Women Excluded from Budget Negotiations


Dear Mr. President:

We, the undersigned members of the Older Women’s Economic Security Task Force of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, write to request a meeting with you and the Vice President to discuss the impact of the budget on women and American families and how women can help address the economic problems that affect us all.  Women rely disproportionately on Social Security and Medicare, and they must have a voice in any negotiation on these essential — and successful — programs.  Yet the media reports regarding the administration’s experts who are assisting Vice President Biden suggest that there are no women in the room.  In 2011, it is disturbing to have to ask why women would not participate in virtually every important discussion in the White House.

We would like to bring you the real stories from women who make up the struggling families and hard-working people all across our country who are in the throes of a rocky recovery in which women are being left behind.  While men have recovered 24 percent of the jobs they lost during the recession, women have recovered only 14 percent of the jobs they lost.  Single mothers and women of color are particularly at risk; their unemployment rates remain in the double digits.   The federal government’s failure to create a robust jobs program means that many more women will lose their jobs as state and local governments reduce their workforces.  Women are being asked to shoulder a burden that is not of their making, to pay a “fair share” of the sacrifice that is needed when they are not getting a fair share of the jobs in the recovery or equal pay for an equal day’s work.

The National Council of Women’s Organizations is composed of more than 200 women’s organizations representing more than 12 million American women.  The Older Women’s Economic Security (OWES) Task Force was formed in 1998 to study, monitor, and act to enhance older women’s economic security.  This task force represents economists and activists, service providers and community organizers, legal, political, and social networks who have vital expertise and national recognition as problem solvers and protectors of the rights and responsibilities of our nation’s women and children.

The Task Force is deeply concerned about the impact of the current proposals for budget cuts and debt reduction on older women’s lives.  Older women would be disproportionately affected by cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Their families also face loss of income and increased costs when such vital programs and services as family planning, work training, child care, schools, and education are cut or terminated.

Women must be a party to these discussions.  It is simply not enough to send a few privileged men to the table to “solve” the nation’s budget problem.  We welcome the opportunity to bring our voices and expertise to a discussion with you and your advisors, and we request that members of your administration with expertise on women’s issues, such as Secretary Hilda Solis and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, be added to the White House’s advisory team working on these negotiations.

Respectfully yours,

Terry O’Neill
Co-Chair, OWES Task Force
President, National Organization for Women

Dr. Heidi Hartmann
Co-Chair, OWES Task Force
President, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Eleanor Hinton Hoytt
President and CEO, Black Women’s Health Imperative

Deborah L. Frett
Chief Executive Officer, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation

Cristina Caballero
President, Dialogue on Diversity

Bobbie A. Brinegar
Executive Director, Older Women’s League

Margot Dorfman,
Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce

Cindy Hounsell
President, Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement

Susan P. Scanlan
President, Women’s Research and Education Institute

Gloria Lau
Chief Executive Officer, YWCA USA

Lulu Flores
President, National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC)

Linda Lisi Juergens
Executive Director, National Association of Mothers’ Centers (NAMC)

Julia Wartenberg Director,
Global Women’s Project at the Center of Concern

Cynthia Harrison
Vice-Chair, Women’s Committee of 100

Ariel Dougherty
Director, Media Equity Collaborative

The text of this letter was first published on the Web site of the National Council of Women’s Organizations on 24 May 2011; it is reproduced here for non-profit educational purposes.


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