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A Winning Agenda That Meets Women’s Economic Needs
(Photo: Senate Democrats / Flickr)

A Winning Agenda That Meets Women’s Economic Needs

(Photo: Senate Democrats / Flickr)

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With 2014 midterm elections looming on the horizon, a recent survey by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps and the Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund illustrates how important it is for elected officials and candidates to address women’s economic needs.

According to the survey, respondents overwhelmingly supported policies such as pay equity. Further, those who heard these policies were likely to say that Democrats were better on the economy than Republicans.

“In short, a Democratic agenda focused on pay, opportunity, and support for working moms outperforms a Democratic agenda that does not include these policies — and far outperforms the dominant Republican agenda,” the survey concluded.

Greenberg’s findings underscore the importance of House Democrats’ recent economic policy initiative, outlined by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and other House Democratic women, that places women and family at the fore. Aptly named “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds,” this economic agenda offers solutions to real concerns about equal pay, work/family balance, and child care.

The cornerstone of this agenda is the Paycheck Fairness Act sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). If passed, employers would be required to demonstrate that wage differences were based on factors other than gender and would strengthen penalties for equal pay violations, among other actions. Ultimately, this legislation would help to close the egregious wage gap in which women on average make only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. This adds up to a yearly gap of $10,784. Over 40 years, the amount of money women lose as a result of this gap would be enough to pay for a new car every three years.

The new policy agenda also includes mandatory paid leave for child care and family medical needs. That is the objective of an amendment to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 sponsored by Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.). Currently, only unpaid leave is offered. Her proposed amendment sheds light on the fact that we are the only industrialized country that doesn’t mandate paid family leave policy. As a result, an estimated
23 percent of American adults have reported losing jobs or have been threatened with job loss for taking time off due to illness or to care for sick relatives.

The last pillar of this agenda is a number of child care service reforms advocated by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.). Concerned with the overwhelming price of child care, Matsui is championing President Obama’s proposed Early Head Start-Child Care partnerships, which would invest $1.4 billion out of the fiscal 2014 budget, or less than 0.0001 percent of the federal budget, in a grant program that would expand high-quality care for children from birth to age 3. Matsui’s concerns are well-founded. According to Child Care Aware of America, the average annual cost of full-time child care for a four-year old child in a daycare center ranged from $4,600 to $11,700 in 2011.

The Democracy Corps report shows that this is a winning agenda politically that would help progressive candidates in 2014 draw a stark contrast between themselves and the conservative onslaught against women and families adopted by the Republican party.

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