Seems like not a day goes by that somebody or other doesn’t crawl out of the woodwork with an announcement about their candidacy for President in the 2016 election. (Seriously!! It’s only 482 days away!!) For the most part, there’s not a lot of diversity on the ballot – it’s mostly older white men. (Or as we say inside the Beltway, pale, stale and male.) So far, 10% of the candidates are women – Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina. That’s something … I suppose.
Secretary Clinton made a speech earlier this week in which she specifically addresses women’s economic impact and policy changes that must happen for men and women to maximize their shifting roles as workers and caregivers. I’ve extracted that portion of her speech below, and then included bits of various media reports commenting upon it. When a person who could be president starts talking about women and economics, it’s time to pay attention!
The text of her speech comes from The Wall Street Journal:
But today, let me emphasize another key ingredient of strong growth that often goes overlooked and undervalued: breaking down barriers so more Americans participate more fully in the workforce, especially women.
We are in a global competition, as I’m sure you have noticed. And we cant afford to leave talent on the sidelines. But that’s exactly what we’re doing today. When we leave people out or write them off, we not only shortchange them and their dreams, we shortchange our country and our future.
The movement of women into the American workforce over the past 40 years was responsible for more than $3.5 trillion in economic growth. But that progress has stalled.
The United States used to rank 7th out of 24 advanced countries in women’s labor force participation. By 2013, we had dropped to 19th. That represents a lot of unused potential for our economy and for American families.
Studies show that nearly a third of this decline relative to other countries is because they’re expanding family-friendly policies like paid leave and we are not.
We should be making it easier for Americans to be both good workers and good parents and caregivers. Women who want to work should be able to do so without worrying every day about how they’re going to take care of their children or what will happen if a family member gets sick.
You know, last year –– last year while I was at the hospital here in Manhattan, waiting for little Charlotte to make her grand entrance, one of the nurses said, thank you for fighting for paid leave. And we began to talk about it. She sees firsthand what it means for herself and her colleagues as well as for the working parents that she helps take care of.
It’s time to recognize that quality, affordable childcare is not a luxury. It’s a growth strategy. And it’s way past time to end the outrage of so many women still earning less than men on the job and women of color making even less.
You know, all this lost money adds up. And for some women, it’s thousands of dollars every year. Now I am well aware that for far too long these challenges have been dismissed by some as women’s issues. Well, those days are over.
Fair pay and fair scheduling, paid family leave and earned sick days, childcare are essential to our competitiveness and our growth. And we can do this in a way that doesn’t impose unfair burdens on businesses, especially small businesses. As president, I’ll fight to put families first, just like I have my entire career.
From The Nation: “Hillary Clinton’s speech today was the most progressive address on economics by a major-party presidential candidate in a generation. It was strongly feminist and pro-union. ”
From Huffington Post: “Clinton decried the decline in women’s labor force participation compared to other developed nations, and said she’d work to reduce barriers to women entering the workforce by fighting for affordable childcare, equal pay for equal work and paid leave.”
From The Washington Post: “The memory illustrated what has thus far been a central message of Clinton’s campaign: So-called “women’s issues” are economic issues, and they intensify for millions of workers after those life-shaking trips to the maternity ward. In her sprawling speech, which touched on Wall Street and Internet competition and the sharing economy, Clinton dedicated more than 1,000 words to burdens disproportionately carried by women — a rarity in the context of policy addresses from front-running presidential candidates.”
Will the other candidates talk about this “rarity”, i.e. families and care and work and equal pay too? If they do, you will find it right here.
‘Til next time,
Your (Wo)Man in Washington