Friday, December 12, 2008


NOW's Feminist Action Agenda for 2009 And Beyond

Working with a new president and a more women-friendly Congress

With women's rights supporters headed to the White House and in congressional leadership, we have an opportunity to reverse some of the backward movement of the past eight years, and begin to again move forward in addressing equality and opportunity for women and girls. The following Feminist Action Agenda is by no means exhaustive, but it is a starting place.

Please join us in this effort, and sign up to receive periodic email action alerts when we need your help. This is our opportunity to ensure that women and children are remembered and included in addressing the current economic crisis, and a chance to reverse the last eight years of disappearing jobs, reduced family incomes, the persistent wage gap for women and people of color and the massive national debt. Also be sure to vote in our Feminist Agenda Survey on how critical the following issues are to you.

To increase equality and opportunity for women and girls, we propose the following action agenda:

Close the Wage Gap and Ensure that Women are Paid Equally
Adopt legislation that includes the elements of the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act and the Fair Pay Act as well as provisions that close the loopholes under the Equal Pay Act
Lift the 1991 limitation (cap) on damages that can be awarded to sex discrimination victims
Direct the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate systemic patterns of pay discrimination in occupational categories where more women and people of color are employed
Restore the policies and programs of the Department of Labor in order to promote the needs and interests of workers and enhance the capabilities of the Women's Bureau
Reinstate the collection of data on women workers and strengthen the Office of Federal Contract Compliance so that there is better oversight of federal contracting with women and minority-owned businesses
Improve Benefits for Workers
Pass legislation authorizing paid parental leave for federal workers, extend the unpaid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to cover employers with ten or more employees and remove Bush administration limitations on FMLA
Promote and enact expansion of paid Family and Medical Leave and guarantee minimum paid sick days to include all workers
Make the minimum wage a livable wage, protect overtime pay, return "comp time" decisions to workers, and expand unemployment coverage
Establish proportional parity in pay and benefits for part-time and contingent workers
Increase Women's Retirement Security
Protect the existing structure of Social Security, reject proposals to divert Social Security contributions into individual investment accounts and oppose benefit cuts to retirees
Increase benefits for widows, divorced or never married women, elderly women and women with disabilities
Make the Social Security payroll tax more progressive and/or raise the cap on taxable income
Establish a "Family Service Credit," an earnings credit that takes into account the number of years spent "working" at home or as a caregiver out of the paid workforce in calculating benefits, and expand the Special Minimum to include years of caregiving
Reduce the minimum number of marriage years required to receive spousal benefits from 10 to seven
Increase the widow's (or survivor's) benefit to 75 percent of the couple's combined benefit (capping the maximum benefit) and increase the funeral allotment
Extend employer-based retirement plans to proportionally include part-time and seasonal workers
Extend the spousal protections of traditional defined-benefit plans to also protect defined-contribution plans
Adopt a national program to encourage personal savings that would provide a federal match contribution for low-income workers
Make High-Quality Child Care Affordable, Accessible and Safe
Improve the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and authorize a refundable caregivers credit
Provide for a $10 billion new investment in next year's budget for the Child Care Development Block Grant and other early childhood programs
Raise reimbursement rates paid to child care providers so that they can receive a living wage, and provide grants to child care workers to improve their education and training
Target grants to support high-quality infant and toddler care that is available to all parents
Economic Crisis Measures
Provide additional rental assistance through a housing voucher program, a temporary increase in food stamp benefits, an expanded and improved TANF contingency fund, as well as expanded and extended unemployment benefits
Help states financially, so they can provide programs and services to struggling families
Ensure that jobs programs, including capital projects and infrastructure building programs, also include jobs for women, people of color, people with disabilities and the unemployed and under-employed
Modernize the Federal Poverty Measure to take into account current consumption patterns for basic necessities, income assistance from public programs, necessary expenses and geographical differences in the cost of living
Plans to reduce poverty should be integrated with job creation planning, expansion of education and vocational training programs, infrastructure building and other efforts to end the current economic crisis
Reform Welfare Assistance Programs
Abandon punitive welfare reform provisions under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program and adopt provisions that will help families escape poverty permanently
Lift the five-year time limitation on assistance until the economic crisis passes and more jobs are available
Authorize additional funding to fully support subsidized child care programs for women transitioning to education, job training or employment under TANF
Reduce the number of work hours per week required for TANF recipients to continue receiving assistance
Increase significantly the allowable number of hours per week of education and job skills training that count as required "work" for continuation of TANF benefits
Increase the percentage of women in the program who can be permitted to finish high school and attend a postsecondary institution or vocational training program
Expand housing, transportation and nutritional assistance for TANF families
Assure access to health care coverage and adopt counseling, rehabilitation treatment and federal assistance programs for women -- particularly pregnant women -- who have experienced substance abuse problems
Change the Family Violence Option to a mandate to assure that all state TANF programs conduct domestic violence screening and provide assistance programs
Eliminate the "family cap" which permits states to deny support to infants born into a family on welfare
End federal funding of untested marriage promotion programs and "fatherhood" programs that take funding away from the parent who is actually raising the children in need
Economic Security for Children
Restore at a minimum the $6.7 billion to state-run offices of child support enforcement programs that were slashed by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, so that the billions of dollars owed to families can be collected and expeditiously distributed to custodial parents
Expand federal programs and funding to aid child abuse and neglect prevention and assistance programs, considering that child neglect and abuse costs society $103.8 billion annually
Expand the Child Tax Credit so that it covers all caregiving (including non-married partners and disabled adults) and makes it fully refundable for low-income working families
Expand funding and eligibility for services covered under the Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program (WIC), a low-income hunger relief program that currently faces a shortfall due to increasing food prices and the growing number of families seeking help
Support Women-Owned Businesses
Increase funding for the Women's Office at the Small Business Administration and strengthen the women's procurement program so goals can be more easily achieved
Increase the proportion of federal contracts awarded to women-owned businesses from 3.4 to 10 percent
Increase the Small Business Contracting Goal and expand use of subcontractors
Promote a domestic budget that provides human needs services and programs that help women and families avoid or escape poverty

Rescind the numerous tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and corporations pushed through in the last eight years

Stop Abstinence Education Funding by halting the $183 million taxpayer giveaway to dangerous, ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, and replace them with medically-accurate, age-appropriate sex education. Prioritize programs that stress both abstinence and contraception to prevent unintended pregnancies

Support Medically Accurate and Comprehensive Sex Education by authorizing federal grants to help fund local school district programs and provide information especially to at-risk groups

Reduce Unintended Pregnancy by significantly increasing funding for Title X Family Planning Programs by at least $1 billion annually in order to reduce unintended pregnancies that can lead to a lifetime of poverty

Assure Contraception Affordability and Access
Repeal the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act provision that eliminated affordable birth control for campus clinics and health centers serving low-income women and reinstitute mandatory Medicaid coverage for birth control
Reject policies that allow pharmacists to refuse to fill contraception prescriptions
Require insurance companies that cover other prescription medications to also cover prescription birth control
Withdraw the age restriction on over-the-counter emergency contraception
Withdraw the Global Gag Rule
Promote reproductive health care programs in other countries, including those that provide abortion services or make referrals for abortion care or engage in advocacy for abortion rights
Improve access to Emergency Contraception ("the morning-after pill") by requiring dispensing of EC to rape victims in every hospital emergency room receiving federal funds, and by ensuring its availability in clinics serving low-income women

Permit abortions for U.S. military women serving overseas who have been deprived of access to safe legal abortion while serving their country in areas where a safe abortion cannot be obtained locally

Restore U.S. Funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a critical agency that advances voluntary family planning and maternal health in 150 developing countries

Authorize funds for medicine and supplies to ensure safe childbirth and obstetric care, and make contraceptives available to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases
Allocate at least $1 Billion to International Family Planning to fund critically important aid programs in developing countries that provide access to reproductive health care services

Enact the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) to protect by federal statute a woman's right to choose an abortion, thereby immediately restoring reproductive freedom for the millions of women who face interference with their reproductive rights as a result of onerous state and federal restrictions

Repeal Hyde Amendment Restrictions on Federal Funding for women who depend on government subsidized and government provided health care. Health insurance must cover programs such as family planning and abortion services for Indian Health Services and Medicaid recipients as well as individuals in prisons, in the military and residents of the District of Columbia

Halt Adoption of a "Provider Conscience" Regulation that threatens women's access to birth control and other reproductive health care services by allowing doctors and other healthcare workers to opt out of practices like prescribing birth control pills, inserting IUDs, or dispensing emergency contraception that they find morally objectionable

Approve Funding for Stem Cell Research
Broaden the number of human embryonic stem cell lines that are available for federally-funded research
Support medical advancement and innovation with embryonic, amniotic, cord blood and adult stem cells to secure treatments for scores of debilitating and life-threatening diseases
Ensure ethical standards by requiring informed written consent for donors of surplus embryos
Reform the Food and Drug Administration and Hold it Accountable to Consumers
Restore policy that is based on scientific research findings, not political or corporate interests
Fund independent studies on drugs and devices, and require manufacturers to fully disclose all clinical trial results
Assure that Advisory Committee members are free from conflict of interest
Conduct a thorough review of manufacturers' compliance with FDA recommendations on monitoring silicone breast implant patients, and reporting of adverse events including how they affect the health of fetuses and children born to women with implants
Keep Women and Girls in the Picture by establishing a cabinet-level Office on Women (analogous to the cabinet-level Office on Drug Control Policy) that would evaluate federal programs, initiatives and policies for their impact on women -- addressing both opportunities and inequities -- and improve their effectiveness through coordination and strategic planning.

Nominate and Confirm Fair and Independent Federal Judges, including nominees for the Supreme Court, circuit courts and U.S. attorneys who have a demonstrated commitment to constitutional rights and recognize women's rights to privacy and equal treatment under the law

Appoint Feminists to Key Positions in the Departments of Justice, State, Defense, Commerce, Labor and Health and Human Services, as well as the other departments and agencies. Ensure that appointees in the new administration reflect race and gender diversity, and strive for gender balance across the government

Advance Constitutional Equality for Women
Hold hearings on the need for and legal implications of a Women's Equality Amendment or Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution that would assure that "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex"
Pass legislation to enact an ERA and promote the amendment's ratification by three-fourths of the states with no time limitation on the ratification process
Ratify CEDAW, the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and remove the Reservations, Declarations and Understandings (RDUs) attached by prior administrations that undermine its meaning and intent.

Enact Hate Crimes Prevention legislation to expand existing federal hate crime laws to cover acts of hate violence based on the victim's real or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability

Lift the Combat Exclusion on Women in the Military and the ban on assigning women to forward support companies

Promote and Enact Comprehensive Universal Healthcare
Guarantee the inclusion of equal and unrestricted access to comprehensive, high quality, affordable and timely reproductive health care, including contraception, pre-natal, birthing and post-natal care
Include insurance coverage for medically necessary post operative stays -- births, breast cancer, etc.
Promote a single-payer plan which will reduce inequities in access, improve health outcomes and quality, and control rising costs in our health care system
Ensure Every Child Has Health Care
Promptly pass an improved and expanded SCHIP, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, to ensure that every child and pregnant woman has access to affordable health coverage and health services, including all medically necessary services
Work with the states to simplify the application and enrollment process to make it easy for all children to get covered and stay covered
Pass ICHIA, the Immigrant Children's Health Improvement Act, which removes the five-year waiting period for new immigrants and gives states the option to provide health coverage to lawfully residing low-income immigrant children and pregnant women through Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)
Promote Healthy and Informed Pregnancies, Births and Post-Natal Care
Discourage procedures that are not medically needed or widely requested, like cesarean sections and induced labor
Increase the number of nationally certified midwives, expand the midwives and birth centers considered to be eligible care providers in Medicaid and all insurance programs, and allow nationally certified midwives to practice autonomously
Provide federal financial assistance to increase the number of birth centers that provide high-quality, cost-effective care and minimize the need for expensive interventions and c-sections
Ensure Equal Rights and Access for Women with Disabilities
Provide complete access to healthcare services, facilities and equipment that includes but is not limited to wheelchair access, sign language interpreters, facilities to accommodate large-size patients, and materials formulated specifically for the blind or visually impaired
Ensure equal reproductive and parenting rights for women with disabilities, and increase their access to abortion, birth control, obstetrical services, gynecological care and adoption
Require that all heath insurance plans cover mental health and disability-specific services and maintain low deductibles and co-pay fees
Require each state to have at least a minimal Medicaid-funded personal assistance program so that all individuals with disabilities can choose to live in their own homes
Encourage states to write "waivers" redirecting Medicaid funds that usually go to institutions into personal assistance services instead
Expand HIV-AIDS Prevention and Treatment Programs for Women and Girls with robust support for HIV research, prevention, and treatment

Reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to allow the Indian Health Service (IHS) to modernize and improve its delivery of healthcare services, provide in-home care for the elderly, and develop programming to address behavioral and mental health well-being

Appoint an Advisor in the White House to promote strong enforcement of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and to propose new initiatives to eliminate violence against women

Prevent Sexual Violence and Domestic Assault
Fully fund and enhance the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
Prioritize prevention efforts and expand grants for education and survivor assistance programs that include underserved racial, cultural, religious, disabled and senior communities, and which address incest, pedophilia, child sexual assault, dating violence, adult sexual assault and rape in the home, on campus, in the workplace and community and in the military
Address the need for better assessment tools to evaluate the likelihood of further violence, as well as the evaluation of new enforcement techniques such as GPS monitoring
Require sexual assault programs and all medical services facilities receiving federal funds to include emergency contraception as part of any medical protocol when treating rape and domestic violence survivors and to provide rape kits free as part of their services
Undertake a comprehensive study (with recommendations for change) of state family courts to determine the nature and extent of child custody awards to parents with documented domestic violence and child abuse records
Safeguard laws preventing individuals convicted of domestic violence from owning and carrying firearms
Promote legislation that would provide a civil rights "private cause of action" for victims of gender-based violence
Reform Family Law treatment of violence and make custody guidelines more strict to protect both children and survivors of domestic abuse
Promote Peace and Provide Humanitarian Aid
End the U.S. involvement in the Iraq civil war by immediately establishing a short timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops, to be replaced with military forces from other nations for peace-keeping purposes and assistance in re-construction
Oppose further administration requests for "emergency spending" on the war and support reallocating these funds to supporting and rebuilding the lives and communities in our own country
Address Violence Against Women Around the World and Stop Sex Trafficking
Increase efforts to identify and apprehend sex traffickers operating in the U.S., strengthen the Department of Justice resolve to prosecute these crimes, rework requirements for prosecuting traffickers in order to protect victims, and allow trafficking victims to seek civil restitution from their traffickers
Pass the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), which provides an opportunity for the United States to be a leader in preventing violence against women around the world.
Provide asylum rights for women to protect them from violence and end "honor killings," forced marriages, genital mutilation, femicide, child marriages, mass rape as a weapon in armed conflict, and other atrocities
Promote the treatment and elimination of obstetric fistulas, which develop due to a lack of adequate medical care during pregnancy and birth
Establish a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Liaison Position in the White House to improve communications with and enhance policies affecting the LGBT community

Ensure Federal Benefits for Same-Sex Couples by enacting a federal domestic partnership status that would allow domestic partners, regardless of sexual orientation, to receive federal benefits and treatment equal to married couples under the law

Support Marriage Equality and oppose any federal constitutional amendment to outlaw or ban same-sex marriage as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution

Repeal the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy to end all discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals in the military, and amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice to prohibit discrimination against LGBT service members

Pass Legislation to Prohibit Discrimination against LGBT Individuals in education, employment, housing and public accommodations; add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal nondiscrimination laws, without religious exceptions from civil rights laws

Expand Adoption Rights for all couples and individuals regardless of sexual orientation and marriage status

Restore, Protect and Enforce Title IX
Rescind the Department of Education's 2005 Athletics Policy and do not permit colleges and universities to demonstrate that they are providing equal participation opportunities to women simply by sending an email survey to their female students and treating a failure to respond as evidence of a lack of interest in playing sports. Make the governing standards those that are detailed in the 1996 Policy Clarification
Increase Opportunities for Women in Science, Math, Engineering and Technology
Expand federal government efforts to assist women in the math, science, engineering and information technology fields in order to promote their presence in graduate schools, on faculties, in labs and research institutions
Promote equal pay and promotion for women on college and university faculties, public school teachers and researchers at educational institutions receiving federal financial assistance
Limit Sex-Segregation in Public Education
Withdraw the 2006 Department of Education regulations allowing public schools to establish sex-segregated schools and classes that foster sex discrimination and sex stereotyping
Adopt restrictions on education funding if school districts choose to offer schools or classrooms segregated by sex, other than those permitted under the original Title IX law and regulations.
Mandate biennial evaluations and stipulate the criteria for evaluations-all to be submitted to the Department of Education and released to the public via the Internet
Promote and Protect Affirmative Action by advocating for education and employment policies that affirmatively address gender and racial disparities throughout our society

Pass Comprehensive Civil Rights Legislation that would undo court decisions that have limited access to civil rights protections and fair treatment in the court

Advance Fair and Comprehensive Immigration Reform that reflects the social and economic forces affecting the lives of immigrant woman and their families

Provide a path to citizenship that allows immigrant women to have work permits (as opposed to the current dependent visas that prohibit any work, keeping abused women effectively captive to their abusers)
Support non-discrimination in the workplace and fair wages with increased support for education, access to health care and social services and protection from exploitation and abuse in the home and workplace
Specifically promote fair and equal treatment for domestic, seasonal and migrant workers
Immediately End Illegal Raids and Cruel Long-Term Detention which endanger women and children

Ensure Full and Fair Representation of Women In The Media.
Promote diversity in media ownership and prevent further consolidation of media ownership. Currently, just as an example, women own six percent of the commercial broadcast TV stations in the U.S., and people of color own a mere three percent
Create a national dialogue about the "soft hate speech" and violent/exploitative images that pollute all forms of media, degrading women and other oppressed groups
Increase funding for public media, such as PBS and NPR, and support the expansion of community media and other independent outlets, such as low-power radio stations
Invest in developing universal, affordable Internet access for all; implement a national high speed Internet policy
Protect network neutrality and the open concept of the Internet; carriers must not be allowed to institute discriminatory toll charges on content and services delivered via the web
Appoint FCC (Federal Communications Commission) members who are committed to serving the people of the U.S., not corporate interests.
Restore and enforce the Fairness Doctrine for all broadcasters under FCC regulations
The administration and Congress must also work together to allocate appropriate funds and craft legislation that will advance these goals
National Organization for Women, An Action Agenda for the 110th Congress:
Center for American Progress and New Democracy Project, Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President:
Jessica Arons and Shira Saperstein's chapter on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights:
Winnie Stachelberg and Mark Shields' chapter on LGBT Priorities:
Center for Reproductive Rights, Federal Policy Agenda: Advancing What's Right for Women and The Nation:
Citizens for Midwifery at Healthy People 2020,
Coalition on Human Needs, Towards Shared Recovery: Congress Must Do More to Reverse the Recession:
LCCR Education Fund, Civil Rights Monitor 2007-2008. Vol18:1, Winter 2008.
National Birth Policy Coalition,
National Women's Law Center, A Platform for Progress: Building a Better Future for Women and Their Families:§ion=infocenter
National Organization for Women, Women in Media Fact Sheet:
For more information, contact Pat Reuss or 202 628 8669

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  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  2. Have you considered the following goal: "Amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation to provide authority for federal Contracting Officers to set aside some competitions for federal contracts solely for woman-owned small business concerns." --Dave Alexander,

  3. actually i am not a member but i think their goals make sense, just as i wrote.

    and i have posted and written more about NOW ever since a certain radio yakker called them "the national organization of whores"

    i am a member of the ACLU and the southern poverty law center tho.

  4. I got a grant from the federal government for $12,000 in financial aid, see how you can get one also at