NOW Calls for Leadership from President Obama
on Key Women's Rights Issues
March 26, 2010
After an extended period of debate and focus on the critical issue of health care, the National Organization for Women is eager to see movement on a broad range of women's rights issues. In light of our mission, we urge President Barack Obama to exercise leadership on behalf of the women of this country, to move forward to achieve real equality for all women. Specifically, we need to see the White House take an active role in the following:
- NOW asks that President Obama take a leadership role in working with the Senate to move ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the international women's rights treaty. Towards this end, we are asking the President to speak out on women's rights as human rights and to help us build better understanding and support for CEDAW.
- We ask that the Obama administration advance a national dialogue about the need for an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, clarifying why this is the best way to assure equal opportunity and equal treatment under the law. After 87 years, women should not have to wait any longer for constitutional protection.
- Surveys have shown that local programs to help survivors of domestic violence have to turn away as many as 9,000 women and children every day for lack of resources. While the funding for violence against women programs is increased in the president's FY 2011 budget -- and we are grateful for that -- a significantly larger allocation of federal funding is required to provide assistance to the millions who are turned away.
- We were thrilled that Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. However, a serious gender imbalance persists on the Court, and we urge that the next Supreme Court nominee be a woman.
- NOW has issued a call for the immediate suspension of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, which has been so destructive to our defense capability and to the careers of thousands of lesbians and gay men. In addition, we ask that the Obama administration, with Congress and the Department of Defense, develop a policy that permits lesbians and gay men to re-apply, without penalty, to resume their military service.
- Women's rights advocates remain concerned that the president's commission to address ways to reduce the national debt will recommend cuts in benefits under Social Security and Medicare. We urge President Obama to oppose any such proposed solutions. In addition, we request improvements in Social Security that would fairly compensate the millions of women who are forced to leave the paid workforce to care for children and ill relatives, among other needed adjustments that would better reflect the realities of women's lives today.
- President Obama's leadership is key to attaining passage in the Senate of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which has already passed the House. This legislation takes important steps towards equal pay for women. Women of color, especially, would benefit from a strengthening of pay equity law, as the disparity in pay for African American women and Latinas is greater than that for white women. Over their working lives women lose tens of thousands of dollars -- and much more -- due to sex-based wage discrimination, and it is a major contributor to poverty among older women -- particularly for women of color.
- Finally, because President Obama clearly identified himself as a supporter of women's reproductive rights during his election campaign, NOW asks for his leadership in repealing the discriminatory Hyde Amendment, which harms low-income women in seeking safe and legal abortion care. At the same time, we would like the Obama administration to help build support in Congress for the Freedom of Choice Act that would codify Roe v. Wade in federal statutes. Adoption of such a law would go a long way toward clearly establishing in law a woman's right to control her reproductive life and would diminish the political polarization of the issue.
###For Immediate Release
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