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Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama's To Do List: Remember the Women


1. Stop US involvement in torturing detainees---check
2. Wage Peace in the Middle East--begun
3. End International "global gag rule" on abortion--check
4. End the war in Iraq--begun
5. Get us out of this Economic Mess--begun
6. Tear Down the Bush Curtain of Secrecy Hung around the government for last 8 years--check

Obama has initiated talks with Middle Eastern leaders, sent envoys to the Middle East, met with military leaders to set the time table for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, has issued executive orders suspending trials at Gitmo,  shut Gitmo down, and set regulations on the interrogation of prisoners still held there. He has also passed executive orders to create government transparency, posted complete copies of all of his executive orders online, written an executive order to reverse the global gag rule on abortion, and met with Congressional leaders to push through an economic stimulus plan designed to create 4 million jobs. All this in the first five days on the job.

So far so good.

But there is still much to do. One of my big concerns at this point is how well Women's Issues will be addressed by this administration. 

Concern: Obama's decision to create new jobs primarily through construction and engineering projects is likely to unfairly benefit men over women, given that only 3% of construction workers are women. 

Concern: Not only are the jobs being created in fields that are typically disproportionately filled by men but they also usually pay much more than jobs populated by women workers. 

Concern: Of the 4 million jobs promised by the economic stiumlus package how many will go to women? An estimated 1.4 million, according to Obama. That is only 35%. Why is 52% of the population only receiving 35% of the jobs being created? This is not acceptable.

Concern: Only 6 of Obama's 24 cabinet members are women, a mere 25%. Only 16 percent of Senators are women and women only account for 17 percent of the House. We as women do not as yet have the political power to represent ourselves. This needs to change. In the mean time we need the men in office- men like Obama- to do everything they can do end gender inequity.

So what should Obama do?

Obama's To DO List for Gender Equity

1. Make sure that 52% of all economic stmulus jobs go to 52% of the population (women) by writing this into the legislation

2. When creating jobs in male-dominated industries (such as construction, engineering, etc), institute regulations to prevent men from favoring men in hiring. Many of the jobs that are reserved for men do not require any skills unique to men.

3. Write pay equity regulations into the economic stimulus plan to guarantee that women receive their fair share of tax-funded resources. Ensure that the female-dominated jobs get paid wages similar to the male-dominated jobs so that men are not making twice what women are making just because we have a history of paying more for jobs associated with men (garbage collection, construction, plumbing, electricians, etc)  than for those associated with women(education, clerical, healthcare, childcare).

4. Provide childcare for workers thus allowing more women to work outside the home while simultaneously creating more jobs in a woman-dominated industry (childcare).

Only by undoing the political and economic inequalities that have been in place since this country was founded can we hope to stimulate the economy in a way that does not unfairly privilege 48% of the population (men) to the detriment of the majority (women).

I have a much larger TODO list for Obama but he can start here.