Leaders Call for Budget Deal to Address the Needs of Women; Cuts Being Proposed Could Impact those Most Vulnerable, Including Women, Families, and Seniors

Washington, DC – Today the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO), composed of 240 organizations representing more than 12 million women, delivered a letter to the leaders of Congress demanding a budget deal that does not include cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD) joined several prominent leaders from NCWO on a press call today to announce the launch of a nationwide campaign and public petition to express concern about cuts proposed to programs that women and families rely on.

“With women being left behind in the country’s anemic recovery, it’s unconscionable for leaders to slash programs that disproportionately employ women as well as disproportionately serve them,” said Terry O’Neill, President of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the co-chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations’ Older Women’s Economic Security Task Force (OWES).

The “Respect, Protect, Reject” campaign aims to highlight the vital importance of reaching a budget deal that will respect women’s contributions to the economy and their need for economic security. Members of NCWO and its OWES Task Force are calling on Congress to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to avoid harm to women and families in a letter signed by 28 leaders of women’s organizations. The task force vows to reject any budget plans that threaten the economic security of women.

On June 7, several members of the OWES Task Force voiced these concerns — and the need for job growth — in a meeting with members of the White House economic team, including Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget Jack Lew, and Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling.

The budget cuts currently being proposed would be most harmful to those most vulnerable, including women and their families, low earners, and seniors. The average monthly Social Security check for women is about $1,000, and many retired women do not have any other source of income and exhaust their savings in later years.

According to research from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), in 2009, Social Security helped more than 14 million Americans aged 65 and older stay above the poverty line. Without access to Social Security, 58 percent of women and 48 percent of men above the age of 75 would be living below the poverty line.

Millions of women depend on government programs to keep them from falling into poverty; millions more rely on government employment and are in jobs dependent on government spending. As of June 2011, while men had recovered 25 percent of the jobs they lost during the recession, women had recovered only 11 percent, according to IWPR’s analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

NCWO will deliver its petition and signatures to leaders in Congress calling on Congress to present a budget that takes into account the needs of women-especially older women. The “Respect, Protect, Reject” campaign will run up to the debt ceiling deadline on August 2, with prominent women’s organizations delivering their message through Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail outreach.

The National Council of Women’s Organizations is composed of 240 women’s organizations representing more than 12 million American women. The Older Women’s Economic Security Task Force was formed in 1998 to study, monitor, and act to enhance older women’s economic security. This task force represents economists and activists, service providers and community organizers, legal, political, and social networks who have vital expertise and national recognition as problem solvers, and protectors of the rights and responsibilities of our nation’s women and children.


Contact: Caitlin Gullickson, media[at]now.org, 202-628-8669 ext 123