In a campaign season where the concept of “women”—as candidates and as voters—has generated a great deal of rhetoric, but not very much in the way of substantive policy, Barack Obama’s announcement of a set of policy priorities [pdf] targeting the needs of America’s working women was a welcome, albeit long-over-due change. We hope this announcement marks a turning point in the campaign, and that both candidates will hold themselves accountable to the millions of women—especially low-income women and women of color—who are bearing the brunt of the current economic crisis.
As Obama implied on The Today Show, women across
The sub-prime mortgage crisis rippling across the nation has also hit women harder: 32 percent of women hold subprime mortgages compared with 24 percent of men, a disparity accounted for by women’s historically lower wealth and income. The repercussions are even worse for African American and Latino homeowners who were 30 percent more likely to have received sub-prime loans. Furthermore, as the real estate market employs significantly more women (142,000) than men (42,000), the industry-wide downturn means that more women’s jobs are at risk.
Our grantee partners across the country, many of whom are low-income women and women of color, know personally the effects of economic injustice, made more acute by the current economic downturn. Based on their lived experience, they have vital recommendations for policy change. Being attentive to the struggles of low-income and middle-income women is a first step; truly incorporating working women’s diverse perspectives in policy development, however, is the only way to guarantee the practical, sustainable solutions our nation needs.
Most importantly, we must realize that meeting women’s needs—via affordable health care, accessible child care, paid sick leave, a living wage, etc.—will result in an improved chance at economic security for all our nation’s people, women and men alike.