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Caucus addresses women’s issues

HONOLULU — Twenty-five members of the 2021 Hawai‘i Women’s Legislative Caucus attended a virtual breakfast meeting on Thursday to review five bills being introduced at the state Legislature this session, and to embrace advocating for women statewide.

The five bills include measures to prohibit sex offenders from living near their prior victims or a victim’s family; increase the categories of women required to be covered for mammogram screenings; remove the six-month residency requirement prior to seeking a divorce in family court; expand the definition of abuse of family or household member to include coercive control; and require each state department to establish a telework and alternative-work-schedule policy.

State Rep. Nadine Nakamura of Kapa‘a, who represents District 14 (Wailua to the North Shore), is a member of the Women’s Legislative Caucus, which is one of 40 caucuses in the state Legislature.

“This year, our package of bills covers a range of concerns to protect women. These are bills I fully support and help to address the unique needs of all women in Hawai‘i,” said Nakamura.

State Rep. Jeanne Kapela, who represents a portion of Hawai‘i Island, is a member of the Education Committee, and was asked “What women inspired her?” She answered while holding a picture of a well-known woman and royalty of Hawai‘i who has proven to fight for native women and children’s rights.

“Truly inspired by the woman who is sitting on my desk,” Kapela said. “It would have to be Queen Lili‘uokalani, someone who fought for Hawai‘i and its people. Together we will fight for the voices that haven’t been heard, and that is a privilege. I’m excited to work with you all.”

The caucus is dedicating its 2021 efforts to Cynthia Thielen and her daughter, Laura Thielen. Both women left elected office last year and are known for their contributions to the betterment of women, children and families.

Cynthia Thielen spoke on what inspired her to advocate for women’s rights.

“My mother was one of the first group that could first vote,” Cynthia Thielen said. “Voting became very important to me, and also women’s rights. I would like to ask all of you to be sure to do well and to preserve this organization for grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Do it well. Do it well.”

Laura Thielen encouraged other women senators and representatives to be bold and keep those in need their main priority.

“I have a very strong belief in morals,” Laura Thielen said. “Have a moral obligation to the community, and if you are in a legislature regardless of what your upbringing was, you are in a privileged position. A lot a people review with Patsy Mink, who pushed Title XI. She wasn’t easy to deal with, yet she wasn’t reluctant to fight for all of the girls, and now they can play sports nationwide.”

“Be willing to push people outside of their comfort zones and help as many women and children along the way,” said Laura Thielen.

“We are deeply grateful for the many years of service from Rep. Thielen and Sen. Thielen,” said O‘ahu state Rep. Lauren Matsumoto. “They represent both the bipartisan spirit and heartfelt passion for improving the lives of women who are the hallmark of the Women’s Legislative Caucus.”

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Stephanie Shinno, features, education, business, and community reporter can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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