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Food, Fashion and a Little History

Good work, moms!: No one seems to know exactly what to thank for the 43% drop in obesity among 2- to 5-year-olds. Michelle Obama? Food stamp changes that make fruits and veggies more affordable for low-income families?
I know who to thank: You…moms. Many factors probably contribute to this huge improvement, but the fact that kids are getting fewer sugar-packed drinks also points to you.

“Free trade” comes to your kitchen: What does global trade have to do with what you feed your family? Plenty. International trade deals can limit the safety standards we require for imported food and how much inspection is allowed—at a time when we really need to know what we’re putting on our dinner tables.
Massive trade deals now under discussion—one among countries on the Atlantic and one among Pacific nations—are being negotiated in secret, behind closed doors. And now some in Congress are proposing “fast track” trade authority to get new, secretly negotiated trade deals through Congress in a hurry, with no amendments, limited debate and not nearly enough public scrutiny. Sound fishy? I agree. You can sign a petition to stop “fast track” here.

They work hard for the money: It may look glamorous, but modeling is hard work—and the women and girls who do it to sell high fashion are subject to some very ugly working conditions, from long hours and sexual coercion to excessive pressure to be skinny. So some models have joined together to create the Model Alliance to gain a voice on the job and in the industry. The Model Alliance, formed two years ago, won a fantastic New York State law this fall giving young models the same workplace protections that cover child performing artists.
Listen to former teen model Jennifer Sky share more about why models really need a voice at work.

Historic: One of the women with whom we should acquaint our families during Women’s History Month is Frances Perkins—President Franklin Roosevelt’s Labor secretary, the first woman to hold a cabinet position and a mom. Perkins witnessed New York City’s tragic Triangle Shirtwaist garment factory fire in 1911, which claimed the lives of 146 workers—mostly young women. She called the experience “a never-to-be-forgotten reminder of why I had to spend my life fighting conditions that could permit such a tragedy.”
We can thank Frances Perkins for shaping so much that workers take for granted today—unemployment benefits and pensions, workplace safety standards, the minimum wage, overtime pay, an end to child labor and—especially dear to me—collective bargaining. Thank you, Frances!

Question for you: I’m always intrigued by stories of events and inspirations that make women step up, stand up and become activists and leaders. For Frances Perkins it was a catastrophic fire. For me, it was watching my dad lose his hard-earned pension when Enron’s house of cards collapsed—months before he was supposed to retire. What was it for you? Please let me know by leaving your comments below. Thanks!

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