Priorities to Aid Women and the Economy Overall

Priorities to Aid Women and the Economy Overall

Women’s earnings and economic security are central to the health and well-being of all households and the overall economy. Here are a few policy priorities that will improve the economy for everyone:

1.                    Cut poverty in half by ensuring equal pay for families with a working woman.

  • If current trends continue, women in Iowa will not see equal pay until 2062 (Latinas not until 2224, Blacks not until 2119); over a 15-year period, women earn just half what men do.
  • The difference between Iowa women’s and men’s median annual pay ($11,700) would pay for over 2-1/2 years of community college.

2.                   Stop sexual harassment and assault on the job.

  • Estimates range from 25 to 80% of women experience sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Sexual harassment harms women’s mental and physical health, causes absenteeism and loss in  productivity, reduces opportunities for learning and advancement, and forces job change or loss.

3.                   Ensure access to high-quality jobs.

  • Single mothers are twice as likely as married men to be unemployed.
  • Women (particularly women of color) make up a disproportionate share of low-wage workers (healthcare, retail, accommodation and food service).

4.                   Assure access to paid family leave, paid sick days, and affordable child care.

  • For an Iowa family with one infant and one 4-year-old, the annual cost of child care is $18,186 – more than a full-time salary at $8/hour.
  • Two-thirds of working people in Iowa do not have access to Family Medical Leave (FMLA) and over 45% do not receive paid sick days.

5.                   Support female entrepreneurs.

  • The 3 most important reasons women report for owning a business are to balance work and family, work “flexible hours,” and earn greater income – leading to greater financial security and opportunity.
  • Less than one-third of Iowa businesses are owned by women.

6.                   Restore the social safety net.

  • Women are more likely to outlive their husbands or be left to care for children and may only have access to access to Social Security income.
  • Over 76% of Des Moines public school students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, suggesting that households of these students are low income.

Elected officials appreciate hearing from their constituents (they were elected to represent you), so when you have an opportunity, these are useful facts to help them understand the important role that women play in improving our economy.