Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Women and Girls - Let's concentrate on what the council DOES, not what it IS

Now that we’ve all had a little time to think about the President’s Council on Women and Girls, can we turn our attention to what the council is supposed to accomplish?

To considerable applause (including WOW’s) the President signed an executive order drawing attention to the great differences in how women are treated in schools and in the workplace, in where girls are steered and where women end up. It’s about time. Yes, President Clinton also made a stab at this with a version similar, but that was then and this is now.

After so many years of playing defense, WOW and our sister organizations have an opportunity to play offense as the council goes about its business of examining AND coordinating the federal programs that touch the lives of women and girls (and their families, too). While we wait to see when the council of Cabinet members will meet and what ‘regularly’ will mean we can focus on the first-year priority areas and what we would like to see done about each of them:
· Improving women’s economic security by ensuring that each of the agencies is working to directly improve the economic status of women,
· Ensuring that the administration evaluates and develops policies that establish a balance between work and family,
· Finding new ways to prevent violence against women, at home and abroad, and
· Building healthy families and improving women’s health care.

Yes, we must and do take the President at his word that his administration will see issues like equal pay, family leave, child care, and violence prevention for what they really are—family issues, inter-generational issues, economic issues, and national security issues.

But, how will we measure the success of this council? What would you put on the score card?

1 comment:

  1. From the President's Council, I would like to see a commitment to assuring women's economic security over the life span, namely through the acknowledgement that a woman's ability to achieve self-sufficiency in her working years will directly impact whether or not she is economically secure in retirement.

    In terms of the President's Council, one measure of success will be the extent to which it is mindful of evaluating progress. I would like to see the President's Council advance the use of benchmarks that measure women's economic opportunity, independence and security over the lifetime. Measures like those offered by WOW, including the Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard and the Elder Economic Security Standard Index, ought to be utilized for policy and program development, coordination and evaluation to assess women’s economic progress and overall program efficiency. I will be waiting and watching to find out to what extent the President's Council is mindful of how the recommendations it enacts are measured. What tangible progress will be achieved to promote the economic security of women across and between the generations? And, how will that progress be assessed?