ELECTION 2010: We Need A Stimulus Package that Includes Women and Builds Human Capital

By Natalia Cardona*

Our government representatives are shying away from a new stimulus under the guise of avoiding a larger deficit. However, another stimulus package is a short-term deficit that will have long-term benefits. An additional stimulus makes economic sense, because the job market lags behind in terms of recovery after a recession. Furthermore, this package is an ethical imperative that would promote the United States’ human rights obligations to the right to work under international law. It will also uphold a non-discriminatory human rights policy that will correct the systemic blind spot the administration experienced in putting women and women of color on the road to recovery.

More economic stimulation is “the surest course to balance the budget over time…[and] to restore a full measure of economic activity,” more than 300 historians and economists—including Nobel Prize winners—have signed on to this premise through what they called “Stimulus Now: A Manifesto.” In this proposal, experts clarify that a new stimulus package would prevent a double dip in the recession by putting purchasing power in the hands of workers, who would then buy products. As a result, businesses would grow to meet demand and thereby create jobs.

Finally, a new stimulus package would complete what the government started. It would allow the U.S. government to invest in people and the long-term well-being of the country. By adding these programs, the administration can create jobs for women and women of color. Despite the fact that women make up 46% of the labor force, the bulk of the 2009 stimulus package targeted job creation in male dominated industries, even though women’s unemployment rate rose just as fast as men’s during the recession. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act had a strong focus on funding job creation in the construction and the green energy sectors. By directing investment to areas that build human capital—like education, social work, child care work, libraries, and training—the administration would be investing in sectors that are generally women dominated, effectively putting women and women of color on the road to recovery along with the rest of the country.

*Natalia Cardona, Program Director at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, has worked on issues of militarism and economic justice for more than a decade. She began her career at UNIFEM’s Andean Regional Office in Ecuador. Cardona also spent nine years at American Friends Service Committee lobbying to change U.S. military and economic policy in Latin America and the Caribbean region. Most recently, Cardona worked as advocacy coordinator for Social Watch in New York focusing on financing for development, gender equality, and climate justice at the United Nations. She holds a M.Sc.in International Affairs with a specialization on Poverty and Development from the New School and a B.A. in Spanish Literature and International Development from the University of New Brunswick, Canada.

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