As partisan politics continue to slow down key legislation in Congress, the founder and head of ENGAGE, Rachel Pearson, has proposed a clever solution: keep the focus on women’s economic security.
ENGAGE is a bipartisan women’s organization that hopes to clue in politicos and policy wonks on the commonly overlooked fact that issues of economic security are, by and large, women’s issues. In a recent op-ed published by The Hill, Pearson lays out her case for why appealing to women on these matters might just bring about the unity that this country has been longing for.
“Women outnumber, outvote, and outlive men,” Pearson points out. “The well-being of American women is, to a significant extent, the well-being of America. Secure their economic prospects and you will have gone a long way in securing the prospects of our many diverse communities.”
Pearson explains three key issues that have stalled in Congress and that women ought to have an outsized interest in: paid family leave, internet connectivity for all, and retirement security.
With 7 out of 10 family caregivers being women, Pearson makes the obvious case for why women should care about paid family leave: “How is a working mother who makes less than $75,000 a year on average — and many earn much less — supposed to manage her life and take care of a child with special needs, a father with Alzheimer’s, or a mother who needs to be driven to chemotherapy?”
However, things like internet connectivity and retirement security are also significant issues that impact women disproportionately. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the impact of digital access, or lack thereof, on productivity and success, especially among school age children. Yet, according to Connect the Future, 31 million Americans still lack access to computer technology.
“These millions of Americans have been economically and socially trapped by a lack of technology,” writes Pearson. “Besides education, the absence of access impacts health care and economic security — think of telehealth and entrepreneurs whose small-businesses depend on connectivity,” she adds.
Meanwhile, these inequities tend to build up after a lifetime. With women living longer lives with less earnings, paired with various disparate impacts, women are finding themselves heading towards a retirement cliff.
“All these disadvantages make saving for retirement a daunting challenge for American women,” Pearson explains. “We must immediately grapple with how to support generations of destitute retirees.”
Pearson calls on the Biden administration to take up these issues given the widespread effects it would have, not just for women, but for all demographics.
“In advancing women’s economic security, you will, by extension, be lifting up our fathers, our brothers, our husbands, and our sons. Women need the Biden administration and Congress to compromise and find the path forward.”
Rachel Pearson founded ENGAGE: Promoting Women’s Economic Security in the wake of the 2018 election. ENGAGE is a bipartisan organization focused on expanding economic opportunity for all American women in the 21st century. Find out more about ENGAGE here.