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Activists Sandra Fluke, Betty Dukes Receive AFT Women's Rights Awards

DETROIT-Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University Law Center student who incurred the wrath of right-wing lawmakers and activists following her congressional testimony urging greater access to contraception, and Betty Dukes, the lead plaintiff in a gender discrimination class-action suit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., received AFT Women's Rights awards today during the American Federation of Teachers convention.

In February, Fluke testified before a congressional committee on the need for health insurance coverage for birth control and other women's health services no matter where a person works or goes to school. Right-wing activists proceeded to launch a campaign vilifying her and defaming her character.

For her courage, perseverance and grace under fire, AFT President Randi Weingarten presented Fluke with one of two 2012 AFT Women's Rights awards.

"We have to prepare girls to stand up for their rights," Fluke said when accepting the award.

Starting Aug. 1, all new health insurance plans must cover a set of new women's preventive care benefits with no additional co-pays or costs, including services for victims of domestic violence and contraceptive coverage. AFT convention delegates unanimously passed resolutions Sunday supporting the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and the inclusion of contraception in basic preventive care health plans.

Prior to law school, Fluke represented victims of domestic violence and human trafficking.

She recently graduated cum laude from Georgetown Law as a Public Interest Law Scholar with a certificate in refugee and humanitarian emergencies.

Betty Dukes, a longtime advocate for fairness and a just society, was the lead plaintiff in a national equal opportunity/fair pay class-action suit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. In 1994, with 20 years of sales experience, Dukes started work at Wal-Mart. When she questioned why she wasn't being promoted after years of hard work, she was reprimanded, demoted and docked pay.

She and five other women brought a gender discrimination class action suit against Wal-Mart. While the plaintiffs prevailed at the lower court levels, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia that the case could not go forward as a class action.

For her commitment to eradicating the gaps in pay and to the advancement of women in the workplace, Weingarten presented Dukes with a 2012 Women's Rights award.

"Our fight is not over," Dukes said, noting she is fighting for congressional passage of the Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act, which would provide a legislative fix. She continues to work at Wal-Mart.

Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten: http://twitter.com/rweingarten

The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.
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