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May Public Hearings Aim at Ending Poverty

Four-day public hearing May 10-13 confronts growing violence to women & families from rising U.S. poverty

OAKLAND, CA – March 28, 2012 – The Women’s Economic Agenda Project (WEAP), supported by nearly 50 partners and endorsers, is hosting the very first World Courts of Women on Poverty in the U.S. at Laney College (900 Fallon St.) in Oakland, CA.

The organizers are inviting the public to attend four days of public hearings May 10 through May 13 featuring in-person and on-video testimony from women and their families who have been hurt by poverty-related violence and deprivation. The testimony will be heard by an audience and a panel of jurors. Roundtable discussions will be held each day focused on finding strategies to abolish poverty, not just manage it. There will also be daily multicultural entertainment.

“All the latest statistics show that U.S. poverty is at shameful levels and continues to get worse, even as the richest 1% get richer,” said Ethel Long-Scott, executive director of WEAP. “We the 99% need to build a transformational movement to change this. We need to apply the new electronic tools of production and the country’s phenomenal riches to take care of people and the planet because in reality, poverty is violence. The jobs crisis, the poverty crisis, the health crisis, the housing crisis, are all doing untold damage to women and their families.”

A core focus of the conference is the devastating impact on working people of the shift from a 20th Century labor-based economy to a 21st Century technology-based economy. The fact that human labor is rapidly being replaced by computerized machines in many industries is a key cause of the rise in poverty in the U.S. Also the globalized economy means U.S. workers are being pitted against much lower wage workers in other parts of the world. According to the conference’s Statement of Purpose:

“The core issue is that when globalization is pitting workers against robots and against each other, continuing to allow our economy to be organized for private profit will no longer meet the needs of society. A new economic vision is imperative. The World Courts roundtable discussions will interweave this vision with the practice of women’s healing where we are able to share, be heard, and engage our experiences as survivors, resistors and those who have been greatly impacted by the violence of poverty.  On this basis we are resolved to be architects for a new, safe, more just, compassionate, and economically secure future.”

This conference, the first of four scheduled for the U.S., will concentrate on poverty in the western states. Online registration information, links to some of the video testimony, a flyer and other information are available at the Women’s Economic Agenda Project website, Click on the WCW tab at the top of the page or look for links to the World Courts of Women. There are also links to WEAP’s Facebook page, twitter account, and a WCW blog,

The daily roundtable discussions will focus on four themes: Poverty, Jobs and Immigration; Foreclosures, Homelessness and Property Rights; Environment and the Justice System; and “Healthcare for the 99%.” The roundtables will discuss how to bring about the kind of work that is most crucial for a sustainable, functional and thriving 21st Century society.

The Oakland hearings grow out of 37 Courts of Women held in various countries around the world, but never before in the United States. For 19 years The Courts have focused on the damage cultural and systemic violence does to women and their families. The U.S. Courts will focus on violence caused by poverty in the midst of plenty.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported last November that 49.1 million Americans, or 16 percent of the population, lived in poverty in 2010, 2.6 million more than the previous year. It was the highest number in the 52 years the Bureau has been publishing poverty figures.

According to the conference’s Statement of Purpose, “Women are at least half of our collective society, and the violence and oppression they experience in today’s economy is a forerunner of the destruction spreading across our entire society. To focus on the experiences of women is not to exclude others, but to shine a light on the most glaring manifestations of poverty. The first step of healing is to bring out these stories, not separately from one another, but connected in our common cause. When we all work together to craft actions for change, women’s healing starts to reverberate throughout society as collective healing, allowing for rebuilding community, human healing and repairing and healing the planet.”

Registration to attend ranges from $25 for one day to $75 for all four days, with lower rates for students, low-income workers and seniors. There are a limited number of free scholarships. People can apply for scholarships and register online.

Endorsers and partners include National HealthCare-Now!, National United Food & Commercial Workers, California’sAlameda County Public Health Department, Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS), California Black Women's Health Project, Central Valley Journey for Justice, Filipino Advocates for Justice, Hip-Hop Congress, Sacramento Loaves & Fishes, Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee (SHOC), SEIU Local 1021, St. Mary's Senior Center, Tapestry Ministries, The Associated Students of Laney College (ASLC), The Laney College Black Student Union, UC Riverside -- Women Studies Department, , Women in Transition, Sisters of the Road, Assembly to End Poverty, A complete list is available at

Contact the Women’s Economic Agenda Project: 510-986-8620,,, twitter: @weaporg



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