With the objective of advancing the status of women and children, our Informed Public and Social Policy Agenda follows:
As the primary caretakers of our nation’s children, women are disproportionately impacted in their work and careers by the lack of readily accessible, high quality, early education and child care for their children. Universal, public early childcare and education will assure mothers do not pay the ultimate price, loss of employment and career, financial security and homelessness because they are caring for children. Public early education and childcare is critical to gaining and sustaining employment, education, financial self-sufficiency and prosperity.
Impacting one in three women globally, [i] gender-based violence is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in our country and our world, crossing all races, ethnicities, socioeconomic strata and ages and abilities. Gender-based violence impacts all areas of life, undermining the health, safety and security of women and their children. Forced to flee their homes to seek refuge, women and girls are often left without resources and supportive services. A direct pipeline to homelessness, 57% of all women experiencing homelessness in the United States report domestic violence as the immediate cause. [ii]
The importance of women and their contribution to society continues to be undervalued – decades after women gained the right to vote. Today, women still earn less than 80 cents for every dollar than their male counterparts. [iii] Further contributing to an unequal status, wage discrimination and unpaid labor continue to disproportionately impact women. The quantitative and qualitative loss of sidelining the value of women’s work in society is enormous and, oftentimes, immeasurable. To be sure, it contributes to homelessness and abuse of women and children. Providing a livable wage and closing the gender wage gap is essential to helping women achieve greater economic security.
Historically, inequitable access to land, property and financing has constrained mobility for women and limited opportunities for equality. Patriarchy in the designing, planning, zoning and construction of neighborhoods continues to widen the gender gap, disproportionately impacting women and further deepening the imbalance between different racial and ethnic groups. Failing to consider the specific needs of women, the gendered effects of zoning policies have restricted women’s access to affordable housing, employment, safety, transit and childcare and in turn financial self sufficiency and upward mobility. Likewise, restricted access to capital and other financial resources have left women, both literally and figuratively, out in the cold.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the United States is experiencing a shortage of affordable rental housing for low income individuals. [iv] For decades, policy response to the lack of affordable housing has placed the blame on individuals, blatantly ignoring the systemic inequities that have further oppressed and disproportionately disadvantaged already marginalized communities. The nation’s failure to adequately respond to the lack of affordable housing has contributed to a nationwide epidemic of homlessness.
Across developed nations, paid parental leave has become a norm – except in the United States. With limited employment flexibility for working parents, employees are often forced to choose between their families and their jobs. Subject to twelve weeks of unpaid maternal and paternal family leave, under federal law, more than 80% of the working class is left with no access to financial security from their employment. [v] Exacerbating inequality, low income families are often afforded unpaid leave to care for their children, while parents with higher income and education have greater access to paid leave options. [vi] Access to paid maternity and paternity leave will not only enhance families’ economic security, but will promote parent-child bonding, improve child development, and even increase gender equity in the workforce.
Nearly half of all international migrants are women and girls. [vii] More vulnerable to abuse, females migrating alone may experience gender based violence, trafficking and exploitation. As these women and girls flee their respective countries in search of safety and/or better opportunities, they are faced with discrimination and mistreatment. Lacking protection, support and resources the needs of migrant women oftentimes go unmet, unseen, unheard and unknown.