Leaders of Women’s Organizations Send Letter to President Calling for Meeting on Budget

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Caroline Dobuzinskis, Institute for Women’s Policy Research,
202-785-5100, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Joshua Rosenblum, Social Security Works, (202) 587-1635,
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Leaders of Women’s Organizations Send Letter to President Calling for Meeting on Budget, Ask That Women Be Included in Deficit Talks

Task force says discussions on reducing deficit need to address women’s concerns.

Washington, DC—The Older Women’s Economic Security (OWES) Task Force, part of the National Coalition of Women’s Organizations (NCWO), in a letter today to President Barack Obama called for the concerns of women to be considered in budget talks to reduce the deficit. The task force asked that members of the administration with expertise on women’s issues be added to the White House’s advisory team discussing strategies to reduce deficit spending.

"It is simply not enough to send a few privileged men to the table to ‘solve’ the nation’s budget problem,” states the letter from the OWES Task Force. “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.”

Signers to the letter include leaders from the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Black Women’s Health Imperative, the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, Dialogue on Diversity, the Older Women’s League, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Women’s Committee of 100, the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, the Women’s Research and Education Institute, and the YWCA USA.

“Under the guise of reducing the deficit, conservatives in Congress have set their sights on cutting programs that disproportionately employ and serve women,” said NOW President Terry O'Neill. “Who will stand up for the millions of women who rely on these programs? Leaving it to the men is not the answer. Women must play a critical role in these negotiations.”

Today, congressional leaders are gathering to meet with Vice President Joe Biden and his economic advisors at the historic Blair House to address the deficit. The talks come at a time when cuts to programs that are vital to women and their families—including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security—are being considered within far-reaching budget plans.

The old boys club meeting has consisted of Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), U.S. Senators John Kyl (R-AZ), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Max Baucus (D-MT), Reps. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who have convened for the budget negotiations with Vice President Biden, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Budget Director Jack Lew, and economic adviser Gene Sperling.

Social Security is a lifeline to many older women, keeping them out of poverty. According to a report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), in 2009, Social Security helped more than 14 million Americans aged 65 and older stay above the poverty line. Without access to Social Security, 58 percent of women and 48 percent of men above the age of 75 would be living below the poverty line.

Women are now faced with an added economic challenge because they are not getting their fair share of jobs in the recovery. Even though the recession was dubbed a ‘mancession’ jobs are now being gained at a faster rate for men than for women. 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 gender wage gap is an ongoing economic hurdle for women, who have lower median earnings than men in 107 out of 111 occupations, regardless of levels of education, according to research from IWPR.

You can find the full OWES Task Force letter to the President here.