Welcome to the Women's Economic Empowerment Initiative
Welcome to the Blog for the Women's Economic Empowerment Initiative that advocates for women’s economic well-being and leadership in order to achieve, and possibly exceed, the policy goals for American women that are documented and adopted in the 2020 Democrats Abroad Platform.
Women's Economic Empowerment
Team Leader: Carol Moore
Contact: [email protected]
Women's Economic Impact Briefing
From the White House
On Tuesday, November 1st the White House hosted a Women's Economic Impact Briefing. Below you will find action items, talking points, fact sheets, and other resources to help amplify the impact of the programs highlighted in your community.
Economic Progress by the Numbers
- The unemployment rate now matches its lowest level in 50 years at 3.5%, down from 6.4% when Biden took office. The economy has created 10 million jobs since the President took office, including almost 700,000 manufacturing jobs. 17 states are below 3% unemployment.
- America has now more than recovered all of the jobs lost during the pandemic and more, as a result of actions from the President and Congress like the American Rescue Plan and the unprecedented vaccination effort.
- When the President took office, over 18 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits, today that’s down by more than 90%, the lowest number in decades.
- We’re seeing the best economy for American workers in decades, with people getting higher wages, better benefits, and better jobs across the board.
- We are also seeing progress in the fight against global inflation. Inflation has been basically flat over the past three months, and real wages have gone up.
- We have more work to do. But the good news is gas prices have declined by an average of $1.20 per gallon over the past few months, now at a national average of $3.82 per gallon, with the most common price at gas stations being $3.39.
- The American people are getting some relief from high prices, and the Inflation Reduction Act that the President signed will also help bring prices down from prescription drugs to energy costs.
Additional Economic Impact
- The American Rescue Plan (ARP) ensured schools could reopen safely and helped over 200,000 child care providers serving as many as 9.5 million children to keep their doors open through a historic stabilization program.
- The Administration also expanded the 2021 Child Tax Credit, which contributed to the largest one-year drop in U.S. child poverty on record, including historic cuts in poverty rates for Black, Hispanic, and AAPI children.
- This expanded CTC reached an estimated 40 million families with 65 million children—roughly 90 percent of all children in the U.S.
- Thanks to that Rescue Plan, families saved an average of $2,400 last year in health insurance premiums. And the Inflation Reduction Act ensures those savings will continue through 2025.
- In August, President Biden announced student debt relief of up to $20,000 to borrowers who were Pell Grant recipients in college and up to $10,000 to all other borrowers. If you’re a federal student loan borrower who earned less than $125,000 as an individual or $250,000 as a household in 2020 or 2021, you’re eligible for this relief. And it’s a really big deal for women, who hold two-thirds of all student debt in the U.S.
- More than 40 million Americans could benefit from debt relief, and about 20 million could see their student debt completely eliminated;
- And nearly 90% of this relief will go to those making less than $75,000 per year.
- American Rescue Plan
- American Rescue Plan Funds Provided a Critical Lifeline to 200,000 Child Care Providers
- BY THE NUMBERS: The Inflation Reduction Act
- FACT SHEET: The Inflation Reduction Act Supports Workers and Families
- FACT SHEET: CHIPS and Science Act Will Lower Costs, Create Jobs, Strengthen Supply Chains, and Counter China
- Bipartisan Infrastructure Law State Fact Sheets
- Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Maps of Progress
- Child Tax Credit
- Student Debt Relief
- Healthcare Enrollment
- Affordable Connectivity Program
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- CHIPS.Gov | NIST
- Home | Internet for All
- $1B Build Back Better Regional Challenge | U.S. Economic Development Administration (eda.gov)
American Rescue Plan Funds Provided a Critical Lifeline to 200,000 Child Care Providers – Helping Millions of Families to Work
On October 21st, the White House announced that the American Rescue Plan – through its historic $24 billion Child Care Stabilization Program – has already provided vital aid to help more than 200,000 child care providers keep their doors open to as many as 9.5 million children, helping their parents work. Stabilization funds have already assisted providers employing more than 1 million child care workers.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also released a state-by-state analysis of the American Rescue Plan’s (ARP) Child Care Stabilization program that details for the first time the number of child care providers that have already been helped in each state.
Click here for the full fact sheet
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Unfinished Business: Student Loan Forgiveness and Women’s Economic Well-being
In a recent roll call by DAFrance of policy victories under the Biden Administration, there was no mention of the progress on student loan debt forgiveness, a remedy key in the battle to achieve economic well-being for female borrowers.
For women, student loan debt is a major obstacle as illustrated in the data below. About 45 million borrowers owe a collective $1.7 trillion in federal student loan debt; 58 percent of all student loan debt belongs to women, and after graduation they earn less than their male counterparts, make higher loan repayments, and on average take longer to pay off their debt. This reality affects the short- and long-term economic wellbeing of women, particularly women of color.
So, let’s celebrate some gains on this issue-
On August 15th, the Department of Education announced $3.9 billion in loan cancellation to students who were misled or defrauded by education institutions. This announcement, coupled with an earlier decision, now total $11.45 billion in student loans cancelled against schools like ITT Technical Institute and DeVry University, to name a few. Policy measures that cancel or reduce the loan debts of persons with disabilities and public servants such as teachers, firefighters, nurses, and military personnel also have been instituted this year. To date, over $32 billion in student loan debt have been cancelled during Biden’s term in office.
Americans are divided on the issue of whether loan debt forgiveness should be granted. But it should not surprise anyone that much of this opposition comes from men; nearly 40% of them say no loans should be forgiven as compared to 20% of women who share this position.
As we celebrate this achievement, there is some unfinished business. The 2-year pause on federal student loan payments enacted through the CARES Act is set to expire on August 31st. Under this measure, student loan repayments have been suspended, along with interest accrual and collection efforts. Let us hope that the Education Department will extend the student loan pause. As important, let’s see if Biden makes a final decision about enacting wide-scale student loan forgiveness, including the award of $10,000 per student in loan forgiveness. To that we say, Happy Equality Day to millions of women!
By the Numbers
In case you missed it, on August 26th we celebrated Women’s Equality Day which commemorates the day that women were granted the right to vote. The day also marks a turning point in the history of the struggle for equal treatment of women and women’s rights.
As a woman of color, I’m looking forward to a Women’s Equality Day when economic disparities for women are overcome. But, according to these numbers it won’t be soon—
18 – the number of countries where husbands can legally prevent their wives from working.
39 – the number of countries where sons and daughters do not share equal inheritance rights.
135 – the number of years it will take to bridge the gender wage gap.
12 – the number of countries (out of 195) that give women equal work rights as men.
13% - the percentage of women globally who are agricultural landholders.
24% - the percentage of women representation in national parliaments and governments.
Despite many advances, women in the US and around the globe still face insurmountable barriers to economic well-being and success.
So, here are two things I would suggest we do today, and every day—
--Use your consumer power. Shop (and invest) with companies that “walk the talk” of supporting women’s full participation, compensation, and leadership in the workplace and political arena.
--Vote, Vote, and Vote. Exercise your right to vote at all levels of policy making (e.g., city, state and national). Vote for candidates and policies that address issues critical to women’s economic progress and well-being.
It’s All Connected:
It's All Connected: Women’s Reproductive Rights & Economic Well-being
A recent report, “IWPR Reproductive Rights Index: A State-by-State Analysis and Ranking,” released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research provides timely data to help us understand the link between women’s reproductive rights and economic well-being through a state-by state lens. In short, States that limit women’s reproductive rights and access to related services often also limit their progress in areas that impact their economic well-being, such as employment and earnings, political participation, and educational attainment. As a result, the report emphasizes the need, now more than ever, for action at the state level to address the connection between women’s reproductive rights and economic well-being. Here’s a few of the Report’s major findings:
--In the bottom five ranked states, the economic loss of abortion restrictions is approximately $8.5 billion ranging from $5.3 billion in Missouri to $362.9 million in South Dakota.
--The top-ranked state for women’s reproductive rights is New Jersey. California ranked second followed by Washington, Oregon, and Connecticut.
--The worst-ranked state for women’s reproductive rights is Missouri, ranking 51st in the Index, followed by Idaho, Nebraska, Arkansas, and South Dakota.
--In the lowest-ranked states for women’s reproductive rights, the average median income for women is $24,335 compared to $29,251 in the top five states.
--In the five top-ranked states, 33 percent of women have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In the bottom five ranked states, 26 percent of women have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
In sum, when women’s access to reproductive health services are limited, it has an adverse effect on their economic well-being and costs state economies by reducing labor force participation and earnings. As post-Roe/Wade strategies are developed it is important that we focus our work at the state level.
We invite you to download the full report at the organization’s website: iwpr.org as well as listen to its online seminar on this subject.
REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE IS AN ECONOMIC ISSUE FOR BLACK AND BROWN WOMEN
Last week, the leak of a U.S. Supreme Court draft majority opinion signaled a potential overturn of Roe v. Wade, and the federal right to abortion it guarantees. If this becomes the official ruling, Black and brown women will be hardest hit by it. Why? Because abortion bans will push more Black and brown women into poverty or debt as pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting can come with a price tag well beyond their means.Read more
New York’s First Female Governor: A History Making Day for New York and Women
On August 24th, Kathy Hochul became the first female governor in New York State history after an abrupt end to the three-term tenure of Governor Andrew Cuomo over sexual harassment allegations. Hochul will serve out the rest of Cuomo’s term, while mounting her own campaign for election as governor in 2022.
Who Is Kathy Hochul? For the past seven years, Hochul has been NYS lieutenant governor. As a native upstate New Yorkers, she was selected by Cuomo during his 2014 bid to gain support from that part of the region. Her job, like those of others before her, was to represent the governor at functions around the State and lead initiatives related to State agenda. In that capacity, Hochul’s policy priorities included the issues of gender and economic inequality. She led a campaign for sexual assault prevention programs on college campuses which gained her recognition as a champion of women’s issues. Her past record also shows a strong commitment to issues like minimum wage, paid family leave, affordable housing, and clean energy. While her position on some issues, including immigration has been a mixed bag, Hochul’s ascension to the executive office is viewed by policymakers and advocates, alike, as a breath of fresh air!
Hochul enters the executive office with many challenges, among them:
--A surge in COVID cases just as schools are set to reopen in September,
--Averting massive evictions among NY households due to high unemployment during COVID,
--Immigration; an issue affecting over 4 million immigrants as well as the region’s economic recovery,
--A subway system in crisis, with a 50% decline in ridership due to COVID,
--Picking a lieutenant governor that makes her a “winnable ticket” in the next primary, and
--Running for Election in 2022.
All tall orders, in a short period of time!
As we celebrate Hochul’s rise to leadership as the first female governor, there’s another “first'' that is worth noting. The New York State legislature will have more women and people of color than ever before in its history. As Hochul governs with this diverse legislature perhaps New York will lead the way in achieving advancements for women and people of color. As democrats abroad, New Yorkers and women, 2022 and beyond looks promising.
Women in Leadership
The Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative has some updates for you to stay informed on the state of women in leadership.
Despite increases in the number of women at the highest levels of political power, widespread gender inequalities persist, according to the 2021 edition of the IPU–UN Women “Women in politics map”.
Check out the report here
Slow, but Steady Progress on Student Loan Forgiveness
Read the article in the Washington Post here
Spotlight on the Senator Gillibrand
The Global Women’s Caucus Hosts a Women’s Economic Forum
Here is where Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stands on the issues…
- EDUCATION AND CHILDCARE: Make public higher education debt free. Make childcare more affordable and accessible.
- GUNS: Ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Make background checks universal.
- SEXUAL ASSAULT AND HARASSMENT: Reform handling of sexual assault in the military and on college campus.
- HEALTH CARE: Move to a universal, government-run health care system.
- CAMPAIGN FINANCE: Overturn Citizens United. Refuse corporate PAC donations.
- CLIMATE CHANGE: Create a cap-and-trade commodity market for carbon emission. Ban new drilling on federal lands.
- IMMIGRATION AND BORDER SECURITY: Eliminate U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Reform immigration to include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
- SOCIAL ISSUES: Expand abortion access. Establish federal paid family leave. Gay, lesbian, and transgender Americans should be allowed to serve in the military and marry whomever they chose.
Learn more about the Senator and where she stands on issues that matter to you at the GWC’s Women’s Economic Forum on June 26th.
(There is no debate—deciding between work and parenting
Is not an option!)
Gillibrand, DeLauro Introduce Family Act, Urge Congress to Pass Permanent Paid Leave.
On the 28th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Representative Rose DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, their signature legislation to create a permanent, national paid family and medical leave program.
The Act ensures that every worker, regardless of size of employer, or if they are self-employed or part-time, has access to paid leave for serious medical situations when needed. The Act provides up to 66% of wage replacement for 12 weeks, anytime, a worker needs it.
Paid leave for all is an important economic solution for women, and particularly women of color.
Join Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as she discusses this issue and others at the June 26th Women’s Economic Forum.
Gender Inequality Causes Poverty
Professor Linda Scott’s latest article, “Gender Inequality Causes Poverty”, makes the case that gender inequality is one of the major causes of poverty around the world. She contends that specific gender barriers form a complex, interlocking system of economic exclusion that keep women dependent and suffering additional constraints such as domestic violence, food insecurity and inadequate access to healthcare. Her April 13th talk with the GWC showed the strong relationship between rising gender equality and improved national prosperity.