ELECTION 2010: Looking Past the Election to the Work that Lies Ahead

By Linda Basch and Shyama Venkateswar

November 2nd. Election Day 2010.  It’s days away and many are calling this the most unpredictable election they can remember.  Will this election be a game changer?  Will there be a new majority in Congress?  And will those teapartiers have an impact on voting behavior?  

According to a recent New York Times article women have been an afterthought in the New York gubernatorial election. Unfortunately, this is not limited to our state alone.  Women are expected to do poorly in Congressional races and the percentage of women legislators is expected to fall for the first time in 30 years Listen also to Debbie Walsh’s  (Director of the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University) excellent analysis on NPR’s Morning Edition.

The fact is no polls can tell us what will happen and what the long-term ramifications will be. Only time will tell. And in the meantime, we’ve got work to do. Women and families across the U.S. are struggling.  The National Bureau of Economic Recession may have declared the recession officially over but many of us aren’t aware of it yet.  The national unemployment rate stands at 9.6% and 12.9% of single mothers with children are without a job.  How can the recession be over when the poverty rate among women is the highest it’s been in 15 years and a new wave of foreclosures are sweeping the land?

True, the election may shift the strategies and messages we use. And we may need to band together more than ever to strengthen our partnerships. But at the end of the day, we know what needs to happen to improve the lives of women and girls. 

We need political leaders who recognize the gender dimension of recovery efforts and who are willing to put into place bold policies that enable low-income women and their families to move out of poverty.

We need a new standard of economic self-sufficiency that recognizes the multiple roadblocks—caregiving responsibilities, housing, transportation, lack of access to educational and training opportunities; complicated public assistance bureaucracies, etc.—that prevent low-income women, especially women of color, from achieving economic security for themselves, their families, and their communities.

We need government accountability to ensure that the laws we already have on the books are implemented and enforced effectively.

We need to strengthen advocacy and public awareness so that low-income women can advocate for themselves whenever they face a multitude of obstacles.

Most of all, we need to insure that those most directly impacted by policy changes are at the table when new policies are drafted and whenever they are debated or up for reauthorization.  It is the real challenges and perspectives of our most vulnerable community members that must drive our policy agenda.

Which is why we’ve convened a blog forum dedicated to post-election wish lists.  We asked a variety of leaders and experts working across the U.S. what they thought should be at the top of the political agenda post-election.  Click here to read their great ideas.

Now let’s roll up our sleeves and get to it!

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