2017 about the issue of student debt and how it impacts women.

Read it here,  though if you aren’t a subscriber to the Star Advertiser, read it below!

Bigger debt, lower wages hamper female college graduates
By Ardis Eschenberg, Ph.D., and Dionne Malia Infiel
June 22, 2017

Women attending colleges and universities have come a long way. The good news is that now 57 percent of students earning bachelor’s degrees from American colleges and universities are women. Currently in the U.S., 44 million borrowers hold about $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loans.

Unfortunately, according to research by AAUW (American Association of University Women), women take on larger student loans than do men, resulting in two-thirds of the outstanding student debt or more than $833 billion held by women. Coupled with the gender pay gap (women earn 26 percent less than men), women take longer to pay back their student loans than their male counterparts. A lower salary means less income to help with debt repayment.

A new report, “Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans,” recently published by AAUW (, gives an analysis of federal government data. It shows 44 percent of female undergraduates take on student debt, while 39 percent of male undergraduates take on debt. At every degree level, women take on more debt than men.

AAUW advocates ways to help women and other minorities resolve this issue by safeguarding and expanding Pell Grants for low-income students, as well as providing nontraditional students the resources they need — on-campus child care, for example — to successfully complete college degrees.

Windward Community College is one local institution working to provide just such a resource. Grant funds were secured to create a child care center — two rooms: one infant and one toddler — currently under construction to be completed by March. It will hold eight toddlers, six infants and be conducted in Hawaiian language. A luau fundraiser recently raised money for furniture and other expenses. Now, funding needs to be secured for the positions needed to run the center. Legislative support for these positions is critical to answering the needs of all our student parents and addressing the needs of female students, who are disproportionately saddled by student debt.

Solutions to the student debt problem should also include supporting income-driven repayment approaches that reflect borrowers’ realities. And our support for students should address the additional costs they face beyond tuition. Congress can also end the harmful causes of the gender pay gap by passing legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Pay Equity for All Act to aid in the economic security of women.

Receiving scholarships from AAUW and other foundations can offset some of the loan burden, but the bulk of funding comes from grants and student loans.

On June 15, the AAUW Honolulu Branch participated in Lobby Day on Capitol Hill as part of the AAUW National Convention. Thirteen members of the branch asked our Hawaii representatives in Congress to support protecting and strengthening federal financial aid programs such as Pell Grants, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and Income-Driven Repayment. These programs are critical to the success of women in higher education and can help to curb the student debt burden they experience.

Member Spotlight: Merissa B. Brown, Ed.D.

Although raised as a farm girl in landlocked southern Illinois, Merissa has spent most of her adult life on various Pacific islands including Guam, Maui, and most recently, Oahu.

Merissa teaches speech and writing for several colleges and holds an Ed.D. in leadership and technology, a master’s in communication, and bachelor’s in speech communication. She is building a consulting business offering editing, technical writing, and instructional design services.

In her free time, Merissa enjoys running, hiking, stand up paddling, cooking, and assisting in conservation efforts.