The Center for American Progress (CAP) in conjunction with Women’s Voices Women Vote released the paper Advancing the Economic Security of Unmarried Women: Overview of Laws and Legislations in the 111th Congress. The keynote speaker was Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). The other speakers were Page Gardner, the founder and president of Women’s Voices Women Vote, Avis Jones-DeWeever, the director at the Research, Public Policy, and Information Center for African-American Women, National Council of Negro Women.
In her opening comments, Heather Bousey, the senior economist for the Center for American Progress, noted that the current policies in America are “stuck in an idealized past.” In an effort to update the policies that have had an arduous effect on the unmarried women of America, she lauds Congresswoman DeLauro as a “hero for working families.” Granted, the range of unmarried women includes single women who have never married, divorced women, single mothers, and widows.
Rep. DeLauro opened her remarks by stating, “Let’s face it, unmarried women are shortchanged.” She enthusiastically endorsed the policies in the report that CAP released and urged that social policies be restructured to reflect the 21st century social landscape. She has been an advocate for paycheck reform for nearly thirteen years and challenged the establishment to “give unmarried women access and opportunity.” In addition, she praised the healthcare bill currently in Congress for how it would increase and provide medical benefits for women of all ages and economic groups.
Page Gardner, the author of the paper and founder of Women’s Voices Women Vote noted that her mission was “fairly representing the unrepresented.” The report emphasized six key areas where unmarried women were directly affected by economic turbulence—the workplace, single motherhood, healthcare, financial protection, housing, and retirement:
- Helping the unemployed in the recession
- Saving and creating jobs in the recession
- Equal pay, better pay
- Access to higher-paying jobs
- Expanding unpaid leave
- Single motherhood
- Child care and early education
- Income support for families with children
- Children’s health and well-being
- Homeowner protections
- Protecting renters and helping the homeless
- Low-income housing
- Social security
- Employer-based retirement plans
- Working retirees
There are over fifty bills and policies that are currently under consideration in Congress. These bills would change the working conditions of not only unmarried women but also Americans everywhere in the aforementioned areas.
The major legislative issues that the report addresses are paycheck fairness, healthcare, childcare, and training for non-traditional jobs. While the bills are seemingly righting discrimination against women in the workforce, the report does little to address how the various proposed programs will be supported or subsidized by various companies. In fact, the proposed initiatives would do the opposite of empowering women in the workplace. Rather, they would reduce the number of jobs available due to the onerous burden it puts on employers to provide the desired benefits to employees.